TV Episode Review: “Orphan Black” “To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings” (02.06, 2014)

“If you knew where Swan Man was, you would leave me behind.”

Helena may be a psychopathic child, but she isn’t stupid. We open this week with a scene of Helena and Sarah camping out in the woods, Helena acting the fun child for Sarah even as Mr. Big Dick searches their car to discover what exactly Sarah is after out in the middle of nowhere. As they drive away, Helena finds the Archies on the radio and continues to drive Sarah nuts like a child.

The fact that she’s listening to the Archies is interesting. For those who don’t know, the Archies are one of the many fake bands that populated the ’60s. They were supposedly cartoon characters performing the music. In reality, it was just a competent set of bubblegum studio artists with no real image–much the same setup that would create a scandal for Milli Vanilli years later. In a show about clones, someone listening to music created by a faceless bubblegum music factory is very appropriate.

Helena ends up back in the hands of the Proletheans, willingly this time, because she’s a child and her loyalties, as strong as they are, are fickle. Her sestra doesn’t need her as much as her babies would, so she’ll go to the babies. And she may have shown earlier that she has a brain by realizing that Sarah would leave her behind, but she also has a child’s naivete, accepting what Mark and Gracie tell her essentially unquestioningly.

“A place of screams.”

Cold River, unsurprisingly, turns out to be an old institution named the Cold River Institute. While we don’t get many specifics, it seems to have been the forerunner to Project LEDA, one that was interested in breeding patterns, eugenics, and the “nature-nurture debate.”* It’s unsurprising information, but information they probably needed to give us at some point.

“I’ve been demoted from babysitter to bargaining chip.”

Felix and Sarah’s relationship at this point is essentially broken. Felix feels like he is really nothing more to Sarah than one of her marks, and it’s an understandable reaction–as much as she may care about him, Sarah hasn’t been shy about using Felix where he’s necessary and dumping him when she doesn’t need him. She probably sees the dumping him as keeping him out of harm’s way, but he doesn’t see it that way.

However, Felix still cares too much about Sarah not to help Art out in trying to piece things together. And it’s Felix, not Art, who can find what Sarah needs later. Felix is still the one Sarah needs.

“I’ve been at it longer, so I’m better at it than you.”

Mrs. S is an older, wiser version of Sarah, isn’t she? I never really thought about it before, but imagine what Sarah will be like in 20 years–isn’t it essentially the same as Mrs. S? She has Sarah’s confidence, but it’s not as often spilling into overconfidence as Sarah’s is. She knows that Paul is there and goes to talk to him when Sarah has had no clue at all.

“Aldous Leekie killed my Susan. He killed Rachel’s mother.”

I really don’t understand why this moment was treated as some sort of revelation. I assumed that Leekie killed her–was I really alone in that?

However, the interaction with Duncan is still a powerful scene. We, like Sarah, are so used to everyone being nefarious that it’s really a surprise to find that the scientists who started this just wanted children. Leekie and his fellow neolutionists stole his daughter and his project

Notes

  • Helena has better taste in music than Felix, though Felix’s music was much better this week.
  • Mark may be smarter than I gave him credit for–picking up the hat to give to Helena was a smart move.
  • “So, can I see one?” That was funny.
  • Carl is a bastard and deserved everything he got. “Next one I break.”
  • Helena will eat anything. And do so gleefully.
  • It feels like Alison is really just in a holding pattern because they don’t have anything to do with her for a while. Rehab is a good enough place for that, though I wish the rehab weren’t quite so by-the-book.
  • Somehow, I am completely unsurprised that Tatiana Maslany seems rather at home playing basketball with only her left hand. I’ve seen actors trying to play actual athletes look more uncomfortable.
  • Was the song playing during Helena and Jesse’s dance an original for the show? I felt like I vaguely recognized it, but I can’t find it searching for the lyrics.
  • Felix’s pants were the comic relief in this episode.
  • Sarah didn’t mention Helena to Duncan, I’m assuming because she wants the most powerful, most dangerous person she knows available as a secret weapon.
  • I assume the stem cell line being from a relative is a major plot point for the future, but I don’t think we have any information for speculating on the future about that.
  • I love Maria Doyle Kennedy’s performance in this show. She often seems like the only one who belongs in the same show with Maslany (to the extent that anyone can).

*Psychology geek note: There is no nature-nurture debate as the public understands it. Everything is both.

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10 thoughts on “TV Episode Review: “Orphan Black” “To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings” (02.06, 2014)

  1. As always, a good review.

    I am probably in the minority, but my interest in the background of Project Leda/Duncan/Mrs. S./PeopleInPhotos is really low. I didn’t even follow who was who or what was doing what, but I’m pretty sure it will be clear enough when it needs to be.

    I suppose that should lead me to saying what I like about the show. That’s Maslany, of course, but really just all the characters she plays. We need more Rachel – her “don’t do that” when Vic did the ‘namaste bow’ was great. And Helena/Sarah interactions are really fun. We also need more Cosima.

    We’re also at the point that all the double-crossing is getting old. Okay, so the guy who can’t act’s partner sets up Vic to trick Alison. That’s not exactly a big reveal when we have no clue about the true allegiances of Paul, Mrs. S., or Leekie.

    Random thoughts:

    1) Orphan Black is actually a prequel for Captain America.

    2) It’s funny when one actress plays everyone. Normally, you might think the actress playing Cosima/Rachel was too busy to record more scenes, or the writers were trying to write her out. That argument doesn’t hold water so much on this show :)

    • Thanks, Chase!

      Yeah, the background of the clone experiment really isn’t all that interesting. I would rather them just get moving forward and leave the background alone. I love Mrs. S, but I think that’s because I feel like Maria Doyle Kennedy’s performance is often the only consistently good one on the show that’s not by Tatiana Maslany. And she can certainly be a part of the story even if they aren’t so obsessed with the background.

      Alison’s “Don’t do that” was awesome, though I’m really still wondering if there is a point to putting her in rehab.

      I think if it were a prequel for Captain America, the 2.5-hour long commercial for Marvel movies I watched last week would have mentioned it! ;)

    • Don Kirshner was a big music producer at the time who loved doing that. He formed the Archies and also formed The Monkees, who are certainly the most popular and enduring example of the same format. He also spent the ’60s specializing in that sort of so-sweet-it-melts-your-teeth saccharine treacle like “Sugar, Sugar.”
      Every once in a while, the bizarre amount of time I have spent reading through biographies and reviews on the All Music Guide is useful!

  2. Interesting that you view Mrs. S as an older and wiser version of Sarah. She did raise Sarah, after all, so it would be strange if Sarah hadn’t absorbed some of her characteristics. Which ties in with the whole nature/nurture theme of the show.

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