Orphan Black Review: “Mingling Its Own Nature with It”

Born too late to make the top spot on our current poll for Best SF Show of all time, Orphan Black should vie for the position in any future list. If you like serious SF, drama with a twist of macabre humor, or mystery—- if you enjoy these things at all—- go back, rewatch last season, and join this one, in progress. Orphan Black ranks among the best shows on television right now, period.

As evidence, I offer the current episode.

Title: “Mingling Its Own Nature With It”

Cast and Crew
Director: TJ Scott
Writer: Alex Levine

Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning/ Alison Hendrix/ Cosima Niehaus / Helena / Rachel Duncan / Jennifer
Jordan Gavaris as Felix Dawkins
Skyler Wexler as Kira
Michiel Huisman as Cal Morrison
Ari Milen as Mark
Kevin Hanchard as Detective Art Bell
Evelyne Brochu as Delphine
Peter Outerbridge as Henrik Johanssen
Inga Cadranel as Detective Angela Deangelis
Melanie Nicolls-King as Amelia
Matthew Bennett as Daniel Rosen
Kristian Bruun as Donnie Hendrix
Dylan Bruce as Paul Dierdan
Zoé De Grand Maison as Grace Johanssen
Zachary Bennett as Officer Bowman
Terra Hazelton as Sarah Stubbs

Full cast and crew information may be found here.


Sarah, Felix, and Kira seek out help from Kira’s biological father. Cosmina and Delphine autopsy a deceased clone. The Proletheans take center stage as the villains as an increasingly paranoid, drug-popping Alison has her theatrical debut.

High Points

1. The use of the windows at Cal’s house made for some excellent scenes. The shot with Roy leaving while Sarah and Cal argue worked well enough, but its real purpose became clear soon after. We’re paying careful attention to the window during a certain other scene, a short time later.

2. Jennifer’s sad story, told in clips.

Low Point

Detectives apparently have a lot of free time to pursue cases to which they aren’t assigned.

The Scores:

Originality: 5/6 We’ve seen the hero on the run hole up with an Ex before—but I don’t recall when I’ve watched a (fairly graphic autopsy) performed on one’s own genetic duplicate, or a wedding finale quite as bizarre as what we see this week.

And while I wasn’t looking to see an episode begin with the protagonist urinating in a field, I’m pretty sure it hasn’t happened before. Think of it as the Orphan Black equivalent of Hitchcock showing the toilet in Psycho.

Effects: 6/6

Story: 5/6 I like the role Alison’s paranoia plays this week, and the plot threads continue to head… Well, somewhere sinister. We know that something very fishy is going on with the Proletheans. But why do they want to impregnate Helena? And how will Grace, already ill at ease with her family, respond to the rape of another woman?

The Sarah plot continues to move at a remarkable pace, taking a breather only for important developments. Television writing is only sporadically this good.

Acting: 6/6 From the excellent acting from the leads to the deliberately stagey performances of the community theatre troupe, Orphan Black delivers. Even our detectives, generally the weak point, worked this time around.

Emotional Response: 6/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 6/6

In total, “Mingling Your Own Nature With It” receives 40/42

Lingering, Nerdily-obsessive Question

Have they ever given the year in Orphan Black? While it may not matter to most viewers, the question at least crosses my mind. The show features some plausible tech that isn’t here yet, and the issue of the police. This week, we have scenes set on an Ontario highway with Ontario cars—and a local police department that diverges from what we would expect to find in Ontario. Also, Cal has a past with mini-drone pollinators. These do exist, but they’re fairly recent technology. He was working with them at least a decade ago. (Does anyone know the real-world timeline here?)

So, are we in the nearish future? Or a stylized present? It’s a minor point, but a curious one.

(It also ties in with my doofy fan theory from last week, that connects Orphan Black to Continuum. One of the real-world investors in this new tech is Monsanto, the quasi-model for Continuum‘s Sanmonto Corporation. Grab your tinfoil hats!).

3 replies on “Orphan Black Review: “Mingling Its Own Nature with It””

  1. To summarize my irrelevant fan theory (this is a cross-post):

    1. Orphan Black takes place in Ontario. We’re clearly in Toronto most of the time. People even call “Scarborough” “Scarberia.” They spend Canadian money. This week, we were on an Ontario highway, with Ontario plates. But, the cops are nothing like Canadian cops. The MetroCops complain about “the Feds” and flash LA style badges. Call it a stylized reality that attempts to appeal to American viewers, if you will: I call it the world of Continuum, where corporations have been tampering with the police.

    2. Both shows have characters with the last name “Sadler,” Alec and Siobhan. This is such a (hey! Check out that distraction!) rare (cough) surname that they MUST be related, especially as both live in Canada.

    3. Cal apparently worked with drone pollinators before being edged out of the company and conceiving a child who is now, what? Nine years old? Drone pollinators exist, but they’re relatively new tech. Also, one of the companies most invested in this technology is Monsanto, the model for Continuum‘s Sanmonto. Coincidence?

    Now, if only Continuum could get its acting on the level of Orphan Black.

  2. conceiving a child who is now, what? Nine years old?

    The lass playing Kira is 7. Various references have the character a few months older in the series timeline which will make things slightly easier for a hypothetical series 5 when we’ll be due to have a ten year old playing 8…

    Dates on documents shown imply we’re now in a stylised recent past, Katja and Beth both died in November 2012.

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