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The 'Orphan Black' Second Season Finale Recap: The Face That Launched a Thousand Twists

By Craig Wack | TV | June 22, 2014 | Comments ()

By Craig Wack | TV | June 22, 2014 |


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When last we saw the clones, Cosima was feeling sickly, Sarah was feeling confused, Alison was feeling nasty, Helena was feeling stabby, Rachel was feeling kidnappy and Tony was on the lam …

Orphan Black’s own retelling of Leda and the Swan came to a climax in the second season finale, “By Means Which Have Never Been Tried.”

The investigation into the clones’ origins had run its course after Sarah found Ethan Duncan, who provided all the answers to that particular mystery. The finale did its job of injecting a new set of mysteries for the Clone Club to uncover in Season 3, while giving us our regular serving of great character moments.

This season has used a lot of Greek mythology as a backdrop to its tale of modern science run amok and the allegory is strong this week. In mythology, Leda’s seduction by Zeus produced two sets of twins, one female (Helen and Clytemnestra) and one male (Castor and Pollux).

In the Orphan Black world, we’ve just been dealing with the sisters, but this got us one layer closer to the core. When Project Leda was broken up, Dyad was given charge of the girls and - thanks to the episode’s big reveal - the military was given the boys, who bear a striking resemblance to Mark the Prolethian (who got married to Gracie in the episode).

Overseeing the whole shebang is Marion Bowles, who is a major cog in an organization called Topside. Marion explains to Sarah that Topside is a shadow corporation that is trying to corner the market and direction of genetic engineering as it develops. It’s been riding herd on Dyad all along but Marion only recently confirmed the existence of the male clones produced under Project Castor.

Topside made hundreds of attempts to clone more girls, but was only successful with Charlotte, now an eight year old adopted by Marion herself.

Paul played his part in the new regime after going missing for a few episodes. It’s important to remember that Paul went AWOL from Dyad after meeting Mark, who he had to have known was a rogue Castor clone, in the bar. It’s also safe to assume that the horrible event in Afghanistan either happened to or was caused by the crazed looking clone in Marion’s basement.

Life isn’t going to get easier for Sarah any time soon (and this episode was mighty rough on her). She has to protect Kira, save Cosima and likely rescue Helena; all while being pulled by the factions of Dyad, Mrs. S, Topside and the military. If the mythological allegories hold, it might be wise to brush up on the Iliad and Odyssey before next season.

Thanks to another bravura performance by Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black wraps up an excellent sophomore effort. Even in the couple episodes where the plot was thin, Maslany’s excellent acting was the glue that held the show together. Showrunners Graeme Mason and John Fawcett have shown a knack of quickly shedding the elements that don’t work (remember the dude with the tail?) and building on the things that do.

It’s going to be a long off-season of waiting for what happens next, but first here’s the last clone by clone rundown:

Alison: Not much this week from the show’s de facto comic relief. She shows at the Clone Club meeting/dance party at the Felixcave, meets Helena and dances as uptight as you expect her to.

Cosima: The half-dead living search engine had her most eventful episode of the season.

After Rachel ships Delphine to Germany and changes her doctor, Cosima shocks Scott by seemingly going along with this new direction. However, it’s just a ploy so she can help Sarah and Kira with a plan that would make MacGyver and the A-Team proud thanks to a tip from Delphine.

She and Scott montage a rig designed to help Sarah escape Dyad and a science lesson to Kira explains to us what’s coming. (Ok Mythbusters, the gauntlet has been thrown, I want my Orphan Black episode soon.)

Cosima leaves Dyad herself and takes refuge in the Felixcave with her sister. Her condition is getting worse. After an ethereal vision of Delphine, Kira wakes her up for story time, which includes Ethan Duncan’s copy of Dr. Moreau containing the notes that will likely save her life.

Rachel: After being an icy mystery all season, Rachel unraveled pretty fast as she get got close to getting what she wanted.

