Editor’s Note: This is a recap for Season 2, episodes 1-4 of Orphan Black so there will be spoilers. BE WARNED.
Do you need a refresher on Season One of Orphan Black? Read ours and get caught up before diving into Season Two spoilers.
When last we visited the world of Orphan Black, the lives of Sarah Manning and clone company had been turned upside down. Alison Hendrix signed the Dyad Institute’s contract. A sickly Cosima discovered the Institute had patents on each of the clones. Sarah Manning shot her deranged twin-clone combo Helena and discovered that her daughter Kira and foster mother Siobhan had gone missing.
Clone-wise, one of my major hopes for Season Two is the broadening of Cosima’s storyline. In the first season, the plucky scientist basically served as Velma from Scooby Doo. She rarely had an important part to play on her own and when she did, it was pretty much just her spouting off some science jargon that she then had to dumb down for everyone else. Don’t get me wrong, Velma is a great hero of mine and she will forever be a classic representation of smart chicks in popular culture, but we’ve graduated from female characters with only one facet. I love Velma, but she never got to be smart and something else, like most women are in life and most characters are in this show.
Orphan Black is better than just painting their characters in only one shade and Cosima’s storyline is about as one-sided as the Proletheans. There’s more to her character than simply intelligence, just like there is more to Sarah than street-smarts, more to Alison than etiquette, and more to Helena than insanity. I’m hoping that the ailment she has will spark some desperation in Cosima, thus giving us more insight into how she really ticks when things gets rough.
With the first season ending pretty heavy-handed on the Dyad Institute, I’m also hoping for a stronger Proletheans presence in this season. As fascinating as the Neolutionist movement is with their desire to obtain the perfect human form at any cost, I felt they had sucked up any chance that the Proletheans had at some spotlight. Orphan Black does a good job of making each character and group of characters well-rounded and diverse but the Proletheans effectively served as the first season’s most blatant villains while the Neolutionists got to show a much more subtle villainy.
I believe the Proletheans can be cunning too. I believe they can be subtle when they need to and charming when it’s called for. While the Neolutionist movement tends to align itself with celebrity-culture mindset where people in their most perfect forms are worshipped, the Proletheans have an underlying cultist feel to their group. They don’t worship one perfect image created out of modifications to the human body but instead focus on the common goal of eradicating any ungodly, abominable creatures (i.e. our clone protagonists) they can find.
Within the first few minutes of episode one, it looks like my hope for more Proletheans is already coming true.
Season Two opens with Sarah Manning booking it down the street in search of her lost daughter. She’s accosted in a diner by two men and narrowly makes an escape from the Proletheans and sends Felix to request help from Alison for a firearm.
Art and his partner, Angela Deangelis (…Yeah) are hot on the clone trail. Aware of both Beth and Katja’s death, as well as Sarah’s removal from questioning, they’re left with Alison and follow her to her musical theatre rehearsal where they catch sight of Sarah and arrest her again. After a few questions, they release her from arrest.
Equipped with Alison’s gun, Sarah heads to a fancy Dyad event, dressed as Cosima, to confront Rachel about the kidnapping of Kira and Mrs. S. She doesn’t fool Delphine, but she does manage to steal Leekie’s keycard for access into the offices and find Rachel, who she hasn’t had Kira or Siobhan all along, but that Mrs. S’ house was overturned when the Dyad’s people arrived to claim them.
Sarah lays a smack down on Rachel until Paul comes in to stop the situation. After a gunpoint showdown, Paul tells Sarah to leave and she heads to Art’s apartment where he informs Sarah that the diner attack is now being classified as domestic terrorism thanks to fact that the two men who attacked Sarah were Proletheans. Sarah pieces this information together and comes to the conclusion that Kira was taken by the Proletheans, not the Dyad Institute.
Meanwhile, Helena stumbles into a hospital looking about one minute from death, proclaims that her sister shot her, and collapses on the floor. And who should follow her to the hospital but one of the Diner Proletheans from earlier.
If that wasn’t freaky enough, the last shot of episode one shows Kira, alone, in a creepy motel getting her hair brushed (rather forcefully) and picture taken by some unidentified man.
