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Last week’s premiere episode, “Nature Under Constraint and Vexed” did a good job in easing us back into the universe of Orphan Black without really missing a beat. This week’s episode “Governed by Sound Reason and True Religion” is an excellent follow up to the premiere. It does a fine job in continuing last week’s key plotline (Sarah’s search for Kira) in a very thrilling and engaging manner that sees the return of Mrs. S, a satisfying mother/daughter reunion, and even more delicious shadiness from Mrs. S and her crew. The episode does a fantastic job in sustaining the feeling of doubt and anxiety surrounding the character of Mrs. S (this moniker is so much cooler than her actual name, Siobhan, so Mrs. S she shall remain) and the uncertainty of where her loyalties lie in this insane battle. We, along with Sarah, never really know whether to trust her or not and the tension that develops as a result from that suspicion is deeply affecting and instills their scenes together with an extra layer of unease and apprehension.
The clear highlight of this storyline in which the writers exploited the doubt surrounding Mrs. S is the sequence of Sarah and Kira’s escape. What a fantastic set of scenes. This sequence is a great example of why Orphan Black is such a compelling show, there is so much going on in what is seemingly a very simple narrative, there are layers upon layers of conflicting character motives, intentions and high stakes. Not only is Sarah desperately trying to get out of that dodgy situation and protect her daughter, but also Mrs. S is battling against what we though were her allies and it isn’t exactly clear who is betraying who until the last part of the sequence and even then we aren’t made fully aware of her role in this whole ordeal. We just know she knows more than what she lets on and she probably wants to protect Sarah and Kira. The fact that we don’t really know what she’ll do as she stands before the truck (Will she take aim? Threaten Sarah? Shoot Sarah? Shoot at the tires and attempt to take Kira back?) is a testament to how awesomely unpredictable the series can be on a usual basis.
Also, Mrs. S is a badass, and it is so much fun to see her take on that role, which is totally reminiscent of the scrappiness we’ve seen from Sarah throughout the series It is also great to see that the writers did not drag out Sarah’s reunion with Kira, it didn’t take all season for them to reunite, which would most likely be the case in many a network drama and would have been annoying and unbearable. But also, it thrusts Sarah, along with Kira and Felix, into an undetermined place in thenarrative. Since the episode closes with them getting out of town for an indefinite amount of time and seeing how this was Sarah’s initial goal in the show, it isn’t clear what they are going to encounter next. Surely they will be brought back to the clone drama in an orderly fashion, but it is uncertain how and this leaves her story wide open for the coming episodes. Which is exciting.
Despite the great material, the episode does not necessarily focus entirely on Sarah. While last week’s premiere undoubtedly put her story in the forefront, there is a greater sense of scope in this latest installment. Admittedly, Sarah’s story will always be the central narrative, she is the character with which we entered this universe with, the one who we most strongly identify with and the series makes sure of that, but not only do the other clones have a bit more to do in this episode, the hour also takes a considerable amount of time introducing and exploring the world of those creepy Proletheans. And they are sufficiently creepy. The cult-y farm commune setting alone evokes a sinister quality and serves as a shorthand for their way of life and organization (how many freaky communes have been represented in movies and television?) which is appropriately effective.
Also we get to see that not everyone in this group shares the same ideals and that their relationship with science and religion is more complex than what one would have initially assumed. It is an interesting foray into their world done with unnerving style, which introduces conflict and intriguing new characters. It is fascinating to delve into this new environment, where the creep factor is suitably engaging. However, how this will all play out is uncertain and despite the amount of time we spend with these new characters, not much about the Proletheans and their beliefs is clarified. If anything it becomes even more difficult to understand what they stand for. We’ll have to wait and see what the season brings from this faction to get a greater sense of them. I would have exchanged some of these scenes for more Alison or Cosima, that’s for sure.
As for Alison and Cosima, they remain supporting players in the show once again, with Cosima getting the short end of the stick with the least engaging storyline of the episode. It hardly constitutes a storyline since it is more like a set up for her future storyline infiltrating the Dyad and getting her lab. Though she does get a fun scene with cold-as-ice Rachel. “I’m Cosima, the real Cosima, not the one that kicked your ass or whatever. Gotta love concealer.” Ha. And it is a great episode for Alison who is struggling with her guilt over Ainsley’s death as well as the new notion that Donnie is her watcher. Alison enjoys some amazing moments in this episode: a greater glimpse into the bizarre play she is in (“We must heed the call cleaning the brains off the wall…”), resisting the comfort of a friend’s embrace, confiding in Felix about Ainsley and her suspicions about Donnie, hooking Donnie in a watcher-trap, and beaking down at the end of the episode and showing devastating vulnerability when she learns of Sarah and Felix’s plan. Regardless of Sarah’s status as the main character, it is always Alison who manages to steal the show and whose story I’m most excited to see week after week.
“Governed by Sound Reason and True Religion” is another greatly entertaining episode of Orphan Black that takes a broader approach to the story with great ease. What did you think?