*** SPOILER ALERT: Please do not read on unless you've seen "Orphan Black" Season 2, Episode 8, titled "Variable And Full Of Perturbation." (Unless you like spoilers, then go right ahead.) ***
Say it all together now: What. In. The. Actual. F**k. Just in case you thought Tatiana Maslany had reached the limits of her acting range (which are essentially non-existent), here she is playing a transman clone. A TRANSMAN -- who, lest we forget, has dysphoria within himself, so once again she's mastering multiple layers of identity. I won't harp on this, but she's a woman playing a man who used to be a woman, who's also a clone. Gift-wrap that Golden Globe, Hollywood Foreign Press. There are no other Best TV Actress contenders this year.
Let's talk about Tony for a second, ignoring that godawful facial hair. As a character, he hit "meh" for me, but it was a joy to watch Maslany take on masculine airs with Tony's saunter, his aggressiveness and his deeper voice. On any other show, you'd have to stretch your imagination a bit to fully believe that Tony is a guy, but somehow on "Orphan Black" it works. It's no surprise they send him "packing" (haha, oh I'm so funny) at the end of the episode, though; it's not feasible to keep him around. His sole purpose is to provide another clue/question about Paul, who has disappeared off the face of the Earth. The focus shifts to Stale Toast Paul's whereabouts as the episode goes on, so if/when he turns up we may be in for a surprise. (I have my own theories on what's going to happen with Paul, but I'll save them until next week.)
This episode is all about trust and making deals, putting your faith in someone else and hoping they follow through. Let's break it down:
Tony & Felix
These two were mostly entertaining together, especially when they were swapping their queer stories and wiseassery. However, as soon as Art brought Tony to Felix's apartment, I thought right away: oh dear God, please don't let them have sex. I'm thankful they only shared a kiss, but that was one of the most unsettling kisses I've seen on TV, and I watched "Virgin Diaries." Also, another quibble: why did anything sexual have to happen between them? Because they're both LGBTQ? Because Felix is a young (and often horny) gay man? The transmen I know are into women, not necessarily into men. I don't want to turn this into a whole "thing," but I think it would have played better if they just lightly flirted/joked around about doing it rather than actually doing anything.
For the most part, Tony proves himself to be trustworthy, with the exception of a bit of petty thievery and snooping. Felix trusts him, and his even-handed dealing with Tony goes a long way. They find out that Sammy was indeed Tony's monitor (now dead), and they realize that Paul and Sammy had some sort of relationship with one another. That's as far as it goes, but I'm sure the information will become more pertinent in Episode 9. With a bus ticket and a clone phone, Tony is sent away. That was a fun little game while it lasted.
Cosima & Delphine
This relationship has more ups and downs than I can keep track of. One minute they're OK, the next they're yelling in each other's faces. Then again, Cosima is a clone who's potentially dying from uterine tumours, and Delphine is torn between her job and her love, so I guess I understand. Even still, c'mon Delphine. Stop lying! This doesn't help Cosima (or us, for that matter) trust you. I do love the science nerd aspect of their relationship -- Cosima using her admin access to lock Delphine out of her lab and her computer files. Take that. Passive-aggressively leaving their dishes in the sink for the other to wash isn't how these two roll.
Of course, about midway through the episode, Cosima lets Delphine back in -- one last time, though -- and threatens to ruin her career should she ever cross her again. They get baked. Like, really baked, and add some helium tokes to alter their voices. It's a cute scene, and a loving one. Saying "Je t'aime" is just so much more tender than "I love you," which is almost hackneyed at this point, especially with these two. Also touching is the scene between Cosima and Scott when she tells him that she's 324B21. It's adorable city. Then, as is usually the case with "Orphan Black," our hearts are ripped out as Cosima falls to the floor, bleeding out of her mouth and convulsing. All I can say is thank goodness for the short clips of next week's episode, or else I would have spent this entire week panicking about whether she's alive or dead.
Rachel & Sarah
These two clones probably have the most trust issues in the "Orphan Black" universe. I don't know if I can ever trust Rachel's intentions, so it's not surprising that no one else can, especially street-smart Sarah. Kira, Felix and Sarah have a sweet reunion with Mrs. S., and Ethan creeps around behind their group hug, eyeing Kira every chance he gets. I didn't like that, but then he reads her "The Island of Doctor Moreau" (cute, "Orphan Black," cute) and I think (?) he's genuine. It also turns out he's written some science-y marginalia in the novel, and given it to Kira. The secret is safe with her as long as she doesn't blab it to anyone. Ethan also reveals to Rachel that Kira is the result of an anomaly in Sarah's engineering, not a blessing, so I don't really think he has anything to gain from abducting or harming Kira. Rachel, however, is another story. She seems hell-bent on having a child of her own.
Her repressed rage cannot be a good thing. Seeing her tear apart the office after finding out about her inability to have children is a bad foreshadowing of what's to come. Her stern voicemail to Paul is another indicator of how desperate she is to see her plans come to fruition. What those plans are is anybody's guess, but Sarah is definitely correct to watch her as closely as possible. "Barren by design" is not what Rachel wanted to hear.
Alison & Donnie
These nuts have to be, by far, the most entertaining and twisted twosome of the week. It turns out that yes, they're both murderers! Maybe murderers by accident, but killers nonetheless. I don't know if I've ever seen a couple bond over killing, but here we are. Alison barely bats an eye while examining Leekie's body in the trunk of the car, and seems to care more about the trunk liner than the fact that her husband killed the head of the Dyad Institute. These scenes were like TV candy, and I want more, more, more! The irony of trust borne out of deceit is a great concept, and the thing is, I can't imagine Donnie and Alison getting any closer than they are now, all because they each killed someone. Just genius, Manson and Fawcett. Pat each other's backs.
Next week we're (finally) addressing Helena and the impregnating, and it looks like Cosima is running out of time. Will Rachel bond with the others and team up against the Prolethians, or will she turn against her own kind and strike them down for her own selfish purposes? Or, even worse, will one of these trusted characters be something else? I'm starting to get nervous about Felix, guys. I am. Could he be one of the bad guys? And let's not forget Cal is out there in his trailer somewhere.
The Golden Clone: (I'll be awarding the best clone of the week) Cosima's nerdiness powers her over the competition. She has a hard edge this week, especially when she locks out Delphine and dominates the nerds in Rune Wars. Then she gets all baked. I'm not sure if I'm ready to say goodbye to her yet, but I'm scared her time is near.
- Donnie has rocked the tightie blackies in the past, and in this episode he rocked the tightie whities. Kristian Bruun, underwear model. I see it happening in his future.
- The Tennessee Waterfall. It's been a while since I've heard a mullet nickname, but this one was an exact description of Tony's horrific hair.
- Felix: "Holy Tilda Swinton!"
- Felix: "Our friend Art needs help with something clone-y."
- Tony's facial hair was like ... Grade 8 children's play quality. Weak.
- Who wants to come over and play Rune Wars?
- My kingdom for photos of the first "324B21" tattoo someone sees at this year's Comic-Con.
- Alison: "You used my gun?!"
- I'm interviewing the "real-life" Cosima this week, and I cannot wait. I'll be posting it as soon as possible.