Felix joins Sarah and Art at the detective’s apartment, where he receives a call from Kira on his cell phone. She admits that she doesn’t know where she is but there is a “weird man” there, just before the line cuts off and we get a glimpse of the weird man himself. Art tracks the phone call to a nearby motel and her and Sarah jet off in search of Kira.
Alison, once again believing that Donnie is her Monitor, checks his phone and finds suspicious texts supporting her theory. She decides to test Donnie by leading him to the cemetery with a string of suspicious activity on her own, and has even more reason to believe he’s her Monitor when she catches him following her.
Back at Prolethean Headquarters, we see Mark (the diner guy) and Henrick, the leader of the group, in the barn artificially inseminating a cow. He praises Mark for finding Helena and they set a plan in motion to free her from the hospital.
While searching for Kira, Sarah follows a trail of Kira’s belongings to a garage where she gets in the trunk of Weird Man’s car and is transported to an undisclosed location based on the promise of finding Kira. When she’s let out of the trunk, Mrs. S is there. She thanks Weird Man, named Benjamin, for his help and proceeds to march Sarah to an old house hidden in the woods. On the walk, she admits to trashing her house herself and escaping with Kira, with no Prolethean or Dyad involvement. We also learn that the safe house in the woods belongs to some of Siobhan’s old network, an older couple they call “birdwatchers”, that helped Siobhan and Sarah disappear when she was young.
Back in town, Mark manages to steal Helena from hospital and bring her back to the Prolethean commune, we were get an inside look at the modern Prolethean’s daily lifestyle. It appears quaint, women dressing modestly and washing clothing by hand, men preparing to sell vegetables from the farm at a local market, children playing with dogs. We get a quick reminder that modern Proletheanism and original Proletheanism are definitely different when we see Thomas at Helena’s bedside, scourging himself with his belt.
Henrick shows Thomas Helena’s x-ray from the hospital, which strangely has all of Helena’s internal organs on the opposite side, and identifies that she has a genetic condition he calls a “mirror”, which sometimes occurs in identical twins. Their discussion comes to a close when they both agree that Helena and her clones are the “war for the future of creation”, although fundamentally Thomas and Henrick seem to have very different views on what that means.
Meanwhile, Sarah confronts Siobhan about Amelia’s picture of the two Project LEDA scientists from the 70’s. When Siobhan plays dumb, Sarah decides it’s time to part ways with her foster mother. And not a minute too soon, because Siobhan’s old network of friends isn’t exactly on her side anymore but have instead sold them out to the Proletheans. Believing Mrs. S’ played a part in the betrayal, Sarah grabs Felix and embarks on a journey to take Kira far, far away.
Back on the farm, Henrick believes that as the sister of a fertile clone, Helena could also possibly give birth. Thomas, in one shining moment of responsibility, argues against it by saying that she’s dangerous and unstable, but he doesn’t have much time to disagree after Mark shoots him in the temple with a nail gun.
Sarah, Felix, and Kira are “camping”, which translates to sleeping in a stolen flat-bed truck in open fields while they try to figure out their next game plan. Henrick and Mark return to the “birdwatchers'” home and set fire to the home.
At the Dyad, Delphine shows Cosima a video diary of Jennifer Fitzgerald, another genetic identical in which Jennifer admits that the Dyad found unidentified polyps on her lungs. Delphine informs Cosima that, sadly, Jennifer died three days prior which doesn’t really look great for Cosima’s own chances at treatment.
Back with the Proletheans, Mark and Gracie, Henrick’s daughter, observe Helena again. Gracie’s inherent distrust and disgust at Helena shows through, while Mark seems to hold Helena in a higher respect. Gracie tells Helena of Thomas’ death and Helena shows no remorse for the man who was sent “back to the dark ages.”
Meanwhile, our intrepid trio finds a cabin and does a little harmless breaking and entering. While they’re sleeping, the cabin’s owner comes home and reveals himself as Cal, someone Sarah knew all along. Kira asks the question we’re all wondering, “Are you my dad?” and Sarah informs Cal that he’s definitely the father.
Kira and Sarah have a heart-to-heart about Sarah’s childhood, her lack of biological parents, and Cal. Felix, reasonably suspicious himself, confronts Cal about his involvement in Sarah’s life. We learn that Cal is an engineer-of-sorts who invented mini-drone pollinators for bee population regrowth, but was kicked out of his business when his partner sold the technology to the military, which is now using it for military drones.
