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Orphan Black: Governed As It Were By Chance

“Put her in the black, you said. As black as it gets.”

This was the first episode of the season that was more focused on certain clones than the others. Sarah and Helena take center stage this week in a really astonishing episode. Tatiana Maslany amazes her entire audience every week, but there’s no denying “Governed As It Were By Chance” was something special.

The instigator of the car crash turns out to be Cal who wanted to keep Sarah from being abducted by the guy who’d just murdered his friend. It’s a reasonable goal, but I have to say I’m not sure slamming into a car carrying her and Daniel was the best move. She could’ve been seriously hurt. Plus, he left Kira unsupervised. AGAIN. They need to keep a better eye on that child. Whenever she doesn’t have at least one person’s full attention, I get very nervous.

Cal and the Dyad Institute are connected. Scores don’t lie and the music picked up the second Sarah mentioned them. Cal’s face was inscrutable. He obviously knows more than he’s letting on, but what is it? When Sarah knew him he worked as an engineer on a bee project, right? Maybe Dyad was involved with that. It seems right up their alley. He can’t know too much, or else he would’ve known Sarah was going to reply with “Dyad” and might’ve been able to steel his face against such obvious recognition.

Who are the Duncans? The newspaper clipping said that they were dead, but are they? You never know with this show. They were/are British and apparently loving parents. I find myself wondering if Ethan Duncan is Leekie. I’ve posited before that Aldous Leekie couldn’t possibly be his real name. The picture in the newspaper looked similar enough to the man we know as Leekie. The accent is an issue, however. Although he is adept at languages (he spoke French with Delphine last season) so maybe he trained himself to adopt a new accent? Then, of course, it puts him interacting with his adoptive daughter on a frequent basis. I don’t know. Maybe I’m reaching. There’s a theory going around that the Duncans were killed by the Neolutionists because they were too close and not clinical enough with Rachel. I can totally see that happening.

Rachel was a surprisingly large presence this week despite still being away with Paul. Sarah going through her stuff and watching home movies of her is strongly reminiscent of “Natural Selection,” where Sarah does the same thing to Beth. We learn a lot about Rachel. She’s sleeping with Daniel. She owns animal print underwear. She had a happy childhood, contrary to Cosima’s theorizing. What a great scene that made. Cosima’s on this spiel about Rachel’s life and Sarah’s looking at hard evidence that Cosima is wrong. When she says, very non-confrontationally, “I don’t think so,” Cosima gets all defensive. “Well, the psychology makes sense, Sarah.” I was reminded of that old line, “Who you gonna believe, me, or your own eyes?”

Cosima is still watching Jennifer Fitzsimmons’s video diaries. Jennifer’s talking about telling people about chronic illness, which is something Cosima has largely avoided so far. Delphine knows, but that is it. She hasn’t told her sisters yet. Why? Is she in denial? Is she wanting to avoid imposing on them? Is it for the same reasons Jennifer didn’t like telling people she was sick? Sarah at least has noticed something’s wrong with Cosima (“You look like you could look some sun, Cosima.”).

I could watch an entire episode dedicated to Alison’s exploits in rehab. Alison making unlikely friendships, Alison learning to get over herself. It’s all very Orange is the New Black. Structurally, sending Alison to rehab is another way to separate the main three from each other which still seems to be a major goal of the season. A few episodes ago, I hoped they’d all come together by season’s end. Now I’m just hoping they all live that long.

I love how Alison is repulsed by everything she sees. It’s so her. Each clone has their own defense mechanism they use when they feel uncomfortable but want to feel in control. Sarah gets tough, Cosima not so subtly reminds people she is smarter than them (or at least, she thinks she is), and Alison acts like she’s above everything she’s seeing. She’s no better than anyone else in rehab and may very well be worse (R.I.P. Aynsley). Besides, I’m doubting that’s a low rent place. If Donnie and Alison are rich enough to afford to keep $75000 under the mattress for a rainy day clone fund, I’m sure they can afford private rehab. The kind with macrobiotic diets and yoga.

