The title of this week’s Orphan Black episode is “Knowledge of Causes, and Secret Motion of Things,” a line which — as we all learned in Sunday School — comes from Francis Bacon’s unfinished work New Atlantis. The novel describes Bacon’s ideal utopian society, an optimistic science-tropolis where all of humanity joins together in a happy pursuit of mutual enlightenment. There’s a very basic flaw in Bacon’s vision, of course. Humans are humans, and humans are not perfect — at least, not yet.
Much of the series so far has revolved, directly or not, around the teachings and machinations of Dr. Aldous Leekie, a man who believed in the perfectability of human beings. Although he never said it explicitly, it seems quite possible that Leekie was one of those men who never quite believed he would die. Certainly, as a scientist, he had presided over or otherwise witnessed tremendous leaps forward. Surely, he imagined a glorious future for himself. Certainly, he imagined that — even if he died — his death would be a grand one, undertaken by shadowy forces. Killed by his scientific opponents, or perhaps by those closest to him. Surely, Dr. Aldous Leekie never imagined that death would come for him in the form of Donnie Hendrix: Lovable Donnie, duncecap Donnie, Donnie who probably knows the least about the greater forces circling through Orphan Black than anyone.
But as Dr. Leekie fled his old life, it was Donnie who chased him down. He held a gun on the doctor. “You lied to me!” he said. “You came into my house and probed my wife!” Dr. Leekie had no time for this madness. “Listen to me, you turnip,” said the good Doctor. “In a hundred years’ time, no one will care in any way about Donnie Hendrix except as a footnote in this experiment.” Leekie told Donnie to put the gun down, go home in bed, leave the science stuff to the important science types. Donnie was sad. He was frustrated. “I quit!” he said, slamming the gun against the wheel…and, in the process, he pulled a Marvin, spraying Dr. Leekie’s brains all across the inside of his car. There was no dignity for Aldous Leekie: “Love Is All Around” struck up on the soundtrack.
It’s sad to see Matt Frewer go — although that was one hell of an exit. And “Knowledge of Causes” was a great showcase for cast members both new (Michelle Forbes! Woo, Admiral Cain!) and old (the essential Kristian Bruun got to pay off two seasons of lovable-insidious Donnie tomfoolery with a couple of scenes that strongly implied that Donnie is about to go even crazier than Alison.) And so, as we once again feed our newest findings into the Orphan Black Clone Status Variable Invasive Hyper-Sequence Generator Calcutron, we come up with a rather victor in this week’s race for America’s Next Top Clone:
1. Felix, the Brother Sestra
There are aspects of Orphan Black season 2 that have felt a bit unsteady. And then there is Felix, the rock, a guaranteed quote fountain and the essential second banana for every Maslany-looking character on this show. Alison’s having some trouble with Vic? Call up Felix, who can call the traitorous ex-boyfriend a “selfish manure-bag of a man!” He pointed out that Vic has “giant banana-hands.” When Vic declared his love for Sarah and prepared to deliver his closing statement, he suddenly collapsed. Why? “I may have spiked his tea,” said Felix. Staring down at the fallen Victor, covered in embroidery supplies, he deadpanned: “Look like he’s been molested by elves.” Felix is simply the go-to guy, whether you’re disposing of unconscious traitors or you’re in the mood for some really bleak painting or you just need someone who can understand why you might have let your best friend die horribly from choking.
2. Sarah, This Week’s Best Alison
I can’t think of anything I enjoy more on television right now than the sight of Tatiana Maslany playing one clone playing another one. And so, the god bestowed upon us the image of Sarah-as-Alison, delivering the keynote speech during Family Day at Rehab Central. “We stand among you today,” declared Sarah. “Pill-poppers and boozehounds, hop-heads, tweakers, rummies…” That was mere prologue, though, as Donnie took the stage to participate in a little role-playing. Donnie played Alison, and Sarah played Alison playing Donnie, until Sarah started playing Alison playing Donnie playing Alison. Credit must again go to Bruun in this scene, who nailed Alison so well: “Don’t stammer, Donnie! And stand up straight…or I’ll withold affection.”
