‘Orphan Black’ Season 2 Episode 4 Recap: “Governed as It Were by Chance”


Orphan Black has been a gripping show since day one. As I’ve mentioned before, it was a show that I loved immediately: the second that Sarah watched a distraught woman with her face jump in front of speeding train in the pilot, I became a full-fledged member of the Clone Club, already enthusiastically on board with this ride and ready to accept everything the show wanted to throw at me. Orphan Black sinks its hooks in you and doesn’t let go, forcing you to sit up straight and pay attention. It’s always been an intense thriller but this week it went a step further and became a horror show.

One of the many things that I love about Orphan Black is that it’s a show that doesn’t always feel the need to pause between episodes or seasons. If Sarah is running at the end of season one then she’s running at the beginning of season two. If Sarah’s car just got hit by a truck at the end of one episode (which, holy shit, way to end an hour!) then the next episode will pick up with Sarah dazed in that same car, seconds after. If Orphan Black‘s characters don’t get time to breathe, then neither do we. It was Cal who smashed into the car — a mixture of intelligence and pure recklessness — and ended up saving Sarah. It’s a good thing Cal’s around because Sarah isn’t thinking clearly, waving around a murder weapon and staring down a cop car.

But who really knows what to make of Cal so far? He’s a curious character. He’s definitely coming out OK — in fact, he’s better than OK and someone that Sarah could use at this point, especially to take care of Kira (after all, he is her father) while Sarah is out running around trying to figure all this crazy shit out. I like that Cal isn’t an overwhelming presence, even despite his familial link. With the occasional exception of Felix, Orphan Black likes to keep its men in the background and I like it that way. But anyway, Cal is seemingly more than willing to genuinely help Sarah without an agenda and without needing to know all of the specifics (though he’s definitely curious; who wouldn’t be?) because all he really needs to know is that Sarah is in trouble and Sarah needs help.

“Governed” is so goddamn good and scary that I don’t know where to even start. Here’s something: Alison, after that embarrassing and gasp-worthy spill off the stage last week, is now in rehab. This was easy enough to see coming because Orphan Black hasn’t been subtle about Alison’s increased reliance on booze and pills. All of Alison’s scenes were great, as per usual, because Alison and Felix are one of the best pairings on television.

Also happening: Cosima is becoming more and more obsessed with the sick clone in the videos she’s been watching because she herself is getting sicker and it’s like watching a video of her future. She’s in a really sad predicament but pauses to talk to Sarah (who points out how pale Cosima has been looking) to try and hash out what’s happening in that picture. Something worth noting? When remarking on the project title (“Leda”), Cosima tells Sarah the story of Leda and the Swan about Zeus seducing Leda (or raping her, as the myth sometimes goes) which results in children that are half-human and half-god. So now there’s that to keep in the back of your mind.

Then there’s Clone Of The Week Helena! On the compound, Gracie tries to smother Helena to death with a pillow and for a second it seems like she succeeded but then Helena is bad and chokes her out before fleeing — in an oddly gorgeous but fucked up scene — in her white dress, right past Art, leaving us all to wonder where she’s going.

Meanwhile Sarah continues her investigation and learns some truths about Mrs. S (who is out reconnecting with her past) but, more importantly, Sarah has decided to head to Rachel’s to know her enemy. Maybe not such a good idea, Sarah! But when has that ever stopped her? At the hotel, she finds out that Rachel is sleeping with Daniel — and then Daniel enters the hotel, still messed up from the crash.

Soon, Sarah is strung up in the shower and Daniel starts to torture her, slowly cutting her behind the ear — I don’t blame you if you watched this scene with your hands over your eyes because I certainly did — and, if I remember correctly, it’s the same spot that Beth had a scar, no? This can’t be a coincidence. But a call interrupts this little torture scene and Daniel disappears.

Here’s where it gets full on terrifying, aided by some spot-on, horror flick writing and directing. This scene is so fucked up but so goddamn good. The terror comes from most of the action happening off-screen, with just the sounds (a struggle, things crashing, Daniel coughing) guiding us to form our own conclusions. It’s always what you don’t see that is more terrifying yet Orphan Black keeps up the scares when things get clearer. The scene is shot entirely from Sarah’s limited POV from the bathroom, through the narrow doorway, so we see only what she sees. Suddenly Daniel spills into our line of sight, even bloodier than before, collapsing onto the ground. Then Helena slowly, creepily, even curiously enters the frame — her virgin white dress torn and bloodied, her determined hands clutching a knife. The guardian angel from your nightmares. There’s your next Halloween costume.

Helena’s appearance may have been a surprise to us but it’s an even bigger surprise to Sarah who, last season, shot Helena dead. But miracles happen on Orphan Black or really, miraculous genes happen. Helena notices Sarah and slowly creeps toward her and it’s as scary as television can get. The framing in this episode is simultaneously beautiful and terrifying; that shot of the knife with Sarah in the background is shiver-inducing. And if Tatiana Maslany isn’t currently the best actress on television — look at the way her face contorts and the way her eyes convey pure fear — then I don’t know who is.

But Helena doesn’t want to hurt Sarah; she just wants help and soon she grabs Sarah in a hug, falling down on her, both of them upset, bleeding, and crying. They are clones, yes, but they have a stronger bond: they are twins — maybe half-human, maybe half-god twins — and they are always going to be connected, and they are always going to need each other in some way or another.