Orphan Black, Season 2, Episode 8, “Variable and Full of Perturbation”
Written by Karen Walton
Directed by John Fawcett
Airs Saturdays at 9pm EST on BBCA
The worsening condition of Cosima has been a source of constant concern over the course of Orphan Black’s second season, made worse by the possibility that Kira’s stem cells might be the only possible cure. The dilemma this put Cosima and Sarah in was alleviated somewhat with the discovery of Ethan Duncan, the scientist who originally worked on the project, and who might be able to provide an alternative. With Leekie now out of the picture, Rachel brings Ethan into the Dyad fold this week as Art and Felix discover a new member of the clone family, in a gripping episode that continues to add new variables to the ongoing conflict.
Rachel’s development has been a fascinating aspect of this season. While it appeared clear at the end of last season and the beginning of this one that her allegiance lay with Dyad and the Neolutionists, subsequent revelations have thrown that loyalty into serious doubt. With the news this week that Rachel’s infertility is a deliberate result of Ethan’s work, Rachel is in a unique position of not being able to fully trust any of the sides in the ongoing conflict. What action she chooses to take going forward is going to be promising to see. As Rachel has proven herself capable of taking hold of a situation, which side she ultimately does end up on is likely to affect the outcome of this fight. On one hand, it’s possible Rachel may decide that Dyad is still the best place to be, despite everything, not in the least because they are in the best position to cure her illness, a fear that will no doubt be exacerbated by Cosima’s collapse. On the other hand, it’s also likely Rachel will decide to align herself with Sarah and what’s left of Project Leda, and take Dyad and the Neolutionists down from the inside. The Proletheans are another entity Rachel has yet to face and account for, and seeing the deliberations that lead Rachel to a decision is likely to be compelling, no matter the course of action Rachel pursues.
The evolution of the monitor relationships is also a strong aspect of this episode. Over the course of the series, the monitors have emerged as a group who was not firmly on either the side of the Neolutionists or Dyad, a fact driven home with Donnie’s accidental killing of Leekie at the end of last week’s episode. With Donnie and Alison not only making up this week, but reaching new levels of trust with each other, it will be intriguing to see where the former fits into the situation at hand going forward. With Paul and Delphine both ending up at Dyad, it’s possible Donnie may do the same. His murder of Dr. Leekie puts him in a stranger position than the prior monitors; as Rachel saw fit to spare Leekie’s life, she may resent Donnie taking it, accidental or otherwise. On the other hand, the higher authorities of Dyad may see Donnie as more trustworthy due to him taking the step that Rachel could not. In addition, despite their current closeness, Alison now has strong leverage against Donnie, should he choose to go against her again. While Alison did let Ainslie die, Donnie is much more complicit in his murder, and Alison now knows enough crucial details to turn Donnie in. All these factors together make Donnie the latest monitor to become more interesting, and how he develops from here on out will be worth watching out for.
The presence of Tony throws an interesting wrench into the works, and it’s entirely possible that he will become an important part of the unfolding story before long. As Cosima and Delphine’s research has shown, the source of the illness for the clones may be tied with the faults in their uterus, which makes Tony an unknown entity. Given that he seemingly has yet to manifest any symptoms, Tony may be a healthy clone like Sarah and Helena, which is bound to make him a target. Tony’s likely to put up a fight as well, however, and has the potential to be a valuable member of the clone family. Sarah initiating Tony into the clone family is also a testament to how far the former has come since that fateful day on the train platform.
Overall, this is another compelling episode, and a fine addition to a strong season. It’s heartwarming to see the reunion between Mrs. S and Kira, as well as Felix. Given Sarah’s current fiercely protective attitude, and Kira’s forgiving nature, it can be easy to forget that Mrs. S acted as Kira’s mother for quite a while before Sarah encountered Beth, and little moments such as this serve to effectively reinforce the relationships these characters have with each other. Ethan handing Kira a copy of The Island of Dr. Moreau with complex science hidden in the pages is an intriguing development, especially if Kira can grasp the science, as she appears to be able to do. The absence of Helena and the Proletheans from the proceedings for the last two episodes is disturbing, particularly given the plans the latter group had for the former. Given what has been revealed about Jennifer’s illness to date, Cosima’s collapse at the end of the episode does not bode well for her. It will be interesting to see how Cosima and Delphine react to the deterioration in her health, especially with Ethan now back at Dyad. The duo’s uneasy partnership with Rachel and Dyad have been reliant on the group providing them with the resources and means to cure Cosima, and the potential worsening of her symptoms might mean both Delphine and Cosima would be willing to take more drastic measures, and what those measures might be, as well as whether the two clash again on whether to take them or not, will be worth watching for as the season draws to a close.
– Deepayan Sengupta