Orphan Black 401 Review: The Collapse of Nature

Orphan Black 401 Review: The Collapse of Nature

By: Tom Gardiner
401 Orphan Black review

Between-season breaks seem like forever, but finally we’re graced with Orphan Black’s 4th season, and as promised in the promos, we’re going back to the beginning, literally.  The vast majority of this episode takes place pre-Beth-death and allows us to finally see Detective Childs in action and she was turning into a, pardon the expression, trainwreck.  That woman snorkeled so many crushed pills up her schnoz she should be the poster child for Dyson vacuums.

The road to the eventual board review where Sarah resorts to drinking hand soap is very clearly paved, striped, and open for rush-hour traffic.  One thing that caught my eye, though, is when Beth goes to the bathroom to pour pee she borrowed from Alison’s kid into a test bottle, the hand soap dispenser isn’t the same kind as in the pilot.  Maybe it’s another bathroom in the precinct with different accommodations, but the way the shots were laid out it gave the impression it was the same place Sarah eventually ends up.  I went back and watched those parts of the pilot and both the bathroom and conference rooms are somewhat different, but it just wasn’t clear if they were supposed to be the same places.  My feeble mind assumed they were until I saw that soap dispenser.

And damn, Beth was ready to shoot Paul in the back of the head, point-blank, in her own living room?  She’s sleeping with Art who’s helping her lie about the circumstances surrounding her shooting Maggie Chen?  That’s some pretty messed up crap going on, but even so it’s really good to see Beth’s story fleshed out.  Now, we can see she was in even worse shape than I think we may have realized; at least worse than I realized.  You’re probably a lot brighter than I am.

Orphan Black 401 Review: The Collapse of Nature

The mysterious MK, knows so much, says so little. (Image courtesy BBC America)

New clone MK is a skittish one, isn’t she?  If Beth is the poster child for a vacuum company, MK fills the part for the Ministry of Paranoia.  Or maybe it’s justified caution considering what’s going on.  And what the hell is going on, exactly?

We’ve got Neolutionist lapdogs lining up to have a strange little thing inserted into their cheek that turns into a worm-o-death.  And the little bugger can’t be removed, from a live subject at least, without it exploding tendrils all over the person’s head, killing them immediately.  Talk about an anti-theft system.

So, Leekie’s goons, disguised as paramedics, are apparently lying to these test subjects, making them think the worm will be removed harmlessly, and instead said goons kill the volunteers and cut out their entire freaking cheek.  The worm seems to be aware that it’s no longer in living tissue because it doesn’t go all ‘splodey when they remove it from a piece of dead cheek.  That’s facial cheek.  Stop giggling.

Orphan Black 401 Review: The Collapse of Nature

Frank (IAN MATTHEWS) and Roxie (MIRANDA EDWARDS), doing first-aid wrong. Very wrong. (Image courtesy BBC America)

Making matters worse for Beth, and justifying MK’s constant fear, is the fact that Detective Duko, the union representative, is in on the macabre Neolution goings-on.  When Beth spies on the removal of one of the worms, Duko shows up, freaking Beth the hell out and causing her to make a racket that alerts the bad guys.  Crazed and afraid, Beth shoots Maggie Chen who walked up behind her in an alley.  It was a satisfying explanation for those tragic events we haven’t visited in a while.

This explains why in the opening scene MK sees the faux paramedic couple burying a body in the woods, which is later found, sans one cheek, by the police.  What we don’t know is what kind of significance the little bear stickers she leaves behind have.  It’s probably some kind of messaging or marking system, but for now we’ll have to just watch and wait.

Maybe it was just me and my entire family, but we all agreed this opener was a little “off” or stale-ish, perhaps.  Since it’s a rewind to events we already know something about, it will necessarily be a little less fresh than something completely new, but it was more than that.  After discussing it for a short while, we agreed that the problem was too little or no screen time for fan favorites Felix, Alison, Helena, and Donnie.  But hey, it’s only the first of ten episodes and there’s still plenty of time for the whole gang to gather and entertain.

Orphan Black 401 Review: The Collapse of Nature

Is this not one of the most perfect Alison pictures ever? It needs to be a poster! (Image courtesy BBC America)

On the plus side, it was a real treat to see some old faces again.  We got to see Paul interacting with Beth, and in the scene where she had a gun to the back of his head he either proved he really has feelings for her or he’s one of the best liars around.  Freaky Leekie was back being his usual smug and slimy self, acerbic Angie got some screen time to spit a little venom in Beth’s direction, lovestruck techie Raj got another chance to drool over the object of his desire, Ramon was back delivering flowers, drugs, and urine, and a pre-tailectomy Olivier sported some shiny accessories on his strange body mod.  It was like the weird family reunion you didn’t know you wanted, but really did.

In the end, we flash-forward to the present where MK has contacted Art.  She’s been in the shadows these past few years, but needed to warn Sarah that the Neolutionists have found her Icelandic Fortress of Solitude.  And we close the first episode of season four with Sarah looking out the window of their little cabin, waiting for the opposition to arrive.

If I took away anything from this episode, it’s something that will haunt me forever.  Just three little words: Surgically bifurcated penis.  Ouch.  I may never be able to walk quite the same again.

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Orphan Black episode 402 airs next Thursday, April 21 at 10/9C on BBC America

And stay tuned for After the Black following each episode!

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