Mrs. S certainly got a lot to do this week. How much does she know? She had the newspaper clipping about the Duncans, so she must know something about them, right? Even if its just their names? Everyone seems really paranoid about Sarah and her sisters discovering too much, which is naturally only whetting my curiosity.

They’ve been drawing some very deliberate parallels between Mrs. S and Sarah this season. Earlier this season, I thought they might be trying to imply that Mrs. S is genetically related to the clones, perhaps the source of some of their original DNA. Now I’m not so sure. Are they trying to show the power of nurture over nature? For being so hard on Sarah, they are a lot alike. Mrs. S and Carlton’s rendez-vous in the hallway looked a whole lot like Sarah and Cal’s hook up from last week. Honestly, when Mrs. S showed up at the bar and they started the shot at her feet and panned up, I was expecting to see Tatiana Maslany.

The best part of this outstanding episode was definitely Helena and Sarah. The scene where Helena saves Sarah from Daniel might be the finest the series has ever produced.

Important things to remember about Sarah: she doesn’t like to be tied down, even metaphorically; she runs away when things get too bad. At the start of the series, she was in an abusive relationship. She does not like people touching her unless she initiates the physical contact (exceptions: Felix and Kira). Combine all that with being physically restrained and tortured? It’s no wonder the scene was so affecting.

Sarah’s tough veneer is evident at first (“Better idea. Eat me.”) but quickly dissipates into absolute begging (“I look like her, don’t I? I look just like her!”). It was tough to watch. Watching Sarah’s shell crack and then shatter completely was extremely uncomfortable. I haven’t been able to get her face out of my mind since.

Then Helena comes into the mix. Helena, who has just been kidnapped, forcibly married, sexually assaulted, and partially suffocated. The scene where Helena remembers what was done with her was downright chilling. The Proleatheans looked like aliens, hovering around her, touching her, spreading her legs... Watching her struggle to make sense of it all and then very deliberately deciding to get out of there NOW was one of the series’ best sequences.

Helena’s first impulse after her escape is to find Sarah. That’s her first thought. Not run to the police, run to the hospital. Run to Sarah. Sarah shot her, but it is with Sarah she feels the safest. Sarah is her family. Helena is usually in a state of relative vulnerability, but when she said “I think they took something from me” I got chills. She was sexually assaulted while unconscious but doesn’t have the capacity to understand what happened to her thanks to her Proleathean upbringing. I’m seriously doubting Tomas gave her the sex talk. You’ll remember last season she asked Amelia how scientists put babies inside her.

Helena walks into the bathroom (a place for cleansing oneself, it must be noted) with the knife in her left hand. She switches the knife from her dominant hand to her right hand (Sarah’s dominant hand). Was this signaling she wasn’t going to attempt to hurt Sarah? Was it a way of attempting to deliberately mirror her twin?

The hug between the two of them was mesmerizing, both from a technical standpoint and from an acting perspective. Sarah is terrified of Helena, who she had shot just days ago and presumed to be dead and is crying and trying to get away from her sister at first. Once it becomes clear that Helena isn’t going to hurt her, she relaxes a bit and almost leans into it. Is she trying to comfort Helena? Is she looking for comfort herself? Am I seeing things? I loved the fact that Helena wanted to listen to Sarah’s heartbeat. The noise is supposed to be very calming for newborns, as they used to hear their mother’s in utero. Twins can hear each other’s as well.

Neolutionist Bits and Proleathean Pieces

The cast got even smaller this week. Rachel and Paul are still absent and we didn’t see Leekie or Delphine either.

Why didn’t Sarah call Art after the car accident?

Gracie is extremely creepy.

Cosima has a new theory that the military is somehow involved in their creation.

Cosima also kept clearing her throat and coughing.

Felix called Cal “Davy Crocket.”

Sarah pretended to be Rachel on the phone, making Helena the only living clone she’s never impersonated.

Was Sarah right about Daniel being Rachel’s monitor? Does Rachel know?

