TV Review: ‘Orphan Black’ Keeps Up The Thrills

I curse so much watching Orphan Black I’m going to need to put a swear jar in my living room.

Orphan Black’s second season has managed to heighten the tension level with each hour. Not unbearably so, mind you, but damn does this show keep the audience on its toes. (See, there I go again.) These episodes are busting with well paced plot and action that it’s hard to believe “Mingling Its Own Nature With It” is just the third hour.

We’re still focusing on three major storylines here. We have Alison, close to falling apart, but ready for opening night of the insane CSI flavored play, Blood Ties. Cosima’s still struggling with her affections for Delphine and her rapidly worsening health. And Sarah, Kira, and Felix are trying out life on the run, finding it holding less appeal and protection than previously thought. We can’t forget the Prolethians, led by Creepy Cowboy, who have Helena and plan to launch some clones the old fashioned way.

“Mingle” is the first episode where I found it hard to like Sarah. As the main character of Orphan Black, she’s extended a greater amount of goodwill where her character is concerned. Sarah has often been frustrating, but “Mingle” shines some light on her less than admirable qualities. Sarah’s main motivation this episode is Kira’s safety, so it’s easy to overlook shoplifting food for her daughter. Things get a little more shady when she leads Felix and Kira to what appears to be a vacant farm that turns out to belong to Cal, an old con mark of Sarah’s and probably Kira’s biological father.

This means that not only has Sarah been lying to Felix as they snuck across the countryside, but she’s been lying for over eight years to him about Kira’s father. it’s not hard to miss the wounded look on Felix’s face as he confronts his foster sister and decides to return to the city. He’s been cut out of the circle of trust, and it’s a cut that runs deep.

Of course, this isn’t the extent of the damage Sarah’s done. Cal all but demands her to leave, after she stole $10,000 and ran off. It’s the sight of Kira and his possible parentage that changes his mind. It’s hard not to like Cal, despite the difficulties of trusting anyone on this show. His bearded, pot growing, bee enthusiast hippyness overwhelms us and Kira is instantly smitten.

“Mingle” is also the first episode where I’ve felt acutely aware of the movement of the plot strings. As long as we keep returning to the same devices or questions without even the hint of answers, the show will begin to feel suffocated by its story. Sarah gets nabbed by one of Rachel’s minions, Cosima uncovers another clone who died from lung polyps…there’s nothing exactly new or revelatory here. So, despite excellent tension and dramatic stakes, it’s time for some progression. Sure, we can glean that whatever Project Leda is, it involves our clones and a conflict or sorts with a weird religious group. What do they want? What happened? I won’t begrudge keeping the bug answers close to the vest, but it’d be nice to move forward, even if it’s just a little.

Alison continues to get more than her fair share of time in “Mingle,” something that’s just fine by me. But rather than use her as a touch of comic relief, we watch Alison succumb further to her substance abuse as the weight of Aynsley’s death and Donnie’s betrayal weigh her down. Now that Annie’s on her back as well, it’s no wonder she can’t keep it together for the play. Alison’s on her own now, at least that’s how she sees it.

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