Orphan Black: Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est
May 17, 2014 8:31 PM - Season 2, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Rachel goes on the warpath, lashing out at Sarah's nearest and dearest. While she tries to keep her loved ones safe, an unexpected visitor threatens to derail Sarah's plans.

"Brotherseestra." Discuss.
posted by tzikeh (48 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I knew Felix was doomed when they started playing Tears for Fears. That never bodes well.
posted by homunculus at 9:02 PM on May 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Poor Fee! It was nice to see Morgue Guy again. I have a feeling he's not going to get a third chance.

I think Art reacting to Helena's existence is my favorite thing about the show right now.

Tonight left me with far more questions than usual:

WTF is Cal's story
Whose side is Leekie on
Why did they hire such a dull, rangeless actor to play Paul
Is "Shit Goblins" a real band and where can I hear them play
posted by tzikeh at 9:18 PM on May 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

This was a really fun episode, which covered lots of ground. I didn't notice the absence of Allison until the end because I was having so much fun.

It seems like Helena sees Sarah as her sestra, and she doesn't care about the other clones. I do like how she begrudgingly was willing to put up with Felix.

Why did they hire such a dull, rangeless actor to play Paul

Maybe they got mesmerized by his great abs? I've found it to be such an odd casting misfire, since most of the other actors have been fantastic.
posted by Harpocrates at 10:03 PM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

The guy who plays Paul projects an extraordinarily tightly wound quality, seething, resentful of the hold Dyad has on him. Also, I expect the actor himself probably can smile and laugh, probably doesn't carry himself so stiffly, with such careful, serious, obvious restraint. I get the feeling Paul could lay down some serious violence but rarely gets the chance given the circumstances of the story the show tells. So I don't think the actor is dull or rangeless, I think the character feels highly restricted. If Paul gets some lighter moments or finds an environment where he doesn't have to guard himself, be so stern, maybe we'll see something of what the actor can do.
posted by cgc373 at 2:04 AM on May 18, 2014 [11 favorites]

I read Paul as a time bomb desperately wanting to explode, but isn't sure who to be standing next to when it does. I have to wonder if being the stud to three of the clones now isn't messing with his head a bit.

I loved Kira rescuing Cal's ass by being so damned precious.
And Helena with her Rachel doll! Sooooo wonderfully demented. You can tell when an actress enjoys playing a character, and it's pretty obvious Tatiana is like a kid in a toy store with Helena.

This was a crackerjack episode that really moved things along. I still think Felix is primed to be turned somehow, especially now that he's caught in Dyad's web.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:01 AM on May 18, 2014

They didn't have time to get far, but for mainstream TV, that was a fairly extended guy-on-guy makeout Felix had. Not a spot on stuff like QaF, obviously, but still noteworthy.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:36 AM on May 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

I go back and forth on whether or not Paul is the result of wooden acting or if he is being played so close to the vest because Paul has big secrets that have yet to be revealed and that is how the character is gaining the trust of people at Dyad. I mean, he has quickly worked his way up from being an out-of-the-loop monitor to someone who gets to keep a close eye on Rachel.

Also, maybe it is just me but I find it fascinating how the show is so subtle on some points. They've explicitly drawn attention to Helena and Kira's super healing powers but Sarah keeps getting banged up or sliced up and appears fully healed soon afterward.
posted by plastic_animals at 8:39 AM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Why did they hire such a dull, rangeless actor to play Paul

Finally, men are the sexy, empty listeners!

I expect the actor himself probably can smile and laugh

Based on this panel discussion (it's long), yes, he can.

Paul hasn't actually struck me as a dull character. I just think there's a lot we don't know about him, and he's pretty much been completely restricted by the PTB for the entire show. (In that regard, I'm not sure what to make of his telling Beth/Sarah in the first season that they should leave for Rio. How could he possibly have done that, and why would he have wanted to, considering that he'd apparently never cared that much for Beth before she turned into Sarah?)
posted by torticat at 8:44 AM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh look! I appear to have found myself in camp Helena-is-so-fucking-awesome again.
posted by fullerine at 9:34 AM on May 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

I find it hard to watch Helena a lot of the time. She's so messed up by a lifetime of physical and mental torture. For the other clones I can imagine there being a scenario that ends in them reaching some sort of normal life (however unlikely in the OB universe), but for Helena I can't even see the tiniest chance things might work out okay for her.
posted by bjrn at 11:06 AM on May 18, 2014

Yeah, I see Paul as someone who's pretty good, though not world-class, at projecting a chosen, neutral persona at all times. Good because he does have a military intelligence background, but not world-class sociopath-grade because he probably didn't train specifically for that quality and has had to adopt it full-on more recently and by choice.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:40 AM on May 18, 2014

I can't remember if this was made explicit... did the sperm that was used to fertilize Helena's egg come from Henrik? I guess it did, because of all the marriage hoopla.

