Orphan Black “Variable and Full of Perturbation” Review (2×08)

8 Jun


Orphan Black is a show that consistently takes risks, and it’s always been able to craft engaging and exciting storylines out of those risks. However, this episode is a bit of a misstep; it’s still enjoyable at times, but it falters in a wide variety of places.

First off, the various stories don’t seem to be as interlocking as the show has been able to make them prior to this. More so than ever before, it’s like we’re watching different shows that conveniently operate in the same universe, and everything’s awkwardly thrown together to accommodate our newest clone, Tony. I like Tony and I like the idea of a trans clone–especially given the show’s prevalent theme of identity in a world that crushes individuality–but the show would’ve probably been better off waiting until next year to introduce him. Jordan Gavaris does excellent work as Felix, as always, but the Felix-Tony relationship is shakily written and seems like it was thrown together at the last minute.

Elsewhere, Alison and Donnie are starting to grow closer again, but interestingly enough, it’s because they both get their respective murders off their chests. Donnie isn’t portrayed so much as a guy caught up in a crazy, twisted game as he is a bumbling idiot now–which is a bit of a problem–but the point is clear: as the two grow closer, they also dig themselves into a deeper hole. It’s like they take each other’s confessions as implicit acceptance of the crimes they’ve committed, and I don’t see this ending well.

The future isn’t looking very up for Cosima now, either, as she ends the episode convulsing on the floor and coughing up blood. It’s a powerful moment, but I can’t help but be disappointed with the handling of her storyline in this episode. What was a powerful moment last week with Cosima telling Delphine off is now brushed aside this week, and a character who needed more moral complexity is now back to who she was before.

Finally, we get to Rachel Duncan, who’s left shattered by the revelation that the clones are supposed to be barren. She realizes that she’s just like everyone else, and her desired sense of superiority is washed away, leading to her explosion in the office (stylistically, a little off, just like the rest of the episode) after Duncan leaves. At one point, she probably wanted a kid. Rachel isn’t the most interesting clone, but they’re starting to shade her in a bit.

All in all, this is a very shaky episode that sets up the final two episodes of the season. The writers cut way too many corners to get to where we are, but that doesn’t mean I’m not excited to see how this all plays out.



For another take:


The Island of Dr. Moreau has thematic resonance, of course. Moreau’s essentially Dyad, both organizations/people that manipulate and use individuals in the name of science. This theme permeates the episode, whether it’s Kira reading the book at the end or Rachel and Ethan’s relationship or the final shot of the mobile (reminding us of Helena).

– “Holy Tilda Swinton!” Oh, Felix.

-Okay, so the makeup and hair department don’t do so well with Tony.

-Helena’s back next week! Yay! Also, the promo completely negates the cliffhanger.

Photo credit: BBC America, Orphan Black


4 Responses to “Orphan Black “Variable and Full of Perturbation” Review (2×08)”

  1. Matthew Thompson June 8, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    Yeah the Tony thing seemed a little sloppily handled for a new clone introduction by the show’s own standards. And the hair and makeup were really subpar as well. The idea was an interesting one though. I wish it had been handled better. I really did like the Alison/Donnie stuff and some of the other things going on, but this was my least favorite episode of this season so far. Hopefully it finishes strong.

  2. Crowd of Full Pockets/Shattenjager June 8, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

    Good review! Better than the episode, unfortunately.

    BBCA doesn’t seem to be any better than the original BBC at keeping its teasers from giving away too much. I learned from “Doctor Who” long ago to skip them.

    I didn’t think to comment about how Rachel’s explosion was rather badly shown, but I agree–that was just not the right way to show her destroying her office. However, I also found the very idea that she destroys the office like that to be a little odd. Rachel is all about control, and it seems strange to me that she would allow herself to lose control like that even after what Ethan told her–I would instead expect her basically to say, “Oh? It was intentional? Then you’re going to figure out how to undo that, aren’t you?” or even to disbelieve Ethan completely.

  3. Hepburn3 June 9, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    For me this was so far the weakest episode out of the whole series. I like the idea of a trans clone,(funnily though there are many who hate it and have said that they are uncomfortable with the idea of Tony. Tony was interesting but his introduction felt forced,and he was only there for a few fleeting minutes while Felix has an ‘incest’ type moment with him. Yes I know that he and Sara are not related by blood but they are by heart and childhood and Tony is the spitting image of his sister Sara, so me that whole flirting/seduction/kiss thing felt just uncomfortable, it was almost Cersi and Jamie-esque. Jordan G is an outstanding performer as is Tatiana M amazing work by them both.
    I was annoyed at Cosima, sometimes I find her weak when it comes to Delphine, she always take her back and lets her in even though she has betrayed her more than once, and she probably will do so again, it is like they have to show a gay relationship that has no real problems or disagreements and gets smoothed over with a puppy dog longing look, I would prefer if she got all annoyed at Delphine like Alison gets annoyed at Donnie. When she kicked Delphine out her lab last episode I thought now there is Cosima, very smart, and takes no jank! I am scared for Cosima due to her illness and I hope that she makes it but there are no promises of characters staying around for we now live in a George R.R. Martin world of killing off of characters that we like and root for and I do not see that changing so we should get used to it. As an aside having Cosima die would be far more reality based, because in life sometimes when one is deathly ill people do die.
    It was fun though to see Cosima go all DnD with her scientist friend and his friends. It was a nice touch of humour.
    Alison always makes me laugh, love her and now she and Donnie need a ‘Cleaner”, that is truly a twisted way to make a marriage bond stronger.
    I loved how Alison was outraged at the fact that Donnie did not line the boot of her car, for it will stain! He leaked Leeki all over it! That is far more unforgivable than killing some one! ; )
    Rachel is now for me a very interesting character, things are unravelling for her big time! She found her father after all this time thinking he was dead, she cannot find Paul anywhere, she now knows she is not special and is barren like all of her “sisters’ and that low Sara is the special one. She has no control so to see her smash up her office like that was visceral and made sense to me. Control is everything for her. Actually it is everything for all of the Clones, that besides them looking the same is what makes them clones.
    Only a few shows left! I am stoked to see what will happen!
    Thanks for doing your reviews! : )


  1. TV Episode Review: “Orphan Black” “Variable and Full of Perturbation” (05.08, 2014) | Crowd of Full Pockets - June 8, 2014

    […] Our friend the Polar Bear was not too happy with this week’s episode, either. […]

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