The buzziest show from last season (not set at a women’s prison) is back. Can the sophomore season withstand the intense scrutiny now that the show’s become a cult phenomenon?
Let’s bitch it out…
‘Nature Under Constraint and Vexed’ comes flying out of the gate and basically doesn’t take its foot off the pedal for the remainder of the premiere. If the goal was to maintain a sense of urgency and intensity, then congratulations to the team because this episode feels about 20 minutes long. It absolutely motors.
Things start off with a bang – literally – as Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) has a deadly encounter with a pair of cowboys in a diner. It’s a really smart way to kick off the premiere because the high octane opening infuses the first few minutes of the season with action and intrigue. The men are a mystery (who are they? how did they find her?) and the danger is palpable, particularly when guns are drawn and the diner owner is taken out swiftly and suddenly. From there Sarah is on the run – checking in with the other clones, desperately seeking a gun and talking her way out of trouble with Art (Kevin Hanchard) and his partner Detective Angela Deangelis (Inga Cadranel) aka uberbitch cop. Things don’t really let up until the credits roll…
While Sarah remains our heroine and the hunt for Kira (and by extension Mrs. S) dominates the episode, the propensity (and diversity) of the clones remains a significant draw. There’s several to choose from, which is likely one of the main reasons audiences fell in love with this show: clever, rational Cosima, high-strung OCD Alison, crazy religious Helena and, joining the fold in a significant way, scary businesswoman Rachel. Each has their own unique characteristics that are endearing for different reasons and the premiere does a good job of giving each a moment or two to shine. Cosima draws the short straw and gets the least amount of screen time (though it is amusing to watch Sarah impersonate her) apart from Helena, who presence is little more than a glorified cameo since her return is meant to be a surprise twist.
That leaves Alison (my personal favourite). There’s something amazing about Maslany’s depiction of a suburban mom who’s desperate to maintain a sense of normalcy as the world goes to hell around her. Watching Alison toggle between snagging the lead in a questionable community theater production because she killed the star and fending off Daniel’s (Matthew Bennett) goons with pepper spray and a weak rape whistle is a sheer delight. Alison’s antics definitely make me glad to have the show back. Throw in a great scene with Felix (Jordan Gavaris) – decked out in leather fetish gear no less – and the series’ trademark genre balancing act is complete.
All in all, ‘Nature Under Constraint and Vexed’ doesn’t offer up a lot of answers (in fact it barely offers hints of answers), but we’re loaded up with lots of conflict and even more pressing questions. If there’s one message to take away from the premiere, it’s Orphan Black suggestion to strap ourselves in because we’re in for a crazy ride.
- I was on the fence about Delphine (Evelyn Brochu) last season…and the premiere hasn’t changed that. I don’t doubt for a minute that she’s still fully on-board with Dyad and Dr. Leekie (Matt Frewer), but does that make her an untrustworthy villain?
- Ditto Hot Paul (Dylan Bruce) who appears to be Rachel’s new boy toy/bodyguard. Yet he’s still willing to help Sarah out (and let her smack him in the face with a gun). Points off, however, for making him keep his shirt on. What is this, Arrow?
- It’s not 100% clear why Cowboy Mark (Ari Millen) is just hanging out at the hospital when Helena stumbles in, but we know thanks to Art’s searching that he’s part of the Prolethean religious cult that raised (and indoctrinated) her. As far as new characters go, this guy is creepy and dangerous, both of which make him a force to be reckoned with. The weirdness goes a long way towards making the opening scene memorable, in a very Utopia kind of way (If you haven’t seen Channel 4’s Utopia, drop everything and check it out).
- Speaking of Art, there’s a suggestion here that Sarah will tell him everything about the clones, the Dyad group and the Proletheans. This is good news because it means she has another informed ally, but it probably doesn’t bode well for his long-term future.
- Anyone else shipping Ramon (Alex Ozerov) and Felix? BTW, for you straight viewers out there, that was not a gay club. That was a leather club (or at least a fetish night at a gay club). It’s not every club that you’ll see leather chaps and codpieces, although Gavaris manages to pull off the look surprisingly well.
- What’s better: Alison purchasing a gun from Ramon in the parking lot of a big box store named Economart or later sending said gun in a flower delivery, complete with note? I’m leaning towards the flower delivery. It’s just so her.
- Guess my season one finale rant about killing Helena was a little premature, huh?
- Finally, the musical is definitely Cats, right?
- Allison (upon seeing Felix at her backdoor): “What the dickens?”
- Felix (when Allison tells him she’s doing a musical): “Oh my god, not Cats”
- Allison (after buying a gun from Ramon): “So how’s your mother?”
What are your thoughts on the premiere? Who’s your favourite clone? Happy that Helena has survived? Intrigued by the Prolethean Cowboys? Can Hot Paul and/or Delphine be trusted? What’s Rachel’s agenda? And who really has Kira? Speculate away below!
Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 9pm EST on BBC America.