Orphan Black "Knowledge of Causes, and Secret Motion of Things" Review: Luck Versus Karma
Since its earliest beginnings, Orphan Black has been a study of opposition. Sarah versus Beth. Science versus religion. Nature versus nurture. Comedy versus drama. And while we weren't always aware of it, we've been watching The Leekie Versus Dyad Show for a few weeks now—though "Knowledge of Causes, and Secret Motion of Things" brought that chapter of Orphan Black to a close when Donnie accidentally murdered Leekie just moments after Rachel had spared his life. Was Leekie's death bad luck, or was it the handiwork of that fateful bitch named karma?
From the moment he was introduced in Season 1, Dr. Aldous Leekie was a man of mystery (no, not like that other guy). He was a scientist with power and influence thanks to his position within Dyad and his history with the cloning experiment, but we were never able to predict his moves because he always had his own agenda involving the clones. But it's become increasingly clear over the course of Season 2 that Leekie wasn't necessarily the master of his own design.
Rachel told Paul in "Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est" that her role in the Dyad Group technically outranked Leekie's as the director of the Dyad Institute. If we want to look at this another way, Rachel personifies the business side of things while Leekie personifies the science side, and the two were locked in a mostly silent battle until Rachel's boss Marian Bowles—played to perfection by the always wonderful Michelle Forbes—stepped in this week with the double-cross. Rachel had the opportunity to meet with her father thanks to Mrs. S and Paul's fluid allegiances, and even after learning the truth about Leekie's involvement in her mother's death, she still chose to let him live rather than standing by and allowing Marian's plan to get rid of Leekie to play out. "It's foolish to spare you, but you raised me," she said without a hint of emotion. "Nurture prevails."
Nurture may have won this round, but Rachel's cold exterior belies little evidence that Leekie actually meant anything to her. In fact, rather than sadness, I'd almost call Rachel's demeanor one of disgust, probably over what she perceives to be a weakness. But this entire exchange goes deeper than just the Rachel and Leekie relationship, and it raises one very important question in the overall mythology of Orphan Black: Was Leekie ever really the threat we thought he was?
I'm inclined to say no, that Leekie was just another pawn in this ever-expanding game of chess, but I also don't want to discredit everything that's happened so far just because Leekie was eliminated from the game by someone as ignorant as Donnie, a man who thought he was participating in a long-term sociology study and had no idea his wife was a clone. Orphan Black takes great pleasure in addressing the duality of human nature, and it's never once pretended to exist in a world drawn only in black and white. Instead, the series chooses to live in the fringes—not just of science, but of morality. This theme has been present throughout the series, which is why I found myself feeling conflicted during that final scene between Leekie and Rachel. Leekie wasn't necessarily evil, or completely evil—just like Rachel, just like Helena, and just like every single other character we've come across so far (except maybe Tomas, which would explain why he's now dead).
It's true that Leekie was a villain in the true sense of the word; he was often at odds with the clones, and he procured the tooth Kira lost when she was hit by a car, which is how the Dyad Institute acquired her stem cells that were used to treat Cosima. But he wasn't a villain for just for the sake of being a villain. On Orphan Black, there's always something bigger, something more dangerous and mysterious looming up ahead, and although Leekie wasn't a member of the Clone Club, he did have a vested interest in its members' wellbeing, which sometimes gave off the appearance of an alliance.
Without Leekie, what will become of the clones now? What does his death mean for Cosima? Will her treatments continue? She was—as I predicted she would be—rightfully pissed at Delphine for neglecting to tell her the truth about the origin of the stem cells used in the treatment, and she even kicked Delphine out of her lab. It was a bit childish, but who hasn't ordered someone out of their private sanctuary for being a big fat liar? Unfortunately, Cosima's still dying, so Kira ripped out her own tooth to help her (that kid is braver than I could ever hope to be). But will Rachel and Marian and the big business of Dyad steamroll Cosima's treatments in another ploy to get to Sarah and Kira? With Leekie out of the picture, will Marian decide that Sarah's not worth the risk she poses and simply attempt to eliminate her?
This new development raises so many questions about what we thought we knew and where we thought this season was headed; in fact, it potentially changes the entire trajectory of the story. It seems like such an Orphan Black thing to do in Episode 7 of 10 that I don't even know why I was surprised when the gun went off and Leekie's brain matter splattered onto Donnie's car windows.
Perhaps it was because most of the hour was one of Orphan Black's funnier outings? The quick shift in tone practically gave me whiplash.
Prior to the Rachel and Leekie interaction that set off the final few moments of "Knowledge of Causes, and Secret Motion of Things," I thought this review would be full of praise for the return of the hilarious comedy stylings of Alison and Felix. That, plus a big round of applause for the episode finally giving us what I believe was the first interaction between Sarah and Alison we've seen all season. Orphan Black has purposefully kept the clones apart this season, giving each one her own storyline, but it looks like they're finally coming together just in time for a spectacular final arc. And someone somewhere must have been reading my diary, because the series even took things one step further and gave us Sarah pretending to be Alison, which is always a good time.
I should've known better than to think Orphan Black would gift us with a purely comedic episode, but I am definitely grateful it gave us all that it did. Mixing black comedy with Black drama prevents the story from getting too bogged down, and Orphan Black is currently one of the best shows on TV in terms of striking a balance between the two. Leekie's death, while humorous because it was freaking Donnie who took him out, was still a serious-enough development to fill this episode's drama quota, and pairing it with the image of Vic falling headfirst into Alison's craft table—or of Felix lugging an unconscious and glittered Vic through the halls of the rehab facility while trying to hide him from Angie—kept things light.
The scene with Vic's head bouncing off a wall was equally entertaining, as was Felix's continued annoyance throughout the entire escapade. From "He looks like he was molested by elves" to "Sweet Jesus, I am done with glitter," Felix was back in fine form with the one-liners this week. I much prefer Dry, Sarcastic Felix to Drunk, Angry Felix.
It'll be interesting to see how Donnie continues to factor into the series now that he's unintentionally murdered Leekie, and I look forward to finding out whether nurture will continue to prevail, or if nature will make a comeback. Either way, "Knowledge of Causes, and Secret Motion of Things" was a fun ride that ended with an exciting set-up for the final three episodes of the season.
– Another win for nurture this week came when
Nailgun Ken Paul credited Mrs. S as the person from whom Sarah inherited her "knack for burning things down." It's too bad Sarah still doesn't trust Mrs. S, which is understandable given Sarah's inability to trust people in general, but it's no less frustrating. When is she going to get it through her head that Mrs. S is an asset and on her side? They have the same goal—to keep Kira safe and out of Dyad's hands—so why can't Sarah just accept it and take Mrs. S's help?
– "My father sends his regards" gave me flashbacks to Game of Thrones; if someone doesn't do an Orphan Black/GoT mash-up I'm going to be very sad.
– Cal's going to figure everything out on his own, right? He's a smart-enough guy. He's going to figure everything out and come swooping in a few episodes from now like some old-fashioned hero, RIGHT?
– "I like pottery." Well, color me surprised, Paul.
– "I can't go to jail, Felix! I don't have the temperament. In the shower, if they touch me, I will cut them!"
– "No wonder, with those giant banana hands of yours."
– "You selfish manure bag of a man!"
– No Helena this week. Uh-oh.
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