‘Orphan Black’ Season 2 Episode 8 Recap: “Variable and Full of Perturbation”


It’s New Clone Day on Orphan Black this week! Is there anything more exciting than when the show introduces us to another clone (and thus another showcase of Tatiana Maslany’s ability to morph into someone completely new and different)? “Variable and Full of Perturbation” is full of shocks — from the cold open clone introduction to the Cosima surprise at the end — that work and showcase the show’s commitment to remaining strong and unique, although the episode as a whole was a bit odd.

We’ve met clones of different nationalities and sexual orientations and now we meet Tony, a tattooed trans clone who sits on Felix’s couch injecting himself with testosterone. This is, by far, one of the most interesting developments that has happened this season. Tony is a wonderful addition to the Clone Club; as Felix observes, he’s definitely from the same batch as Sarah but he’s markedly different, as they all are, and unhappy in his own skin. To a certain extent, all of the clones are dealing with their relationships to their body — a body that may not always feel like theirs but instead feel more scientific than human. Anyway, Tony is trying to find Beth through Art but is obviously having no luck because Beth died long ago. Tony doesn’t know that he’s clone, just that he’s related somehow to Beth, and it’s up to Felix to explain it to him.

In some ways “Variable” is very much a Felix episode. It’s refreshing because as much as I love the clones, Felix has always been the best non-clone character and the show doesn’t focus on him nearly enough. Felix is still somewhat at odds with Sarah, perhaps because he feels he is being pushed away and left out of all the decisions (especially now that Cal is around). He prefers to try and take the lead with Tony — the plan is to get Tony very drunk — but is soon over his head when a hammered Tony puts the moves on and kisses Felix in a moment that was too strange to land. Tony isn’t a developed character yet and he came completely out of nowhere and the way the episode works, he seems destined to disappear back into nothingness. I commend Orphan Black for including a trans clone but I worry that we’ll never see him past this episode and what would be the point of that?

Elsewhere, Alison is out of rehab and returns home where Donnie is dealing with the aftermath of accidentally shooting and killing Dr. Leekie. He’s cowering in bed with a secret stash of booze stolen from Alison’s secret stash of booze. Maybe the best welcome home to your recently sobered up wife isn’t to be piss drunk in the bed that you share. Later, Donnie tries to leave Alison in the middle of the night but is caught and the two of them reveal secrets. Alison confesses to watching Aynsley die; Donnie blurts out that he killed Leekie. What a perfect married couple, huh? Leekie’s body is still in the car, in the garage, and Alison is pissed when she learns he used her gun in the murder.

Rachel meets with Ethan again but she tells him that she wants to keep it very professional. There’s so much resentment and anger here — the scene is broken up by those quick cuts to Rachel throwing a chair — as he explains that all the clones are “barren by design.” To create a reproducing prototype would have been irresponsible, she says.

Despite the health improvements that Cosima and Delphine used last week (and the delivery of another of Kira’s teeth to continue the stem cell treatment), Cosima isn’t doing so hot. She’s nerding out with the guys when she begins to cough up blood again. There seems to be a little reprieve as an adorably fucked up Delphine and Cosima inhale helium and generally have a good time with each other, though it’s not without a declaration: “If you betray us again, I have enough dirt to destroy your career,” Cosima squarely tells Delphine. “And I love you, too,” she adds. But the happiness is short-lived. Toward the end of the episode, Cosima has another coughing fit but this one ends with her toppling over, convulsing on the floor with her fate unknown.