Orphan Black “Governed As It Were By Chance” Review (2×04)

10 May


“The spirit of man is in fact a thing variable and full of perturbation, and governed as it were by chance.”   –Francis Bacon

As much as organizations like the Dyad Institute or people like the Proletheans seem to have a “master plan”, they are in fact governed by the spirit of man, their own desires and perspectives that play a role in the idea of chance. Chance is a dangerous thing, and when your personal goals are intermingled with what you believe to be your destiny, chance can tear down any foundation you’ve built up.

The episode is framed like a horror film, with the slow building up of tension throughout and the eventual bloody culmination at the end. Yet, as much as horror films seem to be about the mysterious and the unknown, “Governed As It Were By Chance” seems to be about the unraveling of the mysterious, the microscope that allows us to see the personal desires shaping each “plan” that’s in place. At the beginning of the episode, we have Sarah, Alison, and Helena waking up in their respective states, uncertain, with the gravity of each situation dawning on them.

Now, it turns out Sarah’s actually rescued by Cal, but for Alison and Helena, the outcome is not very pretty. Alison’s in rehab, and she doesn’t even remember the play (I miss you, play) or giving consent to being placed in the program. She’s always been someone who’s taken on as many things as possible to try and restore a sense of normalcy to her life, but here, everything’s been stripped down to its bare bones. Here, she has to confront her demons, to confront the fact that this is the only way to help herself.

That’s not the only confronting done in this episode. Sarah and Helena are sent down a collision course, with the episode deftly moving the pieces into place for the final scene in the shower. We find out that either one of them could’ve been Rachel, and we find out that Rachel’s parents–Susan and Ethan Duncan–died in a lab explosion. This is a really interesting dynamic being developed here, perpetuating the writers’ penchant for exploring the idea of mirrors and setting up what should be an explosive showdown between the three; the compelling thing is that if Sarah were to have Rachel’s fate, would her life really have been any better? Rachel, for all her “Big Bad” ways, is still being watched by her monitor, is still being controlled, and is still a clone.

We already get a scene between Helena and Sarah tonight, and it is a doozy. Helena’s spent the whole episode running, much like Sarah’s done her whole life, and she finally makes her way to Rachel’s apartment, straight out of Cold Bitch Digest. The entire sequence is shot perfectly, with Sarah and Daniel’s confrontation segueing into some upbeat music segueing into Helena killing Daniel and seeing Sarah. It’s a masterpiece of sustained tension, and when Sarah sees her supposedly dead sister, she’s overcome with fear and uncertainty, with disbelief and shock; it’s one of Tatiana Maslany’s best moments, and that’s saying something. Sarah’s confronting her demons much like Alison has to confront hers, and it’s the mark of twisted love and uncertainty and entrapment. Helena is dangerous, but who really is the greatest enemy?

We’ll find out, won’t we?



-Mrs. S and Carlton, getting it on.

– “It might help her regain some of her dignity.” *Cut to Alison being watched as she goes to the bathroom*

– “Transgressive lesbian geek spiral that’s bound to end in tears.” Felix, ladies and gents.

– “Twenty years ago you brought an orphan to my door. ‘Put her in the black,’ you said. ‘As black as it gets.'”

Photo credit: BBC America, Orphan Black

2 Responses to “Orphan Black “Governed As It Were By Chance” Review (2×04)”

  1. Crowd of Full Pockets/Shattenjager May 13, 2014 at 12:15 am #

    Nice review! Somehow, it just dawned on me with this episode that all of the titles in season two have been Francis Bacon. (I noticed it each time but for some reason just realized that it was all of them. I feel dumb on that one.) Maybe that means that Sarah is going to die trying to refrigerate chicken . . .

    I don’t know if I had forgotten it or if this was the first time we heard an explanation of the show’s otherwise-nonsensical title.

    I’m starting to be a little frightened at how often Felix seems insightful. It somehow feels wrong for him to be a voice of wisdom, and yet he so often is.


  1. TV Episode Review: “Orphan Black” “Governed As It Were by Chance” (02.04, 2014) | Crowd of Full Pockets - May 13, 2014

    […] Don’t miss the Polar Bears review this week, either. We had more overlap this week than last, but he still tends to look at […]

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