Orphan Black 106 Review “Variations Under Domestication” – Collisions, Confusions, & Conspiracies

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Image courtesy BBC America

Alison’s nanny cam catches Donnie getting up in the middle of the night and leaving the bedroom which makes the neurotic housewife hyper-paranoid.  She tried to get answers from her husband, but he avoids them in a rush to get things prepared for a party they’re supposed to be having that day.  Well, Alison clubs him and ties him up in the basement laundry room.

Sarah finds out that Paul really doesn’t know about the clones, only that he’s been tasked to monitor Beth.  What Sarah doesn’t know is that Paul is keeping tabs on her whereabouts via a GPS tracker in Beth’s car.  Cosima’s new friend from last week, Delphine, is working pretty hard at trying to be friends and that’s got Cosima suspicious that she may have a monitor of her own.  A logical conclusion considering the other clones all seem to have one, save for Sarah thus far.

Image courtesy BBC AmericaAlison calls Sarah to have her meet at her dungeon of laundry and hot glue torture where she gets Sarah to stand-in for her in interrogating Donnie.  Donnie tells Sarah that he got up in the middle of the night to watch a South African cricket game and she believes him.  She tells Alison that he’s probably not spying, especially since they’ve known each other since high school.

Image courtesy BBC AmericaLater, after Alison has un-frayed her nerves with too many pills and wine, Sarah has to play Alison at the party upstairs in front of all her friends and neighbors.  Un-com-for-ta-ble!  On top of that, since Donnie was supposed to be the bartender for their party, Sarah has to get Felix to dress “suburban” and drive over to help out.

Paul meets with the mysterious Olivier, but isn’t giving up the fact that Beth is not Beth.  He tells Olivier that Beth is back in a dark place and tried to OD on pills the night before.  He wants reassurances that he won’t be blamed if she succeeds at another attempt.  Paul’s covering his bases since he had earlier spiked a bottle of liquor with a load of pills which I’m sure he’s planning on using on Sarah if he feels he needs to do so.  He’s not sure who or what Sarah is or who, if anyone, she may be working for so Paul’s making sure he’s got safety nets for himself should things go bad.  If he needs to, he’ll drug Sarah to death with the spiked liquor.

Image courtesy BBC AmericaDelphine’s talked Cosima into attending a speech on “Neolution” by Dr. Aldous Leekie, a man who advocates taking evolution into our own hands by enhancing our bodies with technology.  The two of them briefly meet Dr. Leekie after the presentation, then abscond with a couple bottles of wine to drink elsewhere.  Delphine is trying hard to connect with Cosima, but Cosima’s no idiot.

Felix thinks Alison’s friend from across the street, Aynesley, might be the monitor.  She’s awfully nosy and full of questions.  So Sarah goes down to Donnie and tells him he needs to think about what he has with Alison and the kids.  She’s working him to make him feel guilty enough to forgive the abduction and make him feel like it’s his fault.  Sarah’s very good at manipulation and she doesn’t fail here, either.

This is where things start to go crazy, even by Orphan Black standards.

On top of Sarah playing Alison in front of her friends with Felix tending bar, Paul has used the GPS tracking information to find Alison’s house.  About that same time, Vic breaks into Felix’s apartment and found a map to Alison’s house on Felix’s computer so he shows up in the ‘burbs, too.

Image courtesy BBC AmericaVic and Paul have a bit of an altercation in the garage.  Each are suspicious of the other, but Vic living up to his nickname ends up getting a nail shot through his right hand courtesy of the no-nonsense Paul.  Now Vic’s missing a finger on his left hand and a nail through his right.  I feel sorry for poor Vic even if he’s a dick.

Meanwhile, Aynesley heads to the basement and finds the real Alison sleeping off her pills on the sofa so she helps her upstairs to the bedroom, never suspecting there are more than one of her.  Then suddenly and for some unknown reason Aynesley goes straight to the garage where she sees Sarah with Paul and is surprised that she got downstairs before her.  Sarah makes it sound like she and Paul are having an affair and Aynesley leaves saying it’s none of her business.

