The title of this week’s episode of Orphan Black is “Mingling Its Own Nature With It,” which as we all learned in our second grade English class comes from Francis Bacon’s Novum Organum. “Novum Organum” translates roughly to “New Instrument” in the original pig latin, and it captures Bacon’s fundamental pursuit of a newer, higher form of scientific exploration. Like all truly important texts, Novum Organum is intelligent to the point of inscrutability, but it’s worth focusing on the line referenced by this week’s title. The paragraph reads:
For it is a false assertion that the sense of man is the measure of things. On the contrary, all perceptions as well of the sense as of the mind are according to the measure of the individual and not according to the measure of the universe. And the human understanding is like a false mirror, which, receiving rays irregularly, distorts and discolors the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it.
Translated into the vulgar language of the us non-geniuses: We are humans, so we naturally believe that we are right about everything. We see the sun move over the surface of the earth: Hence, the sun clearly spins around the earth, and we’ll have no more argument about the matter, NUTS TO YOU GALILEO. But Bacon wanted his readers to understand that “human understanding” isn’t the gateway to understanding the universe; if anything, it can block us from discovering the truth of our environment. Human understanding is like a false mirror. Or, put another way:
And yet again we must mingle our own nature with Orphan Black, in an attempt to construct a higher scientific understanding out of the false mirror of our own shallow perspective. By which I mean, the time has come to enter all of this week’s data into the Orphan Black Clone Status Variable Invasive Hyper-Sequence and once again construct a scientifically accurate ranking of all our favorite Maslany clones, on the scale of “Coolest” to “Almost As Coolest” to “Still Cooler Than Anyone On Television Not Played By Tatiana Maslany.”
1. Alison Hendrix, Star of Blood Ties The Musical, Who Will Not Be Locked Up In Your Rabbit Cage
Tensions are running high in the Hendrix household. Donnie can tell something is wrong. He’s no fool, our man Donnie. He can read his lady wife like a book. She’s vacuuming. She’s asking too many questions. She’s been all wound up. “You’ve got that big dress rehearsal, right?” asked America’s Next Top Hubby/Traitorous Double Agent. “Who’s my little star?” He was playing hooky. His boss was away. It was the morning. “Y’know,” he said lustily, “Morning’s my best time.”
Witness Alison Hendrix, a portrait of Just Not Having It. Morning’s your best time? Alison just showered. Spoiler alert: She’ll have just showered every morning, every afternoon, and every evening from now until the end of time. Who’s your little star? Alison is no one’s “little” star. She’s a white dwarf. She’s a supernova. She’s could use a little bit more wine.
Alison tried to focus on her rehearsal. She sang those immortal words: “Deal With the Splatter/The Deal Doesn’t Matter/There’s Nowhere You Can Call To Help You Through It.” Her voice cracked. Her throat was sore. Whither Felix, her acting coach? Whither her clone sisters of yesteryear, who she once so despised, but who now seemed to her the one bit of sanity in her spiraling existence? Outside, she was accosted by a yoga-looking lady named Angie, who reeked of Secret Spy Monitor Evildoer. “I just moved into Hilldale Crescent!” said Angie. “Can I buy you a cop of coffee?” No, Angie. No coffee, never.
Alison tried to call up her cool-kid gene-sister Cosima. “I’ve just been approached by another monitor,” she said, desperate. “You definitely can’t trust Delphine.” Cosima wouldn’t listen. Alison warned her about a destiny, forced into an SUV and trapped in a rabbit cage somewhere. (If Cosima was trapped in a rabbit cage, she’d never get to see Alison’s opening night performance!)
