‘Orphan Black’ recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint and Vexed’

The easiest way to tell the clones apart is that Sarah sprints everywhere. Credit: Steve Wilkie for BBC AMERICA
The easiest way to tell the clones apart is that Sarah sprints everywhere.
Credit: Steve Wilkie for BBC AMERICA

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany, while avoiding the wrath of Tatiana Maslany.

We open moments after the end of last season, with Sarah sprinting through the streets after discovering her daughter, Kira, and foster mother, Mrs. S, are missing. She ducks into a diner and tries calling Alison and Cosima, but their phones are out of service. The clone phone network is down! The kindly diner cook gives her some free tea and she examines the photograph her birth mother gave her last season, which mentions something called “Project Leda,” and a date, July 22, 1977.

Sarah gets a call from Paul on her clone phone, but when she answers, it’s actually pro-clone Rachel. She offers some garden-variety villainous threats, Sarah says some rebellious things back and Rachel hangs up on her. Somehow I don’t think Rachel will be joining Clone Club anytime soon.

Two gentlemen enter the diner. They ask some detailed questions about whether or not the diner serves free-range eggs, and when the cook says they’re just normal eggs, one of the gentlemen says those aren’t normal. “Your chickens have been interfered with.” Let’s hope he submits that line on his Emmy reel. Gentleman number 2, meanwhile, saunters over to Sarah. She tries to get her gun out, but the first gentleman has caught up, and he takes it from her. They try to take her out of the diner, but the cook pulls out a very large gun and tells them to “ease on out.”

The seated guy says he can take Sarah to Kira, and when Sarah asks where she is, he responds by shooting the cook, who, as he falls over, gets a shot out and kills the other creepy dude.

Sarah, the most resourceful human on the planet, immediately gets up and makes a run for it. She gets trapped in a bathroom and the remaining creepy dude pursues her. There’s a tiny window up high on the wall and a lot of condensation below it, so Sarah grabs a fire hydrant and starts smashing the wall open. She breaks a tiny hole open just as the dude bursts through, and squirms through.

OK, first death barely escaped, so time for some credits. Hey look, Evelyne Brochu is in them now! Delphine fans, seems like she’s here to stay.

Sarah goes straight to a club, but since she is the only lady there, you can guess who she’ll find here. Wait, there was our first butt of the season. Eight minutes in, if you were keeping track.

Felix is literally in a pile of men. Sarah pulls him out, and he is wearing a vest and assless chaps. More butts! You can always count on “Orphan Black” not to skimp on the butts.

Sarah catches Felix up on everything. He is a bit high, but still points out that Sarah’s pink phone is probably being tracked when it rings. She answers, and it’s Paul, telling her to come in to the Dyad. She wants to meet him alone. He’s busy hanging out with a dude who played a Cylon on “Battlestar Galactica.” (They’re calling him “Daniel,” but they can’t fool me.) Never trust that guy. Sure enough, the Cylon threatens Paul. Sarah tosses the pink phone in a pitcher of water (farewell, pink clone phone). Then she casually steals someone’s Blackberry, calls Felix a “silly tit” and tells him to go on a side trip for her.

Checking in with the rest of Clone Club

First up is Cosima, hanging out with Delphine, who is drawing her blood. Ah, young love. Delphine is trying to convince Cosima to go to a Dyad party and meet with Leekie. Cosima firmly tells Delphine not to take her blood samples to the Dyad Institute, because it’s her biology and her decision. Surely Delphine won’t immediately do that! They hug.

Now to see Alison! You’ll be pleased to know that Alison’s first line of the season is “What the dickens,” which is the most Alison thing ever. Let’s all reflect on Tatiana Maslany’s ability to say something like “what the dickens” and make it sound like a very natural thing for a young person to say.

Felix has showed up at Alison’s house in the dead of night. He asks her for a gun, but she’s hesitant to just hand one over, since it would be registered to her, and defends her clean new life that involves no drinking or drugs. She’s even in a musical!

Donny briefly interrupts, and Alison shoos him away and tells Felix she can get a gun from a guy named Ramon. Alison is a woman of many secrets.

We get a little bit of Rachel methodically speaking German on the phone to someone, and the only English phrase is “Supreme Court.”

Now for some Sarah hijinks. She’s instructed Paul to meet her on a large bridge, but instead a skateboard youth (that is the term, right?) shows up, asks for $20, and gives Paul another phone. Lots of phones in this episode. Sarah calls him from a nearby vantage point and Paul says the offer he’s been given is that Sarah should join Rachel and Kira on a plane the next morning. However, because of all the phone shenanigans, he can offer up the intel that the best time to get to Rachel will be at a Dyad party that night, so long as they can get her away from Cylon Daniel’s protection.

An ominous black SUV pulls up at the tail end of this conversation, and Cylon Daniel hops out. He approaches someone who looks like Sarah from behind, but instead it is a lady skateboard youth who helpfully passes on a message from Sarah, which is “Up yours.” Sarah has many skateboard youth friends.

Sarah is busy taking a bus somewhere. She asks a youngster if she can borrow his phone. He offers to do it for a boob touch. This earns him a smack, and she calls Cosima and Felix. Cosima gives her the lowdown on the party while she and Felix share a joint. Felix really fits in with all the clones, doesn’t he?

Cosima offers to go to the party to figure out what’s up, but Sarah isn’t having it.

