The fifth episode of Orphan Black’s second season is titled “Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est,” which translates from the original Pig Latin into “Knowledge Itself Is Power.” The pursuit of knowledge was a key motivator when we first met the Clone Club. From far and wide, the multifarious Maslanys came, searching for the truth about themselves. This season, we’ve learned that the same pursuit of knowledge motivates the higher powers swirling around them: Neolutionists, Proletheans, Dyad, LEDA, some of them linked together and some of them in opposition, all hunting for the same thing. The original genome, the source of all Clone Life? Destroyed in a fire decades ago. All the intervening years of genetic research haven’t overcome the viability issues. They lost the map to Clone Dorado. In a weird way, the clones are the most powerful people on the show, purely because nobody really understands them.
Fortunately for us, the clone sisters also seem to be moving closer together, after a season that mostly sent them careening in every direction. Last night’s episode set the stage for an impending clone-on-clone showdown – not to mention a potential Buddy Clone spinoff, with Helena as the Riggs to Sarah’s Murtaugh. What I’m saying is, it’s time once again to feed the latest findings into our Orphan Black Clone Status Variable Invasive Hyper-Sequence Generator Calcutron and measure the gene-sisters on a scale from “All-Powerful” to “Little Dot.” And we begin where the episode kicked off, with…
1. Rachel Duncan, Who Will Give You A Promotion If You Have The Starch For It
The proclone returned from Taiwan. A nasty surprise awaited her. Her apartment was a mess. Blood on the walls. Blood on the windows. Blood all over Daniel, her monitor/henchman/kinda-sorta-boyfriend. “Rachel, you don’t need to see this,” said Leekie. “I demanded to,” she responded. Rachel does not shy away from the nasty stuff. To Aldous, that’s her biggest fault. He blamed her for Daniel’s death. “This was the result of your heavy-handed tactics.” “Trust me, Aldous,” she said, “I’ve only just begun.”
All business, is our Rachel. She needed a new monitor. Paul performed admirably on the Taiwan job. Now Rachel needed him. Full time. Personal security. Report on her health, her well-being. “It’s a promotion, Paul. A very handsome one, if you have the starch for it.” And so Operation: Get Back At Sarah went into full effect. Aldous revealed that they had discovered a new stem cell line that could help treat Cosima; Rachel demanded that Cosima suffer, until Sarah comes to heel.
So Paul would report Rachel’s data to Aldous, but he would also report directly to Rachel. Confused? So is Paul! Thankfully, his confusion meant that Rachel finally explained the curious balance of power between herself and Dr. Leekie, who sorta seemed like the show’s Man In Black last season but who now stands revealed as a mere Ben Linus. “When my adopted parents died, he became something of a guardian for me,” said Rachel. “But now, my position in the corporation outranks his Dyad directorship.”
Leekie is sentimental. He gets attached. Not Rachel. Oh, she might watch old VHS tapes of happy times with the Duncan parents. But don’t confuse that smiling little girl with the hard-driving corporate empress. She told Paul to plant Daniel’s cop-killing murder weapon on Felix, and she told Paul to get two glasses of the ‘63 Margeaux, and then she told Paul to put down his Margeaux and take off all his clothes. She then proceeded to have her way entirely with Paul, that handsome-doof love puppet who seems destined to inadvertently shtup every clone on this show. And Rachel was doing this while a sniper scope was pointed at her. The trigger was not pulled. It’s good to be the Queen.
2. Sestra Helena of the Immaculate Sniper Rifle
Old Helena was a clone-hunting psychopath. New Helena is a clone-hunting psychopath…who loves grilled cheese sandwiches! The Ukrainian assassin spent the episode making friends with all the people who you wouldn’t expect her to make friends with. Felix agreed to find her something to wear: “I’m sure I’ve got a Ukrainian folk costume in here somewhere.” (For his efforts, Helena named him “Brother Sestra.”) She hung out with Art, who asked her questions upon questions about old Maggie Chen, the late Prolethean and Season One Plot Point. Art made her a grilled cheese sandwich. She called him Arthur. Then she tied him up and set off to take care of Rachel.
And boy, do I mean “take care of.” Helena made for an old Prolethean locker and snagged a sniper rifle and found the perfect perch in the room right across from Rachel’s apartment. She spent time carefully decapitating a tiny Rachel doll and even-more-carefully getting its hair just right. “Do you like my hair, Paul?” she narrated, as Rachel and Paul began their assignation. “Very pretty, dirty sexy Rachel,” she continued. “Like my mother.” (ASIDE: There should be a special edition of Orphan Black which is Maslany-as-Helena doing voiceovers for everyone on the show. END OF ASIDE.)
