Monday, June 23, 2014

Orphan Black, Season 2, Episode 10: By Mean Which Have Never Yet Been Tried

In an extremely traumatic, powerful scene, Felix breaks down over losing Kira while Mrs. S and Sarah argue about what to do until Sarah hugs Mrs. S. This is all cut with Sarah undergoing an invasive set of questions and examinations. She cries as the questions are really invasive –whether she’s had an abortion (yes), when she first had sex (14-15) and lots of details of her sex life. For Kira, Sarah has given herself up to Dyad.

Afterwards she meets Dr. Nealon, the doctor who does all the creepy nocturnal examinations on Beth and Allison. Using Kira, they coerce Sarah into signing a consent form to harvest her eggs.

Sarah is allowed to see Kira –but only on camera, watching Rachel trying to turn Kira against Sarah with very obvious threats if Sarah doesn’t do as she’s told.

Kira is getting her own examination – but she’s a clever clever child and steals the nurse’s mobile phone. She uses it to call Cal.

In Cosima’s lab, Dr. Nealon is moving in there as well, having all his goons taking away their samples and research (and the bone marrow) and informing Cosima that he is her new doctor. Delphine is not – she is being separated from the clones, as Rachel informs her and Rachel won’t even let her say goodbye to Cosima. Rachel tries to play the “it’s not personal” and Delphine strikes back “I love her and if you let her die without me, it’s personal.”

Delphine isn’t taking this lying down – she emails Cosima Rachel’s itinerary and Cosima pretends to co-operate with Dr. Nealon so she can help Sarah.

Further in the “oh Dyad you made far too many clever enemies” category, Mrs. S talks to someone about making a car bomb and she’s joined by Cal. Felix vouches for him (Mrs. S is ready to lecture about keeping secrets, Felix is ready to take that mammoth hypocrisy and send it back).  Cal has done loads of digging into Dyad and he’s really really really good at it. He’s found a contact on the inside of Dyad still digging for information. Mrs. S gives him permission to use her name to encourage him – Siobhan Sadler (I have a little silly moment over her having to correct his spelling) and the insider tells him to ask her about Castor; she says Cal’s not the only person with an inside man. (Whoever designed Project Leda loved their mythology – Leda has twin boys, one human – Castor).

And then Felix gets a call from Arthur – Helena has showed up at his flat (and is eating everything). Felx is despatched to Helena sit and they ask her if she’s responsible for burning down the Prolethean ranch (no, of course not she declares with a really really really awesome evil grin). We get a brief cameo of Grace and Mark running off together deciding that if they are sinners god can deal with it.

Sarah runs into Ethan, clearly also a prisoner at Dyad, who tells her not to despair. Despair, Ethan? I’ve seen the people teaming up against Dyad, I’m rubbing my hands with evil glee.

Mrs. S goes to meet someone in a military Humvee (did I mention the rubbing my hands with evil glee?) She’s searched for weapons and then gets to meet Paul – that is Major Paul – who is willing to play double agent. Since we learned he was involved with Tony’s minder a few weeks ago and is up to more shenanigans. Mrs. S brings her insider (Paul) to meet Cal’s insider – Marion. As Mrs. S says, there are good people in even the most  corrupt places. Paul passes Marion a file.

Rachel, who doesn’t realise just what is arrayed against her, is trying to use tea and childhood video to convince Ethan to give up all his codes to Dyad. He’s already given them the sequence to heal Cosima, until they cure her he’s giving up nothing else. When Rachel refuses – offering only to “talk about” curing Cosima if Ethan gives up more info which doesn’t sit well with him. Ethan points out how very very VERY complicated his code is that he’s memorised the key to breaking it (he can recite pi to 6,000 places apparently. He has the memory for it), there’s no hard copy. He tries to crack into not just the memories she’s showing him, but the emotion behind them. She denies remembering the emotion – and then notices that Ethan isn’t doing so well. He’s drunk poison. Rachel’s icy reserve shatters – she emotionally and powerfully demands he not leave her again. She cries and wails while he tells her she doesn’t deserve him any more.

Ouch. Wow, if she didn’t have issues before that emotional bomb shell should shatter her.

Cosima visits Kira, neither of them interested in dolls – instead they enjoy SCIENCE (which gets all of Kira’s adorable enthusiasm). This is cut by her and Scott doing something nefarious with their own science brains – but Cosima is weakening and can’t go on (despite determination because Sarah and Kira need her). Scott offers to do it – with a security card he’s stolen.

