Orphan Black Review by Henry Tran

Orphan Black 2.08: Variable and Full of Perturbation

Orphan Black 2.08: Variable and Full of Perturbation

Written By:
Karen Walton
Directed By:
John Fawcett


This episode was a mess. For the first time this season, I have doubts about how everything will resolve itself. This isn't a show that prides itself on its inter-connectedness but the whole thing might work better if there was something besides Sarah showing up for a few minutes to deal with one subplot. The characters largely spend this episode on their own, and things get weirder or more intense or drift apart into aimless territory.




The tone of the episode is thrown off immediately with the introduction of Tony, a "trans clone" who has to deliver a message to Beth. Tony is a problem character right off the bat. He's a constant distraction in every scene that he's in, and it's not just because Tony is Tatiana Maslany with facial hair on. He hits on Felix, or plays mind games with him, and does little else. He's an unformed character that is dumped onto this show at the oddest of times. Since Donnie accidentally killed Dr. Leekie last episode, there may have been the thought that the show is short on male characters so Tony had to be introduced. Otherwise, it's really unclear what this episode was going for.


The one subplot that worked best had Cosima's condition slowly deteriorate. It's probably due to its simplicity. On the heels of her finding out that Delphine and others have been conspiring to keep information from her, she is rightfully shutting Delphine out. There is the sense that she is perhaps going stir crazy in the lab, constantly trying to advance the research on the cure and keeping a brave face for everyone. Scott makes a valid point that the pulp from Kira's tooth isn't quite enough for the scientists to work on the cure. The suggestion of bone marrow could be something to watch out for later. I don't think Sarah would consent to that kind of invasion of her daughter. But it's distressing to see her get worse as the hour goes along.



The other scientists have gotten to the point of seeing her as a colleague instead of the experiment to be tested on. For her part, Cosima does everyone no favors by hiding the severity of her condition. She has known for a long time now that she could be at death's door suddenly. There was that clone that she cut open earlier this season. It's not much of a surprise then that Cosima suffers a seizure at the end of the episode. It would be a loss if Cosima were to be taken off the board by the end of this season. She hasn't had much of a personality beyond being the determined scientist desperate for a cure, but she's the lighter, less intense one of all the clones seen so far.



The alternative to Cosima isn't great if it's just Tony. It wasn't enough to have Tatiana Maslany play all of the clones, sometimes with three or four of them in the same scene, but it's a real stretch to have the audience accept her as a male clone with a terrible goatee that looks like it was glued onto her face along with some odd-looking hair. That's the major problem with the character. It's hard to accept Tony as genuine because he looks so artificial. On top of the problems with Tony's looks, the character is all over the place both in terms of personality and his loose connection to the plot.



Art has to stash him at Felix's loft and in the process, Tony and Felix verbally clash multiple times. Tony finds out about the other clones and begins to see how he weirdly fits into the larger picture. I think it's really the absence of Beth that keeps the subplot from entirely working. Beth's suicide kicked off the series' plot so there is no concrete way to see how Tony relates to her.


So it's left up to exposition to do so, which isn't the ideal way to move the plot forward. Further complicating things is Tony's reluctance to relay what Sammy told him as he was dying. What other purpose does he serve but to let the other clones know what he knows?






Tony as a character seems more like the writers trying to make an already weird show into something populated with even weirder things and concepts. They're losing their grip on the story within all this chaos. It needs something simpler, perhaps going back to Helena's subplot with the Proletheans or expanding on what's happening with Alison and Donnie (her freakout over Leekie's dead body and the fact that Donnie used her gun to kill him was the episode's lone comedic highlight), to get back on track. Otherwise, this show is stumbling as the end of the season approaches.

Our Grade:
C-
The Good:
  • Cosima's deterioration
The Bad:
  • Tony is thrust into the story haphazardly
  • Spotty follow-up to Donnie's actions

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 - 6/11/2014 9:08 AM481 views

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