Sarah and Art found her, tried to stop her. But Helena was focused. “Rachel is problem,” she explained. “I fix problem.” Not as easy as that, Sarah claimed. They had a moment, about which see #3. It ended with Helena saying: “You make me cry, sestra.” They made plans to set off and find the mystery man who could solve everything. And where is this mystery man, you might ask? “Cold River,” said Helena. “The place of Screams.” Sounds lovely.
3. Sarah Sarah, Quite Contrarah
Everyone else gets to have all the fun. Helena kills people. Rachel forces male-model ex-soldiers to indulge her sexual whims. Alison stars in a musical. Cosima: That hair! Not Sarah. Orphan Black’s original protag doesn’t even get to play clone-sister dress-up anymore. Nope, now she’s dealing with sibling problems. There’s her resurrected clone sister, Helena. And then there’s Felix: Beloved Felix, Felix who just wanted to have a nice afternoon with Morgue Boy, Felix who now has to deal with an arrival by triple-traitorous Big Dick Paul and the corrupt arm of the law.
“I have a murder weapon with Felix’s prints on it,” Paul told Sarah via cell phone. “Felix will be charged with murder, unless Rachel gets what she wants.” And what she wants is simple. Sarah. Helena. Kira. She has until morning.
Good news on that front, though: There is a new development in the case of Project LEDA, that season-long mystery that seems designed to unfurl a whole host of revelations about the clones. Helena spoke of a mysterious Swan Man, and inside the Prolethean locker, Sarah found a picture of the man. A photo from the ’70s, of a man who appears to be Papa Duncan. “He didn’t die in the lab explosion!” said Sarah. THis was something she could trade for Felix.
But first, she had to talk Helena down from the Sniper perch. I figured she might use some of those old-school Sarah Manning con-woman-supreme skills. But she seemed quite sincere when she told Helena: “I thought I killed you. I couldn’t tell anyone what I lost. You came back.” They hugged, and walked away hand-in-hand.
Sarah has spent this season on the run, but now she was back in the driver’s seat. She met with Dr. Leekie, and told him that she could get him Professor Ethan Duncan. Alive. So she set off to find the Swan Man…not realizing that Leekie was also sending Paul after her. So, to recap: Paul works for Rachel, but also works for Leekie, who works for Rachel, and Rachel wants Sarah, but Leekie wants to work with Sarah, but also wants Paul to betray Sarah for him and not for Rachel, and also Helena. Good luck, Sarah!
4. Cosima Needs Her Medicine, Please
Cosima was a hot topic this week, with various people wielding her illness as a weapon. Rachel threatened to withhold medication; Leekie went around Rachel’s orders as a way to further ingratiate himself with Cosima; Sarah had no idea she was sick to begin with. Cosima herself learned about the existence of new stem cell cultures from Delphine, who received them accidentally, and they are proprietary somehow, etcetera etcetera WEIRD SCIENCE STUFF I BARELY UNDERSTAND. The point is, Cosima and Delphine busted into Leekie’s office, hoping to steal some DNA while he wasn’t looking. They turned around for one second, and he immediately appeared.
But good news: Leekie wants to help them. Kind of. He gave them the full backstory on a long-ago fire, twenty years ago, that killed several scientists but which more important destroyed the original genome. “The entire project is essentially an orphan,” said Leekie. (“An orphan…black????” responded Cosima, at which point she turned to the camera and flashed a thumbs-up.) Attempting to find out how the clones existed is a difficult job. Leekie wants Cosima on his side. So he gave her the injections. Will it work? They’ll know if her arm falls off, or if she grows a new one.
5. Alison Hendrix, Fallen Star
Disappointingly absent this week. Too bad: Given the downward spiral her life has taken lately, she might have really enjoyed that performance by The S— Goblins.
I haven’t even gotten into the goings-on at the Prolethean Base, where our gal Gracie had her lips sewn shut as punishment for her lack of faith. Sounds like she’s going to help with the hunt for Helena – which could mean that this season’s disparate threads will start coming together next week.
Felix Line of the Night: “You do realize I’m gonna have to paint this to come to terms with it.” –Regarding Helena, his new Ukrainian sister, who was resting on his couch in a bloodstained wedding dress.
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