Saturday, May 10, 2014

Clone Club, Attack! Orphan Black is Back!

Have you ever felt like if you have to make one more decision, you'll just explode? Lately, that's how things have been for me - like I'm in a batting cage and the baseballs are coming at me faster than I can swing at them. Sometimes I knock one out of the park, but more often than not I feel like I've been missing them left and right. With so many big choices to make about my job, my future, and my finances lately, little decisions, like what to have for breakfast, have me agonizing like never before. I just wish there was a little genie sitting on my shoulder who would proclaim "YOU SHALL HAVE THE MINI-WHEATS!" when I'm standing paralyzed in front of my fridge in the morning. Sadly, he has not appeared out of any of my discarded Tropicana bottles yet, so I've had to figure out other ways to keep myself from spinning into orbit...


My mantra in times like this used to be, "Relax! At least you're not Fiona Gallagher." This little Shameless-inspired speech would often put things into perspective for me, because no matter how terrible my day was going, at least I didn't have to dig up a dead body, find my drunk father in a crack house, or raise my six siblings at age 19. As all of us Shameless fans know, Fiona had a tougher year than ever - girl's got problems for sure - but ever since I fell in love with last year's BBC America cult hit, Orphan Black, I have a new mantra: "At least you're not Sarah Manning."


While Fiona may have struggles I'll never begin to understand, Sarah's got problems that are not of this stratosphere. Since Season 1, she's been dealing with impersonating a dead cop, keeping her daughter safe from mad scientists, running from her murderous identical twin and her fellow religious extremists, discovering whether or not she can trust her shifty foster mother, OH, and finding out she's part of an international cloning conspiracy, and that her genetic code is officially property of the Dyad corporation. Phew. Not having enough for rent doesn't sound so bad now, does it?

With a whole year to wait for Orphan Black's return, it felt like we would never know the result of Sarah's biggest problem: finding Kira. Well, we're officially three episodes in to Season 2, and Sarah's got a whole new mess of issues to deal with already, most of our burning questions have yet to be answered, and my heart hasn't stopped pounding since minute one. In fact, Season 2 has wildly exceeded my expectations (not like I ever expected Orphan Black to have a sophomore slump, but to be this consistently good seemed almost impossible). So, what do you say, Clone Club? Shall we dive into this year's first three episodes? Good TV waits for no woman - I say it's time.


WARNING: There are a TON of spoilers down below for any newbies out there, so if you haven't watched yet and want to, please don't let me ruin the awesomeness for you - go binge now and come back later! I'll still be here with my crack-pot theories when you're done.

Where to begin? All of the clones have really interesting story lines this season, but it's my girl Sarah who's got the most crazy stuff going on, so let's start there. On the hunt for Kira and Mrs. S., Sarah escapes getting kidnapped by two Neolutionist henchmen (reminiscent of the soap drinking scene in the pilot episode - which was also the moment that got me hooked on the series - Sarah again outwits life itself by bashing through a bathroom wall with a fire extinguisher!) and heads over to the Dyad institute in a pretty convincing Cosima costume to kick some ass. After beating the crap out of Rachel - and cementing her status as my favorite clone, #sarah4eva - she discovers that the Dyad doesn't have her family, but manipulative Rachel used her maternal guilt to trick her into coming in. Sarah's not having it. Instead, she finally comes clean to Art about the clone-spiracy, and while enlisting his help to find Kira, she gets kidnapped and thrown in the trunk of a car by a potential Prolethian who turns out to work for...DUN DUN DUN...Mrs. S!?! She took Kira to a compound - the same one she took Sarah and Felix to when they were kids - in order to "keep her safe", but I'm not buying it (and neither is Kira, apparently). Sarah takes Kira in the middle of the night, and thank god, because the bird watching nuts who were supposedly on their side sold them out to the Prolethian religious extremists, but don't worry they both end up dead by a gun-toting Mrs. S. who knows more than she previously let on about Project LEDA. Who's side are you on, lady? I guess we won't find out for a while since S stays behind, and Sarah, Kira, and Felix go on the lamb, crash an old farm house, and, surprise! the person who lives there is Cal, the rustic weed farmer with a great beard who also happens to be Sarah's ex-lover/mark and Kira's DAD (one question answered, 200 million to go...) and also he and Sarah did it, it was super hot, and let me catch my breath because we're not even done yet! In last week's episode, Sarah was kidnapped by Daniel, the sunglassed-fake-lawer-fake-detective who has been on her trail since the end of last year. But don't get too worried, the previews for tonight's episode indicate he won't be around for much longer...


