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Orphan Black: Variations under Domestication

“Jesus Christ, Alison, what have you done?”

I’d be hard pressed to pick a ‘best’ episode of Orphan Black, but this episode is by far the funniest.

Worlds collide at Alison’s potluck. Paul and Vic both show up, Alison passes out, Donnie is tied up and tortured in the basement, the neighbors are nosing around and who is left to cope with it all? Sarah and Felix, of course. Lest anyone think Sarah is the screw up of the clones, Alison shows her real colors this week. All the clones seem to have their own favorite substances. Sarah prefers whiskey, Cosima pot, Beth pills, and Alison the heady combination of tranquilizers and wine. Is ‘addictive personality’ written into their DNA?

Alison’s paranoia has reached critical level. Her husband getting up in the middle of the night is enough to send her into a tailspin that leads to the craziness described above. Alison is freakishly tightly wound. Compare the clones’ reactions to finding out their monitors identities: Cosima calmly reports her suspicions to Sarah, Sarah enters avoid mode with Paul, Beth killed herself, and Alison whacked her husband in the head with a golf club. Cosima’s scientific training has informed her calm, wait and see reaction. Sarah’s experience with the criminal element has taught her the value of avoiding less than savory characters (i.e. Vic). Alison is clearly violently protective of both herself and her children. As for Beth, we still don’t know everything that was going on with her, do we?

At least Alison’s breakdown gives us what might be the funniest torture scene of all time. I lose it when she picks up the scalloped scissors. It makes such sense she would use what she had on hand, although if you’ve ever used those, you know they are very far from sharp. I’m also not sure a hot glue gun could burn that badly. Still, it was a hilarious visual.

Less than hilarious was Vic getting shot with a nail gun. I’ve mentioned in other reviews my queasiness about violence that involves construction equipment. This episode definitely didn’t change that.

Although Paul is still largely a man of mystery, we do learn more about him. Olivier has something on him from his days as a private contractor and is forcing him to watch Beth. I always thought this seemed like a bit of an intrusive addition. He has a very nice apartment, a good amount of money, and a stunningly beautiful girlfriend, but he does what he does only because he is being blackmailed. It seems a little manipulative of the writers. Like they were afraid we’d hate Paul if he didn’t have a reasonable excuse (we probably would). Still, the move feels oddly cowardly on the writers part. They didn’t want to take the risk of Paul being seen as an out and out villain.

Balancing out the zaniness of what’s going on in Scarborough, we get some major mythology development with the introduction of Dr. Leekie and Neolution. The heavy implication is that Dr. Leekie or a like minded person created our little Clone Club. I was honestly surprised that the show gave us this much information this early. ‘Where did we come from’ seemed more likely to be answered in season two. Then again, Orphan Black is not a show to take things slowly.

Bits and Pieces:

Donnie got up in the middle of the night to watch cricket. Do Canadians watch cricket?

Neolution is defined as “self-directed evolution.” Correct me if I’m wrong, geek monkeys, but in order to be considered any form of evolution, the body modifications the freaky Leekies seem to be so fond of would have to be inheritable, yes? I can get Lasik, but that doesn’t mean my eventual children won’t inherit my terrible eyesight.

Speaking of terrible eyesight, why does Cosima wear glasses when the other clones seem to have 20/20 vision? Are environmental factors that determinative?

Cosima says she’s from “San Fran.” If she really were from San Francisco, she never would have called it that.


Cosima: “Stick to the science? What am I, the geek monkey now?”

Donnie: “Or what? You’ll stick sequins on me?”

Alison: “Am I sick like the German?”
Donnie: “What German? Who’s German?”

Alison: “I have no gift bags, no ice, and no bartender because my husband is tied to a chair.”

Sarah: “Alison, you need to take a deep breath.”
Alison: “I hate yoga.”

Sarah as Alison: “Hey! You watch your tone! Your wife is the rock of this family. You will no longer speak down to her. Am I clear?”
Awesome moment.

Charity: “Do you have any crackers?”
Alison: “How should I know, Charity? Why don’t you go check the cracker cupboard?”

Ainsley: “Where is Donnie? Why isn’t he helping you with this?”
Alison: “He’s tied up.”

Chad: “It’s a gay bartender. That’s awesome.”

Alison: “I whacked him and it felt so good.”

Alison: “You’re the only person I can talk to and you’re just another version of me.”

Felix: “I don’t do plazas.”

Delphine: “After a jogging like this, we like to smoke a nice little cigarette.”
Cosima: “Did you say ‘a jogging?’”
Delphine: “Yes.”
Cosima: “You did. Okay, just checking.”

four out of four cracker cupboards
sunbunny, who is probably not played by Tatiana Maslany


  1. I'm not sure about Canadians, but I have several friends who would get up at ridiculous hours of the night/early morning to watch the cricket here in Australia. Especially during Ashes season. Although not this year.

    Maybe Cosima wears glasses simply for aesthetic reasons? Like those hipster glasses? IDK.

    Who in their right mind would subject their child to the name 'Charity'?

  2. I know some people who have gotten up at 2am to watch soccer, usually during the World Cup. But cricket? Is that even a real sport, or just a myth like curling?

    I'm so glad, Sunbunny, that you thought this episode was funny. I did, too--and I felt horrible about giggling so much during an episode filled with torture. The glue-gun scene had me in stitches.

    (For what it's worth, those big glue guns can get really hot. I've gotten blisters before. Now I just have a little glue-gun for safer bedazzling.)

    Good point about the addictive personalities, too. I'd add Helena's cutting to the list.

    I loved Allison's scissors. I love that she had a dozen different scissors in a special scissors Lazy Susan. In addition to all the great brilliance on this show, the set design is awesome.

    I had a wonderful idea: for Season Two, we should meet a bunch of male clones, all played by Enver Gjokaj from Dollhouse. I think he's the only actor up to Tatiana Maslany's standards. We could start a petition.

  3. This was an omigod episode. The glue gun, the entire neighborhood walking in, Vic (nail gun), Paul turning out to be a ninja -- is Aynsley Alison's watcher? (I love that they have watchers. Except that it's not cool watchers like Buffy or Highlander but creepy monitors with unknown agendas.)

    I'm in love with Alison now. Even though she has this obsession with sharp objects. I loved the scissors scene, too. Who has a set of rainbow-colored scissors?

    Sunbunny, I was wondering about Cosima's glasses, too. Maybe she thinks they make her look more like an intellectual.

    Josie, the Enver Gjokaj idea is *wonderful*. Where do I sign?

  4. Matt Frewer is awesome. That is all

  5. For those of you asking about cricket, I once traveled to Australia to watch the Ashes. Yes, one can become obsessed.

    Anyway, this episode felt a bit frenetic and French farce like to me. Doubles and clones, mistaken identities, the scissors and the glue gun, Donnie's bit at the end.

    Having said that, I love the idea of Paul knowing the truth and, at the moment he learns it, switching to the bottle without the drugs in it. His falling for Sarah at the beginning -- foreshadowing? I kind of hope so.

  6. good job pointing out cosima saying "san fran". Any native from there refers to it as "frisco"

  7. shemp_hardy…please tell me you're kidding :)

  8. i m really loving this show so far. thanks to douxreviews and its reviewers for turning me on to yet another great show.

    as for the glasses question: could be cosima needs the glasses after working to long in front of computer screens. mine got worse over the years and so did the eyesight of a couple of friends doing their thesis and doctorates.


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