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Orphan Black: Effects of External Conditions

“Holy watershed!”

Things got 1960s sitcom kooky this week.

Alison pretends to be Sarah. Sarah pretends to be Beth. Helena pretends to be Sarah pretending to be Beth. What fun! And yet the episode also featured one of the show’s most frightening sequences. The first time I watched it, I was sure Helena was going to kill that little boy. But, hurray! She didn’t. She probably traumatized him for life, but at least he’s still breathing.

Yes, Helena’s reign of creepiness continues. She impersonates Beth in order to gain access to the police station and get under Sarah’s skin. She believes there’s a connection between the two of them. Does Sarah feel it? She had an opportunity to kill Helena, but she didn’t take it. Was it only because Art was just outside the door or was there another factor?

Tatiana Maslany’s performance as Helena is riveting. Her movements are so very bizarre–almost animalistic. I love the way she interacts with objects (particularly food). Helena’s very tactile; she touches everything and does so as if she’s never seen that particular object before. We still don’t completely know what Helena’s deal is. She’s a religious freak, obviously, and whoever she’s working for or with told her she was the original; that the others were clones of her.

Maggie Chen (the woman Beth shot) turns out to have been an ally of Helena’s. According to Helena, she helped make the clones, but then switched sides and began to work with the fish blade people. Beth shot her on purpose, ostensibly to protect her sisters. This certainly raises some questions. Why didn’t Beth tell Alison or Cosima about Maggie? Was she hiding anything else?

Sarah (aka Beth) and Paul’s relationship continues to develop and strengthen. He rushes down to the station the instant he thinks she needs him. I wonder if that’s in character for him. We don’t know what he was like with actual Beth. Is he more fond of Sarah than he was of her?

Onto my favorite part of the episode (and one of my favorite parts of the first season): Alison’s impersonation of Sarah, or, as Felix calls it, “a full reverse Pygmalion.” I love the developing dynamic between Felix and Alison. One gets the idea Alison doesn’t have many real friends. Felix isn’t afraid of Alison and is completely able to call her on her shit. When she snarkily comments that Kira might be better off with Mrs. S, Felix sets her straight in no uncertain matter.

Alison is so great with Kira. I love how she reacts to being caught. She calmly tells Kira the truth (or a kid-friendly version of the truth) that makes Sarah out to be a hero, instead of a flake. She could’ve said “your mom couldn’t make it” and left it at that, but she goes to the trouble of explaining Sarah’s bravery to her young daughter. I love the pinky swear at the end. I hope Alison picked up Kira’s painting to take back to Sarah. I bet she did.

Bits and Pieces:

Although you might have guessed Alison’s kids were adopted, it’s confirmed here. Alison seemed surprised Sarah has a biological daughter. She’s the only clone known to have biological children so far...

Does Angie (the female detective) seem overeager to anyone else?

I haven’t seen Steel Magnolias, so I can’t attest to whether Alison playing the Daryl Hannah part was good or bad casting.

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw is the play My Fair Lady was based on. Alison’s recital of “The Rain in Spain” comes from My Fair Lady, as opposed to Pygmalion.


Alison: “Why would one of us be killing us? What is wrong with her?”
Sarah: “Bad breath. Batshit crazy.”

Felix: “Seriously, what is she on about?”
Sarah: “Quiet. She’s just weird.”

Felix: “Out of nine so far, one’s a psycho who killed four others, one committed suicide, one is a bloody soccer mum, and then there’s you. My crazy sister is sane by comparison.”

Felix: “Is it my imagination, or does Cosima have bigger breasts than you?”

Sarah: “Rock and a hard place here, Fe.”
Felix: “Yeah, you’re permanent address.”

Felix: “Okay, Eliza. Holy shit. We need to pull a full reverse Pygmalion here.”

Sarah: “She thinks we have a connection.”
Cosima: “Do you?”
Sarah: “Yeah, we’re clones.”
Cosima: “Right.”

Kira: “What do you call me?”
Alison as Sarah: “Monkey.”
Kira: “What else?”
Alison as Sarah: “Monkey...bum...face?”

four out of four bloody fortune tellers
sunbunny, who is probably not played by Tatiana Maslany


  1. Like you said, the utter creepiness of Helena was an interesting contrast to the "identical cousins" sitcom stuff with Alison standing in for Sarah. But I loved that Kira knew, and I loved how Alison handled it. It was adorable.

    I'm starting to think Sarah should confide in Art. I'm starting to love Felix. Paul, on the other hand, weirds me out a bit. It's so unclear how he really feels about Beth.

    Big, big hint that the other clones are sterile. Does that mean *Sarah* is the original? (Just a guess. I know nothing about what's coming!)

  2. I also found that scene with Helena and the little boy utterly terrifying. I watch a lot of dark shows, so I was totally convinced something awful was about to happen. Fortunately, it did not. Whew.

    The Felix and Allison relationship is truly a thing of beauty, and it was such delightful fun in this episode. I loved that Allison was willing to do this for Sarah and Sarah's daughter, and I loved even more that she didn't keep trying to sell it when it was clear that Kira wasn't buying.

    I'm pretty sure the actress that plays Angie also plays Bo's mom Aoife on Lost Girl, and for some reason the contrast between the two roles amuses the hell out of me.

  3. Jess, that is indeed mama Succubus herself, Inga Cadranel. Took me a couple of episodes before I recognised her.

  4. Helena is so viscerally wrong she makes my skin crawl. I just want to give her a bath.

    I must say, though, I admired her confidence in the police station.

  5. I loved the wacky sitcom hijinks this week, especially that Kira figured it out right away.

    (Now's a good time for me to mention one of the most fascinating mental disorders I've ever read about: Capgras syndrome. A person with Capgras believes that a close friend or relative--or many--have been replaced with identical clones. It must be incredibly freaky and awful.)

    I really like Felix, too. It's a testament to this show's skill that he's not just "straight-talking gay best friend," but a real full-fledged character.

    And I meant to mention this earlier but forgot: Maria Doyle Kennedy seems to get prettier with age. Jealous!

  6. The scene with Felix and Alison was simply wonderful. I love their chemistry and it is, again, all kudos to Maslany for not only making the women so different, but the relationships unique as well.

    I'm finding this show fascinating to watch, not so much for the story but for Maslany's acting. To watch this young woman take on so many roles, and then double roles (Alison as Sarah) is riveting. A talent not to be ignored.


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