Meanwhile, Cosima is investigating her biology at the Dyad with the very shady Delphine, and the introduction of a new clone, Jennifer, who died from the same disease Cosima is suffering from. Watching Cosima perform the autopsy on Jennifer, a literal carbon copy of herself, was one of the most intense and sad moments of the series to date. Tatiana Maslany has been serioulsy crushing it this season, and her understated performance as the strong, science-minded, but suddenly vulnerable Cosima has been one of my favorite things about these past few episodes. While Cosima's been wrestling with questions of clone fertility and her own iminent death, Alison has been dealing with the fall-out from Ainsley's death, and it hasn't been pretty. When she discovers - long after we have - that Donnie has always been her monitor, her guilt over letting Ainsley choke to death leads her back to some heavy self-medication, and a scary fall from the stage on opening night of her musical (the rehersal scenes have also been some of the funniest of the season, but now that Alison has officially unraveled, it's time for some more time with her and Felix, don't you think?). Then we've got the biggest surprise of all: wait for it, HELENA'S ALIVE! That's right folks, she's a mirror image twin, which means Sarah's shot to the heart didn't actually kill her, since her heart's not on that side! Instead, she's been rehabilitated and freed from the grasp of Tomas (dead, you know) and put into the care of some people who, shockingly, are even more terrifying. These science-loving religious extremists (??) are itching to impregnate her, and Helena's drugged-out-forced-marriage to their leader was some really harrowing stuff. I have no words for how disturbing the lead-up to her unseen rape was...it was just horrific, and nauseating, and almost too much. But damn, Orphan Black takes it there, further exposing the way women's bodies are still so often seen as just a means to an end. With the clones' exploitation and infertility, and Sarah's continued sacrifices for her daughter remaining as major themes this year, Orphan Black brings a desparetely needed feminist (don't worry, Shailene Woodley, I'll explain that word to you later) viewpoint to TV and a unique twist on the sci-fi genre that never stops surprising me.


Now it's time for those crackpot theories I promised! Theory number one: We know Mrs. S. knows more about the clone's origins then we once believed, but I don't think she's still on the Neolutionist's side at this point. My theory: she's "the original" (or the one whose genes were used to create the clones), but after the experiment took off, she had second thoughts and decided to protect Sarah, the only one she had access to, from being monitored by the Dyad. Theory number two: I've said this before, but I bet you Felix is also a Project LEDA clone, and his look-a-likes will be appearing very soon. And finally, Theory number three: The Dyad has clearly tricked Cosima and Alison into signing their lives away, but I have a feeling once Cosima discovers the key to the clones' biology, the tables will be turned in a big way - there's a clone revolution a'brewin', and between Alison's gun connections and Cosima's "crazy science", these two are going to be at the forefront from the inside (just don't tell Delphine ANYTHING, Cosima! She's giving your blood away to Leekie for god's sakes, she's a traitor!).

What do I want for Season 2? More of Jennifer's video blogs please! They're tough to watch, but even with her short time on screen, she's already become a very interesting character I'd love to learn more about. And how about some Felix/Cosima interaction? I'd love to see more of the two of those characters on screen together, since as of now their dynamic is pretty much unexplored. Plus how about less time with the cops (Toronto PD, you're done here, this is above your paygrade) and no more Kira/Sarah separation! I can't - it's too emotional!


Wait, Felix! We don't have to say goodbye just yet! For more Orphan Black awesomeness, check out NPR's interview with Tatiana Maslany here and get ready for episode 4, tonight, May 10th at 9PM on BBC America! I'll be recapping episodes each week until the season ends (a la Shameless and Leah's epic Under-the-Dome-caps!) so Clone Club can keep meeting all summer long!

NEXT WEEK: I'll be checking out USA's new series, Playing House, and talking about some of my favorite lady friendships on TV! See you then!

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