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Orphan Black – S4E3 – The Stigmata of Progress

Previously on Orphan Black, “Transgressive Border Crossing”

With so many clones and an equal amount of storylines, Orphan Black sometimes runs the risk of feeling too disconnected. As much as I loved watching Alison and Donnie dive into the world of prescription drug dealing last season, it never felt quite at home with everything else. Even the Castor clones, who are the literal family of Leda, always felt like they belonged on a different show. This episode, however, offered a fairly even amount of time to all of our main clones, with the exception of Cosima, and each storyline smoothly connected to the overall arc. Though Rachel may be thousands of miles away – or not, we’re still unsure of her exact whereabouts – her plotline gave us a deep insight into what Neolution’s endgame really is: controlling human evolution and creating the perfect being.

This goal is obviously at the expense of all the clones developed by Neolution, but Rachel’s place in all of this feels that much more personal because of who her mother is. Susan Duncan acts like she’s the Queen of Neolution, which she very well may be. She refers to her daughter as “the experiment” a few times this episode, and even though Rachel has committed countless egregious acts, it’s hard not to feel sorry for her. I would pity anyone who had to spend time with and be examined by Ira, the dullest of all Castor clones. At least she has Charlotte, the young Leda clone – who it turns out, was cloned from Rachel. The two of them have formed a close bond, which includes communicating secretly and having Charlotte send messages for Rachel, under the ever-watchful eyes of Susan. Poor little Charlotte is already exhibiting the same signs of illness Cosima had a few months back, which only worsens Rachel’s hatred for her mother’s inability, or possible reluctance, to find a cure for the clones.

Images: BBC America

Images: BBC America

Sarah is in search of her own cure, of sorts. She’s desperate to remove the worm implant from her cheek, and understandably so. Cosima and Scott aren’t sure what to make of it, but Dizzy, the guy who knows MK, has a theory that they’re implanted in the jaw because of the close proximity to the brain. This notion kicks Sarah’s search into high gear, and along the way she makes a few rather poor decisions.

Firstly, she leaves the responsibility of Kira in someone else’s hands, again. There have been a few hints throughout the series that suggest there is something more to Kira and this episode started to strengthen that possibility. Kira’s increasingly lonely and detached behavior is understandable; her life is so far removed from anything that even resembles a normal childhood. What’s troubling, though, is learning what’s going on inside her head. She has a vision – she calls it a dream, but her eyes are wide open, it’s creepy – of her aunties setting fire to her mother, and she’s not overly shaken by it. She’s almost ok with it, because in the vision it had to happen, her mother was “changing.” Someone needs to keep a much closer eye on this one.


Secondly, Sarah is dangerously close to destroying her relationship with Felix. Her foster brother has found his biological sister, Adele, and Sarah just can’t seem to accept how important this is to him. She wants Felix to drop everything in an instant to come and be her sidekick again, and when he refuses, she can’t handle it. While her immediate assumption that Adele might be shady isn’t too far fetched – critical viewers of Orphan Black have been taught well to be at least a tad suspicious of any newcomers – her complete disregard for Felix’s feelings was just awful. Though it was a little strange how interested she was in Felix’s mother, for his sake, I hope Adele is legit.

Finally, Sarah allows a woman she just met to attempt a removal of the worm implant. Granted, this woman did know Beth and definitely knew about Neolution, but that doesn’t make her a trusted ally. The tension during this not-so-routine oral surgery was fantastic, nonetheless, especially since the consequences of a botched job would be fatal, and gross. It’s only when the dentist starts acting a little wacky, basically congratulating “Beth” on how lucky she is to be a test subject, that Sarah realizes her error in judgment. Luckily – well, unluckily for some – Ferdinand shows up and slits the dentist’s throat. His appearance also reinforces Rachel’s connection the rest of the story, as it would seem Ferdinand was the one she had Charlotte sending messages to.

Ferdinand & Sarah

Orphan Black is particularly adept in its ability to inject just the right amount of humor into its mostly dark world, and this episode was a great example of that. Alison and Donnie’s afternoon of digging up Dr. Leekie’s body in search of an implant, led to a number of comical moments. From Alison’s adorable pink hair net, to their physical reactions from the smell of a dead body, and to the best interaction of the episode when Donnie confesses to Cosima that he killed Leekie.

“You killed Aldous Leekie?”

“Boy, did I ever, yeah.”

These scenes weren’t just for the sake of a joke, though. Obtaining a sample of this implant is vital for not just Sarah’s safety, but for all the clones. Just because they don’t have cheek-maggots now, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. In fact, having the chance to research and understand the implant was definitely the more rational course of action, when compared to the mess Sarah got herself into.


Last, but never least, Helena. She’s always been good for a laugh, or when you need some muscle, but she’s also fairly intelligent. Something she rarely gets credit for. When detectives question her about those murders at the garage a few weeks back, it starts out a little shaky, with Donnie making it worse by answering for her. In the end, Helena manages to play a convincing enough Alison and the trouble has blown over, for now anyways. I hope Donnie is eating his words about how Helena’s brand of help isn’t always what’s needed. 

Fun Fact

Let me fangirl for a minute here. The Riverside dental clinic is actually at the exact intersection Art tells Sarah, Queen and Broadview. In fact, all of the establishing shots are there as well. You can see a bar I used to frequent, and the pizza place where I’d get my late night fix after the bar. I used to live in the neighborhood where the show does a lot of its filming, and it’s always fun to see Toronto in the Orphan Black world.

Orphan Black S4E8 = 8.7/10
  • 8/10
    Plot - 8/10
  • 10/10
    Performances - 10/10
  • 8/10
    Dialogue - 8/10
User Review
5 (1 vote)
About Jasmin George (185 Articles)
An avid reader of TV Guide in her youth, Jasmin has been a fan of all things television since she can remember. She’s very passionate about story, especially the kinds that use cameras and actors to convey them. When she doesn’t have her eyes glued to the tube, you can find her listening to podcasts or reading reviews about, well, TV. Yeah, Jasmin might have a slight addiction but she’s perfectly happy to coexist with it.
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