Orphan Black “Nature Under Constraint and Vexed” Review (2×01)

19 Apr


I decided to give Orphan Black a try last year due to the positive reviews of the series, but I never expected it to turn out this good. Even after the fantastic first season, there were questions: would the show be able to maintain the level of quality in its second season, or were those 10 episodes a one-off, albeit entertaining, story? Well, it looks like this show is back to prove itself, and man, does it.

The cold open itself is an exercise in the slow build of tension, re-introducing us into this world by placing a desperate woman into a desperate situation, trapping her, not allowing phone calls to go through to Cosima or Alison. Note how small the direction makes her seem, cornering her in a diner booth as the tension mounts; we know something’s up, and everything’s about to explode. When it finally does, we get the Sarah Manning we’ve always known, the fighter who’ll worm her way out of tight situations based on sheer determination.

Sarah’s never been one to take BS, and it’s certainly exciting to see her work as a one-woman wrecking ball; the difference this year is that although the stakes are much higher, she has a greater support system. Even Paul respects her, and when Sarah breaks into Rachel’s office and holds a gun to her head, we feel that determination all around, mixed in with a pinch of unpredictability. The steely, callous Rachel isn’t expecting Sarah to shoot, but when she does, she transforms into a shaking, terrified mess, shocked that everything isn’t going the way it should be.

For, as much as the very idea of clones is rooted in science–in predictability, in uniformness, in calculations–the reality is that some things can’t be anticipated. Each person is her own unique person, and what one person is willing to do transcends predictability. That’s a very fundamental idea of Orphan Black, and with the continued exploration of the Prolethians, the religion vs. science debate–an extension of that idea–should play a large role in the upcoming episodes.

That idea manifests itself a bit in Delphine’s dealings with Cosima; although she cares about Cosima, she’ll also turn over the blood to Dr. Leekie. What do we choose: the person, or the product? This whole situation is pretty emotionally devastating, and it’s the mark of yet another person on edge, what with Cosima fighting to be able to make her own choices about herself.

Much like Cosima wants to have control over her situation, so does Alison, so it’s like her to throw herself into whatever project she has lined up next to convince herself she’s truly distanced herself from the clone business. She’s a delightful character, but what makes her intriguing is that her gun deal with Ramon or her singing in a musical or her rape whistle aren’t all merely comic relief. She’s barely holding it together, and while she does want to help Sarah, she perhaps needs to help herself first.

To throw a wrench in everything, Helena’s back. This does take away a bit from the emotional resonance of last year’s finale, but she’s definitely one of the more intriguing presences on the show. She’s even more of a wild card: she’s dangerous, unpredictable, and can’t be trusted. In an environment in which everything is falling apart, in which everyone’s just trying to keep it together, this is the last thing they need.

Oh, but what a ride it will be.



-For another take on the episode, head on over here to this great review:


-Felix didn’t make a huge first impression back in season 1, but he’s really come into his own. The way the show’s handled him and Alison are very similar, and I definitely want to see more of those two interacting. Also, assless chaps.

-Tatiana Maslany is giving one of the best–if not the best–performances on television. Look no further than the scene in which she’s Sarah posing as Cosima; there are just enough subtleties there for us to tell the difference, and it’s really a marvel what Maslany is doing with her characters. Also, she can sing! Is there anything she can’t do?

-RIP, diner owner. You seemed like a good guy.

-I’m starting to like Art even more, even if I’m not as interested in his storyline, if that makes sense.

-I love how Alison asks about Ramon’s mother after she makes a gun deal in a supermarket parking lot.

-“Can I touch your boob?” Can’t blame him.

-Some commentary about the recent Supreme Court case, as well.

-“She says ‘up yours’.” I know Alison and Cosima get all the attention from the fans, but Sarah’s pretty badass, no?

-Welcome to Orphan Black coverage! I look forward to the next 9 weeks, and expect a hell of a lot of Maslany gushing.

Photo credit: BBC America, Orphan Black

3 Responses to “Orphan Black “Nature Under Constraint and Vexed” Review (2×01)”

  1. louisoc April 20, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    So you’re saying it’s worth a watch?

    • polarbears16 April 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

      Definitely. It’s filled the sci fi void left by Fringe, for sure. And Maslany’s amazing.

  2. Crowd of Full Pockets/Shattenjager April 20, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

    “I know Alison and Cosima get all the attention from the fans, but Sarah’s pretty badass, no?”
    Sarah>Alison. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks so, but I definitely do! Cosima is my favorite, but it’s not a big distance between her and Sarah.

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