Hidey-ho readeroonies! I hope you enjoyed Orphan Black’s season 2, episode 5, “Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est” (translation: “knowledge itself is power”), because otherwise this recap wherein I gush over the skillful storytelling is going to be weird. Don’t make it weird.
We start the episode off at Cold Bitch Manor, where the Dyad cronies are cleaning Daniel out of the shag carpet. There, Dr. Leekie suggests there’s a gentler way to ensure Sarah’s cooperation that perhaps doesn’t involve killing people. Rachel responds by shouting “YOLO” and putting on a pair of sunglasses before telling Leekie to fucking deal with it, because she’s only going to be more of a douchebag.
At Chez Felix, Sarah finally changed out of her shiny leather leggings. Thank Jeebus. Oh yeah, and the gang has acquired a delightful new pet named Helena; she hates people, loves sugar, and may pee on your carpet out of spite. In the midst of the insanity, Felix points out that Helena is not only unstable, but also a burden. Sarah resists the idea of cutting her life-saving twin loose, however, and implores brother seestra to babysit the crazy and give her a new outfit (doesn’t Sarah have clothes?).
Having sufficiently mourned for Daniel for a hot second, Rachel volun-tells Dull Paul that he is going to be her new monitor. Despite being self-aware, she is not exempt from having data on her health and well being reported to Leekie. In the same meeting, Rachel instructs Aldous to withhold a promising treatment from Cosima until Sarah starts to cooperate.
It seems that Cosima may not have been that far off in her assessment of Rachel as a narcissistic woman who sees the other clones as lab rats, rather than sisters. A later scene, however, hints that Rachel’s hard exterior may be hiding a sad and damaged underbelly.
While watching a sweet and rather sincere-looking video of herself exchanging I love you’s with her scientist parents, Rachel sneers that “they were just trying to learn everything about me.” It might be that the discovery of her status as a clone tainted Rachel’s childhood experiences with betrayal, leading to the adoption of a standoffish attitude as a self defense mechanism.That sounds pretty plausible, right guys? 500 psychoanalysis dollars, please!
In the lab, Delphine shares with Cosima that she was accidentally sent results from a stem cell line compatible with her dread-locked lover. As much as I want to believe this was a coinky-dink, I can’t help feeling like this was a set up that allows Dr. Leekie to later swoop in and lead the clones into a false sense of trust. I mean come on—the Dyad can’t forward e-mails properly? Orphan Black, you’ve turned me into a conspiracy-loving nut bag; I hope you’re happy.
In baby daddy news, Cal was apparently part of a male babysitter’s club at some point, because he is absolutely adorable in cheering up his daughter with new socks and the cutest leopard hat ever. While pulling out a wad of cash from a compartment in the RV, we sneak a peek at not only a gun, but also an assortment of fake IDs. While he may not have hurt Sarah on purpose with his little car stunt (still not convinced), Cal is definitely more than meets the lusty, lingering, and beard loving eye.
Kira is apparently not over the whole “my mother keeps abandoning me” thing, and quickly rebuffs Sarah’s attempts to catch up. Sarah is doubly hurt when Kira refers to Cal as “daddy”. The father-daughter bond is strengthened later in the episode, when Kira distracts a snooping police officer from poking holes in Cal’s “Andrew Cooper” identity with her adorableness. The family that conspires together stays together!
Back at Jesus 5Eva camp, we learn that the fitting punishment for smothering a captive with a pillow is… having your mouth wired shut? Um… okay? How is she supposed to talk if she’s… oh I give up. The Prolethians are sadistic and impractical nut jobs. There is no making sense of this.
Gracie is eventually coaxed into confessing by psycho-hot Mark, who knows that the key to any teenage girl’s heart is saying that you love them even when they have creepy braces on.
After spilling the beans on the whole “I tried to kill Helena” misadventure, Gracie is given an ultimatum: help find Helena, or you’ll have to bear her child yourself. Can we take a moment to ask why on earth they think it’s a good idea for Helena to bear the child? Wouldn’t it be better for Gracie to be the surrogate anyway because she’s easier to control? Come on, Proletheans, I’m trying here. I want to understand!
In exposition-ville, we learn new insights about Rachel through Dull Paul’s monitor (aka bodyguard and sex-slave) orientation. Apparently after her adoptive parents died, Dr. Leekie took Rachel under his wing. Despite this pseudo-familial relationship, Rachel has no problem asserting her higher corporate position over her seemingly over-attached father figure.
We next learn that the gang thinks it’s a good idea to entrust Art with Helena, the woman who easily escaped his clutches last season. Surprising no one, Art is terrible at sussing any information out of his charge, badgering her with questions that irritated even me. Under the influence of powdered donuts, Helena mentions Maggie Chen having a locker that contains information about a “Swan man” who “played god”. After this reveal, Helena escapes her manacles using a sardine can tab, because of course she does.
Downtown, things heat up when Felix entertains an adorably dorky date. The pair is caught lube-handed by the police, however, who charge in with Dull Paul in tow. In order to pressure Sarah into surrendering by morning, the Dyad forcibly places Felix’s handprints on the gun that killed Cal’s police officer friend a few days prior. Bastards. Fuck you, Dull Paul (unless this is all a ploy to gain Rachel’s trust, in which case, good job!).
