[This is a review of Orphan Black season 2, episode 6. There will be SPOILERS.]
Episode five gave the impression that characters were finally going to converge and work together to find a cure, safety and answers, but episode six, ‘To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings’, did the exact opposite and suffered for it. The entertainment value is still high enough, but this episode had the least momentum of Orphan Black season two thus far.
If you’ve been keeping up with these reviews, you know how I feel about Helena - the more, the better – but for the first time, the writers took her playfulness a bit too far. Seeing Helena try to share her can of beans with Sarah is one thing, but the shadow puppets, fart and sing-a-along is too much. Helena’s always been a prime source of humor for the show, but it’s humor with a darker touch and that’s what lets the character maintain that enthralling intensity. When Helena tells Sarah, “If you knew where Swan Man was, you’d leave me behind,” it hits hard, but had it not been embedded in such goofy jokes, it would have resonated more.
However, the new side of Helena we get later in the episode works remarkably well. We’ve never seen Helena interact with anyone outside the clone, Neolutionist and Prolethian circles so watching her strike a connection with “a normal guy” is refreshing and extremely satisfying. She’s doing something different, but within the established framework of the character. It makes sense that Helena would flirt by arm-wrestling and it makes sense that she’s now open to romance having just expressed interest in having children. Each progression of her date with Jesse (Suits' Patrick J. Adams) feels natural because it’s all connected to that childlike, yet volatile, and dangerous person we’ve come to know.
Helena’s final scene this episode is another standout, particularly due to an exceptionally well-written conversation and stunning performance from Zoé De Grand Maison. She’s done fine work as Gracie all season long, but the conversation she has with Helena in the police station is remarkable work. It’s a complex moment because it’s not just about convincing Helena to return to the Prolethians so that she doesn’t have to carry Helena’s eggs herself. Gracie’s also demonstrating that regardless of Henrik’s threats, she still has beliefs of her own and will adhere to them no matter what, and that makes her an especially strong, intriguing character.
The less successful sequences in ‘To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings’ are the ones that are not as character driven and are there simply to relay new information. It’s necessary that we continue to learn about Project LEDA, but having Sarah search through files in a church basement and then pressure more details out of a very unhinged Ethan Duncan isn’t a dynamic way of doing it. As far as the search for answers go, it feels as though episode six is just about identifying the different pieces and setting ideas up so that bigger things can happen in future episodes. But none of that serves this one.
‘To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings’ isn’t a bad installment by any means; it just isn’t as strong as the rest. There’s a lot going on in this show and there always has been. The fact that it’s about clones dictates that, but it's like what Cosima says here: the clones are stronger when they’re together and right now, they couldn’t be farther apart. Hopefully they really will bust Alison out of rehab as Cosima suggested, because having the three of them reunite and actually do something - with the information Sarah just uncovered - would increase the value of this episode - and up the energy and appeal of the ones to come.
Orphan Black continues next Saturday with ‘Knowledge Of Causes, And Secret Motion Of Things’ @ 9pm on BBC America.
Follow Perri on Twitter @PNemiroff.