Orphan Black Review by Henry Tran

Orphan Black 2.10: By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried

Orphan Black 2.10: By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried

Written By:
Graeme Manson
Directed By:
John Fawcett


The chief worry about this show is that it will get overwhelmed by its conspiracy plot. That would result in a mess as well as a loss of focus on the characters. The Proletheans are out of the picture thanks to Helena's efforts in the previous episode. So that leaves the Clone Club to deal with the Dyad Institute. The Institute has recently proven to be a bastion of chaos due to a shakeup at the top. Of course, the end of this episode shows the possibility of leaving the Dyad Institute behind altogether.





Incorporating the military and giving them their own line of clones makes that machine seem more dangerous all of a sudden. Though, again, I worry that these previously unseen developments will take something away from the actions of the Clone Club. Future episodes might well be elaborate check-ins on what any particular clone is up to, mixed with the constant need to further what is happening with the military, the male clones, and "Topside," the new player on the scene that is apparently higher than even the Dyad Institute. It feels like too much sometimes.

The finale proved that the show has a tendency to present some plot development that's potentially interesting and then back away from the consequences. For example, Sarah signs away her body to the Dyad Institute so that she could try and get Kira back. The show makes a weird choice to cross-cut between the scene where Dyad scientists ask incredibly sensitive questions about Sarah's sexual history and Siobhan's admonishment of Felix for losing Kira to Rachel.





We had to expect the yelling to come because it's the usual trope, but it throws off the impact of Sarah's own cavalier decision. She has a history of flying by the seat of her pants when it comes to ensuring the safety of her daughter so in that aspect, it's no different. The cross-cutting is more the show's writers and the director showing off what would be considered "cool" by the show's fans. They do many things well (especially in regards to showing the clones interacting in the same room), yet there is this insistence on driving through the plots as fast as they can that is bothersome to me.


Sarah's plan more or less works. Her scenes early demonstrate the show's willingness to address larger thematic questions like the degree to which women are objectified and used only for their bodies and frequency of fertility. The Dyad Institute's callous and cold attitude towards the surgery to remove one of Sarah's ovaries to study how she reproduces is an answer to one of those questions. It's a horrifying prospect for any of the clones to be cut into (which is why I still worry about Cosima's ultimate fate; I'm dubious about whether Kira's magical bone marrow can save her) and so a relief when the Clone Club works together to improvise the tool that puts a sharp pencil through Rachel's eye.




Rachel doesn't have a great time in the finale, by the way. In addition to possibly wearing an eye patch next season, her father commits suicide for no apparent reason. Everything around Duncan and his flimsy relationship with Rachel feels like a lost opportunity. There could have been a way for this to fill in critical backstory on what was happening. Now that both Leekie and Duncan are dead, that goes away. The writers seem to consign themselves to moving forward.


So the plot developments at the end are going to loom large in the show's future. Project Leda and Project Castor seems to have run concurrently, and the result of Project Castor yields a line of male clones that look like Mark the Prolethean. He was last seen riding off into the sunset with Gracie. With the revelation that he is a clone copy, that doesn't bode well for the welfare of both Gracie and her baby. If the Clone Club is depicting the more uncomfortable aspects of the female gender, then Castor's association with the military should also tap into such vulnerabilities as creating an endless line of compliant supersoldiers. Perhaps deploying the clones as predatory infiltrators of the general population.




 It's all setup for next season so the wait-and-see approach has to be the default setting on that plot. I would prefer that the show continue to explore the complications in the female line. Specifically, the writers should develop what is going on with Marian Bowles and her adopted daughter Charlotte. Marian is most likely going to be a larger presence in the series going forward and her "partnership" with Sarah might be fraught with tension. Topside is apparently a ruthless, faceless corporation that was willing to attempt an experiment 400 times before producing a viable result in Charlotte. Why were there so many attempts? What has been left unseen from everyone? The show should hopefully come back to simpler answers for these questions because introducing further complications would only result in a mess that the writers can't untangle. The struggle for balance doesn't end.


Our Grade:
C+
The Good:
  • Strong exploration of female exploitation
  • Michelle Forbes is always welcome on our screens
The Bad:
  • Is the story growing too out of control?

Henry Tran is a regular contributor of review for Critical Myth; The Critical Myth Show is heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @HenYay

Orphan Black by - 6/25/2014 4:52 AM218 views

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Danger Mouse
Danger Mouse
6/25/2014 5:21 AM

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This whole season seems to have been a chore (and a bore) to get through. I was completely lost by different character motivations and the like. This was definitely not as fun, or quite nearly as good, as the first season.
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