The second season of BBC America’s critically acclaimed cult hit Orphan Black is already approaching the mid-point of its second season. While it seems like just yesterday that troubled grifter Sarah Manning discovered her entire life was part of something much grander than she could have ever fathomed – that she was a clone and that there were a dozen women in the world who shared her face – the show is in fact nearly halfway over with its second season. This season’s fourth episode, Governed as it Were by Chance, was certainly the high point of an already exciting year, ratcheting up the tension to new heights and creating one of the Orphan Black’s most terrifying moments to date.
This episode took several of our heroines to harrowing new depths. Sarah is the clone who likes to think of herself as able to handle anything that is thrown at her; she is a con woman by trade, after all. But after being kidnapped by Daniel at gunpoint only to have their car rammed into at intensely dangerous speeds, Sarah is beyond shaken… She is in full-on shock as her ex-lover Cal pulls her from the wreckage. Moments like these are important for the series to help remind the audience that our favorites clones are not super heroes; despite the adventure, the fighting, and the pluck they show, the clones are just regular women, who have been inserted into situations that are incredibly dire and harrowing. Sarah is not invulnerable, and the accident truly rattles her to the core. Cal has to keep talking to her until she comes back down to earth, but not before she grabs Daniel’s gun and contemplates shooting a police officer. Luckily, she comes to her senses before doing anything drastic. Though as an audience, everyone watching must have wished that she had made sure that Daniel was truly dead before leaving the scene, right? Any television fan knew that decision would come back to haunt her. Lesson learned: just because you think someone is dead, it does not mean they are not. In fact, it means they are going to come after you, scarier than ever before.
Alison is also dealing with a scary new predicament, but hers is perfectly suited to her suburban world. After her disastrous theater debut, she has been tossed into rehab by her husband, and if she does not stay, she will not be allowed to see her children. What could be a greater hell for the type-A, slightly elitist Alison then being forced to share her space with addicts of all colors. Tatiana Maslany’s knack for the comedic always shines when she plays Allison, and surely this storyline will be a source of the wicked black humor which Orphan Black does so well.
Additionally, season two’s biggest revelation has been Maria Doyle Kennedy’s performance as Mrs. S. It seems that she may have taken the part in season one, already knowing where her character would go in season two. While her warm, maternal presence was certainly key in the first season, the reveal of Mrs. S as a sexy, shotgun blasting warrior has been thrilling to say the least.
The heart of Orphan Black has been surprising this year, because it may in fact be Helena after all. Helena had been a source of terror and occasional humor during the first season, with the show occasional lingering on the tragedy of her life. Now, bound, captive, and subject to medical experiments, the once terrifying clone has shown something we never saw in her. As she runs through the farm, seeing the medical equipment that was used on her, terror registers on her face, and at once, the audience realizes that this is a woman who never had a chance to be normal. Her whole life she has been at someone else’s mercy, tortured and indoctrinated. In the episode’s final poignant moments, when a horrifying, bloody Helena hugs Sarah, we see Helena for who she is: a lost little girl.
Commentary By Alex Warheit