‘Orphan Black’ Season Two Premiere: ‘Nature Under Constraint and Vexed’

Tatiana Maslany, left, and Tatiana Maslany. (BBC)

Tatiana Maslany, left, and Tatiana Maslany. (BBC)

Last season on Orphan Black: Canadian newcomer Tatiana Maslany left us slackjawed with wonder as she seemingly effortlessly brought to life (at least) five distinct, fully realized characters, each with her own different bearing, posture, facial expressions, etc. These five: Rachel, whom we just met, and who has offered the other clones freedom and protection if they agree to regular medical testing; batshit insane convent-raised Helena, the one they need all protection from, except that Sarah just shot her for killing their birth mother; Alison, who is the definition of tightly wound but also 20 kinds of awesome, and who just watched as her best friend was choked to death by her own scarf without lifting a finger; Cosima, who is coughing up ominous amounts of blood and who just discovered that the Neolutionists have patents on them—and so Rachel’s offer is clearly a lie; and Sarah, our protagonist, who just nearly explained the whole insane situation to the cops before getting sprung by Rachel’s people, and who came home to find her daughter and foster mother both kidnapped by persons unknown.

Sarah, having run desperately out of the house in the rain, stops into a diner and works the phones, but all of the other members of Clone Club have had their numbers disconnected. Against her better judgment, she leaves a message for Paul, and is called back by Rachel, who offers to reunite their happy family if she agrees to the deal, which is still apparently on the table.

Two menacing dudes come into the diner, sit down at Sarah’s booth and offer to take her to Kira. If she’d been paying attention to their weird anti-GMO banter with the diner cook when they came in, Sarah would have realized they don’t, as she immediately assumes, work for the very-much-pro-genetically-modified-everything Neolutionists. After a brief shootout that takes out one of the creeps and the kindly line cook, Sarah runs into the bathroom, smashes out a weak wall and escapes out into the rain and the opening credits.

Sarah tasks high-as-a-kite, assless-chaps-wearing Felix with getting a gun from Alison. Because somehow Orphan Black has made it seem totally reasonable that the character who knows how to get an unregistered firearm is not the London street criminal but the suburban Toronto housewife. Alison’s gun dealer Ramon turns out to be a teenage bag boy at a local grocery store who also sells pills and weed, and of course she concludes their transaction by asking, “So how’s your mother?” This woman is amazing.

Sarah cleverly sets up a meeting with Paul so that they can speak on burner phones away from prying ears. Even so, Rachel’s henchman Daniel manages to track her. She narrowly escapes, but not before getting crucial information from Paul: Rachel will be at a big event at the Dyad Institute tonight. Sarah could surprise her there, except that Daniel rarely leaves her side.

Having lost track of Sarah, detectives Art and Angie decide to stake out Alison, who has just taken over Aynsley’s lead role in a godawful community theater musical. (Art’s capsule review: “Well, it’s not Cats.”) But who should show up while they’re waiting for rehearsal to end but Sarah, on her way to pick up the gun. They arrest Sarah, Alison hides, and instead Ramon hand-delivers the pistol to Felix’s loft, hidden in a bouquet of flowers. Along with a handmade card, because that’s how Alison rolls.

Sarah tells Art about the shooting at the diner, but the crime scene has been taken over by an unnamed federal organization. Art reminds her that she was about to tell him what is really going on, but Sarah stonewalls, and Art decides to double down on the trust he’s building with her and let her go.

Delphine tries to convince Cosima to come to the Dyad event that night, saying the Neolutionists are her best chance for diagnosing her illness. But Cosima wants to run tests on her own blood, insisting that she owns her own body despite Dyad’s patent. Delphine goes to the event early and meets with Dr. Leakie, who, it turns out is working for Rachel, rather than the other way around. Delphine gives Leakie one of the vials of Cosima’s blood and tells him she’s sick. It’s a betrayal, but it comes from concern for Cosima rather than loyalty to the Neolutionists.

Cosima shows up for the party—but it’s really Sarah, with her hair in hastily done braids, a fake nose ring and Cosima’s glasses, which non-nearsighted Sarah has a very hard time seeing through. She does a better job with the accent, though. And here we once again get to see the true genius of Maslany’s acting, as she slips ever-so-slightly into Sarah’s London lilt when her attention is elsewhere—like when she hugs Dr. Leakie and lifts his Dyad ID card.

After sending Daniel on a wild Alison chase to get him out of the way, Sarah uses the keycard to slip into Rachel’s office and, at gunpoint, demand her daughter’s return. Rachel admits that she never had Kira; when Dyad’s people got to the house, someone else had already taken her and Siobhan. She just lied in order to get Sarah to come in. Sarah knocks Rachel down and then out, but is stopped from killing her by Paul, who decides to let her go.

With nowhere else to run, Sarah visits Art at home. (“You’re like a bad smell, you know that?”) He tells her what we already suspected: the man who was shot at the diner was not a Neolutionist, but a terrorist, an anti-cloning religious fanatic and a member of the Proletheans, the group that brainwashed Helena.

Speaking of whom: Helena, recently gut-shot and presumed dead, stumbles bleeding and half-conscious into a hospital. Where she is found by the surviving creeper from the diner shootout, a member of the religious cult that, it is now clear, has kidnapped sweet little Kira. For what nefarious purpose, we’ll have to find out next week.