‘Orphan Black’: The most confusing thing that happened this week (Season 2, Episode 5)


(Steve Wilkie for BBC AMERICA)

Anyone else think the big “reveal” of the Project LEDA mystery was kind of lame? And also confusing? Granted, that’s the name of the game on this show, but still — either Dr. Aldous Leekie is holding something back, or this particular mystery just isn’t that thrilling.

Here’s what happened: It turns out that neolution enthusiast Dr. Leekie isn’t really running the show at the Dyad Institute: That would be Rachel Duncan, who is far more evil than we gave her credit for. We found out in the last episode that Rachel’s adoptive parents are Susan and Ethan Duncan, geneticists who started the Project LEDA cloning experiment. Rachel is the only clone who has been self-aware since birth, so she was pretty much programmed to run an evil scientific corporation. She’s really calling the shots. Case in point: She orders Dr. Leekie to stop stem cell research on a cure for Cosima’s respiratory illness. Until Sarah returns and brings Helena and Kira with her for more cloning experiments, Cosima will suffer.

Thankfully, Dr. Leekie has a heart (figuratively, though there’s probably a real human heart somewhere in that creepy lab), and tells Cosima that he’ll keep working on a cure secretly — and in the meantime, he spills why Project LEDA is so important. That picture Sarah’s been toting around, of Susan and Ethan Duncan? They were the “forefathers” of the cloning experiment, and 30 years ago, there was a fire set in their lab. We learned this last week, but Dr. Leekie reveals the twist: Not only were six scientists killed in the fire, but the project lost huge amounts of data, and the original genome for the clones was destroyed. There’s no record of the original sequence for the clones, and no map for the experiment at all. Guess no one made copies?

So, all the secrecy surrounding the original cloning sequence is simply because the data doesn’t exist — and Dr. Leekie and Rachel Duncan are desperate to find it. Dr. Leekie tells Cosima he needs find out what Sarah knows about the Project LEDA photo and any other information.

Luckily, she’s got just the info he needs, though not until the end of the episode. Sarah’s having a bit of a day, given that Rachel Duncan is blackmailing Paul (Beth-turned-Sarah’s monitor/boyfriend) into being her new henchman. And boy toy, but we’ll get to that later. Paul attacks Sarah’s foster brother, Felix, and makes him leave fingerprints all over the gun that Daniel (Rachel’s former henchman) used to kill a cop a couple weeks ago. Paul warns Sarah that Felix will be framed for murder unless she returns to Dyad with Kira and Helena.

Oh right, remember how last week, Daniel tied up Sarah to kill her, but then Helena escaped Pastor Hank’s House of Cloning Horrors and stabbed Daniel in the chest? Helena and Sarah ran off, though Sarah took Helena straight to Art the detective. While Sarah runs off to deal with the Felix situation (and check on Kira, staying with her biological dad Cal that she met approximately eight seconds ago), Art interrogates Helena. That part is also confusing because Art’s grilling her for details about the death of Maggie Chen, which is so last season — literally, it was last season, and we can barely remember her part in the whole debacle. She may have been a Prolethean who was helping to kill the clones?

Anyway, Helena is amusing in her terrifying way as she dodges his answers, and refuses to talk until he gives her a combo platter of disgusting food: Grilled cheese, mustard, and what looks like Spam and Rice Krispie treats? She mumbles something about a swan and a man who was trying to “play God”; as Art relays his new info to Sarah on the phone, Helena somehow manages to wrangle herself out of handcuffs and escape from Art’s apartment.

From there, she grabs a sniper rifle and motorcycle and then heads straight over to murder Rachel Duncan, because why waste any time? She sets up shop in an abandoned warehouse across from Rachel’s apartment, where Rachel and Paul are having a very bizarre striptease session — it’s not clear whether either of them are enjoying themselves. Helena gets set to ready, aim, fire, when Sarah and Art track her down and convince her not to shoot. Well, Art just stands there, but Sarah tearfully begs her not to — she plays the twin sister card, as she says she just needs Helena’s help in this whole cloning disaster, and that doesn’t include killing more people.

Helena falls for it (aww, she just wants a family!) and the two stumble away, arms around each other’s shoulders while Art is probably regretting having involvement in this mess. Meanwhile, Sarah sneaks over to see Dr. Leekie, where she gives him new evidence she uncovered about the Project LEDA photo: Thanks to some info from Helena, it appears Ethan Duncan is still alive, and didn’t perish in that lab fire. Dr. Leekie gives her three days to go travel and uncover more about the mystery, and promises that if she can help him find Ethan Duncan, he will destroy Rachel and clear Felix’s name of the fake murder charges. As she leaves, Sarah is deeply suspicious. “If anyone follows us,” she says. “I’ll sic Helena on all of you.”

Alison had the week off, so can we just talk about those horrifying scenes with Pastor Hank and his even more terrifying wife? Last week, their daughter Gracie tried to smother Helena with a pillow — she was not happy about Helena being forced to join their creepy family, because she thinks the clones aren’t human. That led to Helena’s escape, so as punishment, Gracie’s parents lock her in a barn and literally sew her mouth shut with stitches until she tells them what happened. It’s incredibly gross,  especially when her mom shrugs and says, “Leave her there to rot” when Gracie refuses to share details.

Finally, she comes clean. And after her parents cut off her mouth stitches, she says that she was trying to protect the family from Helena’s non-humanness. Hank smiles kindly and says all is forgiven, as long as she helps bring Helena back. After all, he needs her to carry a baby for some disturbing experiment. Hank’s wife also smiles sweetly, and reminds Gracie that if Helena doesn’t come back, then Gracie’s going to be the one that will have to carry the baby. And with that, we have nightmares forever.

RELATED READING:

Recaps: The most confusing thing that happened on the ‘Orphan Black’: Season 2, Episode 1; Episode 2; Episode 3; Episode 4

Review: BBC America’s ‘Orphan Black’ returns, engineered to near-perfection

Preview: ‘Orphan Black’: Everything you forgot from Season 1 that you need to remember

Emily Yahr is an entertainment reporter and pop culture blogger for the Style section. She joined the Post in May 2008, a week before she graduated from the University of Maryland, and worked on Lisa de Moraes' TV Column and blog.
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