Orphan Black’s Sarah Manning does the unthinkable this week. She actually stops to take a breath.
Among Tatiana Maslany’s many talents when it comes to playing Sarah has been her ability to endow the character with the restless energy of a woman pursued, while never once squandering an appropriate emotional beat. Now, with her former home and foster mother compromised, Sarah takes to the road alongside Kira and Felix. The trio eventually ends up at an out-of-the-way rural cabin. The inhabitant turns out to be a Justin Vernon-esque bearded man named Cal. Cal was one of Sarah’s former marks from her con-woman days. Oh, and he’s also Kira’s father.
This hiding out time becomes a period of great reflection for Sarah. Inevitably, after a few days spent at her former fling’s cabin, old feelings start to emerge. In a scene that feels a little too teen drama for my tastes (complete with lingering looks and a romantic folk-rock song augmenting the soundtrack), Sarah and Cal kiss. So, yeah, I guess Paul has been promptly forgotten. Believing that he’s now needed more by Alison than his own foster sister, a disheartened Felix takes off back to the city.
Indeed, despite her fugitive status, Sarah appears to be in a fairly stable place compared to the other clones. Back at Dyad headquarters, Delphine struggles to tell Cosima some bad news. When Cosima’s impersonation of Dr. Leekie fails to bring a smile to Delphine’s face (and seriously how could it not—her appropriation of his unique speaking style is gut-busting) Cosima quickly realizes something is majorly amiss. Delphine shows her footage of another clone from the Midwest named Jennifer Fitzsimmons, who began suffering from a respiratory illness similar to Cosima’s. As part of their treatment of her, Dyad had Jennifer record several video journals before the disease eventually ravaged her body and killed her. Here, both Maslany and the writers once again demonstrate their knack for incredible efficiency. As Jennifer, Maslany conveys a great deal of sadness, pain and confusion with only a few brief video entries worth of screen time (helped also, of course, by some great make-up work). By the time Delphine leads Cosima down to Jennifer’s body in an attempt to learn about her illness, you feel like you know so much about the poor, innocent soul laid cold on the slab.
Meanwhile, Alison is preparing for her big opening night. It’s clear, however, that the fallout from the Aynsley situation as well as the discovery about Donnie being her Monitor is wreaking havoc on her delicate psyche. Without Felix to confide in, Alison resorts to downing a small bottle of alcohol before the show. The result? She belts several off-key notes before collapsing off of the stage. Judging from her terrified eyes, one wonders if something more than her pride has been seriously damaged.
From here, things start to go south for Sarah as well. Back at the cabin, no sooner have Sarah and Cal awoken from their night together than is Rachel’s Dyad enforcer, Daniel, appearing at their doorstep and attempting to kidnap Kira. Sarah eventually convinces Daniel to take her instead, and leaves Kira in Cal’s care. Driving away with Sarah, Daniel has barely had time to update his Dyad superiors before a car strikes the passenger side, effectively ending the episode.
This final shot is about as apt a visual metaphor as you can get from the show. Like Lost before it, just when you think the story or characters on Orphan Black have reached some kind of settlement, a proverbial 18-wheeler of a plot point comes barreling out of nowhere and shakes everything to the core. It certainly works to keep the audience on their toes, but one does start to wonder how long this format is sustainable before it becomes an expected cliché.
Like the episode before it, “Mingling Its Own Nature With It” serves to drive each of the clones progressively deeper into a corner—whether it be due to external forces (Sarah) or internal torment (Alison). Whereas the clones could talk with each other through their confusion and troubles, the show has—for the foreseeable future— separated our three main heroes. And while it does work to escalate each of their individual dilemmas, it also makes me long for those phenomenal interactions between the three that served as the major highlights of season one. On the other hand, considering the show switches up the status quo as often as Lady Gaga switches outfits, I’m sure there will be yet another plot twist that puts everyone in the same room, sooner rather than later.
Mark Rozeman is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.