Surely the old adage "stop and smell the roses" can be extended to "watch every episode of Orphan Black, don't just read catch up posts" but then, I don't know your life, maybe you're one of five kids living in a box car squatting in some bushes watching TV through an old hermit's greasy window and he's been marathoning Gossip Girl re-runs, no judgement. So here's where we're at in the sophomore season of Orphan Black:
Orphan Black continues to cinematically "French braid" the separate lives of its clones, who continue to exist within their own delightfully distinct genres:
1. Helena's queasy horror-movie life has not only continued but gotten somehow even worse. We saw her stagger into a hospital and then later she was snatched by the Prolethean anti-cloning religious cult. She's now recuperating on their fantastically FLDS compound with the help of sneery ginger Gracie.
The Prolethean's creepy/weirdly pro-Science leader shot her previous handler Tomas and in the third episode had her dressed in a white lacy Southern Gothic gown to be eternally bound to him in a suspect handfasting ceremony. (We've seen him with his arm up to his shoulder in a cow's personal regions, this is not a guy you want to casually handfast with.) He then swept Helena down a rusty looking corridor, presumably intent on beginning some DIY clone fertilization experiments. Horrifying! Hopefully someone who's seen footage of her being kidnapped comes and saves her because she may be stabby but no one deserves to be trapped in a Southern Gothic hell with top notes of Warren Jeffs.
2. The unabashed comedy that is Allison's suburbia has taken a Waiting For Guffman-esque turn with her ascendancy to the starring role in community theater musical Blood Ties, a gore-spattered singing and dancing tribute to people who clean up crime scenes. Complicating her moment in the spotlight was inherited from that most basic of bitches, Aynsley, who after getting Isadora Ducan'd by a garbage disposal at the end of season one went on to have a truly Old Navy-level funeral and now is resting under the hilarious gravestone epitaph "The song has ended, but the melody lingers on."
Allison's soccer mom struggle continues to be one of the sharpest comedies of the decade, on the down low. The sinister discovery that her husband is her clone monitor has only ramped up her endearingly high-strung self-centeredness: like, despairing that none of the clone sorority would make it to her play, she mixed some booze and pills and accidentally goose-stepped off the stage mid-song in the last episode. I love her with all my heart.
3. Cosima is holding down the Speculative Fiction Sci-Fi realness at DYAD, installed in a sinister basement lab to make "crazy science" and "unbearable sexual tension" with Delphine, which most recently meant performing an autopsy on a clone that died from the same sort of illness Cosima's currently struggling with. Though Allison warned her that Delphine is not to be trusted, Cosima is like a moth fluttering straight into a flamethrower on that one, and to be fair she's in the best position of any of the clones to materially help them while keeping tabs on high-class corporate hoss Rachel, who's still maintaining a brassy bronze bob like an independent business woman circa Waiting To Exhale.
For real though, seeing Cosima root through the polyp-riddled uterus of her own doppelganger halfway through a coughing fit last episode was trés :((((( !!! I love her so much. I wonder if she and Allison hang on set — oh wait, same actress, sweet Lord she is a genius.
4. Finally the star of TV's tautest thriller, Sara Manning, finally recovered (and then immediately was separated from) darling daughter Kira. It turns out Siobhan and Kira were not kidnapped by the sterile evil geniuses at Dyad, or the filthy fundamentalist nuts over at the Prolethian farm: Mrs. S absconded with Kira to a cozy countryside cell of guerrilla activists, to hang out at a shabby chic manse where Sara herself landed after she and Mr. S left the UK all those years ago.
This reveal elevates Mrs. S from dour guilt-tripping nag to one of the most interesting characters of 2014. In episode 2, we watched her shoot her two fellow activists with cold, ruthless precision when they turned on Sara and Kira, but like whoa, where did that come from? Mrs. S has morphed into this dangerous, morally ambiguous Femme Nikita/Maman Adoptive Nikita who's an utterly delightful subversion of the "Mrs. Potts" manner of maternal figure we're used to. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that when Sara confronted her with the Project Leda photo she flat-out denied any knowledge, although little Kira saw her snooping through Amelia's things, so: what is up your sleeve, Mrs. S? Ninja stars, Mrs.S?
Rather than let Kira depart for London with a character so complicated she has no true television precedent, Sara took Kira, left the cozy safe house and met up with Felix for an extended camping trip that turned into a little B&E of a picturesque summer cabin. When the hunky owner of said cabin arrived, Kira was like "Are you my daddy?" and everybody sobbed "LOOK AT HIS GORGEOUS HAIR, KIRA YES. YES THAT IS YOUR DADDY." A former mark and "moralist with money" Cal is apparently Kira's dad, great at pollinating, and still carries a very sensitive emo torch for Sara even though she grifted him out of $10,000 in the month they were together. Can you blame him?
The appearance of a father figure other than Uncle Felix sent our beloved Fi back to the city rather than suffer the indignity of being a third wheel, which was sort of heartbreaking. He needn't've bovered, Sara's brief stint of calm was almost immediately interrupted by the Super Shady Dyad Dude in a daylight kidnapping scene that separated her from Cal and Kira. Our last episode ended with a truck crashing into Shady Dude's car as he forced Sara to drive them back to Dyad. Cliffhanger! Also, calling all classicists: how much of a spoiler is the project name, Leda, when compared to the myth of Leda and the Swan?
The masterful way direction and editing fuses all of these disparate genres together into one incredibly three-dimensional show is only eclipsed by the surreal perfection that is Tatiana Maslany's performance(s). Every episode I find myself pondering if the show runners already knew Maslany existed and wrote this universe to make the most of her, or if, perhaps, there have been actresses as talented as Maslany in every TV era but because they were as beautiful as Maslany is, they didn't get the chance to play deep, textured characters. It's rare for a female part to be as layered as any one of our many lovely clones, and Maslany continues to give each a soul and reality in a way that I hope inspires future screenwriters to push the boundaries of their female protagonists' character development as far as they possibly can.
Or like, at least make them do a bunch of cool stuff.
[Image via BBC America]
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