Then she was accosted again by that lady Angie. Terrible Angie, villainous Angie, Angie with the too-perfect tracksuit. “Yoga was grand today!” said Angie. “Mostly an older crowd, but at least I don’t get hipster dudes staring at my ass.” Alison narrowed her eyes. Hipster dudes? In suburbia? Who was this faker, this falsehood, this traitor? Traitors everywhere around Alison. Can’t trust anyone these days. “I know what you’re doing,” said Alison. She didn’t, of course: Angie wasn’t secretly a monitor, she was secretly a police. Just when you think you’re being followed by one group of people, you’re being followed by another group of people! Oh, to be normal! Oh, for the old days of Book Club and soccer practice, afternoons sipping bubbly with Aynsley, evenings in bed with a husband who’s not feeding information to Max Headroom!
Alison was coming unglued just in time for the grand opening. The handsy director announced to the troupe that this performance would be dedicated to Aynsley, who died in that mysterious accident that Alison definitely had nothing to do with. Alison prepared for her performance with the Garland cocktail, pills and booze and booze mixed with pills. She went onstage. She was under the spotlight. “Forgive me,” she declaimed, “please forgive me! Oh god, what have I done? I should have known that this would be the ending of the story!” She spotted her traitor-husband in the audience. Her tempers raged. She saw red. She saw double. She saw her life flash before her eyes. Theater!
She collapsed off the stage. Exit, Stage Front. The art of theater would never be the same.
2. Cosima Digs Down Deep Into (A Person Who Looks Just Like) Herself
If all Cosima did this week was her spot-on impression of Aldous Leekie, she would still rank high in the clone sweepstakes. Noticing a bio-energy hobby farm in the corner of Leekie’s office, she declared: “Great Scott! I’ve created life itself!” (Possible pitch for an Orphan Black LSD episode: Tatiana Maslany plays all the characters, including the non-clones.)
But Cosima had a tougher job this week. Delphine revealed the existence of yet another clone — a sick girl, racked by the same illness that tormented the German, which promises to kill Cosima sometime soon. Delphine showed her video of the dying girl. Could Cosima handle it, she wondered? “I can handle it,” said Cosima. “Don’t be a bitch.”
And boy, did she have something to handle. Because Cosima led the autopsy of the dead clone — which is about as close as you can come to performing your own autopsy. She discovered that the disease seemed to originate from the uterus, implying that it could be the cause of all the clones’ infertility. Food for thought, mythology-wise: The clones were created by science, but they are destroyed by the part of the body that is usually responsible for creation.
3. Sarah Prefers Season 4 Daario Naharis, Turns Out
Sarah Manning took her adopted family on a road trip into the gorgeous countryside. (The country in question being Canmerica.) She was back once again with Felix, her brother, her confessor, the person who knows her best. They talked about the new revelations about their adoptive mother, Mrs. S, trying to rationalize the stone-cold Killer of Barry with the woman who made tea, who taught Felix how to play the piano.
They were a happy little family, the two adoptive siblings and the fatherless young girl. They made a good team. At the local grocery store, Kira pretended to pocket a little candy while Felix stole a fortnight’s worth of food. Classic running interference. They broke into a summer home out in the countryside. Felix figured it must belong to a bachelor: A photographer, maybe.
He was half-right and entirely wrong. The house belonged to Cal, played by Michiel Huisman, currently seen elsewhere in the TV universe as rakish barbarian-warrior Daario Naharis. He knew Sarah. Oh, did he know Sarah. “Last time I saw you, you took ten grand out of my car.” He looked angry. (I loved how Felix introduced himself: “Foster brother, and avowed pacifist.”) With perfect timing, Kira raced over. “Are you my dad?” she asked. Cal smiled. Felix smiled. Sarah didn’t smile. Cal frowned. Felix frowned. Kira smiled.
Yes, this was Kira’s father. The timing was right. And although Sarah could say she was just looking for a place to stay, the truth was more complicated. She never had a real mom and dad. She didn’t want that for Kira. “I brought you here because there’s two parts of you,” she explained. “One of them is me. And one of them is your dad.” A long time ago, Sarah liked Cal very much.
Easy to see why. Cal was a man of science, a man of principle, a man of the Earth. He worked in pollinators — hello, birth motif! –but he got Winklevoss’d by his partners. They’re working for the military now; Cal is on his own. (A recurring idea in Orphan Black: All major organizations are corrupt, government or corporate or religious or rebellious.)