It’s odd that Aynesley didn’t notice the difference in shirts between the real Alison and Sarah since she made a comment about it earlier when Sarah had to stand in at the party.  Maybe this is because the nosy neighbor really is the monitor and she doesn’t want to draw suspicion to herself.

That night after the party Alison heads to bed where a sulking Donnie is waiting.  She tries to apologize to Donnie, but he says it’s his fault.  Sarah really got into his head.  Donnie tells Alison that what was in his locked box were some love letters from an old girlfriend who ended up getting lupus.  He breaks down and says he was just trying to hold onto something personal.

At Beth’s, Paul gets the bottle of spiked liquor and offers some to Sarah.  Before he pours, he tells her to talk and Sarah tells the truth about the clones.  Paul puts away the spiked bottle and pulls out another instead.  It seems even more clear that he’s not a bad guy, just someone who’s caught up in the middle of something and can’t get out.  He covered for Sarah with Olivier and now he chose to put away the drugged alcohol.

Image courtesy BBC AmericaDelphine enters a darkened hotel room and Dr. Leekie emerges from the shadows.  She is not surprised.  They have a brief exchange in French and I think he’s asking Delphine if she’s gaining Cosima’s trust.  He seems to refer to as “Thea” or “Tia” but I’m not sure since I barely speak English, much less French.  No matter the exchange it’s enough to clarify that Delphine and Dr. Leekie are probably monitor and handler for Cosima.

If all Donnie was burning in the woods last week were old love letters, I wonder who was he talking to when he said, “No, it’s fine, don’t worry.  If anything else comes up I’ll let you know.”  That conversation is either misdirection on the part of the creative team or a clue that Donnie really is a monitor and just much, much better at remaining undercover than anyone would suspect.

Oh, and kudos to the producers for showing the correct operation of a nail gun.  I know it’s a small detail, but most shows have people using nail guns to shoot nails like bullets and/or not having them connected to compressed air or any power source.  Without seriously dangerous modifications a nail gun will not just shoot nails willy-nilly through the air.  Nail guns won’t fire unless the head is pressed against a surface.  It’s a safety feature found in basically all nail guns.  Orphan Black actually bothered to show Paul connect the air hose, turn on the compressor, and push the gun against Vic’s hand before shooting a nail.  It’s a little touch I noticed and really appreciated.


Who Said What:

Alison:  I have no gift bags, no ice, and no bartender because my husband is tied to a chair.
Sarah:  Alison, you need to take a deep breath.
Alison:  I hate yoga.

Donnie:  Is there nothing in my life left unexamined by you?  Now take off the G D blindfold!

Sarah:  You watch your tone.  Your wife is the rock of this family.  You will no longer speak down to her.  Am I clear?

Felix:  Have you looked in the mirror?  There’s a thing on your head.

Aynesley:  Where is Donnie?  Oh my God, why isn’t he helping you with this?
Sarah:  He’s tied up.

Chad:  It’s a gay bartender.  That’s awesome.
Aynesley:  Chad, shut your stupid mouth and feed the kids.

Alison:  It’s not Donnie, is it?  It’s not him.  I whacked him and it felt so good.

Alison:  I’m a horrible person.  I’m not even a real person.

Alison:  So he’s just Donnie?  Eating, farting Donnie?

Alison:  My monitor’s probably one of those bitches upstairs.

Aynesley:  Um, I’ve seen you before.  Do you work at the plaza?
Felix:  I don’t do plazas.

Paul:  Sarah?
Alison: <mostly out from wine & pills> Al…is…on. <makes kissing sound>  Want some of this?  Come to bed with me.

Vic:  A stroller and a latte and you could even fool me.


Orphan Black airs on BBC America Saturday nights at 9/8c right after Doctor Who and just before The Nerdist.


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Tom Gardiner