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Thursday, 22 May 2014

Orphan Black S2E5: Ipso Scientia Potestas Est.

Orphan Black
S2E5: Ipso Scientia Potestas Est.

Have you ever spent a week getting so little sleep that by the time it comes to writing your Orphan Black review, you actually look like one of the characters, and it isn't one of the pretty, healthy looking characters, it's Helena in all of her crimson panda glory, and you don't know why you now have blond curls and blood on all of your clothes?


Halfway through! So far this has been a very good series, but the latter half is going to be more difficult than this first half was, just because audience expectations for a series rise as it approaches the end: That's just a basic function of narrative structure, after all.

So, the episode opens on Rachel, Leekie and Paul examining Rachel's hotel suite, where Daniel was murdered by Helena the previous night. Rachel is visibly disturbed by it – she apparently had at least some genuine affection for Daniel – and Leekie is quick to tell her that she brought this on herself, which seems a little bit unfair. Helena was murderous long before Rachel ever got involved, after all. She was so murderous and so unpredictable that she was essentially a Random Murder Generator who could at any moment decide to kill or mutilate someone based mostly on whim.

You're more to blame for that than Rachel, Leekie, you were actually involved in creating her.

The theme song plays, and we're at Felix's flat, where Sarah has dropped Helena off to be chaperoned, telling her that she's not to harm Felix, because he's her brother and/or sister. Felix once again wins the award for best line in an episode – the championship title is between him and Cosima at this point – with “You're right, you shot your twin sister dead only for her to rise up and gut Rachel's henchman, how could I capture the nuance?” It's a struggle all painters face at some point, I'm told.

Felix is just done with all of these shenanigans.

Meanwhile, Cal and Kira are having a father-daughter bonding moment, where Kira may have realised that Cal – who has a fake ID and a gun – is essentially Mrs. S Mark II and thus about as trustworthy as Vladimir Putin at a Ukrainian election booth. They continue to have totally-trustworthy-father-daughter moments later by jointly deceiving a policeman with the use of a fake ID and a gas mask. Gosh, Cal, you really are just the regular guy you keep claiming to be, aren't you.

Oh, don't look so tortured, nobody on this show can be trusted.

Back with Rachel, Leekie, and Paul, Paul is given an offer he can't refuse – literally, as he points out that he doesn't have a choice. With Daniel dead, Rachel needs a monitor-slash-personal-bodyguard-slash … er. Well, judging from what Daniel and her did, and what happens between her and Paul later on, other person in a somewhat skeevy arrangement. Rachel also asks about Leekie's stem cell tests, which he says are promising enough to use to cure Cosima: She orders him to shut down the tests, saying that if Sarah won't come back into the fold, then Cosima will suffer. Leekie is obviously displeased, as most people would be at the idea of murdering a promising young scientist/massive investment.

That plan falls through pretty quickly, as Delphine is accidentally sent the stem cell cultures. They're quick to break into Leekie's office and, naturally, are discovered. Delphine angrily confronts Leekie, and he agrees to give Cosima the treatment. Which is all a bit too easy, so I'm not entirely convinced that something isn't going to go horribly wrong and Cosima's going to explode into confetti or something equally alarming and liable to traumatise me.

Felix delivers Helena to Art, and to be honest, I'm surprised the man survives for more than about three seconds in the same room with her. He touches her when she tells him not to, restrains her, is repeatedly short-tempered and brusque with her. I mean, he's treating her like a criminal – which she is, she's murdered so, so many people at this point, but I'm pretty sure the only reason she hadn't randomly generated a murder for him by the end of this scene is because she remembered that he helped her escape the Proletheans.

Art's attempts to question her are – unsuccessful, at best, and while plying her with food helps, he apparently doesn't notice that she's eating things in tins with sharp edges, and it's not long before she's escaped, leaving Sarah to discover Art and a riddle that leads them to – I'm actually not entirely sure what it leads them to. Some manner of Helena-oid hidey hole. Oh! A lock-up. Where – where things are locked up. Yes.

While this is all afoot, Rachel questions Paul about Cal, and asks him to make a choice. Apparently, the choice he makes is 'interrupt Felix's dalliance with the geeky mortician', which seems like a bit of a harsh move on his part. He's there to frame Felix for murder, putting his fingerprints on the gun Daniel used to kill that policeman a few episodes ago. Which – dude, Paul, do what you have to do, but at least wait until Felix isn't entertaining guests. It's not urgent, right?

It's also not a very effective plan – I'd ask if anybody else noticed this, but Art actually points out when told that it's not that easy to frame somebody for murder. I say this partly because fingerprints on a murder weapon do not an automatic conviction make, but largely because Felix has an airtight alibi. He was at Alison's play. She saw him. She saw him the next morning too, as did a host of other people. We know that that's at least a day's journey away from where said police officer died, so it's not as if he can't easily prove to the police that there's no way he could have committed murder. Not to mention that Cosima can probably vouch for him too. 

"Felix is about to be arre - ..." "Paul, I don't think you thought
this through."

But it's apparently enough to drive Sarah into fervently attempting to purchase his innocence, which is what Paul wants. In Helena's lock-up, her and Art find all manner of exciting things: Lots and lots of doll heads, pictures of the Virgin Mary with her eyes stabbed out, and a photograph labelled 'Swan Man', which Sarah immediately connects to the story of Leda and the Swan that Cosima told her last episode.

'Swan Man' turns out to be Rachel's adopted father, one of the two Doctor Duncans, having apparently not been killed in an explosion as previously thought. Sarah at last has something she can trade for Felix's not-entirely-at-risk freedom, but any further discussion on that is cut off as they realise that there's a sniper rifle missing from the lock-up, and Helena has gone to kill Rachel.

What follows is – well, not the most skeevy sex scene I've seen, because I watch Game of Thrones, and there's only been about two sex scenes in the entirety of that that haven't made me intensely uncomfortable, and two out of four of the parties involved in said scenes are now quite dead. But it comes close, primarily because whether Paul can really be considered a consenting party in his dalliance with Rachel is highly questionable at best. 

Dental health is very important to Rachel.

Some people have been comparing it with Daenerys and Daario's scene in this week's Game of Thrones, and they are superficially similar – but that scene is wholly consensual, and Daario's submission to Daenerys is not just willing but eager. There's a marked power dynamic at play in which Daenerys is the more powerful one, that much is certain, but the act is wholly consensual, and it's clear to the audience that Daario could walk away at any point without consequence. The same cannot be said of this scene.

That's not the face of enthused consent.

Of course, at the same time Helena is pointing a sniper rifle at Rachel's head, and why she doesn't just fire, I have no idea. Maybe she's enjoying the show. But it gives enough time for Sarah and Art to arrive, and for Sarah to talk Helena down, saying that without Rachel they can't save Felix.

As the episode ends, Sarah meets with Leekie – the meeting having been organised by Cosima – and gets his support in finding Rachel's father. Or so it seems, at least: Paul arrives a moment later, and Leekie instructs him to keep an eye on Sarah.

Next week: Road trip! Woo! Woo.

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