But anyway, how disgusting then that they will probably make Gracie carry the baby, adding incest on top of basically a double-rape.

(Huh, kind of the inverse of GoT now that I think about it.)
posted by torticat at 11:44 AM on May 18, 2014

I am torn between reveling in the show (first the patented genome, and now particularly the fertilized egg/Gracie storyline) as a scathing indictment of women-as-property, with a nice vicious twist on the "all women are the same" trope, and a sort of queasy-making "I get it, but Jesus I'm kind of sick of hearing about it" experience.

Also, no, seriously, the guy who plays Paul is bad. Just because the actor can laugh and joke and be relaxed when he's not playing Paul doesn't mean he's talented because Paul doesn't laugh or joke or relax. There's no correlation there. There are lots of actors I can think of who could bring undercurrents and subtle indications of everything that we're sort of inventing for ourselves to believe about why Paul is the way he is, and we wouldn't have to wonder. This guy's just not very good. He might be aiming for all that stuff, but the talent isn't there.
posted by tzikeh at 11:52 AM on May 18, 2014

I know, tzikeh, I didn't really mean to suggest just because the guy can laugh he's a good actor, obviously. I was just throwing that link out there because it's kinda fun to see what the actors are like IRL.

But I do disagree that the actor has no talent. The show just doesn't give him much to do besides be inscrutable. He's fine when Paul lets the facade crack... see the scene in Beth's living room when he confronts Sarah about not being Beth. Looking at an episode guide, I think it was ep6 last season.
posted by torticat at 12:04 PM on May 18, 2014

I love that Slate article torticat linked. Despite its publication location, I thought it was right on.

Also, wow, whoever said that Kira is psychic last week: score points for you.

And I am sad that Felix didn't get to score. Did not expect to see the lube in hand the way they showed it. Also, I want his flowered shirt.
posted by immlass at 4:59 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's a credit to the show that so many bizarre things happened in 44 minutes that a young woman literally gets her mouth sewn shut and it doesn't even register.

1. At this point, Paul has hooked up with every clone who's not married or dead.
2. Helena had me convinced she's a real person, not just a character.

Can we have clone Felixes (Felii?) too, please? I love him.
posted by mochapickle at 5:21 PM on May 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

For some reason, I have a real track record when it comes to being dense with this show, and I think something super-obvious just occurred to me: the whole time, I've been thinking of the clones as basically high-end IVF septuplets or whatever and being super annoyed that the show was acting like the science behind it was such a big deal. I also kept waiting for a reveal of the clones' "real" biological parents, or the "real" person they were originally cloned from. But...that's not it at all, is it? There is no original - they were built from scratch. They don't have any parents. That's why the patent "in" their genes was such a big deal - it's not that it was added to their DNA, it's that their DNA was literally put together in a lab, forming an entirely new person.

That's way more interesting, and I am an idiot for not figuring it out. But in my meager defense, that is NOT WHAT CLONES ARE. Not even remotely.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 8:19 PM on May 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

Hmm... I'd been thinking that Sarah and Helena were built/engineered from scratch and divided into twins, and that Cosima, Allison, and the others really are clones because they were copies of Sarah/Helena. The evidence so far for this is that Sarah and Helena can have biological children but the others can't -- much like when you run an original through a Xerox machine, the duplicates are slightly different.

But yeah, so now I'm confused myself about the gene sequencing.
posted by mochapickle at 8:41 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Can we have clone Felixes (Felii?) too, please? I love him.

Is it weird that I've been thinking the same thing? And since his accent it so brilliantly fake, he can definitely pull it off.

I also think that we're supposed to get the impression that Paul is a time bomb waiting to go off. I don't think it's bad acting, I think he's intentionally meant to be unimpressive until he does explode, and when he does, it will be spectacular.
posted by patheral at 9:06 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Mochapickle - I got the idea that Helena and Sarah were the originals, and the rest of them were clones, but maybe they were just different iterations of the same experiment? I think it's supposed to be confusing at this point.

