Clone Club

Orphan Black Season 4, Episode 10 Recap: Die Hard, or Maybe Just Get Maimed

Not only is this episode, “From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths,” the season finale, it’s the finale to the penultimate season! BBC America announced that Season 5 would be the series’ last, and I’m glad for that. Don’t get me wrong – I love this show! – but there are times during Season 4 where c0-Brain Mike and I wondered if this series was going to start meandering without any sort of endgame in sight. And lo & behold, we have it! We know now that it’ll have: a really NASTY villain; a mysterious puppetmaster who’s possibly immortal (!); and probably a major death or three. Because let me tell you, Season 4 ends on a dark note.

But before that – hey look! Ferdinand’s back! A little poorer (OK, a lot poorer) but not dispirited, he reawakens Rachel’s lust for power via some S&M and bondage. (Somehow, this motivational trend hasn’t yet made the cover of Fast Company.) Now that Evil Cho is out of the way – permanently (death by maggot-bot!) – Rachel drops any pretense of working with Sarah and the rest of Clone Club. She wants Neolution, and she’ll betray anyone to get it. Speaking of betrayal…

Over on the Island of Lost Clones, Mommie Dearest Susan locks up Cosima after their attempt to create new Leda/Castor stem cells succeeds tremendously. For Susan, the search for the cure is important – but not as important as seizing power by restarting the cloning project. Like Rachel, Susan sees an opportunity to pull Neolution back onto the path of cloning supremacy. Unfortunately for Susan, she doesn’t have Rachel’s ruthlessness and self-hatred – and boy, is THAT a wild combo of bad traits! Spitting like Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator, Rachel (a clone herself, mind you) tells Neolution’s board that the testing of clones will not only resume – she intends to push the White Rat metaphor to its nastiest extreme, stripping the new clones of all rights and keeping them locked up. OHHHH, SHE’S CRAZY.


And yes, her bionic eye is still giving her David Lynch Vision – which leads to one of several references in this episode to Neolution’s founder, P.T. Westmoreland, who literally wrote the book (he did! He wrote a book!) on Neolution and genetic theory about 100 years ago. Susan had suggested that Westmoreland himself developed Rachel’s eye, but how could that be if the guy lived decades ago…?

In any event, Sarah and Mrs. S are in the dark about Rachel’s motives until a visit by clone beautician Krystal (and subsequent impersonation of Krystal by Sarah) gives them a chance to quiz new Brightborn big-wig Dr. Van Lier. They realize what Rachel and Susan are up to, and Sarah strong-arms Castor clone Ira into summoning a helicopter to take her to the Island of Lost Clones, where she intends to bring Cosima back, Die Hard style. Yeahhhhhh, about that….

Wednesday Charlotte gets an increasingly ill Cosima out of the locked room and says they have to get to the boat. First, though, they happen to see Rachel viciously stab Susan! Holy Matricide, Batman! Wednesday Charlotte is going to need therapy for that. They quickly leave the house, but a) they’re not sure where they’re going, b) it’s dark and really, really cold, and c) by leaving, they miss bumping into Sarah!

Sarah’s Bruce Willis impersonation lasts about as long as my brain cells during Live Free or Die Hard. She finds a badly injured but still alive Susan, and Rachel takes advantage of her distraction to beat the crap out of Sarah with her cane, stab her in the knee (!), and grab her gun. This would’ve been 30 seconds in a Die Hard film, but it’s understandably traumatic enough to send our hero Sarah scrambling for her life!

Sarah calls Mrs. S for help, but whoops, Ferdinand is already in the Rabbit Hole safe house, keeping an eye (and his gunsights) on both S and Kira. Rachel outmaneuvered Clone Club big time in this episode. The only tiny bright spot is the return of Delphine! Creepy Uncle Joe from Rachel’s visions shows up to save Cosima and Charlotte, and he brings them to — a homeless camp on the Island? With medical equipment? And ominous glances from other bearded people? Where is this, Mulholland Drive? Fortunately, Dr. Delphine brings Cosima back from the brink with her, um, bedside manner.

The season ends with Rachel, now firmly in power, about to have her first audience with … P.T. Westmoreland. Yes, he’s alive! Maybe. Could he be cloning himself over the decades and transferring his memories, ensuring his immortality? Or is a fakeout?

The Good:

It’s great to see Rachel as a villain again. Let’s give the writers credit for slowly building her back up over the course of two years. She’s now very much aware what defeat and humiliation taste like, which makes her deadlier than ever.

I’ve mentioned several times that I’m sick of the Castor clones, but I’ll make an exception if we can get a spinoff featuring Ira, Rachel, and Ferdinand. “Is he wearing socks?”

The Hendrixes hiding out in the woods with Grizzly Helena: Alas, Alison “has the shits.”

Krystal refuses to believe that she has any resemblance to Sarah. Brilliant.

I love it when a clone impersonates another clone. It somehow makes Tatiana Maslany even more amazing.

The Bad:

NOOOOOO, not another “Man Behind the Curtain” trope! Geez McGee, I thought we were done with that after Lost. I don’t mind the concept of an immortal mastermind, but this episode gives us the intro and the payoff in the same hour. No setup. It’s a little too Deathly Hallows-ish.

The WTF:

Why in the world does Sarah go solo to the Island of Lost Clones, when she already knows it’s a hostile situation? It’s crazy. She could’ve left Kira with Felix. There’s no reason for her NOT to have taken Mrs. S with her, since this is the type of situation that S excels in. That’s just, well, dumb.


That’s it for this year’s recaps, but stay tuned! Mike and I will soon mingle brain cells and discuss our final thoughts on Orphan Black Season 4.


Orphan Black Season 4, Episode 8 Recap: Challenge Rating 7

Three things come through clearly in “The Redesign of Natural Objects”:

  1. For the first time in a while, there’s a sense of hope. It’s tiny, and could vanish in an instant, but it’s there.
  2. Don’t mess with Mrs. S.
  3. Darkwing Duko plays D&D! Unfortunately, he’s a 3rd-level rogue who walked into a CR 7 encounter. See #2 above.

Let’s deal with these in turn. Item #1: The hope comes from a new idea conjured by Cosima, whose on-again/off-symptoms remind me of how Peter Parker’s Aunt May was either always on death’s door or getting romanced by Dr. Octopus. But I digress. Cosima, newly energized from learning that Delphine may be kinda-sorta alive, gets in touch with ex-Neolution boss Susan Duncan and twitchy sestra Rachel (thanks to M.K.’s super-hacking) and theorizes they could still get the combo Leda/Castor DNA, despite Kendall’s death: What about old-fashioned in vitro fertilization of a Leda egg with Castor sperm?

Naturally, Sarah would need to agree to this, and she does so, only because Cosima is so excited about it and, really, what other choice is there? Cosima is facing a death sentence, otherwise, as might the rest of the sestras – including M.K., whom we see with a nasty nosebleed. Shockingly, the basement of a comic book store isn’t really equipped for such a procedure, so Cosima and a ziploc bag of Sarah eggs will have to travel to Susan’s super-secret retreat. Susan is excited about this; Rachel sees an opportunity to kick out Evil Cho and put Susan (and herself?) back in control of Neolution. That’s not the only thing Rachel sees: Her bionic eye keeps displaying glitching digital visions of a swan (i.e., Leda), including one where it’s beheaded. But hey, everything’s fine!

Item #2: Don’t mess with Mrs. S: It’s obvious to everyone except Orphan Black’s main characters that Mrs. S might have a teeny desire to seek revenge for her mother’s death and go all Jack Bauer on Darkwing Duko’s ass. One positive development of Mrs. S almost-assassination attempt: She sees Darkwing Duko meeting with Alison! Oh ho. She informs the rest of Clone Club that Evil Cho may be using the Hendrixes to get to Sarah. And indeed, that’s exactly what’s happening. Jailbird Donnie will get his feathers fatally plucked by a skinhead with a Neolution tattoo (subtle – NOT!) unless Alison tells Duko where he can find Sarah.

Time out. If Evil Cho thinks the “self-aware clones” are such a threat to her plans to gene-modify the world, then, uh, why the hell did she let Cosima walk free the night Duko killed Kendall? I mean, if you really want Sarah Manning, why didn’t you – oh, I don’t know – threaten to kill Cosima unless Sarah revealed herself? I can understand letting Cosima go in order to warn the other clones to back off, but if you really want Sarah out of the way, you tossed away a pretty good bargaining chip. Okay, time in.

Sarah and Mrs. S convince Felix to chat with Alison (who is in rehearsals for the church production of Jesus Christ Superstar, a.k.a. The Plot Thread That Wouldn’t Die) and make sure she hasn’t been co-opted by Team Evil. Alison assures Felix that, aside from all her assets being frozen and Donnie being in an ugly orange jumpsuit, she’s peachy. However, when next we see her meeting with Duko, he puts her on the phone with Donnie, who is getting the crap beaten out of him in his cell. Pressured, she tells Duko that Sarah will be at the Rabbit Hole tonight.

Hours later, Duko is on stakeout outside the comic book store – and Skinhead Tattoo Boy is still beating up Donnie? Really? Isn’t that kind of a long time? Aren’t there lockdown hours? Does Wilson Fisk run this jail, because that would explain a lot!


Tatiana Maslany as Alison, and Gord Rand as a fuzzy Duko

In any event… surprise, it’s a setup! Alison told Felix what was going on, so Sarah, Art, and Mrs. S ambush Duko inside the Rabbit Hole and force him to call off the jail hit squad. In one of the best scenes of the past two years, we see a very anxious Alison in the middle of Jesus Christ Superstar rehearsals juxtaposed with scenes of Donnie getting beaten up. Felix, quietly watching the rehearsals, gives Alison the “Donnie isn’t dead” code signal, and she’s able to smile and relax in a literal and theatrical prayer of thanksgiving. Nicely done.

Mrs. S is still in a Jack Bauer mood, so she shoos Art and Sarah out of the store while she hooks up the car-battery clamps onto Duko’s shoulders. DAMMIT, DUKO! THERE’S NO TIME! Sorry, got carried away on a 24 wave of nostalgia. It’s soon apparent that Duko knows bupkis about Neolution’s bigger plans; he’s a mere tool who was forced into doing Evil Cho’s dirty work because she’s threatening his niece. “You understand? It’s about family!” he pleads. “Oh yes,” says Mrs. S, preparing her favorite rifle. “Family.” BLAM! Darkwing Duko’s blood sprays across an Atomic Robo poster, reducing its value by 85%.

Oh, and what made Duko feel so at ease that he let his guard drop inside the comic book store? Item #3: Dungeons & Dragons! He saw Hell Wizard’s D&D tabletop! Hell Wizard nervously said that his party consists of of a 10th-level paladin, a 12th-level thief and a half-elf cleric named Albus Dimbledots. Duko compliments him on the party makeup but says that it’d be even better if it had someone who could turn into a dragon. Ah, great. Darkwing Duko is a munchkin.

Was a munchkin. Min/max that, you dire weasel!

The Good:

Felix’s sister Adele wasn’t annoying this episode! Still clueless about clones, she gets the night’s best line when she meets Alison and says she looks just like Sarah, “but with less anger and more hygiene.”

Also surprisingly non-annoying: Rachel! When Susan proposes she take up a hobby instead of worrying about the fate of Wednesday Charlotte and the other clones, Rachel suggests carpentry: “I can build us all coffins. Shall I start with the smallest first?”

Everything with Alison this episode was terrific. My breath was taken away again by the fact that it’s one actress playing all these wildly different characters. Kneel before our Taslanic majesty, fools!

D&D for the win, baby.

The Bad:

Evil Cho Incorporated is guilty of poor supervillainy, as described above. If they truly want to get rid of Sarah, they had better, earlier opportunities to do so.

There’s a logic leap behind the trap to get Duko. Okay, Alison sends Duko to the Rabbit Hole. But why would they ever think that Duko would go alone? Or that he wouldn’t tell Evil Cho about Sarah’s hideout as soon as Alison told him? It’s a stretch, at best.

The WTF:

Still no Helena! But she’s back in the next episode.


Orphan Black Season 4, Episode 6 Recap: You’re Betamax

A gut-wrenching episode of Orphan Black! But is that a good thing, or is the series twisting the plot yet again because … well, they can? We’ll get to that as we discuss “The Scandal of Altruism.”

First, we have a Highlander-esque flashback! Beth is back in black (and blonde) as we, the audience, see what voyeur Art couldn’t: where Beth went after she left her apartment with the handgun. She plans to assassinate Mommie Dearest herself, Susan Duncan! There’s much more to come in this flashback, and it’s too bad the regular characters can’t watch this at home like us, because boy, these flashbacks would’ve come in handy!

We check in with a bunch of folks in rapid succession:

  • The Eww Couple of Susan Duncan and DNA-Boy-Toy Ira have a post-coitus discussion of their options, and we learn that Ira does have the same potential for “glitching” as the other Castor clones. Still, Susan sees hope for him “as long as Sarah listens to reason.” Uh-huh. Susan, you haven’t been paying attention to this series, have you?
  • Cosima tells Sarah all about her BrightBorn experience and the chat with Susan Duncan and Evil Cho. There’s a deal to be made, especially with the clock continuing to tick on Cosima’s life.
  • Over at the police station, Art quickly steers Detective (and Neolution spy) Darkwing Duko away from Krystal, who has come to complain about the conspiracy “targeting beauty professionals.” As misguided as she is, her quest for answers could cause a lot of problems for Clone Club. The solution: Felix poses as “Inspector Dawkins, from the Yard.” Krystal: “Which yard?” “Scotland Yard.” It’s one of the few bits of levity in a brutal episode. No room for Hendrix hijinks in this one.

Sarah goes to BrightBorn to talk terms with Susan and Evil, and she learns that each maggot bot is given a different task. Leekie’s maggot bot was designed to impede the onset of Alzheimer’s. Sarah’s bot was designed to make her sick. Neolution wanted to know why Sarah’s biology was different than her sestras’, so her maggot bot was playing Whack-a-Mole with her immune system to collect answers. Sarah has important info to share, too: Kendall Malone has cancer. However, this is potentially good news for Clone Club! Cosima and Scott can use the cancer cells’ reproduction to separate Leda from Castor in Kendall’s wacky DNA.

Orphan Black S4E6 3

Sarah’s condition from giving those cells to Susan? “We’re not saving Castor.” Thank you, Sarah! She’ll give only Leda cells so that Cosima and the other sestras can be cured. Ira isn’t happy that his Mrs. Robinson refuses to go to bat for him after all the times he’s, uh, batted for her, and he gets all Morrissey for the rest of the episode. Evil Cho and Cosima then remove Sarah’s maggot bot in a surprisingly risky operation, and we’ll very glad that Cosima was there to keep an eye on Evil. Hmmm, I don’t trust her!

Mrs. S isn’t happy about the planned cell swap. “You bartered my mother behind my back!” (Coincidentally, that’s the plot of the lost episode of Everybody Loves Raymond.) But things do move along: Scott begins harvesting the Leda cells while Susan and Kendall have an unpleasant chat. Then things go south fast! Kendall is nabbed on her way out of the meeting, Sarah tosses bleach on the cell samples and accuses Susan of pulling a fast one, and Cosima is in the grasp of Evil Cho. Susan pleads innocence, so the Kendall-napper had to be the scorned Ira, right? Nope! It’s Darkwing Duko, who takes Kendall to an abandoned field, where they wait….

We learn via flashback that Beth spared Susan’s life after hearing Susan say, “I’m your creator” and claiming that she loved Beth and all the Leda gals. Susan says that if Beth kills her, it won’t solve anything, it’ll give the script editors heart failure, and it’ll probably result in all the Ledas being killed. So, wonder Sarah and Art, where did the blood on Beth’s hands come from?

From Evil Cho, that’s where! She orchestrated the assassination attempt to knock Susan off the top perch of Neolution, and Beth beats the crap out of her when she realizes she’d been set up. Darkwing Duko stops Beth, but Beth believes Evil’s claim that the only way to keep the other clones safe (at least for a while) is if Beth kills herself and takes her crusade with her. Honestly, this part seemed like a bit of a stretch. If Beth knows that Neolution is going to keep manipulating  the clones’ lives – or worse – then what benefit is truly gained by her suicide?

In the present, Evil shows up at the field with Cosima in tow. Her plan is to kill Kendall and incinerate the body so that no genetic info can be retrieved. Essentially, Evil wants all the clones to go away and die. Direct genetic manipulation is where all the fun is! Clones? Feh. That’s competing tech, and obsolete competing tech at that. She tells Cosima coldly, “You’re Betamax.”

With that, Darkwing shoots Kendall in the head and sets fire to the van. Evil doesn’t kill Cosima – probably to avoid a revenge spree from Sarah – but before she leaves, she rubs a bit of salt in the wound: “Delphine Cormier was shot dead in the Dyad parking garage. Tell Sarah it’s over. Or Beth died for nothing.”

And that’s it. Any hope of a cure for the sestras’ condition is gone. Kendall is dead. Delphine is dead (maybe? I bet not). And Clone Club seemingly has no cards left to play. As I said, brutal. But not really fulfilling. There was no “wow” or “oh my god” moment in this episode.

The Great:

The fakeout with Ira. I fell for it, too, just like Sarah.

Krystal’s marvelous inability to understand why “Inspector Dawkins” was English if he’s from Scotland Yard.

The climactic scene in the field. It was framed and paced extremely well.

The Not-So-Great:

Let me get this straight: There’s yet another Big Bad to deal with? No sooner do we think we’ve reached the top of the Neolution/Dyad/BrightBorn pyramid than we find out that Evil Cho is really calling the shots.

The WTF:

I understand the need for super-secrecy, but is Scott really delicately harvesting cells on a table in Felix’s studio? Dude! You don’t know who’s been ON that table!

Okay, so this incredibly important research that Scott and Cosima were conducting that could literally save Cosima’s life wasn’t even backed up???  That’s an oversight that Krystal or Alison would make. Not Cosima.

By the same token, Scott and Cosima didn’t make sure to harvest any of Kendall’s cells prior to the Susan Duncan meeting? They knew what she wanted, and more importantly, they knew they couldn’t trust Susan/Neolution. Clone Club made a bunch of uncharacteristically dumb moves this episode, which is maddening because the stupidity was Because Plot Reasons, and not anything particularly believable.

So, after two episodes of “is Adele really Felix’s sister,” she just kind of disappears stage left. Again, there better have been a point to Adele’s introduction, and a really good one, because at this point everything involving her and Felix smacks of little more than timewasting episode filler.

Orphan Black Season 4, Episode 4 Recap: Ferdinand’s Cooking with Gas

After the gruesome, funny events of Episode 3, it’s not surprising that Episode 4 (“From Instinct to Rational Control”) takes a bit of a breather – and gives Tatiana Maslany a few extra minutes to rest. Oh sure, she’s still all over the episode, but the star players this week are the Dream Team of Donnie and Felix – and everyone’s favorite droll assassin, Ferdinand!

Allow me to step back and convey my man-crush on actor James Frain. Whether he’s playing a feckless corporate exec (24), a supernatural hitman (Grimm), or a dual-personality crime boss (who remembers The Cape? I do!), Frain has a terrific talent: He makes amorality fun. And now that Ferdinand is relatively unfettered, Frain has been especially fun this year, showing off Ferdinand’s “happier” self while keeping his lethality intact – except for one really dumb moment. We’ll get to that.

First, let’s cover all the Maggot-Bot Mania. Cosima and Scott unwrap the gnarliest package of all: the super-slimy, super-stinky head of Dr. Leekie, which somehow continues to look like Matt Frewer. (He’s a very thin man.) They’re going to dig out his maggot-bot, which is still alive because it’s been feeding on a tumor in his face. OHHHHHHHHHHHH! The Cronenbergian amazement continues when we get to see the maggot-bot up close: It’s a friggin’ bug cyborg, complete with artificial head and stinger!

Cosima and Scott try to determine its purpose. After all, if removing it would also kill the host, its task must be something pretty big, right? They find the answer: radical gene therapy. The maggot-bot modifies its host’s DNA. That’s damn creepy – even Borg-like. In last week’s recap, Mike asked a very good question: Why would Neolution/Dyad put a maggot-bot in the head of its, um, head? We might have an answer. Was Dr. Leekie’s DNA being modified, possibly without his knowledge? And if so, to what end? More importantly, what is Sarah’s maggot-bot doing to her DNA? How many more times can I type “maggot-bot”? PLENTY.

This discovery ties in nicely with the second plot thread: Donnie and Felix going undercover as a gay couple in order to get info on the suspicious fertility clinic. Wonderfully, Donnie almost blows the whole thing, because his impression of a gay man seems heavily inspired by episodes of Three’s Company. Felix warns him, “Stop mincing.” Since both of them volunteer to donate sperm, Donnie goes into a bathroom and is given a stack of – gay men’s magazines. But how will he be able to, ah, donate? Why, phone sex with Alison, naturally! They replay their fantasy of the Passenger and the Italian Flight Attendant. “Do you need help with your buckle?” Success!

Eventually, with Alison’s help (of the non-phone-sex kind), they learn about the clinic’s secret, oh-so-successful program that works when no other artificial insemination program will: Brightborn Technologies, which has an eerie, Hanso Foundation feel to it (for you Lost fans). Their motto: “We’re making the world a better place, one baby at a time.” Ahhhhh. Can you say “radical gene therapy”?

The last key plot thread has to do with Sarah, MK, Mrs. S, and Ferdinand, and he is THRILLED when he’s brought to the Clone Club Secret Hideout down the Rabbit Hole. His first reaction: “A chef’s kitchen! Who’s hungry?” Sarah won’t tell him the identity of her Deep Throat (a.k.a. MK), but he’s willing to play along. He also has a nice chat with Mrs. S, and we learn that in his own strange way, he loves Rachel! He envisions going off with her to a tropical island for a few romantic months … before coming back to kill all his enemies. How can you not like this guy? Meanwhile, MK – who has Mad Hacking Skillz, which is seemingly a necessity in every series these days – learns that Sarah is palling around with the infamous Ferdinand, and she’s not happy about it.

In fact, she is SO NOT HAPPY about it that, while Sarah and Dizzy sneak around inside MK’s trailer, MK is hacking Sarah’s phone to send a text message to Ferdinand and lure him to a trap at Beth’s apartment.

Now here’s the really dumb thing I mentioned earlier: Ferdinand idiotically SITS DOWN IN THE BOOBY-TRAPPED CHAIR, even though his Spider-Sense should have been tingling once he realized that Sarah wasn’t the one who set up the meeting. It’s very disappointing when writers make smart characters do dumb things solely for the sake of advancing the plot. This syndrome is otherwise known as The Walking Dead. But I digress.

We learn that MK actually has solid reasons for wanting Ferdinand dead. He had killed MK’s best friend (and sestra) Niki and started the fire that badly scarred one side of MK’s face. “You killed six of my sisters and 32 of my friends!” Yeahhhhh, that’s going to get someone mad. Before she can immolate Ferdinand, however, Sarah pops up and pleads for his life: He’s a dirtbag, but he’s a dirtbag we need right now. MK still has the advantage, though, and she forces Ferdinand to transfer $3.7 million from his offshore accounts (his Tryst With Rachel fund) to her, before she leaves him still in the booby-trapped chair, but alive. Mrs. S is able to get him out, and Rachel tells him they’re even now; she doesn’t owe him anything. Ferdinand is now in need of a new suit.

Overall, a satisfactory episode, largely redeemed by Donnie, Felix, and Ferdinand. The rest of the characters were kind of in a holding pattern, although that may change now that we know the maggot-bots’ purpose, if not the goal.

The Great:

“That’s the head of Dyad.” Yes. Yes, it is.

“Ferdinand’s frittatas” would be a great band name.

Everything about Donnie & Alison’s phone sex. “Is that your Leaning Tower?”

Helena deciding to leave House Hendrix because Alison is freaky over her pregnancy. It’s a sad moment, but from a character standpoint, it’s good. But what about Boyfriend?!

The Not-So-Great:

Every scene with Wednesday Charlotte, Rachel, and Mommy Dearest. It’s no longer interesting, and having another friggin’ Castor Clone in the mix doesn’t help.

Ferdinand’s convenient stupidity, as described above.

The WTF:

The close-up of the maggot-bot with its biomechanical parts! Holy Brundlefly, Batman!

Beth has been dead – or at least known dead – for nearly three years. And her apartment STILL doesn’t have a new tenant? Boy, her neighborhood must suck. Someone call the Property Brothers!

Orphan Black Season 4, Episode 3 Recap: Oh, Cheeky Leeky

Now this is getting to the Orphan Black that we know and love. Great turns by all the clones? Check. Weird mysteries that move along from episode to episode, where we actually get some answers to what’s going on? Weirdness and grossness? Check. Some genuine laugh-out-loud moments? Double check. There’s a lot of awesomeness in this episode to savor … just don’t stop to think about things too much, though, since some of it doesn’t make much sense.

“The Stigmata of Progress” – the third episode of Orphan Black’s fourth season – opens with … hey, Rachel! Good to see you and your eyepatch! Looks like you’re being examined by … aw, fudge, as Alison might say. It’s a Castor. His name is Ira, and while he seems to be a bit more scholarly than his testosterone-laden brothers, he’s no less creepy and annoying. Rachel doesn’t seem to be a big fan, either. She’s also not a fan of still undergoing therapy from her pencil lobotomy, or by still being essentially a prisoner of Susan Duncan. Her only ally, it seems, is sorta-daughter clone Wednesday Addams Charlotte, who despite being a child, has really good insight into what’s going on.

Anyway, Rachel’s figured out that the search for Kendall/Sarah/Kira’s not going well. She’s also figured out that she’s not leaving her therapy sessions anytime soon, so she makes sure that Wednesday Charlotte – who, thanks to online homeschooling, has access to a computer – can send some messages for her to the outside world. Specifically, to Topside.

Cut to Sarah, who’s reacting to her implanted maggot-bot the same way most normal people would – how the hell can she get it out, and how fast? She goes to the Comic Cave, where Cosima and Scott can make some guesses as to what it might or might not be, but can’t figure out anything definitive. Cosima says she’d need to examine an intact maggot-bot from a Prolethean to really get a good handle on it. This tidbit of information gets over to Alison and Donnie, who look at each other and realize they already have a conveniently dead Prolethean buried under six feet of concrete in their garage. “Now go rent a jackhammer, Donnie!”

Sarah and Mrs. S, meanwhile, care far less about the nefarious purpose of the maggot-bot, and stay focused on just getting the damn thing removed. Sarah initially goes to Felix to get some back-up, but finds her stepbrother suddenly bonding with Adele, his related-by-blood long lost sister who’s conveniently just arrived in town! Surprise! And it turns out that while she’s blonde and Southern (unlike Felix), she’s also something of a freespirited casual-sex-and-drug-and-drinker (very much like Felix). Um, okay. We went from “I want to find my real family” to “bonding with my sister, who’s now my new BFF” in record time.

Even Sarah thinks this is too bizarre to be believable, and points out what everyone in the audience is already thinking – hey, Felix, maybe your new Sister Dearest is a Neolution spy. This understandably pisses off Felix, who tells Sarah to make like a tree and get lost.

Back to Alison and Donnie. Turns out decomposing bodies don’t smell good when you unbury them. And while they’re busy unburying Leekie in the garage, two police officers stop by the Hendrix household, wanting to know about the election signs they found with a bunch of dead drug dealers. Helena, pregnant professional assassin who knows a lot about those dead drug dealers, answers the door. Realizing what’s going on, she switches into her atrocious impersonation of Alison and lets the police in. Donnie tries to come to her rescue, but Helena manages to steer her way through the questioning of the police without too many problems. (Although she answers a couple of questions to which she really shouldn’t know the answers – either Helena has an eidetic memory for detail, or maybe there’s some sort of subconscious telepathic link to Alison and her other sestras. Given how this episode’s going, I’m betting on the latter.)


With that crisis averted, Donnie and Alison touch base with Cosima, and tell her that they have a maggot-bot sample. From Dr. Leekie. And oh, by the way, Donnie killed Dr. Leekie. Oopsies. Cosima rolls with this as best she can.

Working solo, Sarah tracks down Dizzy, the drug dealer who mistook Sarah for MK. He gives her the name of the guy in his gruesome maggot-bot video – Alonzo Martinez – and with Art’s help, Sarah learns that Mr. Martinez recently visited a local dental clinic. When Sarah sneaks into the clinic later that day, one of the dental assistants there hisses at “Beth” to chill out and cut out the spy act. Sarah realizes that she’s found one of Beth’s Neolution informants, and asks the dental assistant to help remove her own maggot-bot after hours.

Except after hours, our not-so-friendly assistant start poking around Sarah’s cheek, and cheerfully tells her that if she makes any sudden moves, the bot gets punctured and she dies. Oh, and Neolution high-muckety-mucks are on their way. Fortunately for Sarah, help comes in the form of Ferdinand, who slits Not So Friendly’s throat. Turns out the combination of Rachel’s SOS notes from Wednesday Charlotte – and Mrs. S’s inquires for black market surgeons – tipped off Topside as to what was going on.

Really good episode. Not sure we’ve gotten a lot in terms of explanations – yet – but this season’s rolling, and off to a strong start. We also have all of Clone Club roughly on the same page and working together, which is great (unlike last season, where Alison’s storyline often seemed adrift and unconnected to everything else). Felix’s “find my family” thread is the only weak story strand so far, but we’ll give it time.

The Great:

Rachel and Wednesday Charlotte, communicating via painted messages to avoid anyone “listening” in on them. Fantastic stuff.

Just about every scene containing Alison and Donnie. Seriously, I would watch a sitcom just about them (and their wacky homicidally pregnant roommate/sestra Helena) if Orphan Black ever gets cancelled. “It smells like garbage juice.” “She’s a scientist and a lesbian. She’s not going to let it slide.” “Well, we’ll have time to discuss the do’s and don’t’s of certain decisions later.”

And Cosima’s reaction to Alison and Donnie’s matter-of-fact confession of manslaughtering Dr. Leekie is priceless.

The Not-So-Great:

While it’s played for humor … really? The police actually bought Helena posing as Alison? She didn’t even give the lame “I have cold” excuse this time. And Donnie didn’t come into the house reeking (literally) of death? That whole sequence – while hilarious – was kind of a stretch.

If Kira starts rubbing her fingers together and talking to her imaginary friend Tony, I’m going to repeatedly bang a meat tenderizer into my head. Orphan Black does so many fun, clever, original ideas really, really well; wandering into the Stephen King School of Creepy Kids is not one of them. Let’s hope this goes somewhere better than OMG KIRA IS A TELEPATH. (And Wednesday Charlotte appears to be heading down the same path.)

Shit. Ken spoke too soon. We have a Castor Clone sighting! Ira’s sort of … meh. Not terribly annoying yet, unlike his brothers, but I expect with time he will be.

The WTF:

Wednesday Charlotte coughing up blood. Uh-oh.

So, exactly why did Dr. Leekie have a maggot-bot in his cheek? He’s the leader of Neolution. Why would he want something that could kill him instantly imbedded inside his body? That seems like the sort of things you implant in people you don’t like. (And why did it even occur to Alison and Donnie that Leekie might even have one in the first place?)

Art’s obsession with the Beth surveillance videos is edging into super-creepy stalker territory.


Orphan Black Season 4, Episode 1 Recap: Beth, I Hear You Calling


The Season 4 premiere of Orphan Black – “The Collapse of Nature” – is something of a brave gamble. Following the events of last season, the show was really ready for all sorts of jumping points forward. So it’s an interesting choice that it jumps backwards instead, with the episode focusing almost entirely on a clone we’ve mostly only heard about – Beth Childs. Our only real prior glimpse of the actual Beth came in the series premiere, and that was when she jumped in front of a train to kick off Sarah Manning’s journey in the Clone Club world. Everything else about her has come second-hand, either through characters like Art and Paul and the other clones relating what they knew about Beth, or through Sarah’s impersonations of Beth, and the reactions to that.

But the actual Beth? We didn’t know that much about her. And, as it turns out, much of what we thought we knew might’ve been wrong.



We find ourselves watching a Beth who sure was keeping a lot of secrets. She loved her sestras-to-be, and was fiercely protective of them. She didn’t trust her boyfriend-and-monitor Paul. She was having a friends-with-benefits (!) relationship with her partner Art. She was seriously self-medicating. And she worried about her abilities as a cop.

Beth also knew a lot more about Neolution than anyone might’ve guessed – and she wasn’t exactly sharing much of what she knew with anyone. As it turns out, everyone’s favorite body-modders were up to Tons of Bad Shit, even back when Beth was still alive. But there’s not much Beth can do about it – as she begins to uncover more and more things, she accidentally shoots someone, and is suspended from the police force. Everything’s looking hopeless, and Beth doesn’t have anywhere to run as the episode winds to a conclusion …

… and it’s heartbreaking, because her fate is already sealed.

But it’s also a reminder of the fierce bond between the clone sisters. Beth was willing to do anything for them. And as the episode wraps up by cutting to the present, with MK finding Sarah and telling her “you need to run” – it’s clear that sentiment remains with Sarah and her sestras, even the ones she doesn’t know yet.

Was this episode a home run? I’m not quite sure yet. But I think it potentially sets up the rest of the season in spectacular fashion.

Quick thoughts:

The Great:

Beth: “Yeah, I’m, uh, looking to have my breasts surgically modified into, like, corkscrews.”

Beth: “Everything else okay?”
Cosima: “Not really. You ever heard the one about the lesbian and the U-Haul?”

The almost-meeting of Felix and Beth at the police station.

Dr. Leekie!

Alison with the gun. And of course Alison was supplying Beth with drugs.


And a lot of callbacks to previous episodes. Turns out the surveillance equipment in Beth’s apartment was put there so Beth could spy on Paul, not the other way around.

The Not-So-Great:

Beth’s awfully similar to Sarah, personality-wise. And MK (the new sheep-mask wearing clone) seems like a timid, non-homicidal version of Helena. I don’t blame the always-awesome Tatiana Maslany for this; I just think the show writers could’ve worked to find ways to make them more their own characters. (In Beth’s case, maybe it doesn’t matter; time will tell with MK.)

Hope you’ve been paying close attention to The Story So Far. “The Collapse of Nature” made reference to plenty of details coming from prior episodes in prior seasons, and assumed that the viewer knew them all well. I knew some of them, but some references whizzed straight over my head during my first viewing. It made for a fun-but-somewhat-confusing watch.

No Helena appearances. Or Donnie. Boo!

The WTF:

Wait, Beth was sleeping with Art?

And I think I’ll be quite happy if I never hear the phrase “bifurcated penis” on a television show ever again.