*** SPOILER ALERT: Please do not read on unless you've seen "Orphan Black" Season 2, Episode 9, titled "Things Which Have Never Yet Been Done." (Unless you like spoilers, then go right ahead.) ***
It was getting ridiculous how long "Orphan Black" made us wait to get back to Helena. Last time we saw her was in Episode 6, when Sarah unceremoniously left her in Cold River. That's far too long for one of the most appealing characters on the show; hell, that's far too long for any character in a 10-episode season. (I won't get into how unbelievable it is that no other character -- especially the other clones -- tried to look for her, contact her, or otherwise find her, but that, to me, is the largest plothole this season.) But our Helena is back in spectacular fashion, and she gets what she was searching for, though not exactly how she planned.
All of the activity at the Prolethian farmhouse is one gigantic metaphor. As I've discussed in previous recaps, "Orphan Black" subverts the typical male-female dichotomy: network TV is possibly the worst perpetrator of this divide with women incessantly looking for love in prime-time, playing second fiddle to their male superiors on crime dramas, and generally looking like helpless, relationship-obsessed wallflowers. With the rise of shows like female-dominated "Orange Is The New Black" and characters like "Game Of Thrones" Daenerys, thankfully we've started to make progress in the other direction.
Of course "Orphan Black" takes it as far as it can go. Helena is the most extreme of the clones, and wow, do we ever get a glimpse of that tonight. She chokes that Alexis girl. Then she essentially rapes Henrik. No, scratch that. She does rape him. Yes, everyone, a woman raped a man on "Orphan Black" tonight. It was violent, it was crude and it was hard to watch, and strangely the perfect punishment for him. (At a time when pop culture is in the midst of a major debate about male-female dynamics and misogyny, not to mention some TV rape scene discussions recently, this seemed especially on-point. It's like the writers are psychic!)
Helena, Gracie and Mark (unexpected that he would switch sides!) flee the freaky farmhouse, but not before Helena torches the place. [Ed. Note: You might be asking "What of all the children in the nursery?" I spoke with someone close to the show and they told me that the "kids escaping" scene had to be cut while editing. So rest assured that Helena didn't kill all the children.] Both Helena and Gracie are impregnated with Henrik's sperm, which kinda sucks, but long-term it should be interesting to see how that plays out. Will they keep the babies? Are we looking at clone babies/kids in Season 3? How much of a time jump will take place? We've still got the finale coming up, so I'll keep my speculation light until then. All of this is to say I enjoyed seeing Helena again, and I'm glad she's returning to the city. No thanks to her brethren.
Another beautiful, welcome storyline is Donnie and Alison getting "back together," albeit in the most twisted way imaginable -- as they're burying a dead body in their garage. Have you ever seen anything like this on another TV show? (OK, maybe "Six Feet Under.") Kudos to Graeme Manson and John Fawcett for making "Orphan Black" so damn weird. I couldn't get enough of Alison and Donnie's banter, the way she was able to jackhammer through the floor and he couldn't, or his gagging over Leekie's mushed brain and Alison's indifference to the gore.
After tonight, Donnie is by far the most interesting male character on the show, a credit to both Kristian Bruun and the writers. Watching him transform throughout the season from domestic butterball to man of action has been a fun journey. You can't help but root for the guy. When he burst into that van and ripped Angie a new one (didn't she look foolish, crouched there in the van?), I was practically cheering at my TV screen. So cathartic to see her told off, I can't even tell you. The heart drawing in the wet concrete, the sex on the freezer (where the dead body had just been stored): the scene was just perfect. A hashtag a friend of mine texts me -- "#teamhendrix" -- was most suitable tonight.
This episode moved along at an insane clip, too. One minute Sarah's talking to Kira about the bone-marrow transplant, the next there's a gigantic needle being injected into the little girl's spine. Cripes, "Orphan Black." Give us a little time to breathe! Too much happens to describe here, but basically Rachel screws Delphine, a now very sick Cosima, Sarah ... OK, everyone, so that she can kidnap Kira and relive her bizarre upbringing with a child of her own. Obviously now she also has a bargaining chip, and can get Sarah to do anything. Since Rachel's interested in having a baby, my bet is she's going to blackmail Sarah into giving herself up for scientific study in exchange for Kira. I want to feel more sympathy for Sarah, but c'mon, why do you let everyone out of your sight all the time?! Felix is frikkin' sleeping by the window and you leave your daughter in a hospital bed? No, just no.
All of this will impact the question of Cosima's survival. Will the bone marrow be enough? Did Delphine get all three of the bags or just one? (I don't think they made this clear.) With the tumours spreading throughout Cosima's body, she only has a small window of time. In the finale preview, things aren't looking good for her. While I obviously don't want her to die, I feel like a clone death is a necessity to the legitimacy of the series. Katja and Jennifer Fitzsimmons don't count, since we had no time to develop any relationship with them. The clones can't be untouchable, because then there are no stakes.
But I have faith in the "Orphan Black" team. The finale will be intense, and the game will change.
The Golden Clone:(I'll be awarding the best clone of the week) Helena! You rapey, devious, hardcore clone! Torching the Prolethians has pretty much secured you a spot in the badass Hall of Fame.
- Did anyone else notice how utterly gigantic the Hendrix's garage is? You could play a football game in there!
- So Rachel has a sophisticated, secret home video room with one chair and a giant projection screen. She also has multiple slideshow photos of Sarah and Kira. Beyond creepy. Also, that's a lot of high-end furniture for a room where you watch your childhood on a loop. Strange, strange s**t.
- Did I read him wrong, or wasn't Ethan bats**t crazy a few episodes ago? He seems very lucid now. Just sayin'.
- Speaking of creepy rooms, Kira's bedroom is like a pink Pepto nightmare.
- Now might be a good time for all of you, gentle readers, to reread Yeats' "Leda and the Swan" (discussed several episodes ago between Cosima and Sarah). A great poem to be sure, but with a lot more resonance after the rape scene tonight.
- Can we talk about Mrs. S.'s wardrobe and hair choices? You're not 16 years old anymore, S. It's like a bawdy house businesswoman mixed with cosplay.
- Not to make light of this, but Cosima has tumours throughout her body. I don't think a minor cough here and there really illustrates that. I kinda feel like she'd be bedridden, unable to talk, and ... well, dying.
- Donnie: "Smile! Have a s**tty day!"
- Best air kiss of all time between Rachel and Marian? Methinks yes.