And Sarah still wanted Cal. That much was clear. And this hurt Felix for so many reasons. Partially the lying, the fact that Sarah knew her daughter’s father this whole time. “You let me narrow it down to Ziggy the drummer and the guy you met in Orange County in that bar!” But also just the whole nature of this excursion, the life destruction that was Sarah’s stock in trade. “You are a bloody wrecking ball,” he told his sister. “You are an exploding cigar.” Felix had better things to do. Alison’s play was opening, after all. And, in the night’s most heartbreaking moment, the problem was even simpler: “There’s no place for me here.” He held back tears, and said goodbye to his niece, and hitchhiked home to The City.
Which left Sarah and Cal to reconnect, and boy oh boy did they ever reconnect! They slept together, and seemed to be 90% of the way towards becoming the modern post-nuclear family. At which point Evil Cylon Number Five, the fixer from Dyad, showed up to ruin everything. A gunfight ensued. The Fixer shot a local cop, grabbed Sarah, found the picture of Mrs. S and Project LEDA, and drove off, leaving Cal and Kira alone to ponder what precisely just happened. (Not coincidentally, this also leaves Kira in trustworthy safe hands, assuming the show wants to spend the rest of the season Kira-free.)
The Fixer called home base. He sounded concerned about the photo. He promised to be back in eight hours. That’s when a truck crashed right into them.
4. Helena, The Shakira-Haired Miracle
Helena was hungry. Helena wanted some chicken. She had a long conversation with Gracie, the distrustful Prolethean who looks at Helena the way people in Middle-Earth looked at Gollum. “You’re barely even human,” said Gracie. “I have a twin sister. And a niece.” I heff tween seester. And nyeece. Helena inquired about the current status of Tomas, her one-time handler. “My Dad sent him back to Europe in the Dark Ages,” said Gracie. Said Helena: “Good riddance.” Gyewd Reedunce. She spat out her chicken wing.
Helena doesn’t quite know what to make of her current situation. But she’s willing to play along. She sat waiting patiently, while Henrik had a long talk with little Gracie. (This whole talk was monitored by Art, who is doing some real detective work that seems guaranteed to turn out horrible for everyone.) Henrik told Gracie to set aside her old biases. “She does have a soul,” he said. “She’s gonna be part of our family now.”
Becoming part of the family required an old-fashioned ceremony. Helena awoke to find the Proletheans surrounding her, dressed in heavenly robes. Henrik intoned some fancy words. “Helena was created by man not in His name,” he said, “But God shone his light down upon her.” He asked the Lord to reclaim Helena from eternal damnation. He asked the Lord to bless their little flock with His bounty. “We are your instruments in the war for Creation.” Helena eyed Henrik — and what was that look on her face? Bemusement? Joy? She appeared to be plotting something. (Gracie did not approve.) Henrik carried her away from the flock, looking a little bit like the groom carrying the bride across the threshold — which reminded us that we know Henrik wants Helena to bore a child, and the precise details leading up to that blessed event haven’t been disclosed as yet. What does the future hold for Helena?
5. Jennifer Fitzsimmons, Teacher and Swim Coach at Sheldon High
And so the time has come again to praise the talents of Tatiana Maslany, who told a whole life story in brief video snippets of one young woman’s declining health. Jennifer Fitzsimmons loved her work; she had swim posters up in her room. She kept a video journal. She had polyps in her lungs. But there was amazing news. Aldous Leekie and the Dyad Institute wanted to help. They would fly her out for treatment. All thanks to Greg, her amazing boyfriend. (He was a monitor working for the Dyad Institute.) She had hope. Then she had no hope. She was naive, but in the end, she knew what was coming for her. Six months ago she was healthy. She died three days ago.
Fellow viewers, what did you think of the latest Orphan Black? Will the reviews be lacerating for Alison’s theater debut?
Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich