Orphan Black Review: “Governed as It Were By Chance”

What else is she not bloody telling us?

Orphan Black delivers its most twisted, twist-filled episode of the second season.

Thus far.

Title: “Governed As It Were By Chance”

Cast and Crew
Director: David Frazee
Writer: Russ Cochrane

Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning/ Alison Hendrix/ Cosima Niehaus / Helena / Rachel Duncan
Jordan Gavaris as Felix Dawkins
Skyler Wexler as Kira
Michiel Huisman as Cal Morrison
Kevin Hanchard as Detective Art Bell
Maria Doyle Kennedy as Siobhan Sadler
Evelyne Brochu as Delphine
Peter Outerbridge as Henrik Johanssen
Matthew Bennett as Daniel Rosen
Kristian Bruun as Donnie Hendrix
Kristin Booth as Bonnie Johanssen
Zoé De Grand Maison as Grace Johanssen
Roger R. Cross as Carlton
Raven Dauda as Yvonne
Cynthia Gallant as Young Rachel

Full cast and crew information may be found here.


Allison awakes in rehab, Helena escapes the farm, Sarah finds herself in serious jeopardy, and we learn more about Project Leda. Apart from the obvious Hellenistic allusion, we know that a possibly military project, run by Rachel’s adoptive parents, Doctors Ethan and Susan Duncan, created the clones. We still don’t know why, but the suggestion that they contain very special genetic potential has been reinforced this week.

High Points

The episode features some stunning parallels in both the plotting and presentation. Helena and Allison both awake, disoriented, in very different private hells. The conclusion moves from Helena and Sarah’s disturbing yet affecting in utero reenactment to the Prolethean-created zygote.

Low Point

While keeping the thriller pace going, the show forgets to account for some key elements. A certain character’s survival and escape seems a bit fortuitous, for example. Even more surprising is that Helena, recovering from a medical procedure and wearing a bloody wedding dress, could make her way quickly from the hinterlands into Toronto without being detected.

The Scores:

Originality: 4/6 The episode still features many original elements– Helena running through the field in her Lucia di Lammermoor dress, for instance—and this week had more horrific elements than usual. However, it also resembled, a little too much, the conventional thriller.

Effects: 6/6 Apart from the usual cloning of Tatiana Maslany (handled with particular deftness in the final moments), we also have some excellent cinematography. The camper by a tree at the side of the road gets the nod for tv master shot of the week.

Story: 5/6 See “Low Points.” Otherwise, we have a well-paced episode that brings our story closer to…. What, exactly? The more we learn, the more question get raised.

Acting: 6/6

Emotional Response: 6/6 This may be the most twist-filled and twisted episode to date.

Production: 6/6

Overall: 6/6

In total, “Governed as It Were By Chance” receives 39/42

Questions and Notes

The video that Sarah finds belies Cosmina’s assessment of Rachel’s childhood. Why, then, is the adult Rachel such a “cold bitch”?

The Duncans disappeared after 1976; what exactly was the point of their research, so central to the show? What makes the duplicates unique?

Nice touch: cloning was, to a ridiculous degree, in the public mind in 1976 and 1977.

The Continuum / Orphan Black connections continue, as Roger R. Cross shows up as a character this week.

Lucia di Lammermoor, the relevant scene:

6 replies on “Orphan Black Review: “Governed as It Were By Chance””

  1. You know, I suspect the low point is probably going to turn out to be a plot point. At least the point about Helena being “with it” enough to escape. It’s clear she was more conscious than she was supposed to be during the Prolethean procedure. Also, it seems like none of the clones are sporting serious enough injuries based on their recent history and how much time has actually passed in universe. (Well, except for Cosima who hasn’t been getting beat up at all.) Given that Kira has previously survived injuries that should have been fatal, this is not surprising, but is interesting.

    • Actually, it was a certain other character’s survival (for a little longer– talk about someone who should’ve just gone home to bed or checked himself into a hospital) that seemed fortuitous– not either clone’s. I suspect, as you suggest, the clones have some ability in this area. Helena and Sarah’s survival doesn’t really surprise me– unless this isn’t accounted for later.

      Helena’s ability to get to Toronto, in a very short time, and then tail someone while dressed as she was– that seems a stretch.

      • Well there’s “hinterlands”, and there’s *hinterlands*… Anyone familiar with the area have any idea how far from central Toronto you’d have to before you’d get to somewhere like that – 30km+ looks likely from Google Maps? That’s a fair distance, but certainly possible to walk in a day or so, but maybe she just stole a car that wasn’t shown on screen? More fortuitous to me rather than Helena or the other character’s survival was that the two would come into contact in the first place.

        Still, another excellent episode. The show just keeps getting better and better, and is now definitely one of my favourites amongst the more cerebral shows I’ve watched.

        • Familiar– years ago, in fact, I had to ride in from Thornhill to a job on the waterfront (and that’s still not rural). She would definitely need a ride, and in her condition, she would call attention to herself. It’s just not a simple journey– though I suppose we have to allow literary license.

          All of this is secondary, of course. The show remains one of the two or three best in current broadcast.

  2. Curious to see how long Roger R. Cross will hang around, if it’s essentially a cameo I wonder if it was just an attempt to acknowledge and shut down the shared universe rumours.

    • I don’t think anyone’s really taking the “shared universe” thing seriously; it’s more a bit of fannish fun. I think it has more to do with the fact that both shows are filmed in Canada (he’s based in LA, but he’s obviously working in Canada right now). Apart from being a strong actor, he has a substantial “genre” pedigree. I think understanding a genre can work for an actor.

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