Orphan Black: “To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings” Season 2 Episode 6 Review

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Major revelations come about in an episode full of great character moments.

Orphan Black is one of the most subversively political shows on TV right now. Underneath all the clone conspiracies, high-octane fight scenes, and steamy love affairs, are issues of gender, sexuality, and the ethical dilemmas that arise from science clashing with religion. As fun an adrenaline-pumping as the show is, what’s really fascinating is the motivations behind every action.

This is most abundantly clear during one of the episode’s final scenes where Sarah finally comes face-to-face with Rachel’s adoptive father Ethan. At first, Mr. Duncan is reluctant to talk to her, but Sarah is furious over the lack of purpose in her life. An overlying theme this season has been the clones’ fight to have control over their own bodies, so it’s empowering to hear Sarah shout, “It’s my life, and you gave it to me, so you’re going to help us!”

This prompts Ethan to give her somewhat of a backstory, saying how Project Leda was first sanctioned by the military, but then was deemed unethical…until the Dyad came and allowed them to continue their work. We also learn that Dr. Leekie isn’t as innocent as he seems, as it turns out he’s the one who caused the lab fire that killed Rachel’s mother.

There is a lot to take in here, and when Ethan mentions the military my mind immediately went to the idea of creating an army of super-soldiers. It also could be connected to Cal and his pollination work that was sold off to the government. What’s most telling, though, is that Ethan specifically states that he wanted to create “little girls” instead of little children. Another theme this season has been about what the female form means to many of the clones’ adversaries.  Ethan wanting to create little girls means he’s interested in clones that can conceive children. I haven’t yet figured out the endgame going on here, but I have a feeling that Kira—with her superhuman healing abilities—is the missing link.

I should probably backtrack a little, because a lot of interesting things happen before the episode’s big reveal. Most interesting, of course, was the Sarah-Helena road trip. It’s always a treat to see Tatiana Maslany play off herself, and watching the feral Helena sing The Archies’ “Sugar Sugar” next to the focused and guarded Sarah was everything I could’ve wanted and more.

Though this trip leads Sarah to making several important discoveries—including the fact that this cloning experiment dates all the way back to the early 1900s—its real purpose is to give Helena her first taste of freedom. After a lifetime of being told she’s an abomination, she finally gets the chance to experience the world for herself. After ditching the getaway car to go hang out in a local dive bar, she begins to order drinks like she’s on spring break and breaks sprains a man’s finger when he ignores her disinterest in him.

Things begin to heat up when a local bar patron (Suits‘ Patrick J. Adams) trades her his pork rinds for her White Russian, and the two strike up a strangely charming romance. Unfortunately, Paul and Prolethian henchmen Mark are sitting on the other side of the bar. Helena has never had a positive experience with a man in her life, so it’s disheartening that when she finally gets one, evil is lurking just around the corner. 

Mark is smart, though, because he knows Helena would never come back willingly…unless she could get back what was taken from her. It’s Gracie who makes a plea for her to come back to her babies, something Helena has been deeply invested in ever since meeting Kira. The title of this week’s episode is taken from philosopher Francis Bacon’s De Augmentis Scientiarum. The full quote is: “For you have but to hound nature in her wanderings, and you will be able when you like to lead and drive her afterwards to the same place again.” In the case of Helena, this couldn’t be more true.

While Mark is successful in bringing Helena back to the farm, Paul isn’t quite as lucky. Last week I mentioned that it was difficult to tell whose side he was actually on, but as Mrs. S so aptly puts it, “a man with two masters answers only to himself.” Mrs. S is a bit of a wildcard herself, but this newfound partnership with Paul could prove to be very interesting. I’m still on the fence as to whether or not Dylan Bruce’s blank expression is purposeful or not, but I’m more curious than ever to learn what exactly happened to him in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, in rehab, Allison reluctantly goes through the motions of recovery, if only so she can see her children once again. After taking a break from her plotline last week, it was nice to be pulled back into a slightly simpler storyline. I say “slightly,” because on a show like Orphan Black nothing is what it seems. After befriending Sarah’s deadbeat ex Vick—who’s now gone down the path of the Buddah—Allison appears to finally have an ally in the depressing world she’s trapped in. Unfortunately, Vick has plans of his own. He’s working for Angie to help her get dirt on the clones. More than ever, Allison could really use the help of her sisters.

Cosima is a character who’s always felt disconnected from the central action at hand. Even though she’s back in the same city as the other clones, her screen time is usually relegated to explaining the science behind the show’s mysteries. This week, however, she gets her most potent plotline yet, after her friend Scott makes an important discovery about the stem cells she’s taking. They’re not from another clone, but from someone who is closely related to them “like a niece, or a daughter.”

This is certainly an intriguing development, and one that further demonstrates that Dr. Leekie is much more sinister than he lets on. Still, it’s my opinion that Cosima’s most important scene comes during a phone call with Sarah, when she asks if she’s going to be okay. Cosima is caught off-guard by Sarah’s genuine concern for her, and huffs back, “Obviously…I’m the geek monkey!” It’s a brief moment, but it resonates deeply with the isolation she’s been experiencing all season.

Toward the end of the same conversation, Sarah mentions that when she gets back they’re going bust Allison out of rehab. “Yeah, definitely,” Cosima responds. “We’re stronger together, go figure.” This was probably the most promising line of the episode. I’m still in the dark about many of the larger mysteries going on, but after half a season of watching the Clone Club face opposition on every side, I can’t wait to see them team up and kick some serious ass. Grade: A-

 

By Mike Papirmeister

 

 

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