Meanwhile, Cosima and Delphine do an autopsy on Jennifer to discover the nature of the ailment she suffered. They come to the conclusion that she suffered from a (still undiagnosed) auto-immune disease, but also found pronounced growths on Jennifer’s uterus that could be the cause of her infertility.
Alison’s musical debuts, but her increasing use of alcohol and prescription medicine finally catches up to her. She falls off stage onto the floor and passes out.
Back on Prolethean Farm, Henrick betroths himself to Helena so that the two of them may become “God’s instruments in the war for creation” and carries her into a creepy, pitch-black room.
At Cal’s cabin, Daniel shows up and grabs Kira who he tries to use as leverage to convince Sarah to leave with him. Kira escapes into Cal’s arms but Sarah leaves with Daniel in an attempt to keep her daughter safe, only after Daniel shoots a local cop dead in Cal’s yard.
In another classic cliffhanger, Sarah and Daniel drive toward Dyad headquarters but don’t make it far. Instead they’re smashed directly into by an oncoming truck on Daniel’s side.
Still in the mangled car, Sarah comes to and notices Daniel isn’t moving. She’s still collecting herself when Cal arrives. We realize that he purposefully smashed into them with his giant truck in order to get Sarah back. Believing Daniel is dead, Cal insists they call the cops but Sarah refuses. She picks up Daniel’s gun until Cal reminds her that it’s a murder weapon for the poor police officer that lost his life back in Cal’s yard. They hide Daniel and his car then start driving. Cal takes Sarah to Kira then brings them both to an RV camper, in which they continue their journey away from the scene of a police/Dyad lackey murder.
Helena wakes up and begins questioning Henrick and his other wife Bonnie’s intentions. They lie to her while trying to convince her that the forced marriage didn’t happen, that she’s just sick and they’re nursing her back to health, but she sees the ring on her finger and definitely knows something’s afoot.
Alison wakes up in a strange apartment with her wrist in a cast. She believes she’s at the Dyad Institute, however a snarky woman lets her know she’s actually in rehab instead for her affinity for prescription pills and alcohol. Donnie shows up at her room and informs her that she won’t be allowed to see their children until she’s completed the program.
In an attempt to purge her family of the monster that is Helena, Gracie tries to smother her with a pillow. It appears as though she’s succeeded as Helena stops struggling, but we all know better than that. Helena instead puts Gracie in a sleeper hold and then begins her daring escape of the Prolethean compound. On her way out, she finds a room where she experiences flashbacks of being operated on in an extremely invasive way. (Be warned, that scene is a little rough to watch.)
She grabs a weapon from the room and escapes, booking it as quick as she can away from the farm. She runs into Art who has been keeping tabs on the Proletheans, but keeps running and he stays behind to question the group.
Meanwhile Sarah shows Cosima the Project LEDA picture. Cosima proceeds to give us a mythology lesson on the Greek tale of Leda and the Swan. She believes that Project LEDA is “military-speak” and that the children created under Project LEDA some sort of half human-half god creation.
Sarah leaves Kira with Cal while she goes to find Mrs. S and Felix back in the city. Before leaving, she informs Cal that the Dyad Institute is behind all of their problems. Speaking of the Dyad, remember Daniel? Yeah, he’s not actually dead. Instead he’s busing his way out of the car wreck and making a straight line for Sarah.
Siobhan goes on a search for her old buddy Carlton and when they meet, we can cut the chemistry with a knife. It doesn’t take them long to start getting it on in outside of the men’s bathroom in a bar. Afterward, Siobhan convinces Carlton to take her with him on his journey so that she can help protect Sarah and Kira.
Felix and Sarah meet up at Mrs. S’ house to look for information on Siobhan’s network back in London. They find news clippings of Carlton’s involvement in human smuggling of orphans and a closer shot of the scientists in Sarah’s Project LEDA photo: Prof. Susan and Ethan Duncan. Duncan, like Rachel Duncan.
