Previously on Orphan Black, “The Scandal of Altruism”
Orphan Black is a show that typically moves at break-neck speeds. Between all the mysteries, science, and constant plot twists, it’s often difficult to catch your breath and see the bigger picture. “The Antisocialism of Sex” offered a much-needed hour of rest. Both for the audience to consider all that’s happened and where the rest of the season could be leading us, and for the characters to reflect on the passing of Kendall and cope with their loss of hope in general.
Sarah blames herself for putting Kendall’s life in danger, a guilt that is only worsened when Siobhan essentially disowns her. It’s rough stuff to hear Mrs. S. be so callous towards her foster daughter. Not only because of how far they’ve come in four seasons, but also because S. is no stranger to making her own shady deals; she did sell out Helena to Castor not too long ago. While we all have the capacity to say awful things we don’t really mean when we’re hurt, S. should know better, Felix points out, than to provoke Sarah in such a way. The wild and irresponsible, party-girl side of Sarah we’ve been hearing about since season one takes over, and pulls her into a downward spiral of drugs, drinking, and self-pity. As she tries desperately to escape her reality, the ghost of Beth haunts her, and the harder she tries to numb herself, the more vivid Beth becomes.
The focus on Beth’s story this season has given us a ton of insight into Neolution, which is great, but what I find even more compelling are the parallels being drawn between her and Sarah. From their respective relationships to Mika and Helena, to the way they internalize much of their pain, to their position as leader in the Clone Club, these women have a lot more in common than their physical appearance. As leaders, they try to carry the emotional weight of everything they’ve been through, and the consequences of many decisions, on their shoulders alone. Though ghostly apparitions aren’t exactly in Orphan Black’s wheelhouse, the confrontation between Sarah and Beth works surprisingly well. It’s something that’s been building since Sarah’s Castor-blood-induced hallucination of her last season. Though Sarah externalizes her problems into a vision of Beth, it’s really just a product of her own imagination. These women never met – which is a shame the more I think about it – so Sarah ultimately helped herself get through this moment, proving she can be strong and keep fighting. Of course, Felix has a hand in saving his sister as well. Despite their estrangement this season, his love and loyalty to her has never been deeper.
Felix also manages to save Cosima from making what would have likely been a grave mistake. Though the reveal of Delphine’s probable survival was absolutely satisfying – I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself for calling it – the timing of it felt entirely contrived. Yes, I’m thankful Cosima didn’t implant herself with the cheek maggot, but it rings false that Felix wouldn’t have told her about Delphine sooner. Still, it gave Cosima the slightest shred of hope back, which she sorely needed. Perhaps this good news will help clear her head and acknowledge how she hurt Scotty. After seasons of being dedicated to Cosima and their search for the cure, and to the Leda sisters in general, he had every right to stand up for himself this time around. Even now with all their data wiped, no samples left to examine, and all hope seemingly lost, Scotty was ready to pick up the pieces and keep trying. He deserves, at the very least, to be recognized as her lab partner.
Speaking of recognition, Rachel’s status as a self-aware, “Neolution bred” clone used to be her ticket into the high ranks of human evolutionary science. Now, with Evie Cho at the helm, it’s what’s stopping her from taking that position of power, and putting her in danger. Project Leda and the monitor program have been terminated, and conscious clones will be the next to go. Though Evie knows it’s only a matter of time until the subjects of Leda die off, so there’s no need for a Helsinki-type massacre, she’s not prepared to be so passive about Sarah, Cosima, Alison, or even Rachel. It’s fascinating, and more than a little gratifying, to watch the woman who once posed such a terrifying threat to the Clone Club, be so easily tossed aside. Could this be the beginning of a truce between Rachel and her sisters? Perhaps, but it seems as though Rachel is about to have far more puzzling matters to attend to now anyways: her eye seems to offer more than just the function of sight.
While the episode kept its focus on how everyone was processing their grief, it managed to cleverly, and subtly, start introducing new plot threads and mysterious questions to gently keep everything moving forward. Most intriguing of all was Rachel’s eye showing her a vision of a swan, marking the second appearance of this bird in the hour. When Rachel was released from her prison, more or less, she discovered a book on the history of Neolution with an illustration of Leda and The Swan. (A real photo with a disturbing story you can read about, if you have time to kill on Wikipedia.) It’s unclear whether or not her vision was just a glitch in response to a nasty fall down the stairs, or if it’s some type of message. Very likely it means something more, and it seems as though it connects to the early days of Neolution.
More than ever, this season has put a ton of emphasis on going back to the start: Beth’s story, the original material for the cloning project, and now the foundations of Neolution itself. It’s a good thing we had time to catch up and collect ourselves this week, because we’re undoubtedly about to be thrown back into the wonderful chaos of it all. Along with the looming eradication of all self-aware clones, Donnie’s been arrested on drug charges, MK is back and has curiously chosen to contact Kira, and Detective Duko has more dirt on Art than he could have predicted. There’s also the matter of Helena: where the hell is she? And how pregnant will she be when she takes vengeance on Evie Cho? Cause that’s bound to happen, right?
Orphan Black S4E7 = 8.8/10