Orphan Black "Governed As It Were By Chance" Review: So Many Enemies, So Little Time
The first rule of war is and will always be, "Don't mix your camouflage." But the second rule of war is to know your enemy. Right now, Sarah and the clones have so many perceived enemies, it's difficult to tell which one is the greatest threat at any given moment. There's Rachel and the Dyad Institute; there's Henrik and the Proletheans; there's Angie, whose drive for answers is getting her ever closer to discovering the truth; there's the sickness weakening Cosima; and for a few terrifying moments in "Governed As It Were By Chance," there was Helena. (There's also the argument that the clones are their own worst enemies, especially in Alison's case, but I'll get to that in a bit.)
Many Orphan Black fans adore Helena because she enjoys jello and carries sugar packets in her pockets. I get it; she's like a child. But like, a child who's also a crazy murderer. I like the challenges Helena poses as a character, and the role she plays as the "mirror" of Sarah, but she hasn't yet done anything to prove that she deserves to be pardoned for her crimes. I was very concerned when Henrik and his religious science freaks wanted to use her body for their own agenda, because she was being held against her will and forced into unfortunate circumstances she didn't have any control over—she's a clone, but she's still a human being who deserves the same rights as everyone else. However, I don't necessarily think we should just accept her and open our arms to her because she's been on the receiving end of some terrible developments. And I think there are some fans of the show who look at Helena as if she's a lost puppy without a past that involves being a serial killer.
Helena was raised by Tomas and the Proletheans, who molded and manipulated her into the screwed-up person she is today. She was told she was the original and led to believe it was her duty to kill the rest of the rest of the clones because they were abominations. And after the events of the Season 1 finale, Sarah had every reason to fear for her life when Helena followed her to Rachel's and slashed Daniel's throat. Not only was Sarah super surprised because she thought she'd killed Helena, but Helena had also just murdered Daniel like it was no big deal (it was a big deal). And then she slunk toward Sarah like a hunter toward her prey. Of course Sarah, whose arms were bound, would be terrified in that moment.
And I would've been, too, because Helena is a wild card. We saw how easy it was for her to feign death only to turn around and attack Gracie (although we later found out she didn't kill the girl, only rendered her unconscious) in order to escape. And then we saw her slice up Daniel without a moment's pause. All I'm saying is, I think we should still be on alert when it comes to everyone's favorite Shakira-haired wannabe. That's not to say she won't join Sarah and the rest of the clones and eventually be redeemed in some way, but she's still too unpredictable and she still poses too much of a danger at this point.
Now, I say all of this knowing that the Proletheans did not, in fact, impregnate Helena. This storyline has been the most confusing and complicated one of Season 2 thus far, because we're still in the dark about the Proletheans' endgame. But does it really matter that they took something from Helena, instead of the other way around? Either way, she experienced something terribly invasive that happened to her against her will. If Henrik had forced himself on her, I think Orphan Black would've found itself in a controversy it never wanted. It feels wrong to say that what the Proletheans have done is better, but it's probably the lesser of the two evils. And now they're making babies in petri dishes or test tubes or whatever. If they'd impregnated Helena, they would have been more limited, but by taking this road, they have control and possibly the ability to do it again.
What's more, this storyline confirms that Helena shares the same ability to have children that Sarah does—which we all assumed anyway given their twin status—and raises the question of how many times the Proletheans could do this. And more importantly, it raises the question of why they're doing it? What exactly is it that they want?
But let's table the whacked-out fanatics for now and discuss what's going on with the other clones. After tumbling from the stage during her opening-night performance in the musical last week, Alison woke up in rehab with a broken (sprained?) arm/wrist! Unlike the others, Alison's greatest danger is indeed herself. To the public she's calm and collected, if a bit uptight, but on the inside she's a mess. We all love Ramone and his car trunk full of goodies, but Alison's pill-popping, drink-guzzling days are what landed her in her current predicament. Donnie might be an asshole who's threatening her with legal action, but to be honest, rehab is the best place for Alison to be right now.
Alison's paranoia and neuroses, while often funny to us, are actually what's threatening her wellbeing day after day. She's not dying like Cosima. She doesn't have people trying to kidnap her children like Sarah. She's not being used as a lab rat like Helena. She signed her contract with Dyad so she could feel safe and normal, but her guilt over letting Aynsley die, especially now she knows that Donnie is her real monitor, has caused a pretty serious downward spiral. I'm not sure how long the writers can keep her locked up in rehab and haver her still be integral to the overarching story, but she does need to fix herself. Hell, she doesn't even know that she fell off the stage during the musical. "The people got their money's worth," is all Felix told her about the performance. Oh, Fe.
