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Orphan Black – “Nature Under Constraint and Vexed” Review: A High Octane Start to Season Two

Words cannot express how wonderful it is to have Orphan Black back on our screens. It’s been a long year since we last had the chance to spend time with Sarah, Cosima, and Alison, and the time away has certainly only made my heart grow fonder. Hopefully the year away has also increased this amazing show’s fan base, as it truly is one of the finest shows on television and deserves to be enjoyed by the masses.

One of the most impressive things about Orphan Black is how it so seamlessly blends three distinct, yet overlapping, storylines. It manages to combine action, plot movement, and character development in ways that other shows (I’m looking at you,¬†Walking Dead) struggle with on a weekly basis. A great deal of the success of the series has been attributed to the incredible work of Tatiana Maslany (and rightly so, as the series would fail without her), but co-executive producers¬†Graeme Manson and John Fawsett certainly deserve major kudos for continuing to effortless pull off the tricky tightrope walk between action, plot, and character. “Nature Under Constraint and Vexed” is no different than past outings, giving us new insights into several characters, excellent action sequences, and incredible reveals. I suppose it’s fortuitous that the episode aired the day before Easter, as it even raises a character from the dead.

So much happens within “Nature Under Constraint and Vexed” that it will be nearly impossible to discuss every brilliant moment, but I’ll try my best to hit the major moments. Sarah spend the bulk of the episode searching in vain for poor little Kira. It turns out that Dyad had nothing to do with her disappearance (which is what a large portion of the fan base, myself included, believed). Rather, Kira has apparently been taken by our new big bad, a group of Prolethians, who have taken her to what appears to be a motel. They also don’t seem to have Mrs. S., so the mystery of where she is and who has her continues.

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To be honest, I’ve always found Sarah’s stories to be the least enticing out of the clone storylines. I’m not quite sure why, but I think it has something to do with her fly by the seat of her pants mentality. She’s brilliant and great at working a con, but I have a hard time believing that her luck is consistently able to hold. I assume at some point it will indeed run out, but I think Sarah might be more palatable to me if she finally hit a situation she couldn’t immediately work her way out of with her ingenuity.

Cosima, on the other hand, is still stuck between a rock and a hard place, the rock being her worsening illness and the hard place being Dyad. She is still convinced that Delphine is working on her side and playing a double agent, but it looks like Cosima might be headed for heartbreak once again. Unlike Sarah, Cosima is far too trusting of others, and so desperately wants Delphine to be telling the truth regarding her allegiance. Delphine, on the other hand, does appear to have genuine feelings for Cosima, but betrays her by telling Leaky that Cosima is sick and giving over a vial of blood for testing- against Cosima’s express wishes. Granted, Delphine certainly may feel that using Dyad’s resources to find a cure may be Cosima’s best chance at recovery, but I have a bad feeling that once this secret gets out, nothing good can come of it.

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Alison has the least to do in this episode, serving more as comic relief than anything. From dealing with a high Felix (in assless chaps, no less), to purchasing an unregistered gun from the local supermarket teenage gun dealer, we don’t get to know much about where Alison is mentally and emotionally. Good old Donnie is still keeping close tabs on her as her handler, and she does manage to snag the lead in the community theatre musical now that Aynlsey is dead (a strange musical about killing someone and cleaning up the blood?), but on the whole, it isn’t an Alison-heavy episode.

Finally, I have to touch on the huge surprise at the end of the episode: Helena is alive. I have to say, I really didn’t think they would go there, but I’m kind of happy they did. It seems that there is something about Helena that allowed her to survive the seemingly deadly gunshot wound, which means Sarah might have the same abilities. More importantly, Helena will almost certainly name Sarah as the shooter, meaning Sarah’s life just got a great deal more complicated- and a complicated Sarah is an interesting Sarah.

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Final Thoughts

— We also get to spend some time with Rachel, the newest clone, this week. She apparently speaks fluent German (as well as, presumably, other languages- just not Mandarin). While she seems to be on Dyad’s side, I have a feeling she could be brought over to play for our heroes’ team with the right persuasion. And she certainly doesn’t have the skills Sarah has acquired.

— Is it just me, or does Leaky’s lackey Daniel look a lot like Mr. Smith from The Matrix when he has his shades on. Either way, he’s pretty sketchy.

— Sarah also appears ready to share the whole story with Art, which means he’s about to enter the line of fire. As the only truly good character (outside of Felix) in the girls’ lives, I really worry for his safety. And Angie? I don’t trust her for a second.

— I enjoyed that the show linked the recent US Supreme Court ruling on copyrighting genetic material into the series. I had a feeling Dyad was behind that.

Rating
9.0
Pros
  • Excellent plot development
  • Great surprise ending
  • Incredible work by Tatiana Maslany as usual
Cons
  • Not enough story for Alison
  • Not enough Felix

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About / Bio
TV critic based in Chicago. When not watching and writing about awesome television shows, I can be found lamenting over the latest disappointing performance by any of the various Chicago sports teams or my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow me @JeanHenegan on Twitter.

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