Despite a mantra of “nothing personal” for the last couple of episodes, Rachel was sure doing her best to hurt the people around her in the most personal way possible. She transfers Cosima’s doctor/lover Delphine without so much as a goodbye. She holds her father prisoner. She intimidates Sarah by being all creepy and threatening with Kira in the Death Star Princess Suite.

Rachel’s world comes crashing down around her when Ethan kills himself rather than give Rachel the secret for the sequence to creating more clones (and presumably also allow her to have babies). His final words that she doesn’t “deserve” the love of her father (and by extension the love of a family), rock Rachel to her core.

Rachel tries to get the cypher out of Sarah with more threats and by smashing the test tubes of Kira’s bone marrow, which is earmarked for Cosima’s cure.

In keeping with the Greek mythology theme of the episode, Rachel loses an eye at the hands of the hero of the story for her hubris. Here’s to hoping we see Rachel with a notepad and Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am the next time we see her.

Sarah: How Sarah didn’t follow Rachel down the path of psychotic break is testament to her inner strength.

In the confusion following Kira’s kidnapping, Sarah makes the latest in the series of hard choices. She turns herself in to Dyad’s ghoulish devices to protect Kira. Before she leaves, we get one last “I don’t trust you” shot at Mrs. S, but at least we finally get it with the caveat that she knows Mrs. S would go to any length to protect Kira too.

At Dyad, Sarah goes through a battery of questions and examinations that echo the horrors of what the victims of Josef Mengele went through.

First, Sarah is told by Dr. Nealon that her next egg is going to be harvested. Sarah says she’ll cooperate, but she wants to see Kira, who is busy pickpocketing phones and calling in the Cal-vary. Sarah signs her eggs away and is led into an observation room to see Kira’s creepy tea party with Rachel.

The game is upped when Sarah is scheduled to have one of her ovaries removed for nefarious purposes (and she’s told she’ll be impregnated soon too). Rachel comes in to do her crazy thing and Sarah uses the pencil cannon to put out Rachel’s eye and then flees to the DSPS to find Kira and Marion.

Marion offers Sarah a chance to learn everything and stop running with one meeting.

Back at the Felixcave, Sarah has a thank you make out session with Cal before the Clone Club dance party.

The next morning Sarah meets Marion, who you know is up to no good, to have her mind blown twice. First when she sees Charlotte, the little girl from Rachel’s videos come to life and is actually the second generation of Leda clones. Second instance is when she learns about Project Castor and comes face-to-face with the crazed Mark clone. I wouldn’t trade Sarah’s nightmares for anything.

Helena: The redemptive arc for Helena this season has turned her from a mindless monster to a modern take on Helen of Troy - thanks to the curly golden hair that everyone wants to touch and her predilection for being kidnapped. The shadowy forces that have been behind the clones the whole season banded together to send Helena to her uncertain fate.

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Cal shows up at Mrs. S’s door at the same time that Helena arrives at Bell’s place to raid his fridge. FelEx is dispatched to watch over Helena as Cal and Mrs. S compare notes about their research into the hydra that is the Dyad Corporation.

As it turns out, Cal’s hacking and Mrs. S’s dealings lead to the same place: Paul and the military. A meeting is set and unbeknownst to everyone a deal is struck. Mrs. S brings Major Paul and Cal brings Marion.

Once Helena fills Bell and Fee in on her adventures with Jesse the Truck Driver and the barbecue at the Prolethian compound (no mention of babies, however), FelEx delivers Helena to the dance party so she can meet her sisters, her niece and let her freak flag fly for a night.

In the early morning hours, Helena sneaks out of the Felixcave but not before leaving the club a parting gift: a canister of fertilized embryos boosted from Henrik.

She’s not on her own long as she’s kidnapped by big dudes and carted away.

Helena appears to be part of a problem child exchange brokered by Mrs. S and Paul. The military gets Helena, Topside gets the crazed Mark clone and Sarah and Kira get their freedom.

Up next: With Helena kidnapped, isn’t The Clojan War just around the corner?

On a personal note, I’d like to thank Dustin for letting me play in the Pajiba sandbox and also thank the commenters for great conversations about this cool show.

Craig Wack knows it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Please follow his Twitter.


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