Sarah tricks her way into Rachel’s apartment and Cosima does what Cosima does best: research. We learn that Rachel’s parents, Susan and Ethan, are actually her adoptive parents. Amelia’s initial task was to be a surrogate for the Duncans with Sarah, but after she ran the Duncans adopted Rachel instead. Cosima delves into Rachel’s psyche and suggests that Rachel was more than likely raised completely self-aware, which means that her clinical lifestyle prompted her to be the perfect embodiment of emotional detachment and sparked in her a sense of elitism when it comes to the other clones. Sarah disagrees after watching home videos of Rachel and her parents, but gets interrupted by Daniel’s impromptu visit to Rachel’s suite.
Sarah hides in the bathroom but is found, pistol-whipped, and then tied up in the shower by Daniel with the intent to torture in a place where it’s “easier to clean up”. Sarah pulls out all the information she has to prolong her life and in the process we find out that Daniel is actually Rachel’s Monitor.
He stops his torture of Sarah when music starts in a room off-screen. We hear a struggle and then see Daniel collapse to the floor and Helena walk over him in her mangled, bloody wedding gown with a big ol’ knife in her hands.
The “seestra” reunion is incredible. Shocking, bloody, and moving all at once, Helena confesses to Sarah that she believes her new husband “took something from inside of her”. Back on the farm, Mark admits to Henrick that they lost Helena. However, the last shot of the episode shows Henrick, Bonnie, and Mark all watching a cell, presumably taken from Helena, split into two.
And on that note, you’re caught up.
Suffice it to say that I am very pleased with the amount of Proletheans in Season Two. Thank you, Orphan Black, for giving them with the same development you gave the Neolutionists in Season One. All at once, it’s now easy to see why certain people would join their movement and extremely difficult to understand why others would even go near it. It’s that kind of duality between the wholesome front the Proletheans have and their deceiving, shady underbelly that makes this group so fascinating. Their scenes are by my favorite love-to-hate-them scenes.
To those in the outer circles, the modern Prolethean lifestyle is charming despite it’s ambiguous mash-up of various religious beliefs. Simple lives led by people trying to do The Lord’s Work. It’s just too bad that work includes murder, forced marriages, and the unfortunate and cringe-worthy impregnation of Helena.
I’m mostly fascinated by Henrick as this season’s main villain. He’s quite like the Governor from The Walking Dead. On the outside he’s a charming, seemingly fair leader. Dig a little deeper and you start to see the cracks, the devious passions that make Henrick tick. It’s a clever turn of events to have the forefront of the modern Proletheans want to utilize the clones as a weapon of creation instead of destroy them. This merging of the clones and the Proletheans by creating children parented biologically from both parties is twisted genius for a villain and puts Helena in a much more sympathetic light.
And seriously, poor Helena! Her sister shoots her, she shows up at the hospital for help, gets taken away by some random guy and then married to another who messes with her body and, presumably, artificially inseminates her. That’s all kinds of fucked up for anyone, let alone someone who’s led the life of torture and abuse that she has.
I’m hoping for some redemption for Helena, who seems now to only want to belong to her sister’s family. Without Thomas there to fall back on, Helena’s purpose from Season One has been revoked. I know she’s essentially a serial killer, but there’s a warm spot in my heart for the crazed Ukrainian and I’d like to see her be able to really experience the softer side of life. Am I certain that’ll ever happen?
Cosima is still holding down the fort, smart-chick style, but she’s not branching out from that as much as I would have hoped. I don’t want to see her play damsel in distress, or the closest thing we get to in it Orphan Black, with this illness of hers. Let’s hope that with the help of her bad-ass science skills, she creates a treatment for their genetic predisposition and she doesn’t get caught up in the woe-is-me aspect of it.
And how about Cal? I’m not positive he’s not involved in this somehow deeper than he’s letting on. Cal is just now showing up again after eight years of darkness in Sarah’s life and while I understand that she royally screwed him, that doesn’t mean he can’t have some knowledge of the Dyad/Prolethean/Clone situation. This stuff goes back at least to the 70’s if not further, so it’s possible that Cal might have information he’s hiding. I’d love for Kira to get to know her possible father without any strings attached, but I think that’d be too easy for Orphan Black and that Cal’s definitely got something up his sleeve. We’ll just have to see.
Stay tuned for more Orphan Black recaps!