To Sarah and she’s restrained to a bed and carried into an operating room – but one of the men in scrubs and face masks is Scott who gives a quick hello to Sarah. They plan to remove one of Sarah’s ovaries, against her wishes. Rachel drops in to speak to “her sister” to try and get her to give Rachel Ethan’s cypher – but she doesn’t have it. When she doesn’t give up what she doesn’t have, Rachel destroys the bone marrow meant to cure Cosima. Rachel is definitely fraying. Sarah responds by using the little pencil cannon Cosima created to launch a pencil into Rachel’s eye.

While Rachel screams – maybe even dying – Scott releases her and gives her his Dyad card. Sarah runs to Kira and finds Marion has already dressed her for leaving – she’s arranged it so they’re free to go. She tells Sarah she’s got her out but Rachel being gone won’t end the whole drama – and if she wants to know the full truth she needs to meet Marion tomorrow.

To Felix’s clone hotel, where Cal is introduced to Cosima and Allison and the reality of the clones. Hey plan to get more bone marrow for Cosima – but it takes 6 weeks before Kira can give marrow again and they’re worried what will happen to Cosima in the meantime. Felix interrupts them making out and makes a point that no, they’re not bringing that into his bed, thank you very much, there are limits.

Felix has also brought Helena – she wants to join the clone club and see all her sestras. Cosima greets Helena with a big hug (though Helena worries about her since she can hardly stand.) Allison and Helena are much more formal. Of course Kira runs right into Aunty Helena’s arms. It’s all immensely adorable.

Full on clone party – music and dancing (yeah it takes minutes but it’s so worth it and yes they’ve all got their own dances and yes Helena is out of her mind and it’s just too perfect).

Afterwards it’s bedtime and Cosima has a wonderful beautiful sciency thing talking to Sarah (Helena listening in). While Cosima talks about Sarah as a survivor she says how much she needs Cosima.

And then all the perfect is ruined! Helena sneaks out – and is kidnapped (along with her frozen embryos), leaving only a hat behind. Oh when will people learning kidnapping Helena is a bad idea. When Sarah leaves to meet Marion, Kira tries to wake Cosima… and can’t

Orphan Black, do not kill Cosima. We will Have Words if you do!

Cosima sees white light and Delphine appear – telling her she will never leave Cosima. Uber twee woo-woo is excused is Cosima DOES NOT DIE!

Cosima wakes up. Better keep Angel Delphine on call!

Kira wants story time. What would be the best story? Why the Island of Dr. Moreau with all Ethan’s sciency notes written in the margins! Present for you Cosima

Sarah arrives at Marion’s super swanky mansion and finds a little girl. One who looks JUUUUUUST like a young Rachel in her home videos. Yes, we have another clone! She’s Charlotte, 8 years old, she wears a leg brace and greets Sarah as her big sister. Marion is her mother. This doesn’t mean they can make more clones – they made 400 attempts and Charlotte was the only one who lived. She wants to work with Sarah because of the loyalty Sarah’s shown her sisters and her skill at surviving.

Marion  is a member of “top side”, a cabal of bosses who “steer” the Dyad group and other major companies while not being on any public record. They intend to be influential in a future where genetic manipulation is embraced and common – a future they see as inevitable. And there’s another shadowy organisation that has its own agenda fighting against them

Totally connected segue – Helena is being held by a bunch of soldiers who take her to a large transport plane. Paul and Mrs. S watch her be taken – S saying that Sarah will never forgive her.

Marion continues that the military continued their part of Project Leda. Dyad continued to work on female clones while the military produced male clones. Project Castor. She shows a soldier working out – and Sarah recognises him

Cut to Gracie and Mark getting married

And Helena walking past a cloney soldier – who looks just like Mark.

Well damn, just when you have a handle on this show it blows up in all kinds of amazing directions! Let me pick my jaw up off the floor.

I do feel sorry for Ari Millen though. He has to play all of these clones AND he has to try and live up to the incredible, mind boggling, awesome standard that Tatiana Maslany has already set. Now there’s a challenge!

I’m just going to flail at the screen for an hour or so! DID NOT SEE THIS COMING! And what game is Paul playing and Mrs. S and what about her contact from England who so quickly disappeared?! The more we learn the more awesomely knotty the whole thing gets!

But before that – this episode was awesome. Ok the ending was more mind blowing and the middle was actually a little anti-climactic, but seeing the clone forces gather their people made me almost pity Rachel, I’m almost sad that Dyad didn’t go down in a Prolethean-style fireball  as Helena and Mrs. S got together to tear it into teeny tiny pieces.

