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Orphan Black 1x06 "Variations Under Domestication" review


The twisted nature of "Orphan Black" continued in Saturday, May 4's episode 6, "Variations Under Domestication," and this time, we got to find out more about a few characters we haven’t learned much about as the first five episodes focused heavily on Sarah.

Paranoia to a whole new level Remember how Alison set up that nanny cam in the last "Orphan Black" episode? Well, in this one, she saw that Donnie got out of bed just before 4 a.m. and hadn't returned by the time the memory card was full. So what's a wife to do when her husband's keeping secrets that are potentially related to her secret of being a clone and won't answer her questions? Well, knock him out with a golf club, of course, and bring him downstairs to the craft room for an interrogation, soccer mom-style: spinning a colorful wheel of scissors, cutting the air with a pair, and dripping hot glue on his chest when she didn't get the desired answers. Seriously, don't piss off the paranoid uptight soccer mom clone. She will hurt you. She called in Sarah for help and left her to play her while she dealt with the neighbors upstairs for the potluck. Really, if anyone ever needed to give yoga a go, it was Alison, no matter how much she said she hated it.

Donnie told Sarah that he had gotten up to watch a game of cricket, and she had some things to tell him, which boiled don to "recognize what your wife does for this family, Donnie." Meanwhile, it was a good thing Felix came in as bartender with Donnie out of commission—and not for his bartending skills. Alison didn't need him for that; she took care of her own drinks and had enough for maybe her, Sarah, and Cosima for an afternoon potluck. He stepped in and brought her downstairs, but once there, she realized she had messed up with Donnie, though she admitted, "I whacked him, and it felt so good." Oh, Alison, maybe you need a trip to a shooting range. Drunk Alison was pretty amusing, but once she passed out, Sarah had to step in as her upstairs as well, and that meant dealing with Aynsley's marital problems and Chad's hands-on approach.

Dark, Paul. Dark. (Yes, we feel like we're channeling Cosima just a bit with that one.) Meanwhile, Sarah and Paul weren't exactly feeling all that trusting of one another in the beginning of the episode—who could blame them—he was Beth's monitor, she was posing as Beth—and he went from insisting he was serious about leaving to adding a mixture of pills from the medicine cabinet to one of the bottles of alcohol in the cabinet after she left through a window. He then set up his plan by telling Olivier "Beth" was "right back in the dark place" and claiming he had stopped her from overdosing the night before. As long as the subject made her own choices, there were no wrong decisions, and he wouldn't have to worry about being blamed.

It's a party in the suburbs… only not. With Donnie possibly innocent, they had to look elsewhere for Alison's monitor, and Felix suggested Aynsley. But when Vic and Paul decided to join the party, Sarah was pulled in too many directions to even think about Alison's monitor. Paul was getting more information as he first found Alison passed out, saw she didn't have Beth's scar, and learned her name, then questioned Vic about Sarah once he had him in the garage. Really, you had to feel at least a bit bad for Vic. He may be Vic the Dick, but we have to admit, he wasn't having the best of days lately. First he lost his finger, and then Paul nailed his (other) hand to a chair to keep him from escaping. On the bright side, that may have been the final nail in the coffin for Sarah to finally get rid of him once and for all.

Meanwhile, if Aynsley isn't Alison's monitor, Sarah has to hope she thought that all the strange behavior—different shirts, passed out drunk one moment, out in the garage the next—was because of the "affair" with the "impossibly handsome""college friend" (Paul), otherwise Alison could have a serious problem on her hands.

Time for some answers Donnie took Sarah's words to heart and apologized to Alison that night. He explained that the box had contained letters from a woman he had had an affair with while they were broken up, and she had gotten lupus. He didn't know what happened to her. Meanwhile, as Paul began to put his plan into action and was ready to give Sarah the dosed alcohol, she told him the truth: clones. "Should've just told me that in the first place," he said and took out a different bottle.

Meanwhile, with Cosima… Cosima may have found her monitor in Delphine, who brought her along to a lecture by Dr. Leekie on Neolution. (This raised plenty of questions, as you'll see in our question list below.) "We're just fundamentally flawed human beings," he said during his lecture before calling out Cosima for her glasses. He could fix her sight so she wouldn't need them in the future. "Neolution gives us the opportunity at a self-directed evolution," he explained. "And I believe that's not only a choice, but a human right." After, Delphine insisted on meeting him, and he hoped Cosima would give him the chance to "show don't tell" what he had planned for the future. He invited them to the Dyad institute, and pretty much everything about him set off warning bells—and as it turned out, we were right to be suspicious. The episode ended with Delphine joining Dr. Leekie in his hotel room.

Exploring the unknown That's exactly what we got to do in this episode, which was just as strong as the previous ones, though it was more character-based and not so much edge-of-your-seat. Still, it did something that the others hadn't: explored the lives of Alison and Cosima to an extent that we hadn't yet seen. Other than the conversations with Paul at the beginning and end of the episode, the focus was completely off of Sarah's life, and after she had been the focus in the past five episodes, with the other clones seemingly just serving to help her out, that was definitely a good thing. That's not to say that we don't enjoy seeing Sarah's life, but the other clones deserve some attention too. Not only did it allow Tatiana Maslany to show what she can do in these two other roles, it also gave us a chance to see what Alison and Cosima's lives are like outside of clone club. That meant we got our favorite episode for Alison so far, as she went from paranoid- to crazy- to drunk- to passed out-Alison and everything in between. Something they did very well here was show Alison's shock at what she had done as she first knocked Donnie our and then interrogated him, but she continued in her search for answers. And as for Cosima, we got a chance to see what she's up to at college besides being the science geek of the group and checking in over webcam with the others.

Meanwhile, we also got to see a bit more about Paul, and they've set him up for a tough decision moving forward. As we saw, he told Sarah he still wanted to get away. We've seen him falling for "fake Beth" and we can't help but wonder what it will mean for their relationship going forward now that the truth is out there. With this episode, we saw a very dark side of Paul, one that Dylan Bruce played perfectly, between dosing the bottle of alcohol and nailing Vic's hand to the chair. Honestly, this side of Paul is fun—and maybe something (along with his military past) the clones could use depending where he goes from here now that he knows about the clones.

What "Variations Under Domestication" showed was that this show can slow down, go suburban for an episode, and still be must-see TV. Instead, this episode presented information that we feel could be very useful in future episodes in Dr. Leekie's lecture and characters who are clearly much more involved in the deeper mystery than is evident to others (Dr. Leekie and Delphine, definitely, with Alison's neighbors strong possibilities).

Question time

Where does this leave Sarah and Paul's very complicated relationship?
What will Paul tell Olivier after this?
Will Paul choose sides?
Now that Paul knows he's been watching a clone, what will he do?
How much does Paul really know, given his reaction to Sarah's revelation?
Is this really the end of Vic, or could he show up once again at a very inopportune time (and perhaps have yet another very bad day)?
What about those phone calls Donnie made? How can those be explained by the explanation he gave Alison?
Will Alison still be suspicious since she did overhear that conversation when he was snooping around "for scissors"?
If (and that's a big if as we're still not sold on his complete innocence) Donnie's not Alison's monitor, who is? Aynsley? Chad?
How exactly are Delphine and Dr. Leekie connected?
What's the Dyad Institute?
Who is Cosima's monitor? Is it Delphine?
Could Dr. Leekie be behind the experiments?
What's happening with crazy killer clone Helena?
"Orphan Black" season 1 airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on BBC America. What did you think of "Variations Under Domestication"? What questions do you have after this episode?

Holy shit balls you guys, this fucking show.

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