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'Orphan Black' recap: 'Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis'

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Steve Wilkie for BBC AMERICA

Orphan Black

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
tvpgr:
TV-MA
seasons:
4
run date:
03/30/13
performer:
Taitana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris
broadcaster:
BBC America
genre:
Action, Drama, Scifi

If these Castor clones are a bunch of glitches, why are they taking up so much of our time? It’s Episode 2 of Orphan Black and those unstable, freaky copies are mucking about, messing with our girls—and girls everywhere—for that matter. The title of this week’s episode, “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis” comes—as did Episode 1’s title, “The Weight of This Combination”—from President Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell speech, which addressed the need for maintaining a sufficient military presence with concern over Cold War enemies. But it also warned that focusing too much attention on these prolonged engagements could hinder our way of life. The phrase “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis” is found in this sentence: “To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much ‘the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis,’ but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle—with liberty at stake.”

In the context of this season of Orphan Black, we are mired in “transitory sacrifices of crisis.” Eisenhower’s quote feels markedly similar to Dr. Nealon’s comments to Cosima and Scott when he makes it very clear that he will do anything in the name of science and his overall goals, and will not get caught up in the casualties along the way. “Hard science requires hard choices,” he tells them. Of course, along the way there will be casualties, which as we saw in Saturday’s episode came in the form of mustachioed Seth and his glitchy fits of rage that ultimately caused scar clone Rudy to put a bullet in his chest. Did anyone else feel a twinge of glee when he went down? One less Castor Ghost Soldier to deal with.

While the show creators want us to feel sympathy for these Castors—after all, they are in fact as manipulated as the Leda girls—I’m not yet feeling much sympathy. I’d like that to change since the real enemies are the ones behind this grand demented experiment, and I have faith that it will.

Let’s get down to business and put our clones through the Orphan Black Clone Status Variable Invasive Hyper-Sequence Generator Calcutron and rank them according to their superiority over the Castors.

1. Helena, the Scorpion Whisperer

Poor Helena is at ground zero of the Castor experiment, a desert-like military base which, according to Dr. Cody, is filled with good nighttime air and ample smoking spots. But that doesn’t mean Helena isn’t having a bitch of a time. Just when she is released from the box, military Castor takes charge of waterboarding her relentlessly while taking blood and saliva samples until Dr. Virginia Cody—who looks a lot like Mrs. S.—calls them off. Apparently the Prolethean fertilization worked and she is in fact pregnant. The good news is she will no longer be tortured. The bad news is she’s likely carrying a demon baby inside of her and Dr. Cody makes her believe her sestras have sold her out. “You’re not expendable to me or my boys,” Dr. Cody says, reminding us that we still don’t really know what the Castors want from Leda. Cody is clearly puzzled by the sestras’ overall resilience to both nature and nurture issues while the Castors appear to be much more vulnerable. Thank goodness Helena’s pet scorpion is still around to provide her solace and even test advice. Helena is administered some logic tests, the same logic puzzles Paul puts to the male clones that Seth has trouble completing. But not our Helena. She ignores the test completely, and rather than answer with true or false, she says, “Where are these mangoes? I would like to see these mangoes,” providing one of the few moments of levity in an otherwise relentlessly bleak episode.

NEXT: Another great performance by Tatiana Maslany

[pagebreak]

2. Sarah, no rest for the weary

So we didn’t get much Leda clone interaction this episode, but we did get another terrific Maslany performance, this time in the form of protective mother Sarah when she thought Kira was going to be captured by Rudy Castor and her subsequent letting go of Kira to Cal and Iceland. Her anguish over the possibility of losing Kira to that mysterious organization and the despair that followed was palpable in the final scenes of the episode. Once again her efforts to provide her daughter with a stable home life were thwarted.

Apparently, the possible good news is that Paul still has Sarah’s back, coming to Cal, the war profiteer, to warn him to stop Sarah from snooping into Castor. “Deal was cut to buy Sarah space and time,” Paul says to Cal. Unfortunately, she’s not taking either. And just when Sarah is getting comfy with the idea of settling down with Kira, Cal, and his new pad paid for by his past history as a weapon designer, the Castors have to come and threaten her and her daughter and split her family apart again. And seriously, what’s with Rudy-with-his-eyes-X’d-out infiltrating Kira’s fort? After Kira being kidnapped in the first season by Helena, how is this child ever going to be a normal functioning human? What she’s seen as a child would haunt anyone’s memories forever. But let’s get down to motive here. They want, and seem to desperately need, the tissue samples from the Castor originals in order to save themselves and they think Sarah has them.

3. Allison, getting ready to channel Mary-Louise Parker

She may have had nothing to do with this week’s primary plot surrounding the Castors and their agenda, but for that we are thankful. Rather, Allison’s purpose settled squarely on Team Hendricks’ suburban challenges—never thought about how hard it would be to sell a home with a corpse buried in your garage—and how she and her malaprop-loving husband—”Fist Me”, it’s a saying—need to address their income shortage. Apparently, she’s been watching Weeds while she exercises because clearly the solution lies in becoming a prescription-drug dealer when her teenaged supplier goes off to college. And not only will her new career provide additional cash, it also gives her the added benefit of a client list she can turn into a voting block when she runs for school trustee. What could go wrong?

4. Cosima, the calmer, more spiritual version

Cosima, healthier and seeking a higher power, essentially served as this week’s exposition lesson, meeting with Scott and Dr. Nealon, the new scientist in charge under Delphine. Everyone wants the original genome and it’s Dr. Nealon who explains that the Duncans, Rachel’s parents, initially found two lines of clones but they never disclosed who the original donors were. We knew Leda was founded by the military under the Duncans’ guidance. At the time, the Duncans started two lines, one male, one female. But only the female line was brought to Dyad when the military shut down the project. So the question is, why did they shut Leda down but keep Castor operational? Are the Leda clones too independent, too hard to control? While the Castors, until the glitches started, more easily manipulated? Nealon made it clear that the originals for both Castor and Leda are lost. But Cosima has Duncan’s secret formula. Will it be enough? These are questions I’m sure will be answered in episodes to come.

Sidenotes:

*In the final scene, Prolethean clone Mark burns his two-headed horse tattoo off—the tattoo that we see in the previews is actually a tracking device. Is Mark the good clone? The one who wants to raise the demon baby growing inside Gracie’s womb and leave the military fold? Is he susceptible to the glitches too?

*Felix has now been reduced to the perennial caretaker, handing out phones, tea, and good advice with equal measure. But I need him to have more then a few good lines an episode. Can his part have more substance? Can we give him his own story?

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