Sarah spent the rest of the episode hanging out with Cal, who has quickly become a loving and all-around very understanding partner, considering that a girl he hasn’t seen in several years walked back into his life and said: “Hi, Cal! This girl is your daughter. I’m on the run from a major corporation. Bye, Cal!” Cal, for his part, has offered Sarah a new vision of a better life: They can go to Reykjavik, start over, live a happy Icelandic life. If only.
3. Alison, This Week’s Third-Best Alison
You simply can’t trust anyone today, can you? Here’s Alison Hendrix, trying to turn over a new life, putting her faith in a man like Vic. Together, they embroidered. Together, they chatted. She unburdened herself. She told him about that time she slept with Aynsley’s husband, and that other time that she let Aynsley choke to death right in front of her. She believed in him! She had faith in another human being! And what happened? What always happens! Betrayal! He called up Detective DeAngelis and said he’d sell out Alison for his freedom.
Tough times ahead for Alison Hendrix, no question. “I can’t go to jail, Felix!” she declared. “I don’t have the temperament! In the shower, if they touch me, I will cut them!” Sarah was to blame, of course. Isn’t Sarah secretly to blame for all of this? For filling up Alison’s life with her sort of people…with finks and rats and snitches and fuzz? Alison called her in to help — and what do you think happened? What always happened! Sarah ran off to impersonate Alison, leaving Alison to dispose of the unconscious Victor.
For once, though: Catharsis! Donnie walked in on Sarah and Alison. Alison was tired of all the lies. She showed her clone-sister to her husband. She told Donnie that he destroyed our family, with his lies and his spying. Donnie responded that he didn’t really know anything — he signed up for a “long-term social metrics” study that was supposedly benign, making him the world’s most clueless Monitor. “I love you so much, and you ruined our family,” said Alison, “And you’re so stupid, you don’t even know why.”
4. Cosima, Who Only Wants To Do The Right Thing, The Poor Girl
So this is just another one of those episodes of television where someone gets to watch stem cells get inserted into her uterus while her lover rubs her hand and kisses her lips. “This is the beginning of you getting well, Cosima,” said Delphine. Cosima seemed skeptical, and with good reason: Turns out those stem cells came from Kira, from a tooth that dropped out during her run-in with a car last season.
Cosima was not happy: Not with Dyad, not with Delphine. “This is my lab, my body,” said Cosima. “I’m the science.” She told Delphine to get out. (Those two crazy kids are just not gonna make it.)
5. Rachel, The Empress Who Struck Back
Turns out that Mrs. S had a few more secrets up her sleeve. She’s actually a chessmaster of the first order. On this week’s episode, she met with Dr. Leekie and seemed to be making a deal with him. She offered him the floppy disks containing all of the original Duncan research. The deal was for Mrs. S and for Kira; Leekie agreed.
But of course, this was just the prologue to a backstabbing. Because Mrs. S took Rachel to meet her father: The principle being that Rachel vs. Leekie would work out well for the Clone Club, no matter who lost out. We didn’t get to see very much of Rachel’s reunion with her daddy, although we did see a couple tears sink down her cruel visage. But we did see the aftermath: Rachel, striking against Dr. Leekie, with a little help from next-level Big Bad Marian. “Go now,” she said to Leekie. “Don’t get in your car. Don’t go home. You might survive.” It was a big moment, even if it felt a little bit like we never quite got to see Rachel and Leekie’s relationship. “It’s foolish to spare you,” said Rachel. “But you raised me. Nurture prevails.”
We have just a few episodes of Orphan Black left, and the death of Leekie leaves Rachel in a strange place. Is she now working for Marian? Or is she aligned with the Clone Club? Or does she have some other, deeper plot in mind? Rachel’s reunion with her father didn’t seem to immediately switch her from Evil to Good, and if she’s in charge of Dyad now, it could be that she’s as bad as ever. Conversely, Marian seems even more insidious than Dr. Leekie. Is season 2 of Orphan Black setting us up for a Rachel vs. Marian battle for the soul of Dyad? If synthetic life forms have a soul, can a corporation have one, too?
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