'Orphan Black' recap: Season two starts off with a bang
It's been a long wait (or at least felt like one), but "Orphan Black" is back for season two and Sarah is right where we left her. That's not to imply stasis, however. She's desperately running through the streets, looking for Kira and Mrs S and answers as to why they may have been taken -- if they have, in fact, been taken.
After Sarah runs into a diner, she's accosted by two men who look like members of a rockabilly band (one has a bolo tie and a pompadour, the other a distinctive fish belt buckle). They start nattering about genetically modified eggs to the diner owner, then try to escort Sarah out after relieving her of her gun. But not so fast -- the guy behind the counter whips out a rifle, gunshots are exchanged, and soon it's one counter guy dead, one Rockabilly guy dead, and Sarah is being chased by the survivor.
Now's a good time to point out that a longer version of this scene was screened a while back (I'm not sure if it was at Comic-Con or at press tour, so you'll have to forgive me for being fuzzy). In that version, the guy behind the counter was an ally of Mrs. S and tried to make sure Sarah escaped these rockabilly types. That might have hit the editing floor for the purpose of length or because of future rewrites, but it's a curious omission.
Unfortunately, Sarah assumes these guys are Rachel's minions -- though their jabbering about genetically-altered eggs being "unnatural" was a big hint to the contrary. They're likely Proletheans (or members of an offshoot of the movement), the group that may have trained Helena to be a clone killer (more on her later). We also find out at the end of the episode that, unlike Rachel, they aren't lying about having Kira.
These two guys are clearly far removed from the Neolutionists' cool, scientific approach whoever they're following (there are hints to this on the BBC America website; I won't spoil anything here). I can't decide which will be the biggest threat to the Clone Club -- people who think the clones never should have been created, or people who think they own them like guinea pigs.
But back to the action. Sarah manages to pound through a wall to get away from the surviving Rockabilly Guy, then hunts down Felix, who is high and in the midst of a "fivesome" at a leather bar. I love that they're not pulling any punches with our favorite sidekick this season (not that they pulled many last season). Watching him wander through Clone World in a loopy state is pretty great.
At the club, he helps Sarah steal a new phone (maybe not intentionally, though; he is pretty high) and later she, Cosima and Alison (via Skype) have a powwow about next moves. Sarah wants a gun, though Cosima thinks she can reason with Leekie and Rachel at a big shindig being held at the Dyad Institute that evening. Oh, ducky. I don't think there's any reasoning with the Neolutionists.
The process of getting a gun goes to Alison, and with this we get some of the funnier scenes in the episode. Felix, our audience avatar, is suitably agog when Alison reveals she can procure an untraceable piece ("You know a gun dealer named Ramon?" Felix asks with glassy-eyed disbelief). When an attempt to get the gun to Sarah goes south, she later sends it to her in a bouquet of flowers -- with a handmade card. Such an Alison move, and so perfect.
Another highlight of Alison's storyline is her being part of a local musical production, which is a "Waiting for Guffman" moment in an episode that sometimes feels (in a good way) like "The Fugitive." Of course, the musical moment Art and his partner Angie catch Alison performing is a catchy little ditty about cleaning up a crime scene. And oh yes, Art is still sniffing around for answers, even though he's off the case.
This all might be a little convenient -- Art and Angie pull up to take a gander at Alison as she's singing about scrubbing away the plasma, and Sarah comes running up at exactly the wrong moment for the gun exchange -- but it reminds Sarah she does have somewhere to go when things go wrong, which they inevitably do. Still, after Sarah reveals she was the witness to the earlier diner double murder, and Angie finds out its being investigated by the Feds as an act by a "religious terrorist," Art lets Sarah go -- much to Angie's consternation.
All that's left for Sarah to do is confront Rachel, who is happy to let Sarah believe she has Mrs. S and Kira. There's a complex cat-and-mouse game that follows as Rachel's well-dressed goon Daniel tries to trap Sarah and Sarah finds ways to trick and outrun him at every turn. Sarah ultimately sneaks into the Dyad Institute gala dressed as Cosima (it takes a little longer than I thought it would for Delphine to realize her girlfriend isn't the real thing), gets Rachel alone and is just about to put a bullet through her head when Paul arrives.
Even though he has Sarah cornered, he lets her go -- a risky move for a man whose loyalties are already in question. I'm not sure if he'll be taking that trip to Taiwan with Rachel, though that may be a convenient way to make sure he doesn't cut Sarah any other breaks.
Sarah ends up on Art's doorstep and tells him, if he really wants to hear it, she'll reveal the whole convoluted story. I'm pretty sure this can't end well for Art, but I'm glad to see him back in the mix. Sarah needs every ally she can get -- especially if Helena decides to get even. Yes, Helena.
I'll give credit to Graeme Manson for not even hinting at the truth to me when we spoke a few months ago, but I'm happy he tricked me nonetheless. Helena is crazy as all get out, but it's an interesting kind of crazy -- and whether she'll be feeling forgiving toward Sarah is entirely up in the air. First, of course, she has to deal with a bullet wound, and we see her dragging herself into a hospital -- always a scary venture for a clone. Can't wait to see who her first visitor might be.
There were so many wonderful, small moments in this episode -- Donnie coming out of the bedroom in the tiniest underwear ever to ask Alison about the noises he's hearing, Delphine giving Dr. Leekie a vial of Cosima's blood and swearing her allegiance, the running joke about "Cats," the truly funny attempt by Daniel's minions to pick up Alison after Sarah tricks him -- it's impossible to list them all. This was a whiz-bang return for the series, and one that stirred up plenty of questions.
Sarah doesn't just have to worry about Rachel and Dr. Leekie, but the Proletheans as well -- and, at some point, I'm guessing, Helena. The monitors -- well, at least Paul and Delphine -- all seem wobbly on their allegiances, making the clone coast far from clear. I did love that Rachel made a point of referring to the real-life Supreme Court decision that makes the Dyad Institute seem a little less scifi future than possibly next year. "Orphan Black" works both within its genre and well outside of it, and the action never stops to remind us how smart it all is. Run, Sarah, run.
Which do you think is the greater threat -- the Neolotionists or the Proletheans? Whose side do you think Mrs. S is on? Do you think Art's days will be numbered?