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Orphan Black: 103 “Variation Under Nature” Review


Reviewed by Adam James Cuthbert

Orphan Black expands on its promising start, as the storyline unfolds in a gripping fashion. The identity of the assassin is revealed to be another clone, killing her doppelgangers, for as-of-yet unknown reasons. With her back laced with horrific scarring, it’s fuel for the imagination certainly. Alison theories that they are the products of someone’s illegal experiments: the assassinations are to cover them up.

Variation under Nature explores Sarah’s interactions with Alison and Cosima, with Maslany continuing to impress in the multiple roles. Alison is revealed to be quick-to-the-trigger; an otherwise ordinary woman devoted to protecting her family, whilst afraid her children should ever learn their mother’s a “freak”. In contrast to the PhD student Cosima – who thinks it’s “actually kind of cool” that there exists genetically identical individuals – Alison expresses disdain (“Can we not use the c-word?”). Alison’s suburban ambit also introduces the subject of class (she labels Sarah a “lowlife grifter”). Cosima, on the other hand, is affable, and intellectual, who promises Sarah that the answers to her questions lie within Kajta’s briefcase. We also learn, through an exchange between Cosima and Sarah, that Sarah has a criminal record (for petty fraud and assault; “wasted youth” as Sarah calls it), which threatens to compromise her position, as Kajta’s fingerprints would present Sarah as a match.

Hostility surfaces when Sarah meets Mrs S. Previously, Mrs S had expressed her belief that Sarah doesn’t understand how special her daughter is, and that it would be best for Kira to remain in Mrs S’ custody. Mrs S informs Sarah she’ll arrange a meeting with Kira, and she’ll regain custody of her daughter only when she’s proven herself to Mrs S. Later, Sarah relents about absconding with her own daughter. She states her resolve to “get it right”; her one chance at reuniting with her daughter. The 75,000, she learns, was Alison’s contribution to the “clone club” of Beth, herself, and Cosima; which she plans on returning to Alison. It’s a moment that signifies a change in Sarah: from a woman planning to flee, regardless of the consequences (“The song remains the same”), to aligning herself with her clones.

With its combination of police procedural, science-fiction thriller, and an integral human emotive core, for diverse entertainment, Orphan Black is developing finely.


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