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Orphan Black – S1E4 – Effects of External Conditions

Previously on Orphan Black, ‘Variations Under Nature’


The fourth ep opens with some decidedly creepy shots of Crazy Clone’s bloody first aid implements. She is sewing up the wound that Sarah left in her side while repeatedly whispering, “I am not Beth.” This chick is definitely not playing with a full deck! Her wacky antics are interrupted by a small boy coming downstairs in his pajamas. I’m guessing that this isn’t her house.

Orphan Black S1E4 Helena

Back at Alison’s, Sarah is dropping by for a visit. She informs Alison that it is another clone who is hunting them. This doesn’t exactly thrill Alison. Sarah succinctly describes Crazy Clone as “Bad breath; Batshit crazy.”

Sarah returns the $75,000 to Alison, and informs her that she isn’t the only one with a family to protect. Alison is pretty shaken when she finds out that Kira is Sarah’s biological kid, and not adopted like hers.

At Felix’s apartment, Sarah has a Skype convo with Cosima. Apparently, as with many TV smart people, Cosima is good at all kinds of research, not just stuff relating to her specific field. She is getting her nerd on analyzing the carved knife that Sarah took from Crazy Clone. Cosima is adamant that they find CC, even if it means Sarah has to keep impersonating Beth. Felix is not too thrilled about his sister impersonating a dead officer, but what you gonna do?

Over at Alison’s, her pudgy husband Donny is annoyed at her because she is sending the kids to her mother’s on a school night. He’s a bit of a doofus, and Alison sends him away so that she can sit alone with her gun.

The cops have found the house where CC performed her late night surgery shenanigans. Luckily for Sarah, CC didn’t leave any prints. Phew, the kid is okay. Or at least as okay as you can be after a crazy woman breaks into your house in the middle of the night and covers you in her blood. The kid rightly points at Sarah when Art asks him what the person looks like, but Art just takes that as meaning that it was a chick.

Sarahbeth sits down for a little private chat with the kid. He says that CC had told him that Sarah would come. He pulls out one of those folded paper fortune teller things. He asks Sarah to pick a colour and she goes for red, which is pretty apt given that the thing is smeared with blood. She takes it into evidence.

Sarah gives Mrs. S a call, confirming that she’ll be seeing Kira that night. I’ve got a bad feeling that she’s gonna be delayed somehow, a feeling that Mrs. S seems to mirror. She tells Sarah that if she lets down Kira she won’t be allowed back.

Back at the cop shop, Art and the gang are beginning to piece the case together. They profile CC as being a religious nut who probably had a traumatic childhood. Colour me shocked. Sarah gets a phone call from CC, who tells her that they have a connection, and that they should meet up again. She reveals that her name is Helena.

The cops figure out that the numbers in the paper thingo correspond to addresses. They are all places that they’ve already found, except for one. Aww Shiiiit, it’s a trick! As the cops head over to check out the address, Helena sneaks into the station disguised as Beth. She is definitely not as good at disguises as Sarah; no manner of business dress can hide the crazy in those eyes! Raj from IT tries to make small talk, but is glared away. She has a wander of the station and finds the room with all the info on her case.

Across town, Sarah and Art (and the third cop lady whose name I can never remember) are led into a creepy abandoned church. Inside, Helena has upped the crazy quotient with a room filled with old religious statues and walls lined with sinister female stick figures. A mattress in the middle is covered in her blood. One of the stick figures has a question mark for a head, drawn in Helena’s blood. That sure is disturbing.

At the station, Helena heads to Beth’s desk and eats Sarah’s muffin whilst rummaging through the desk. Paul rings at the absolute worst time and Helena (as Sarah as Beth) tells him to come pick her up.

It looks like Sarah won’t be able to escape Beth-dome for a while, so she gives Felix a call. He is busy painting a hideous picture of Cosima while wearing nothing but a smock. He tells her that there is no way that she can get out of seeing Kira tonight. Sarah comes up with an ingenious (and kinda obvious) plan.

Cut to: Alison, sitting at home with a gun, a glass of wine, and some knitting. She is interrupted by a knock at the door. It’s just Felix. He’s here to ask for Alison’s help.

Back at the cop hole, Raj alerts Sarah to the fact that she was just there. He’s adorable. The pictures on their evidence wall have been creepily arranged into the shape of a person. Art brushes it off as a police prank, but Sarah knows better. She heads to ‘her’ desk, where Helena has put a picture of Maggie Chen (aka the woman Beth shot) up over a picture of Paul with his eyes scratched out.