Speaking of everyone's favorite foster brother, he and Sarah teamed up to do a little snooping in Mrs. S's house (while Mrs. S was trying to get information out of Carl, the man who brought Sarah to her door all those years ago). It was nice to see Felix and Sarah working together after he bolted last week, but their relationship is far from fixed. At least the pair discovered some old newspapers that revealed Mrs. S knows more about what's happening than she's ever let on (duh), but her interactions with Carl (not the sexy ones) prove that she doesn't know all that much. The newspaper article at least led to the revelation that Rachel was raised by the two scientists in the Project LEDA photo. As Cosima pointed out, this probably means Rachel was raised self-aware—the only clone to have been—which is why she feels elite to the rest of the Clone Club and why she's willingly working with Dyad and Doctor Leekie.
This also means that, had Amelia not bolted and given up Sarah and Helena for adoption, they could have been Rachel. They wouldn't have become wards of the state or been taken in by religious fanatics. They would have lived what appeared to be a pretty nice life until their scientist parents died in a lab explosion. It's another brilliant example of the way Orphan Black addresses the "nature versus nurture" argument and the question of how we're shaped by our environments. Rachel had the life Sarah and Helena were supposed to have, and while there were clearly advantages to that life, was it better? Will knowing this affect Sarah going forward? Will she come to resent Rachel in addition to simply hating her for being a bitch? Or will she realize that the life she's had with Mrs. S, Felix, and Kira, while not picture-perfect, is actually the more desirable one? I'd love to see the series address these questions head-on, because as I mentioned last week, Sarah has done nothing but run from her life since the moment we met her. Maybe this new development will help her see that her life can actually be considered pretty good. You know, once she puts all her enemies in their place. Rachel is cold and narcissistic, and that probably has something to do with how she was raised. She's not exactly the type of person you dream about being as a little girl. And she was shacking up with Daniel, who was her monitor. We learned so much about Rachel this week, guys, and she wasn't even present. And as I mentioned above, knowing your enemy is the second rule of war.
Orphan Black's success often lies in what's left unsaid, allowing the show to dole out small clues at perfectly structured intervals. "Governed As It Were By Chance" is a perfect example of that. The pace of the series, as well as its ability to mix the dramatic, the mysterious, the dark, and the humorous, continues to be its greatest strength. There are so many storylines running parallel to one another that no one would fault the series if it got lost in them, but it's currently managing just fine. Hell, it's not just managing, it's thriving. Season 2 has proven to be just as exciting as Season 1, even with all the different plots. The writers put Art's investigation on the back burner for the past two weeks, but he still feels integral to the story as he stakes out the religious fanatics and their homestead. He also bought Helena some time to escape this week. And even though he probably only appeared on screen for two minutes, it was enough to remind us he's still there, working the whole thing from a different angle.
The series' complexity continues to keep me more than interested and on the edge of my couch week after week, but if there's one place it's failing, it's Cosima and her illness. I think this is purposeful, and it looks like we're finally going to dive into her storyline next week, so I'll give it a pass for now. But considering she's going to die if she doesn't find out what it is and how to stop it, I just wish there was more time each week to explore her progress. Let's hope the rest of the season makes it (and her) a priority.
– "Twenty years ago you brought an orphan to my door. 'Put her in the black,' you said. 'As black as it gets.'" Oh look, the writers finally found a way to explain the title of the series!
– Last week, Cal rammed the car with Sarah and Daniel in it in order to save Sarah. So far I've really enjoyed Cal's character. He's... calm in a way that literally no one else on this show is. I know Sarah is keeping him in the dark about the truth of the situation for his own good, but I have to wonder how long that can last. He's already taking care of Kira while she's off trying to solve the mystery of her life, but if she keeps asking for favor after favor from him without giving him anything in return, he's just going to blow up like Felix.
– I can't wait for Mrs. S to join the team with Sarah and the rest of the clones. She's an asset! But I do like that, just like Art, she's doing her own investigation. All of this has to come together nicely at some point.
– "I don't believe I have ever done 'the nasty.'" Alison Hendrix, ladies and gentlemen!
– LOL at the image of Helena wearing a wedding dress and running through a field with her crazy hair. I should have submitted that to FTW vs. WTF this week.
– Hot Paul is back next week!
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