TV Episode Review: “Orphan Black” “Things Which Have Never Yet Been Done” (02.09, 2014)

Bad things happen to the people caught in the crossfire of the clones’ battles with Dyad and the Proletheans. This episode was really the first time we had much of an opportunity to see the effect of the experiments on those other characters, other than Felix–specifically, Gracie, Donnie, and Delphine.

Gracie

Gracie has been caught in an odd situation–she grew up in a bizarre religious cult, watching as her crazy father won a power struggle with a Luddite faction to take control of the cult. He apparently made every woman in the cult have children via artificial insemination with himself as the father. He brought in an unpredictable, violent woman whom he saw as a “miracle” who defied science and set about making her his special project, and the project of the entire cult.

Gracie saw Helena as a rival and an abomination. She saw her as her father’s new favorite and–being a clone–something against her god’s rule. Perhaps fearing that her father had lost his way or simply feeling something like sibling rivalry, she hated Helena and worked to rid herself of Helena’s presence. And then, when she turned against Helena, her father reacted with the same violent control fetish that had consumed him elsewhere. Maybe Gracie thought she was immune before, but after Helena’s arrival, she definitely knew that she could be her father’s victim.

But then, when Helena returned, Gracie was still forced into part of the Helena program, impregnated with Helena’s eggs that had been fertilized by her father. Helena was blissfully unaware of what was happening and the only weapon Gracie still had against her father, and so they suddenly became allies.

Gracie has been an interesting character and well-played by Zoe de Grand Maison. She’s been caught between her fear of her father and her disapproval of what he’s done and caught between fear of Helena and recognition that she is a fellow victim. This episode brought her into sharp relief, and it was a welcome development.

Donnie

Donnie was always a bumbler. At first, he seemed to be a clumsy monitor. Then, it turned out that he was a clueless dupe.

However, now that he has accidentally killed Dr. Leekie, he has found a reserve of toughness and confidence that was never there before. And in the process he has discovered a wife where he may never have known that he had one. He turns away Vic and Angela surprisingly effectively (albeit with an assist from Alison on the former) and finds that Alison, for perhaps the first time ever, is actually attracted to him as a result.

Alison’s life was always mostly facade–it was a middle class suburbia cliche taken to an extreme with absolutely no sign of any personality. Donnie was a big part of that–fat, lazy, unhappy, but too dull-witted and lazy to do anything about it. His emergence as a more colorful and interesting husband (and even someone who was capable of not bumbling something has opened her up to herself.

Delphine

Delphine has always been caught between being a scientist interested in a complex genetic project and her feelings about Cosima–she has repeatedly been forced to serve one at the expense of the other, only to wind up feeling guilty about her choices ever after. I think it would be fair to say that she has tended toward allowing her feelings for Cosima to dominate. Now, though, she is placed in Leekie’s old position only to find herself an unwitting pawn to Rachel’s plans for Kira.

From Sarah’s perspective, Delphine now looks like a Dyad agent who helped perpetuate a terrible plan to steal her daughter. From Cosima’s, she looks like either a fool who fell for Rachel’s plan to use her to get Kira or a liar covering up the fact that she is actually a heartless Dyad agent, and it cannot be easy to tell which is the truth.

Meanwhile, Delphine has attempted to do what would be best not just for Cosima but for all the Dyad-opposed clones, only to have it reduce her trustworthiness in their eyes and help Rachel and Dyad in their quest for Kira. She is now where Donnie was when he first found out about the clones.

Overall, I think this was a stronger episode than the last couple have been. The stories have gotten more compelling and the action has moved forward better. I am not sure that Mark’s character development has made sense, but otherwise the storytelling has remained organic and it has worked.

Notes

  • “Lord and butter, Donnie!” Is that what she said? Did I mishear that? Because that’s weird.
  • Does Donnie actually know that there are 11 clones or was that bluffing Vic?
  • When Delphine first saw the computer, I thought, “Oh, come on, Rachel is far too careful to leave that where Delphine could see it.” I’m glad it turns out that it was Delphine who didn’t understand that, not the writers.
  • I was surprised by Mark–he seemed to be more sold on the plan than he was on Gracie. Honestly, his turning seems rather odd.
  • “I am not afraid of you.”
    “Neither am I.”
    One of you is lying. It’s not Helena. Does anything ever scare Helena? I’m not sure I would want to know about anything that could.
  • “Helena is a miracle, Mark. She defies the laws of science. It is a sign that I cannot ignore!” A sign that you need to be the father of all of these children from all of these women? I don’t think I follow that one. He’s certainly not the first religious leader to say something similar, though.
  • Helena’s looking back at the burning Prolethean home seemed rather out of character. Even the look on her face just didn’t seem like Helena–it looked like Sarah. It’s a small enough moment that it doesn’t matter much, but it was the first moment in this show’s history that Maslany seemed like a different clone than she was playing at the moment.
  • Donnie and Alison provided the comic relief in this episode, so Felix was pushed away from his usual comic moments.
  • Typical Maslany amazingness: That was clearly Rachel dressed as Sarah, and repeating the same establishing shot with Sarah herself immediately thereafter made it even clearer. She moves very differently and the inflections of her voice are completely different.
  • Our friend Polar Bears Watch TV has an excellent review this week, so check that out. Somehow, I forgot to talk about Rachel’s breakdown, but I will echo his sentiments. It was another great moment for Maslany. I get almost bored of saying that.
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3 thoughts on “TV Episode Review: “Orphan Black” “Things Which Have Never Yet Been Done” (02.09, 2014)

  1. I’m pretty sure Donnie did know there were 11 clones. I think they probably told him most of the story after he caught Sarah and Alison together in the room at the rehab place.

    You caught on much faster to Delphine and Rachel’s computer screen than I did. I thought Rachel was just so distracted by everything she recently learned that she got careless. I should have known better, lol.

    • Thanks for commenting!

      I didn’t really “catch on” about the computer, though. I actually thought the writers were being lazy, because it just seemed very un-Rachel-like to leave her computer there, leave it apparently logged in to her e-mail, and walk away the way she did. It was just so many steps of carelessness that I just thought, “Rachel wouldn’t do that. That’s dumb.” I actually apologized aloud to the writers when she walked in as Sarah later on!

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