Okay, this one minor detail from tonight’s episode of “Orphan Black” is going to bother me for a while. Given all the amazing improvements Dr. Leekie promised his neolutionist followers, why would Olivier pick a tail? I mean, sure, it’s a conversation piece. It’s good for delivering some of the episode’s truly funny moments (and later, one horrifying one), but really, a tail? Why not just pick horns or a high-tech eyeball or at least a so-called “improvement” that won’t get stuck under the waistband of your pants?
Anyway, let’s move on. This week Helena was on deck to bring the crazy, though her reappearance also posed more questions than answers. Who is this mysterious Tomas, so intent on convincing Helena she’s the original — and that it’s her job to exterminate her clones? No wonder she’s so nuts, carving away at her own flesh as if it were a lump of chuck roast.
The good news is that Helena likes Sarah, and she’s clearly in need of a friend. Yes, Helena seems crazy for all sorts of reasons (not the least of which is dumping sugar in her Jell-O), but she also seems to have a will of her own despite Tomas’ efforts to brainwash her. That slightly stubborn streak runs through all of the clones, which clearly shows a lack of planning on the part of Dr. Leekie (or whoever masterminded the clones in the first place). If he or she had thought it through, a submissive nature would have been at the top of the cloning to-do list.
Speaking of Dr. Leekie (the always awesome Matt Frewer), I had been hoping he might represent an entity competing with Olivier to get in on the clone action, but it seems he’s really the brains behind the whole operation. How much he or anyone else knows about how these clones have run amok is unclear, though. While the monitors are clearly given limited information in order to maintain the double-blind nature of the experiment, clearly Tomas isn’t on board with the rules of the game and seems to be an interloper. Even Olivier seems at least partially in the dark, unaware that Sarah isn’t the clone killer. Really, he’s only a step ahead of Detective Bell, though that might be changing soon.
It isn’t likely that the police are going to embrace the idea of a bunch of clones galloping around town, though they’ll soon be met with some confusing and probably conflicting evidence the deeper they dig. I guess it’s a good thing that Sarah is already on the run from Olivier, since she also needs to worry about the cops, too. I guess she and Paul will be rooming with Felix, or at least should be. Though you can feel the writers stretching to find ways to keep Felix in the mix (he just happens to have his club outfit on hand when he needs to bust into Neolution), I don’t mind a bit. He’s an excellent foil for Sarah, who could easily become too earnest a character without him.
The idea that Paul has fallen head over heels in love with Sarah this quickly is also a stretch, but if I can accept a world (which initially seemed to be New York but now appears to be Any City, Canada) rife with clones I can accept a monitor falling desperately in love with his substitute subject, too, I suppose. It helps that Sarah seems equally committed to Paul, unwilling to run (there’s that stubborn streak again) but determined to rescue him and even take a chance on pulling in Helena to help.
Paul has great promise as a character when he’s pulled away from Olivier, which seems to be the plan. The show gets heavy handed when it comes to his mysterious stint in Afghanistan (every time Paul winces, it seems Olivier is plopping photos of him bloodied and beaten on the table, promising to make Afghanistan go away like it’s a flu bug instead of an actual country and, yes, a war). I could have used less of Olivier playing the role of the bully this week, given that he’s less than imposing when facing off against Paul and laughably creepy when “admiring” Sarah. What I would have liked to see more of was Neolution.
The club stuffed with “technoprogressives, body mods and biohackers” looked like a fascinating playground for Leekie’s followers, but probably one that was too expensive for the production to wallow in. I’m pretty sure Olivier’s tail probably ate up a fair amount of the budget this week. But the creepy world of ultimate self-improvement lorded over by Dr. Leekie is one I hope Cosima decides to explore by taking a trip to Dyad. It seems Delphine is going to have to work a little harder to be a convincing lesbian monitor, and I’m sure she has a backstory as troubled as Paul’s (although I will tear my hair out if it’s revealed to us by someone tossing incriminating photos on a table repeatedly to inform Delphine it can all go away if she follows orders).
What works so well, though, is Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy). As evil as she was as Vera on “Downton Abbey,” Kennedy is much more nuanced and sympathetic here. This week we actually saw that, despite Sarah’s initial distaste for her, Mrs. S isn’t so bad after all. She not only took in refugees during a tumultuous time in Ireland, she went to great lengths to protect Sarah after her associate Carlton told her she needed to leave town in order to keep the girl safe. While at first it seemed that Mrs. S was just a curmudgeonly roadblock barring Sarah from her daughter, it now makes more sense — she wants to protect Kira and knows in her gut that trouble is following Sarah around, even with Vic out of the picture. I hope we get to meet Carlton, as I’m pretty sure the story of how these clones got scattered around the world (Helena was dumped in a Ukranian convent?) will be good fun. But really, just watching Tatiana Maslany chew her way through an actor’s paradise of characters is enough to keep me tuned in.
What do you think Dr. Leekie is up to? Do you think Helena will follow orders? And how long do you think it will take for the cops to unravel this mess?