Alison is not taking to the whole impersonating Sarah thing very readily. Felix gives her a deserved verbal smackdown after she says that maybe Kira is better off without Sarah. We then get a glorious glimpse of Alison’s acting abilities, which, suffice to say, are not up to scratch with Sarah’s.

Orphan Black S1E4 Alison

Sarah is coming to the realization that the death of Maggie Chen was not the accident that she had believed. Photos of her body show that she had a mark on her neck that matches the hilt of Helena’s knife.

Felix is trying as best as he can to dress Alison for the part, but is forced to take scissors to her wardrobe to do so. Her accent is improving. Slowly.

Sarah’s Maggie Chen investigations are interrupted by a visit from Paul. He really is trying to be a good boyfriend, he just isn’t very good at it. He gets into an argument with Art and Sarah has to take him outside. It seems he really likes the new Beth.

Sarah gets a call from Cosima. She’s looking into the fish from both the knife and Maggie Chen’s neck. She thinks that it has something to do with Christianity (duh), and that they might be trying to get rid of abominations. Sarah heads inside where Art gives her a talk about not bringing her personal shit to work. Helena gives her another call. They have a little discussion about how Beth had figured out about Maggie Chen and shot her for that. As they talk, Helena entertains herself by cutting more feathers into her back, you know, as you do. Helena has left a video of herself for Sarah where she pretends to be Beth and confesses to knowingly killing Maggie Chen. They arrange to meet up.

Felix and Alison take a cab to Mrs. S’ house. I have to say; watching Alison impersonate Sarah is a great experience. All the *Emmys for Tatiana Maslany!!

Art is getting a bit suspicious. He isn’t buying that Sarah could fight a chick and not know it. He starts to rummage through her desk after realizing that she has disappeared on the job. Lady Cop says that she is probably just working things out with her beefcake beau, but Art finds the address of where she is meeting Helena, which, incidentally, is Maggie Chen’s old apartment. He heads over there.

Alison does a pretty decent impression of Sarah for Kira, but the kid sees right through it. Unfortunately, Alison is not as good at improv as Sarah, so when Kira asks her for her pet name, she unsuccessfully guesses “monkey… bum… face”.

Orphan Black S1E4 Kira

Sarah, meanwhile is outside the apartment where she’s meeting Helena. She leaves a note on her phone confessing everything to Art in case she is killed.

Alison admits to Kira that she isn’t her mother, and luckily the kid doesn’t tell Mrs. S.

Sarah enters the apartment gun drawn to find Helena striking a pose that is half angel, half demon, and all crazy. Helena is pretty adamant that they have a connection, but Sarah is not so happy about that. She asks about Maggie Chen and Helena reveals that Maggie was one of the people who made the clones, but who then had a change of heart and joined the nutball Christian side.

Orphan Black S1E4 Helena and Sarah

Sarah figures out that Helena has been told that she is the original, and that the others were copied from her. Art arrives downstairs. Sarah has her gun pointed at Helena’s head, but is unable to pull the trigger. Art pounds at the door. Sarah lets Helena escape out the window just as Art breaks through the door.

Orphan Black S1E4 Helena Gun

Alison tells Kira that she is Sarah’s sister, and asks her to keep the secret. Luckily for all involved she ain’t no snitch, and the evening goes off without a hitch. Alison organizes for Sarah to walk Kira home the next day and everything ends up hunky dory.

On a less happy note, Sarah is at the station being grilled by the chief as to why she was at Maggie Chen’s. She hands in her gun and badge and walks out of there like a badass.

In some scungey alley Helena collapses from blood loss. A sinister man in a dark hat and coat picks her up and puts her in a van. Dun dun dun…

Next week on Orphan Black: We get more of a look at the menfolk in our ladies’ lives!

*Editor’s Note: Except Tatiana Maslany wasn’t nominated for an Emmy because the Emmy people are monkey bum faces. She is, however, nominated for a ProFanny.

About Alison Millward (103 Articles)
Alison is a big nerd living in Melbourne, Australia. She is a lover of all things television, particularly anything in the "hot young people in depressing sci-fi situations" genre. When not watching tv, Alison enjoys long walks on the beach, corrupting young minds, and actively avoiding thinking about her future.
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