At the Dyad Institute, Dr. Leekie conveniently catches our favourite lady scientists trying to access the secret cultures that could be helpful to Cosima. Convenient timing or cleverly laid trap? Instead of shooing the women away, Dr. Leekie plays a fun game of “let’s divulge all of the Dyad’s secrets”. It’s revealed that the fire that allegedly killed Rachel’s parents also destroyed the clones’ original genome. With no genetic map, finding special synthetic sequences (like the ones giving Kira Wolverine abilities??) placed in the clones’ genome is rendered next to impossible. This account is believable, as the Human Genome Project which mapped regular ‘ol human DNA took scientists almost twenty years to complete. With the womens’ prehistory lost, the cloning project is likened to an “orphan” (wink wink).
As a gesture of good faith, Leekie states he’s willing to disregard Rachel and proceed with treating Cosima. God damn it, I don’t know what to think about this gesture. Is Leekie sincere? Rachel’s comments about Leekie’s attachment to the clones certainly would support this theory. However, Leekie could easily be giving Cosima a placebo, a move that would gain his patient’s trust, yet allow him to retain a blackmail card.
In Toronto, Sarah and Art follow Helena’s cryptic clues all the way to Maggie Chen’s storage locker, a spot Helena apparently inhabited during her clone hunting days. There, they find a recent photograph that appears to depict Rachel’s scientist father. If alive, Mr. Duncan would be a valuable chip to use in exchange for Felix’s freedom. Unfortunately, the pair also finds a newly emptied sniper rifle case and a business-y looking Barbie doll on the scene. From these objects, Sarah deduces that Helena is planning to hunt down Rachel. Oh snap.
Back at Cold Bitch Manor, Rachel has apparently not switched apartments, because why let a bit of murder ruin the enjoyment of your real estate?? There, she and Paul engage in an insanely tense game of… what do you call extorting your employee into having sex with you… of yes, sexual harassment.
I mean sure, Dull Paul has a cute butt and Tatiana Maslany in a nightie is aces, but this scene was more than a tad disturbing.
In an abandoned building across the street, Helena lies in wait with a sniper rifle and a newly coiffed Barbie doll (the exclusive “Dirty, Sexy Rachel” edition!). When Sarah comes upon the scene with Art, she explains to her sister that killing Rachel would ruin any chance of releasing Felix from jail. When these pleadings prove ineffective, Sarah places herself in front of the rifle. The gesture only saddens Helena, who dejectedly accuses her twin of only wanting to use her. In response, Sarah breaks down and reveals how much it meant to her that Helena came to her rescue even after… you know… Sarah shot her and all. Sarah’s “meathead” nickname for her twin hints that the speech was sincere, and damn it, I have something in both my eyes. Look AWAY!
I mean, how sweet was that moment? More than anything, Sarah and Helena want a family. It seems that despite all odds, these two women might be able to give each other what both of them so desperately want.
In a weirdly sensual sequence, Dr. Leekie administers a test to Cosima to assess how her body will respond to the potential cure. In light of the information he shared with the clones, Cosima drops her whole “Clone Club? What Clone Club?” routine and arranges a rendezvous between Leekie and Sarah. At the meeting, the two make a deal: Sarah will deliver Dr. Duncan within three days, and in exchange Leekie will arrange for Felix to be set free, and for Cosima to continue her treatment (oh hey Sarah, yeah, Cosima’s sick).
Lurking in the shadows of the meeting was Dull Paul, who for some reason doesn’t capture Sarah for Rachel. Whose side are you ON, Paul???
Overall opinion: This was an excellent episode that mended my previous lamentations with the show. For the past four recaps I’ve been harping on the fact that the Dyad Institute, despite its arsenal of brilliant scientists and weapon-wielding agents, is floundering as a worthy foil for the clones. If we’re to believe that the Dyad is a Big Bad, the organization needs to make its leader less vulnerable to sneaky event-crashing grifters. As well, it needs to utilize henchmen that can capture a target without killing countless bystanders. This episode thankfully demonstrated that what the Dyad lacks in skillful manpower it more than makes up for in tactical moves. The turn towards a different type of attack signals that the Dyad’s flaws are not oversights by the writers, but rather examples of the organization’s hubris. Daniel’s death was a wake-up call for the Dyad to stop underestimating its enemy and go balls to the wall.
The Dyad’s psychological warfare stood in stark contrast with the Proletheans barbaric treatment of Gracie and the general ease with which they commit murder. This polarization serves to differentiate the two villains and position the clones as the perfect combination of the two entities’ skill sets; the clones are smart, but not arrogant, and they are physically powerful, but not brutal. Way to go, Orphan Black. Way to fucking go.
The exploration of the clones’ relationships with each other was also expertly done. This aspect of the episode was enough to overcome my sadness at the lack of Alison.
Helena: “Mrs. S. has nice truck. Much leg rooms.”
Felix, in response to Sarah’s request that he not paint the current situation: “Yeah you’re’ right. I mean you shot your evil twin sister dead only to have her arrive and gut Rachel’s henchman, how could I capture the nuance?”