Orphan Black (2×08) “Variable and Full of Perturbation” – Review

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A new clone? A man?!! The twists keep coming in another dramatic outing for Orphan Black.

What Orphan Black does consistently well is pushing the format. Once it establishes something – like a set number of clones, or a certain bad guy, or a certain solution – the show questions it. What if… there’s another clone? What if the clone was transsexual? It’s a sign of a show that isn’t resting on its laurels again; a show determined to keep up the energy by adding new ingredients into the mix.

Tony

Tatiana Maslany is clearly challenged by portraying Tony, and she makes a spirited attempt. However, the clones are usually successfully made distinct by the hair and makeup – with Tony, the appearance is just not as credible or distinctive as they could be. As a result, the finished product looks slightly rushed, like Sarah plus beard. On the plus side, Art’s back! Although this reviewer misses the involvement of Beth’s CID from Season 1. Can he be un-suspended and bring that back in? The motor of a police investigation is always a good way to drive a story onward!

The story given to the new clone is less exciting than the idea of a new clone itself, so we end the episode wondering if Tony will ever return, and frankly why would he need to?orph21

Helena

Where’s Helena? She’s been missing for two weeks now! I think the clone-gets-the-week-off template is a good way to give Maslany a breather and to not overload the stories… but they must be planned better! There must be a legitimate story reason as to why we are not seeing Helena that week, as opposed to just ‘she’s still doing what she does somewhere out there, but the cameras don’t follow her’. She’s back next week though, apparently.

Rachel

Rachel gets her hard edge back when talking to Ethan this week, which is probably right for the story. It would make her mini-breakdown last week less special if she was suddenly and implausibly reformed. Ethan (Andrew Gillies) is a valuable addition to the show and the cast, and the scenes he shares with Kira this week are sublime.

Alison

Now Donnie?? You’re leaving now?? After her drink problem, her strange behaviour at social events, her sleeping with a neighbor’s husband, becoming the neighborhood’s public enemy, being shipped ungracefully off to rehab, and generally treating you terribly? Now you’re leaving?

“Alison… I’m leaving.”

When they open the boot of the car to find Leekie’s body and Donnie says, “I’m pretty sure he crapped himself”, I realised something about Alison and Donnie: it doesn’t matter how serious their storylines are, they are always handled with comedy gloves. Instinctively, I would say that’s a bad mood. But it always, always works! Alison’s scenes are the most consistently enjoyable of the series. Donnie actor Kristian Bruun has really stepped up his game in these last few episodes.

orph22Cosima

But it’s Cosima who is the star of the show this week. Followers of these reviews will know that I’ve been hoping for better scripts for Cosima for a long time and finally they have come. Cosima and Delphine are utilised well here, both when they are sparring and when they are united. Évelyne Brochu has been marvellous since the beginning, she’s particularly warm in this episode, and she’s wearing a lovely blouse here as well! What more could we ask from Orphan Black?

“Cosima… It’s your life.” “It’s not just that. It’s all of us.”

The helium and nerd-game sequences are both effectively shot and give us some needed pause time, but the real gem here is the short scene in which she tells Scott that she is the subject of their experiments – that she is the one who is sick.orph20

Verdict

The selflessness and the meekness of Cosima is what is so winning about her. The most easily likable of the clones, Maslany should be very proud of this portrayal. It’s a shame that the ending in which she keels over comes at a slightly undramatic point (thirty seconds earlier, when she was talking to Scott, would have been far more effective). It’s also a shame that the ‘next time’ reel ruins the suspense of whether she will make it or not.

Another strong outing for Orphan Black, mainly thanks to Cosima and her story. Please say she survives…?