[This is a review of Orphan Black season 2, episode 4. There will be SPOILERS.]
The beauty of a ten-episode season is that there’s no time to waste and just like they did in season 1, the writers behind Orphan Black are filling every minute of season 2 with vital plot progressions, some of which are major reveals one would expect to be held for the end of the season. In fact, the grand finale of episode 4, ‘Governed As It Were By Chance,’ introduces such significant game changers that from this point on, every character’s circumstances change.
First off, Helena just couldn’t die. Every clone is a standout in her own right, but whereas Sarah, Alison, Cosima, and even Rachel for that matter have a relatable competence that lets the viewer play along and track their every move, Helena is a total wild card, and a particularly intense and captivating one at that.
It’s fascinating watching her perform even the most ordinary daily task, especially eating meals, and here we get the good fortune of seeing Helena do something far more complex – bond with her sister.
The bathroom sequence at the end of ‘Governed As It Were By Chance’ is one of the show’s best yet. Tatiana Maslany’s work is always top-notch all around, but here she goes above and beyond, showing off some of Sarah’s more familiar feisty tendencies and then plunging her down into an incredibly profound and rather distressing display of fear.
Upon Helena’s arrival, Maslany takes it to yet another level. It isn’t just about the fear of physical pain or helplessness anymore; as far as Sarah knows, she’s seeing a ghost, and the ghost of someone she killed who happens to be holding a gigantic kitchen knife.
And it doesn’t even end there. In one of the most beautifully bizarre displays of affection, Helena asks Sarah for help. It should be a tough moment to process after having just experienced so much tension and stress, but between Maslany’s mesmerizing work as Helena and her palpable performance as Sarah, you’re right there with them. Clearly, there’s so much more to be discovered about their ever-growing and changing relationship, but at that very moment, that sisterly connection Helena’s been preaching about all along is real and it’s right there.
From there, ‘Governed As It Were By Chance’ moves right into its next big twist, using your exhaustion from the previous sequence to ensure the reveal has the maximum effect. We knew the Prolethians were determined to breed clones of their own, but when Helena escaped, the possibility of pulling it off went with her – or so we thought.
Now we’re left with the question, who’s going to carry the eggs? After all the character build-up, odds are, they’re going to poor Gracie (Zoé De Grand Maison) whether she wants them or not.
Mrs. S and Alison had to hand over quite a bit of the spotlight to the developments that cropped up later on, but both still made an impression this episode. Alison will undoubtedly wreak havoc on the New Path Wellness Center for a period, but should her stint in rehab have the intended effect, her habits and possibly her goals will change.
And on the topic of change, apparently we can all say goodbye to the Mrs. S we came to know in season 1. Getting another taste of Mrs. S’s warmth with Sarah and Kira and then watching her turn into a killer during the Bird Watcher massacre was one thing, but seeing her interact with Carlton (Roger R. Cross) doesn’t just continue to suggest she’s full of secrets, but rather gives the impression that we never really even knew her to begin with.
‘Governed As It Were By Chance’ could have used a little more Cosima, but based on the episode 5 preview, she could be at the center of ‘Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est’ next week. Trouble is, with stakes already this high, certain main characters breaking down and Cosima’s current condition, she could be heading straight toward some devastating screen time.
Orphan Black continues next Saturday with ‘Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est’ @ 9pm on BBC America.
Follow Perri on Twitter @PNemiroff.