Alison and her criminal underground friends

Alison is sitting in her car, but gets out when a teenaged “Economart” employee approaches her. It’s Ramon, her “gun enthusiast” friend. He wants to sell her some drugs, but she clarifies that she’s there for a gun. “Orphan Black,” please take us on a flashback journey to the beginning of the Ramon/Alison friendship.

Next we get Cosima trying to get her nerdy graduate assistant to do some research for her while Delphine heads into the Dyad Institute. Delphine gets pulled into a meeting with Leekie, who grossly tells her, “Be careful playing for the other team.” Delphine points out that Cosima is scared of them because she’s seen how they persecute Sarah. He warns her that Sarah is not her subject, and Delphine promptly hands over that vial of blood from earlier and coldly refers to Cosima by a code number. Delphiiiiine.

Then “Orphan Black” gives us the tremendous gift of watching Alison’s community theater group. Alison gets to take over the lead now that Aynsley is gone, and then of course the play is about getting rid of a dead body. If “Orphan Black” wants to become a show about Alison’s community theater production, then that is a-ok by me. (And of course Tatiana Maslany can sing. Come on, you shouldn’t even be surprised by that at this point.)

Art comes in right at the end, which must be a bit unnerving for someone used to dealing with Sarah. He goes out to chat with Angie, and then Sarah comes by and they randomly decide to handcuff her and take her in…for the crime of going to see terrible community theater? Anyway, Alison comes out of the theater with the gun she acquired from Ramon and Sarah warns her off using the power of eye contact. Art and Angie are terrible observers and don’t notice Alison come out.

Rachel is busy smarming a bit at Paul. If those two don’t hook up this season, it will be very surprising. They meet up with Leekie and Rachel commandeers his office for meeting with the Koreas, both of them. Paul departs, and then it becomes clear that Rachel totally outranks Leekie, which I did not realize was the case.

Art, Angie and Sarah have gone back to the diner from the beginning of the episode to check out the crime scene, and while Angie learns some info about the shooting we already know, Sarah warns Art off of the whole thing and tells him not to trust Angie. Art then convinces Angie to let Sarah go, and then the cutest thing ever happens, which is that Angie calls her “a little grifter” and Sarah says, “Piss off,” flips her hood on and storms off. It’s like a snapshot of Sarah’s teenage years.

Team meeting time! Sarah, Cosima and Felix are back at Felix’s apartment trying to decide what to do, when who should knock at the door but our new friend Ramon with a flower arrangement from Alison, complete with gun hidden inside. Alison teleconferences into the team meeting and it turns out she made her own card. For the fake flower arrangement she hid a gun in. Oh, Alison.

The team meeting ends with Sarah musing about a new plan, and then Sarah has a phone conversation with Cylon Daniel in which she gives him a location and says she’ll be there in a red minivan.

You know who drives a red minivan? That’s right, it’s Alison. Some goons try to grab her, leading to an amazing bit of physical comedy involving Alison macing them while blowing a rape whistle, to no effect, as she eventually ends up in a car with Cylon Daniel, who immediately realizes he’s been had. Alison is going to kill Cosima and Sarah.

Dyad party! Cosima is there, but of course not really. That’s right, it’s time for our first clone shenanigans of the season, as that’s really Sarah in disguise. As a glasses wearer, I am now wondering what Cosima is doing without her glasses. Squinting a lot, presumably.

Sarah makes a beeline for Paul, but Delphine spots her first and gives her a big kiss and then brings Leekie over. Oddly, what seems to clue Delphine in that she has the wrong clone is not so much the less-than-passionate kiss from fake Cosima as it is her sudden insistence that she wants her own lab if she’s going to work for the Dyad Institute.

Sarah as Cosima then gives Leekie an incredibly awkward hug. Guys, please get better at noticing when clone shenanigans are occurring. Sarah uses the hug to nab Leekie’s security badge.

Leekie’s big speech at the party is some exposition about the size of the Dyad Institute while we see Rachel meet with Paul and some business dudes and Sarah wanders around looking for her. Rachel implies that the Dyad Institute has some control over the Supreme Court. The business dudes leave with Paul and Sarah drops Cosima’s distinctive red coat on the floor and moseys in with her Ramon gun. She better pick that coat up on the way out. That is a nice coat.

She threatens Rachel and nearly shoots her. Rachel says they don’t actually have Kira, they just said that to get Sarah there. Paul comes in to stop her, and Sarah knocks Rachel out so as to make her escape from Paul more convincing. Good old Paul. He confirms that Kira is not there.

Sarah’s next stop, surprisingly, is Art’s house. He tells her that they’ve confirmed that the diner dudes are religious extremists and we cut out as Sarah presumably starts to explain what’s going on. Welcome to Clone Club, Art.

A surprise visit from an old friend

A black boot hits the floor. Is that blood on it? And then that oh-so-familiar shrieky music cue starts up. Guess who’s not dead! Helena has time to get out one “Excuse me. My sistra shot me,” before collapsing on the floor at a hospital.

The remaining creepy diner dude watches the doctors rush around Helena. It’s unclear how in the world he knew where Helena is, but maybe they’ve got a little GPS hidden in all that blonde hair.

We close out with a strange man brushing Kira’s hair and then taking a picture of her.

What did you think?

Grade: A (for Alison)

Follow Lisa Weidenfeld on Twitter @LisaWeidenfeld



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