I really can't tell if Paul is supposed to be that inscrutable, or if it's just the actor. Is he still worried about the Black Ops stuff from the first season? Were they implying that some sort of brainwashing happened in Taiwan? I didn't mind the guy that much last season, but I don't have any idea what to think of him this season.

Glad to see the mortician back - the awkward makeouts montage was seriously the cutest thing ever - the dancing around and ducking, then the lube hands.

I'm trying to figure out if Sarah is going to bring up the fact that she now knows that Cosima is sick to Cosima - Sarah tends not to care unless it directly affects her, and she still seems like she's wrapped up in her own issues right now.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:12 PM on May 18, 2014

Oh, that Cal. He seems to be so loyal to Sarah, but he doesn't hesitate to drop trou for Daenerys.
posted by homunculus at 10:06 PM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm confused about Gracie and her creepy sewn-up mouth. Did she do it to herself, out of protest? Did they do it to her?
posted by brookedel at 11:03 PM on May 18, 2014

I think the creepy parents sewed up Gracie's mouth, as in "You're not going to tell us what happened? Fine, you won't say anything ever again until you tell us what happened to Helena (who isn't our daughter but who is so, so much more important to us than you are. Ugh, I guess you can be a surrogate)."
posted by sfkiddo at 12:43 AM on May 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Brookedel: I'm confused about Gracie and her creepy sewn-up mouth. Did she do it to herself, out of protest? Did they do it to her?

Her mother did it to her. She says that Gracie still won't tell them what happened with Helena, and that the "punishment fits the crime (of refusing to talk)."
posted by tzikeh at 4:54 AM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Can we have clone Felixes (Felii?) too, please?

Well, I can't imagine Mrs. S. would bother fostering any old normal child...

And since his accent it so brilliantly fake, he can definitely pull it off.

Oh my goodness, I had no idea! His accent is beyond 'brilliantly fake' and firmly into 'convincing to the point that my brain is absolutely refusing to believe Jordan Gavaris is a Canadian man' territory.

It probably helps that he's playing opposite Tatiana Maslany's godawful Sarah accent, but still.

Come to think of it, maybe all her accents are rubbish. Helena is bog-standard 'comedy Die Hard baddie Russian', but it works for such an over-the-top character. I honestly wouldn't know if the various other clones sound legit or not - they all sound sort of 'generic American' to my British ears, even though I know they're Canadian characters played by a Canadian actress.

The evidence so far for this is that Sarah and Helena can have biological children but the others can't

Plus the fact that we know they're genetically twins and shared a womb. And there's Helena's 'internal organs on the wrong side' thing, which I took to mean she and Sarah were a special variety of cloney-mirror-twins, unlike all the other infertile, will-die-coughing-blood clones.

Do we know anything about the various other clones' birth mothers? Could it be that something about Helena and Sarah's shared birth mother made them fertile, non-coughy super-healers? Perhaps all the clones were paired up to share a womb, even if they're not genetically twins like H & S? (Alison/Cosima seem like they could be womb sisters, as do Jennifer/Cosima, and I defo wouldn't mind seeing a Mirror Rachel turn up at some point!)

Oh, and talking of Mrs. S. - she's about the right age to have been a clone birth mother in 1984, no?
posted by jack_mo at 5:25 AM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Some neat discussion about cloning on the TLo recap, particularly this comment:

"Also, the clones each have mitochondria from the donor egg, not the "original genome." Perhaps there is some incompatibility between the genome and the donor mitochondria [...] Incompatibility between the mitochondria and the nucleus can lead to death..."
posted by mochapickle at 6:09 AM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

As far as I understand, it was not planned for "Sarah's" zygote to split, creating Helena. Didn't Amelia say something to the effect, that when she found out she was carrying twins, she knew they were special and wanted to protect them? At this point, it's not established if she fled the experiment, but I assume she did.
posted by travelwithcats at 6:47 AM on May 19, 2014

We know Sarah can have children. We know that Helena's eggs are viable, but not that she can get pregnant. Do we actually know that the other clones don't have viable eggs? I assume that they tested Rachel pretty carefully, but I don't see how we know anything about Cosima, and the timing is pretty fast for Alison to have gone for infertility treatments and then had time to adopt her kids, given their ages.

