Orphan Black: 105 “Conditions of Existence” Review
Reviewed by Adam James Cuthbert.
It’s the midpoint, and the plot, as they say, thickens. Beth’s concerned boyfriend Paul (Dylan Bruce) is revealed to be employed in the role of monitor, observing Beth’s mental condition, and reporting to a higher authority (in Paul’s case, a sinister individual by the name of Olivier), presumably those responsible for the cloning experiments. Beth/Sarah is medically examined during her sleep: an EEG test, and a blood sample is extracted. Paul is unaware of Beth/Sarah’s nature as a clone. Sarah asserts that Beth’s suicide stemmed from Paul’s behaviour towards her. Beth loved him, but Paul didn’t reciprocate, nor would he leave her (due to his monitor responsibilities necessitating proximity with Beth).
It’s an enjoyable tense and appositely atmospheric scene when Paul confronts Sarah, having deduced she’s a fraud (having consulted video evidence that Beth indeed possessed a scar, the absence of which Sarah cannot account for, except by the flimsiest of lies; as well as photographs of mother and daughter together, when Paul knew Beth couldn’t conceive children). Dylan Bruce certainly makes the most of his expanded role in the narrative, as Paul’s suspicions approach their climax (he hostilely threatens Sarah with a gun for answers). Bruce exudes a cool confidence in the role. Paul angrily inquires whether or not he’s being tested, only to betray what could be sadness when he informs Sarah: “You think I had a choice?”
Sarah finds herself in an earlier heated predicament when Vic resurfaces in her life, having mistakenly identified Alison for her. Vic reminisces on a past glory in their life together, only for Sarah to lambast it. “We were parasites,” she exclaims, expressing scorn and shame for past iniquity. As the first onscreen encounter between Sarah and Vic, it’s visual affirmation for Sarah’s desire to escape Vic and his associated lifestyle.
Alison, meanwhile, suspects her husband, Donnie, is her monitor. She searches frantically for evidence. Her paranoid extends to purchasing a nanny cam to spy on her husband. The contents of Donnie’s locked case are later replaced with porn DVDs Alison had earlier found, with Donnie himself shown to be burning, presumably, the contents, with the implication it’s incriminating evidence.
Imaginably, a relationship/friendship of sorts will develop between Cosima and the Frenchwoman Delphine, otherwise it’s a superfluous addition to the narrative. I am agog to know the identities of the other monitors, and where precisely the tension between Sarah and Paul will head.