As for the season – so much awesomeness. Not just the action and the many many many many competing factions, but also the character development. Sarah’s loyalty and care for her sisters, her growing bond with Helena, her rocky relationship with Mrs. S, her real affection for Cosima which, too often, has to be put at odds with her complete dedication to Kira above and beyond all else. All delivered with

And Cosima, wanting to help Sarah,. Loving Delphine, being suspicious of Delphine, trying to drawe the line between Delphine the monitor and Delphine the girlfriend.  She’s fascinated by the science, but more than any other clone is the most vulnerable – not just because she’s dying (and, again, faces a conflict between her will to live and her loyalty to Sarah and her whole not wanting to exploit a child) but also because she’s in the middle of it. The science and her passion for it draws her in, she spends her time in the middle of Dyad’s labs, pretty much within reach at all times, her girlfriend works for Dyad (and even if her loyalty is eventually proven, so is her easily manipulated gullibility) – Cosima is in it up to her neck. But, ironically, at the same time has been shielded from the very worse Dyad can show.

And Alison? Ah Allison – what more needs to be said?

But even Helena has been a great storyline of her reaching out, her vulnerability – both it being exploited but also her finding the clones and wanting them to be her family. From the terrifying serial killer, she has really developed. Even Rachel, who, at first glance, looked like a 1 note character, shows a lot of layers and conflict and past/

The character development has been awesome. The storyline has been awesome and exciting – and also troublesome and deep and difficult. The ongoing theme of the clones continually fighting for bodily autonomy is a huge one with the Proletheans and Dyad fighting over their very bodies, constantly pushing ever deeper and ever more invasively. It’s unrelenting and, while they haven’t always done a great job of conveying the horror of it, I think in the last few episodes particularly  (from Cosima rejecting Delphine to the treatment of Sarah by Dyad) they have shown the reaction outrage to their bodies being property (Cosima’s “I am the science”). We even have Kira being drawn into the net.

There is so much awesome to this series that I watch on the edge of my seat every week. How can the season be over already! MORE oddness! MORE Tatiana Maslany! More shenanigans!

But, I have criticism – particularly on the inclusion front. Specifically, we need better than stereotypes and tokens.

In terms of POC, we have Art, Vic and Mrs. S’s friend who appeared once then disappeared and I’m not even sure what the point of him was. Art has done very little except occasionally host Helena. When he was given the big cloney secret I had hoped for a lot more from him but it never developed. He’s just utter periphery now

Vic is completely and utterly unnecessary comic relief, thrown in to be abused then disappear. Mrs. S’s friend better return next season because I can’t even begin to place him in any meaningful manner at the moment.

On to LGBT  - Cosima and Delphine are excellent, complex and while there are definite issues with Delphine’s deception, that’s no different from Paul or Donnie. It’s a clone thing, not a singled out lesbian thing. The only pall over them is DEAAAATH. The teasing us with Cosima’s possible death all season worries me, because dead lesbians are a trope.

But while Cosima and Delphine are awesome, others are not so good. Firstly Tony. The rarity of a trans person on television is such as to make his inclusion somewhat exciting all on his own. But that’s all he was – an inclusion. He showed up, was another example of Tatiana Maslany’s skill (they seem to be working on an achievement board or something now) and then he disappeared. His entire episode was somewhat pointless to the plot, his character was quite literally put on a bus. Will they be bringing him back? It seems unlikely – which makes him one of the few (only?) living clone who WASN’T pulled into the whole clone drama – it was a too-neat disposal of a character they didn’t want to develop – they just wanted him there to throw in “look how different all the clones are!” Or, in other words, a token

And Felix. After complaints last season we were assured (along with dismissing those complaints as coming from straight people and how all gay men loved Felix… uh-huh) that Felix would get his own storyline this season. When did this happen? Felix has no life, no existence, no friends, no nothing outside of the clones. What did he actually do for the 2 years when Sarah disappear? Just wait in a corner for her to return so his life to start again? He’s a clumsy collection of stereotypes rammed together for endless comic relief while he plays service to whatever clone wants him. He’s serving Allison or he’s serving Sarah, he runs the clone hotel and he even joins Art in Helena babysitter. Even Mrs. S, his mother, seems to regard him as an extension of Sarah. The one time he confronts Sarah about having a life of his own it’s not to assert his independence – but because he needed to help Allison. He was angry that she was wasting Allison’s support, not his time or his life.

Felix is the very essence of a GBF. The gay male comic relief that exists to serve straight women. He’s a walking trope.

It’s a shame because Felix, Token Tony and the near invisible POC are a terrible hole in what is such an utterly awesome story.