If Paul ever does anything, I suppose we'll see, but it would be nice if we could have seen that there was something to him other than just sex with various clones.

I'm listening to an interview with Jordan Gavaris and it's so weird to hear his real accent.

This episode has finally brought me back to enjoying Helena.
posted by jeather at 8:32 AM on May 19, 2014

Great interview with Dylan Bruce (Paul) in the Hollywood Reporter.
posted by plastic_animals at 8:42 AM on May 19, 2014

I'm really wondering where they're going with Grace. At the beginning of the season, I was kind of hoping that she and Helena would become unwilling allies. Now - I trust she's going to be more than an incubator, though I don't know what or how.

Also - the scene with the Smuggler and Mrs. S: threatening to chop off a guy's balls and then making out with him? So that's where Sarah gets it from!
posted by dinty_moore at 4:29 PM on May 19, 2014

jeather: the timing is pretty fast for Alison to have gone for infertility treatments and then had time to adopt her kids, given their ages.

Alison said in season one that she could never have biological children. In the rehab center, she was asked about birth control pills, and responded, "Never needed them."

Also in season one, Paul tells Sarah that he was there when Beth found out she could never bear children. I think the show is making it clear that all of the clones are infertile except for Sarah/Helena.
posted by tzikeh at 6:43 PM on May 19, 2014

The show move so fast that I can (and do!) overlook its flaws. It's all just fury. I love it. I'm not completely sold on everything that happened here but I loved every second.

I like how complicated Sarah is -- she was obviously telling Helena what she wanted to hear because she knew it would work, but I don't think it was completely a lie, either. I don't even think Sarah knew that.

And that's part of what I love -- how little control these characters have over their situations despite thinking they're completely in control.

(And poor Cosima! I think she thinks she knows what she's doing but she doesn't. That makes me worried.)

I find the religious cult stuff kind of boring and obvious but I also like how it's not turning out to be what I expect. I do like that this show is willing to go to interesting places that aren't the usual ones.

As much as I love Tatiana Maslany -- and I do, so much (I noticed how she even holds her face and jaw much more softly for Helena than she does for Sarah -- that's crazy), I think Jordan Gavaris is the hidden gem of this show. I loved how Felix went from playful swagger to terror in moments -- he looked so young and broken when Paul was framing him, but he was still Felix. I think Gavaris took a character that could've been one note and made him deeper and more interesting. He feels like a real person.
posted by darksong at 7:48 PM on May 19, 2014 [6 favorites]

Right, but "unable to get pregnant without medical help" is not the same as "eggs are non-viable". I assume they're going for "eggs are non-viable for all clones except Sarah and Helena", but they haven't yet said anything that requires that. (Unless I misremember the wording of how Beth's infertility was mentioned.)

I'm probably overthinking this, granted.
posted by jeather at 7:18 AM on May 20, 2014

I think Jordan Gavaris is the hidden gem of this show.

Co-sign. Felix could be really one-note with a lesser actor and he's not, at all.
posted by immlass at 8:23 AM on May 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Re: Sarah and Helena, fertile, vs. other clones, infertile: I always assumed that the easiest explanation for this was that Sarah and Helena weren't being tracked for their entire lives, whereas all the other clones were. If they've been medically monitoring everyone, why couldn't they also have made the clones infertile while they were at it? It seems more logical that Sarah and Helena's disappearance meant that they missed out on some infertility-inducing procedure.

However, I realize this doesn't track with the accelerated healing or with Kira's psychic abilities, both of which suggest that Helena and Sarah do have some genetic special sauce.
posted by pie ninja at 9:32 AM on May 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think they wanted the clones to be fertile. I don't know why Sarah and Helena are supposed to be different -- because they are twins? Because of some biological mumblemumblemagic that happened with their surrogate mom? They could have made the other clones infertile, but I don't think they did it deliberately.
posted by jeather at 10:40 AM on May 20, 2014

When they cut the swim coach clone open, they discovered these weird... polyps? or something inside her lungs and her uterus, too, implying that the lung disease found in at least three clones so far (probably more) is also related to their infertility.
posted by mochapickle at 11:19 AM on May 20, 2014

