Orphan Black: “Things Which Have Never Yet Been Done” Season 2 Episode 9 Review

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With only one episode to go, Orphan Black bounces back in a big way.

After last week’s disparate attempt at creating new characterization, it was a pleasant surprise to see how quickly things turned around. On the whole, “Things Which Have Never Yet Been Done” is a stellar penultimate episode that works to refocus the season’s narrative structure. There are still a few loose ends I’m concerned about for the finale, but I’m much more confident that we’re going to see something really, really great.

This is a series that knows how to do a lot with very little, and this week there were several small scenes that created a big emotional impact. There’s a brief moment where Alison, Sarah, and Cosima all video chat with each other, and it’s incredibly heartwarming to have them all together again. I love how teary-eyed Alison gets, and how stoic Sarah is in the face of potential dangers to her daughter.

Speaking of Kira, there’s another small moment during her bone marrow procedure that also strikes a big cord. As Sarah watches her daughter about to go through surgery, she has a minor breakdown, asking Felix what kind of mother she is. Out of all the clones, Sarah has probably grown the most since this series began, so it’s touching to see how unsure she is of all her choices now that she’s taking responsibility for someone else.

Perhaps the most striking moment, however, was Rachel’s unraveling. Although her perfectly impersonal air-kiss with Marian is a close second. After weeks of seeing her icy demeanor being slowly chipped away, we finally witness her completely losing her sh*t. Tatiana Maslany plays the descent into madness perfectly, as Rachel sits in a dark room re-watching the tape from her childhood and sipping gulping down a martini. It starts out slow, and then comes on in full force as she turns into a crying, cackling mess.

Even more impressive is the way in which the show was able to setup her eventual kidnapping of Kira, and still deliver it as a total shock. We see Rachel’s frustration with Marian as she talks about how interesting Sarah is. We see her putting on clothes that look like Sarah’s. We see the red herring of the confidential email on Cosima’s laptop. We know Rachel’s up to something, and yet when she—dressed as Sarah—turns around and jams a needle in Felix’s neck, it comes as a surprise. Perhaps this is because, of all the things Rachel could do, the last thing you’d expect is for her to go off script.

Meanwhile, we finally get to see what Helena’s been up to after a two week absence. This show might be full of powerful little moments, but it also knows that sometimes you need to go big or go home. In Helena’s case, she does both after she discovers Henrik’s truly disturbing mass reproduction plans. In a gleefully terrifying sequence, she goes full-on Lisbeth Salander and invasively assaults Henrik the way he did to her. Then she burns down the farm. (Quick Aside: For anyone wondering, no, Helena did not burn the farm down with all the children in it. As this Huffington Post article explains, there was a scene of her helping the children escape that had to be cut for time. End of Aside.)

Helena is a character who’s never had control of her own fate, so her plot was especially gratifying this week. After being deceived yet again by people who she thought were going to give her the one thing she wants—a real family—it was clear that enough was enough. The shot of her looking back at her handiwork as she leaves the emblazoned farm was empowering, and I can’t wait to see what she does when she joins up with the rest of Clone Club.

Off in suburbia, Alison and Donny win the award for most adorable, albeit murderous, couple. Their plot is slightly separate from the central action at hand, but this is easily forgivable with how amazing it is. The fact that they’ve bonded over the atrocities they’ve committed is a neat twist, and I love how it feels like they’re falling in love with each other all over again. Donny is seeing the real Allison for the first time, someone who doesn’t flinch when wrapping up a corpse and who can handle a jackhammer with ease. Allison, for her part, is attracted to Donny’s sudden confidence in the situation. He’s still dumb, fumbling Donny, but now he’s more assured and ready to protect his family at all costs. Kristian Bruun’s delivery of the line “have a shitty day!” when Donny confronts Angie and Vick in the van is spot-on, making me long for a Dexter-esque spinoff show with these two.

Last week had me wringing my hands with anxiety, but this week has me more excited than ever for what’s to come. Tony was nowhere to be found, which annoys me, but perhaps he’ll get more screen time next season. I’m still a little nervous about how the show is going to bring in both Paul and Cal while tying everything else up, but if the writers keep up this smart, well-crafted work, then I think we all have nothing to fear. Grade: A-

 

By Mike Papirmeister

 

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