Orphan Black “Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est” Review (2×05)

17 May


“Knowledge itself is power.”

This is the English translation of “Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est”, and, as always, the title is a fitting one for not only the episode, but the show as a whole. Last year, our clones were in search of knowledge, of some idea of who they were and what their places were in the world; this year, we start to see the search for knowledge in regards to larger corporations and larger groups like the Dyad Institute and the Proletheans, respectively.

Of course, as we find out in tonight’s episode, the original genome sequence–the very foundation upon which knowledge is furthered–was destroyed in the lab explosion, but Ethan Duncan/Swan Man may still be alive. Knowledge lives on through a person in this case, just as science lives on in the lives of these clones, and the pursuit of knowledge brings with it a pursuit of power.

That doesn’t mean knowledge and power can’t live on their own, though. Take Rachel Duncan, for example, a woman who isn’t willing to relinquish power to her monitor, whose very role is to limit her power. In fact, her having sex with Paul is a power grab on her part, a way to exert control and influence that may elude her grasp otherwise. She’s determined to make herself known in the world, and by stopping Cosima’s treatment, she sends a message that Rachel Duncan controls fate, controls life.

Essentially, Rachel’s looking out for herself, something we see that Paul does as well. Orphan Black continues to explore the gray areas of each of its characters, not only introducing a bit of ambiguity into Paul’s actions, but also doing the same for Cal and Dr. Leekie. Leekie doesn’t necessarily care about Cosima, but he does get attached to the experiment, something Rachel definitely doesn’t do.

Now, we move on to Sarah and Helena, the relationship that’s come to define this show. That entire climactic sequence with Helena and the sniper rifle, Rachel and Paul doing some climaxing of their own, and Sarah talking Helena down is Orphan Black at its best; what a follow up to last week’s final scene this is. The direction there is excellent, the situation is incredibly intense, and the acting is, as always, phenomenal, because Tatiana Maslany (who can also do a great pig impression!). It’s a raw and touching moment–yet complex in terms of motivation–for both Sarah and Helena, and it’s sold perfectly.

At the beginning of the season, I had some doubts about bringing Helena back, but now, those doubts have vanished for the most part. She brings a lot of life to this show–even given the inherent bleakness of her situation–and only she would be, for example, making a Rachel Barbie as she’s about to blast her away with a sniper rifle. I look forward to seeing where she and Sarah go next.



Another take on the episode:


-Alison is still in rehab. I still want to see the remainder of her play.

-Not sure how I feel about the Proletheans stitching up Gracie’s mouth. Right now, they’re toeing the line between interesting and cartoonish, and I hope the writers can pull back just a bit.

-Helena eating is always a delight. Also, hissing.

-Oh, Felix and that “Head Over Heels” montage. Speaking of, it’s come to a point where Felix simply can’t escape the implications of the clones’ actions; the image of him pinned under Paul, with a gun to his head to set him up to take the fall for murder, is truly heartbreaking, and I’m wary about what’s happening as we move forward. He’s got Helena on his side, though!

Photo credit: BBC America, Orphan Black



4 Responses to “Orphan Black “Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est” Review (2×05)”

  1. Mel May 19, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    I could be wrong but I got the impression that Gracie stitched up her own mouth. I’ll have to watch it again. I love Helena. I love the fact that Sarah didn’t kill her even if the explanation of why she didn’t die is stupid and lacks a basic knowledge of human anatomy and repeats a mistake that far too many TV writers make: The heart is located in the center of the chest. (I blame fairytales). This was my favorite episode of the series so far. The show is actually getting better. I didn’t think that was possible.

    • polarbears16 May 19, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

      Hmm, I’ll have to watch it again as well. I don’t remember seeing or hearing anything about that, but I’ll see.

      I agree; Helena’s excellent, and her relationship with Sarah is so well-handled by the show. It’ll only get better from here.

      • Mel May 19, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

        Yes. The twins are a force to be reckoned with.

  2. Crowd of Full Pockets/Shattenjager May 20, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    Great review!

    I loved Helena making the Rachel doll. It was like “Taxi Driver” (Martin Scorsese, USA 1976) enacted by an eight-year-old orphan girl, which is essentially Helena in a nutshell.

    The ebb and flow of the various characters and storylines is interesting to me. We didn’t see Alison at all, and I really didn’t miss her. However, I was glad to see in the previews that Mrs. S will be returning. (Which reminds me, something about their previews that I really like: While they’re a little long, BBC America is light years better at them than the BBC. They give hints about what’s coming but don’t outright give them away. “Doctor Who” previews usually tell the story of the entire next episode.)

    We could just say, “because Tatiana Maslany” for about 80% of this show!

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