Orphan Black Season 2 Premiere: Nature Under Constraint and Vexed review

The Orphan Black season 2 premiere delivers everything...even some musical theater.

It was the most surprising show on television last season. It won rave reviews and fan love because of its refreshingly complex plots and brave storytelling. It features the most talented actress on genre television, Tatiana Maslany, who must face the challenge of playing multiple roles each episode. It’s Orphan Black and forget anything else on television, and to heck with Orange, because Orphan is the new Black, and it’s back baby!

Things pick up right where they left off last season as Sarah Manning, the protagonist clone, chases after her just kidnapped daughter. Last year, Orphan Black established an absolutely frenetic pace; a twisted journey into paranoia for Sarah who must deal with a world that has suddenly gone insane around her.  

The show dares the viewer to keep up as Sarah ducks into a diner and is phoned by the evil corporate clone Rachel Duncan. Here we are reminded just how awesome Tatiana Maslany is as she interacts with herself, one of her characters calm and cold, the other fevered and panicked. Two well-dressed skells wander into the diner, one metrosexual and one rockabilly. Metro kills a helpful diner owner who in turn kills rockabilly. I guess diner owners are part Terminator in Orphan Black world, but boy, things have kicked off with a bang as Sarah must frantically escape the other one. 

Sarah runs to the only safe place a clone can run to in this situation, a gay rave. She finds much needed salvation in her step brother Felix and his chaps. Who doesn’t love Felix? The free-spirited, drug addled, slutty brother who also is as loyal to Sarah as a devout Paladin is to his god. No matter how insane the world gets, no matter how much deceit and ugliness Sarah must endure, there is always Felix to help her up again.

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There is a great deal to establish in this episode. Not easy to introduce such a huge cast, particularly when four of the characters are played by the same actress and have their own set of supporting players, but just like last year, this episode succeeds. It’s time to check in with the sexiest scientist on television, the spectacled and dreadlocked clone Cosima Niehaus, who is dying from some unstable clone thingamabob. From the crazed pace of Sarah’s world, to the quiet dignity of Cosima’s situation, somehow, Orphan Black continues to change the tonal structure of each clone’s narrative. That can’t be easy.

Three clones down, one to go, our dear Alison. Oh, Alison, we hope you are emotionally over killing your neighbor; she was a total bitchface phony. Felix with his chaps, tripping his ass off on ecstasy visits his BFF Alison to locate a gun for Sarah, because who else to go to for guns other than a soccer mom. Last season, the best pairing on the show was Felix and Alison and that continues. Seriously, I would watch that sitcom. It would be like Absolutely Fabulous but with more killing.

Now, I have to say watching the Elsa the She-Wolf clone Rachel speaking German really does things for me in a very sick way. She sends Sara’s old meatstick and handler Paul to deliver a message to Sarah that if she wants to see her daughter again, to be on a plane the next day. Last season, the daughter was Sarah’s everything, even when she was on a dark path…a borderline sociopathic con artist and a user, Sarah found her salvation in her pure love for her daughter. Now, she still has that motivation, but it is being kept away from her by Rachael and Dyad Industries. Did we mention Sarah’s daughter has super-powers? The daughter is the prize, and Sarah will go through anything to find her, such simple and primal motivations for such a complex character.

Things bounce quickly between clones as Alison meets with her gun dealer Ramon who works at a Home Depot or something. Awesome! Ramon has more guns than the Expendables and Alison is now a well armed soccer mom. Let’s repeat that. Alison has her own private drug and gun dealer named Ramon who works at a big box suburban hardware store. God, I missed this show.

To add to that little bit of awesome, Alison is also in a community theatre production of Cats and because of her old friend’s Aynsley’s death, clone Alison now has the lead. Which brings us to the delightful visual and auditory treat of Tatiana Maslany badly singing show tunes. She can sing, too? Seriously, F you Emmys.

She can sing, she can dance, she can cover up a murder, and Alison once again proves that she is even more awesome by having Ramon deliver a gun and a nice sensible flower arrangement to Sarah and Felix. With the gun, Sarah can now bust into Dyad to save her daughter.

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Gun in hand; Sarah agrees to meet with Rachel. She tells Rachel that she will be driving a red minivan to the designated meeting spot. Of course, Rachel sets up an ambush, and who was driving the minivan? None other than Alison who proceeds to kick the crap out of Rachel’s security team while macing them and blowing a rape whistle. Rachel now believes Sarah is being brought in, but Sarah utilizes the entire clone triumvirate by disguising herself as Cosima, the one clone Rachel trusts and enters the building where she believes her daughter is held.

So now, Tatiana Maslany is playing Sarah disguised as Cosima and somehow plays it completely different than when she is actually playing Cosima. Mind blown! I’m just not sure you can dread your hair that quick.

As Cosima, Sarah busts into Rachel’s office and demands the return of her daughter. Sarah must wait as meatstick Paul intervenes. Never to be satisfied with a loss, Sarah knocks Rachel out and Paul lets her go. No daughter, no clue on where to find her beloved, and almost as lost as when we first found her, Sarah must find a way to endure. Disappointed with how things went at Dyad, Sarah turns to Art for comfort. Their relationship continues to evolve as Paul gets pushed further away due to his allegiance to Rachel. Art wants to know what happened to squirrel crazy killer Ukrainian clone Helena who was killed last season by Sarah.

Oh, wow, oh, crap, no, no she wasn’t, as we are left with Helena stumbling into a hospital with her gunshot wound duct taped together, with metrosexual diner killer watching.

So, let us clone recap. Sarah is still looking for her daughter. Cosima is dying and doesn’t know whether she can fully trust her scientist lover Delphine. Alison has a gun dealer named Roman and does community theatre, Rachel is a bitch, and Helena is freakin’ alive!

It’s going to be a great Spring.

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The Good:

Orphan Black is back!

– Alison’s crime network.

– Felix’s fashion sense.

– That ending!

The Bad:

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– Poor Cosima is coughing up blood. Poor dear.

– The show resorted to that tired genre trope of science exposition through lecture. C’mon, this show is better than that.

The Ugly:

– Community theatre (Felix darling, you gotta fix this)

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4 out of 5