Orphan Black: “Governed As It Were By Chance” Season 2 Episode 4 Review

Photo Credit: http://img2.timeinc.net/ew/i/2014/05/08/ORPHAN-BLACK-02.jpg

In the most suspenseful episode yet, it becomes abundantly clear just how trapped each of the clones are.

Orphan Black has never fully planted itself into a single genre. Sure, it would be easy to write it off as just another sci-fi show, but it’s so much more than that. At times, the action sequences are so speeding-bullet-intense, that I feel like I’m watching a Jason Bourne movie. Other times, such as when Sarah tries to bring together her family, or when Cosima works with Delphine, I feel like I’m watching an intimate drama. And of course, the suburban dysfunction of Allison Hendrix is always good for a laugh.

This week, however, the show entered entirely new territory: straight-up horror. It’s clear that both Graeme Manson and John Fawcett have worked in this genre before, because they’re experts at creating tension, a looming sense of dread, and then full-on fear. Many of the scenes in “Governed As It Were By Chance” reflect this, while still moving at the show’s mile-a-minute pace.

Things pick up directly where we left off last week, with Sarah recovering from the car collision. As it turns out, Cal hit them head-on in a bit of last minute thinking. Daniel seems pretty lifeless, but as we learned in the premiere, you can’t really count on anyone being dead unless they’re six feet under. A cop car comes speeding down the road, and Sarah puts her hand on the trigger of Daniel’s gun. You can feel the tension mounting, as it seems like a very rash decision is about to be made. Luckily, the cop was responding to another call.

After ditching her kid woefully leaving Kira under Cal’s protection, Sarah heads off to see what she can find about Mrs. S and Project Leda. What we learn from her investigation with Felix and Cosima is that the two scientists in the photo are Rachel’s adoptive parents. There was also some sort of  lab explosion they were involved in that made headline news. Additionally, Leda has its roots in greek mythology, referencing a story where Zeus is responsible for the creation of demigod twins. It’s still a little unclear how everything is related–although I have a feeling Kira’s remarkable self-healing abilities are involved–but according to Mrs. S it’s a whole mess of trouble.

Speaking of Mrs. S, this episode left me more confused and fascinated by her than ever. I still haven’t decided if she’s a badass or just bad. Okay, well she’s most definitely a badass considering she likes ruthless interrogations AND having public sex at a bar, but I can’t say I fully trust her just yet. Her lover/former partner Carlton is very interesting, though. He’s an ex-con who’s the reason Sarah got smuggled into the country, and I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing a lot more of him soon.

Unfortunately for Allison, it looks like she isn’t going to be seeing any familiar faces anytime soon. As she wakes up in an unknown location, we immediately feel her creeping apprehension to her surroundings. It quickly becomes clear that she’s been put in a rehab center, complete with daily pee tests and a sassy attendant. As with anything Allison does, there’s humor to be found here, but this is probably the darkest place she’s ever been. The nail in the coffin arrives when Donny informs her she can’t see her own kids until she’s recovered. This is when the panic sets in. Allison is trapped.

Conversely, Helena spends most of the episode escaping the trap she’s been holed up in. After a rather disturbing sequence in which Henrik’s annoying daughter Gracie attempts to smother her to death, Helena manages to escape the Prolethian farm–but not before choking out Gracie, of course. In another disturbing sequence, we see glimpses of what happened after Henrik carried her over the threshold. As it turns out, it wasn’t exactly a rape, but still an awful violation. Helena’s eggs were extracted from her while she was unconscious, which once again asserts this season’s theme of how the clones have no control over their own bodies.

The episode is filled with a lot of mounting suspense, but all of it comes to a head in one of the final scenes. Sarah, digging for clues in Rachel’s swanky apartment, is caught of guard by the return of–surprise!–Daniel. She’s stuck in an unfamiliar environment, making it easy for him to subdue and restrain her.

After she wakes up with her hands tied to the shower rod, the real fear sets in. Sarah might be a tough character, but this show is smart enough to give her realistic vulnerabilities. As Daniel inches closer toward her with a knife, she knows there’s no way out of what’s coming next. “You wouldn’t do this,” she says, but it comes out as more of a plea. We then witness the blood-curdling unpleasantness of Daniel slicing into the skin along her ear. The camera closes in on the action, so we know just how terribly intimate the whole thing is.

Fortunately, a guardian angel comes to save the day. An angel whose wings were carved into her backside. Helena, who had followed Sarah from Mrs. S’ house, arrives just in time to stop the torture and murder Daniel. We don’t see any of this happen, though. We’re stuck with Sarah in the shower, watching as her fear only intensifies when she sees her supposedly dead twin.

After the initial panic, we get one of the most powerful scenes Orphan Black has ever delivered. Helena, in her bloodied white dress, walks up to her sister, who’s a screaming, cowering mess. She mentions that she thinks the Prolethians “took something” from her, and then goes to embrace Sarah. In that moment, the two clone siblings collapse under the weight of all that’s happened to them and just allow themselves to emote. Tatiana Maslany’s dual performance is heartwrenching, as we see to total opposites briefly connect. It’s a compelling moment for sure, but also very horrifying. We as an audience, and they as clones on the run, have absolutely no idea what’s coming next. Grade: A


By Mike Papirmeister

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