On a scientific note, i'm unclear as to how, given that they have full genomic data for all the followed clones, that they can't seem to pull out their synthetic sequences from them. I assume it would be sequence unalignable to the human reference genome... which should narrow down the haystack pretty quickly.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:01 PM on May 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

According to Leekie, the original genomic data was lost in a fire. He called the entire clone project an orphan. Cosmina commented on it with "you lost the map" or some such. So far Cosmina had to sequence the genomes individually (remember the briefcase with the blood samples?).
posted by travelwithcats at 7:09 PM on May 20, 2014

Cosima was handed her own entire genome on a hard drive by Leeky. I presume the Dyad has sequenced all the other clones that they'd monitored. (as they just had to check sarah's/beth's barcodes) Somehow it seems overly trivial to surmount the loss of the original genome when you've got all these clones of it running around.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:21 PM on May 20, 2014

Never mind all the science babble. We need to talk about Felix. Specifically, his hair, which is a gift from God. It had a lot more curls in this episode (not that there's anything wrong with that), but usually it's straight and sleek and just plain amazing.

Mine's about the same length - any guesses on what products he uses? The haircut itself makes a huge difference, but it probably costs 3 times what I'm willing to pay.

On a less superficial note, I'm really glad they made him a multi-dimensional character and not just the Sassy Gay Friend. Tatiana Maslany is amazing, no doubt, but the show would lose a lot if another actor played Felix.
posted by desjardins at 6:48 AM on May 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

The reason the clone aspect of the show is so riveting (and feels downright brilliant) is particularly evident when you look at it on a perspective level. How often do you see hashtags trending on twitter like #ThatsWhatSlutsDo or #LiesToldByFemales or #mygirlfriendnotallowedto? Terrible blanket statements about women and their behaviors, thoughts, and actions happen all.the.time. The idea that ladies all think and act the same (many vaginas, one mind?) is an old one: past generations and years engrained societal thought have allowed and perpetuated this for years. By making the main protagonists of the show female clones, Orphan Black forces the viewer — even though they all have the same face; even though they’re all played by the same actress — to see them all as unique, individual humans in spite of that. Because they’re autonomous people, they deserve the freedom from outside control that they seek: the right to govern their own body in whatever way they see fit. Ha! See where we’re going with this? The clone club is feminism!
The ORPHAN BLACK Radical: Why Every Clone Club Needs its Helena « Nerdist
posted by desjardins at 7:32 PM on May 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

> Mine's about the same length - any guesses on what products he uses?

I'm guessing he has magically thick hair and a team of stylists. I think the dark color also helps in making it look sleek. If you want to get a similar style, why not give AskMe a shot?

One thing I would love to see, but at the same time really hope they don't do, is having Maslany play a male clone. I'm just curious what she'd look like and I'm already half convinced she could pull it off.
posted by bjrn at 7:17 AM on May 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Or like a 7' tall basketball player. I have no doubt she would make it work.

She's amazing.
posted by mochapickle at 7:52 AM on May 24, 2014

Come to think of it, maybe all her accents are rubbish. Helena is bog-standard 'comedy Die Hard baddie Russian', but it works for such an over-the-top character. I honestly wouldn't know if the various other clones sound legit or not - they all sound sort of 'generic American' to my British ears, even though I know they're Canadian characters played by a Canadian actress.

Late to the party here, but there is a distinct difference between Alison's suburban-Canadian and Cosima's West-Coast-U.S. accents. (Jennifer, the dead swim coach, has a more standard American accent than Cosima's. Beth, I have no idea.)

Helena's supposed to have grown up in the Ukraine and I think it's perfectly plausible that Maslany, whose background is part Ukrainian, may have been exposed to enough people from the Old Country that it's legit.
posted by psoas at 11:29 AM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]

Late to the party, but...

Well, I can't imagine Mrs. S. would bother fostering any old normal child...

One thing I would love to see, but at the same time really hope they don't do, is having Maslany play a male clone.

Just watched this episode last night, and I've speculated since the pilot that Felix is, in fact, Sarah's actual genetic brother. The only solid evidence against that is Dyad's disinterest in him, right? But I can think of quite a few scenarios where they might not know who he is, or that he's still around at all.
posted by Andrhia at 4:49 PM on June 22, 2014

Also, couldn't you explain Sarah's garbled British accent by the fact she grew up in Canada?
posted by rikschell at 5:02 AM on July 13, 2014

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