Clone Quotes

Alison: “I don’t remember the curtain going up. Was I terrible?”
Felix: “People got their money’s worth.”
Keep looking on the bright side, Fe.

Felix: “We’ll celebrate with brunch and mimosas. Oh, God. Or just brunch.”

Carlton: “I do have my weaknesses.”
Mrs. S: “Well let me go, or you’ll have a few more.”

Felix: “I’ll have you know I’m versed in Krav Maga!”

Felix: “Cosima and Delphine are locked in some kind of transgressive lesbian geek spiral bound to end in tears.”

Alison: “I don’t believe I’ve never done the nasty.”

Sarah (about Rachel’s place): “Straight out of cold bitch digest.”

Kira: “She has a guardian angel.”
Kira was talking about Helena, right? I mean, there was the origami butterfly, but she was talking about Helena, right?

Daniel: “There’s already too many of you.”

four out of four zip-ties



  1. This was a great episode, and thank you for the review!
    It is so creepy that Helena is reduced entirely to her ability to reproduce, and the way they are taking these women's agency away. It reminds me very much of the first slayer in Buffy...
    One question though, I don't think Cal caused the accident - his car was still intact; I think he just hid Kira and drove after them, no?

  2. I think it was Cal that t boned Daniel and Sarah, but that is a confusing scene, augmented by the fact that we see the aftermath through Sarah's crash addled eyes. I do believe Cal copped to doing it, saying something like "I couldn't think of anything else to do", but I'm not sure.

    This episode, watched late at night, was like a fever dream for me. Once I recover from that hysteria inducing Sarah/Helena scene and the fact that every time I close my eyes I see Helena running out of the "Garden Of Eden", past Art, and through that field in a bloody wedding gown, I really really need to rewatch.

    Nice catch, sunbunny, on the parallel between Sarah profiling Beth in "Natural Selection" and profiling Rachel in HER apartment. How do you manage to put together such insightful recaps so quickly after, I'm assuming, only watching once? My first time through a deep show like OB is like a thoughtless screaming roller coaster ride. Only by rewatching do I ever manage to start really noticing things. Good job.

  3. For anyone who may not be aware, last season's episode titles were all quotes from Darwin's Origin Of Species. This season it's Sir Francis Bacon's turn according to Wikipedia's "List Of Orphan Black Episodes". I managed to find most, but not all yet, of the Season One quotes in my copy of O of S.

    Not about to try that with Bacon. He's a pretty dense read. He's considered the father of the scientific method of finding answers to questions by systematically observing nature. I'm sure Cosima has at least one of his books.

    The titles seem to be ironic comments on the episodes. Keeping Bacon in mind while watching the scene with Cosima theorizing about Rachel's childhood, while Sarah actually observes Rachel's childhood (it IS her, right?) on film was funny. Sarah has a knack for punching holes in people's theories as well as their lives.

  4. milostanfield - Thanks! I watch the episodes two, sometimes three times. They're so detailed! I still catch new stuff from season one every time I rewatch an episode.

    I've been meaning to bring up the Francis Bacon thing in every review, but there's never time! :)

  5. That final scene in the bathroom was so intense. I totally got why Sarah was in such a panic. "Daniel" played multiple cylons on Battlestar Galactica, and he's scary. Tatiana Maslany as poor victimized Helena is even scarier.

    If a show is complex, like this one is, I always watch it twice before I post a review, too. If I don't, I invariably miss something important.

  6. Probably the series best episode up to now and definitely Tatiana Maslany's finest hour! Helena manages to terrify me and break my heart at the same time...

    Regarding Cal, I think he does know more that he shows but I do trust him. If Cosima is right and the military and Dyad are connected then Cal has been at the losing end in the past and will prove to be an important ally for Clone Club. Besides, he had a lot of opportunities to harm Sarah and Kira but hasn't. Actually forget everything I just said, if Kira trusts him, I trust him. Monkey knows best!

  7. So if Daniel IS dead, and Daniel WAS Sarah's monitor, what does that mean for Paul's future?


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