Monday, April 25, 2016

Orphan Black 4x01/4x02 Review: "The Collapse of Nature" & "Transgressive Border Crossing" (Everything Old is New Again) [Contributor: Meredith]"

“The Collapse of Nature” & “Transgressive Border Crossing”
Original Airdates: April 14, 2016 and April 21, 2016

Orphan Black premiered exceptionally strong, with both episode one and episode two returning to a season one feel — and that’s a very, very, very good thing. After our in-depth look at who Beth Childs was in the premiere, the second episode brought us back to all of our favorite sestras, and set the ball rolling for an action-packed season.


The entire premiere, save for the last 30 seconds or so, was actually a flashback to the days leading up to Beth Childs’ suicide (the very thing that set the entire series in motion). This was a welcome flashback for a number of reasons. Not only did it give us a chance to say hello again to Hot Paul (Dylan Bruce), but it allowed us to learn about another one of the clones without actually introducing a new clone — yet.

We never really did get to know Beth beyond what we learned while Sarah pretended to be her. On top of that, the link between what Beth was investigation before her death and what the big mystery for this season will be ties the whole series together really nicely, bringing the clone drama back to the forefront and letting the show and the characters do what they do best. Pre-series Beth was to the clone sestras what current Sarah is — the glue binding them, the leader guiding them, and the key to it all, it would seem. And we learn that, despite appearances, Beth was just as messed up as Sarah is, albeit in different ways.

Other pluses from this flashback episode: more Art! I love Art, and his dynamic with both Beth and Sarah is fantastic. The nuances Tatiana Maslany and Kevin Hanchard bring to these characters as they play opposite one another in each role are incredible, and it’s fascinating watching Art struggle with attempting not to transfer his feelings for Beth to Sarah. Additionally, we meet MK/Mika, another clone who is suspiciously in the know about neolutionists and everything going on behind the scenes. She was Beth’s informant, but she was — and continues to be — desperate to stay hidden and secret from the rest of the clones. She only sort of emerges to warn Sarah of impending danger right at the end of the episode, thrusting her into the present-day storyline.

Normally with most shows, flashback episodes bore me. They don’t really impact the current storyline, or there are plot holes that are impossible to ignore. Not so with the premiere of Orphan Black. It was a bit of a risk to begin the season with an old storyline, and not really any focus on the characters in present day that we know and love. But it paid off in spades, as not only was this flashback episode engaging and interesting, it absolutely tied to the present seamlessly, allowing this season’s adventure to kick off in a unique and exciting way.


Of course, we can’t stay in the past forever, and the second episode picks up immediately where the premiere ended — with Sarah having just been warned by MK that her location has been compromised, forcing her to pack up Kira, Kendall, and S and hightail it out of Iceland with the bad guys hot on their heels. After quite the journey, they arrive back in Toronto. Kira is not happy to be separated from her dad, but Sarah is happy to be back home with her sisters.

This episode also let us catch up with the entire crew: Cosima is not doing well, both health-wise and mental health-wise in the wake of Delphine’s unknown dead or alive status; Alison is busy trying to be parent of the year while also caring for pregnant Helena, with the help of an ever more lovable Donnie; Felix is cold and distant from Sarah, and we later learn it’s because he feels like he doesn’t belong in her family anymore and has started a search for his own birth family.

Sarah and Art are working together to figure out what Beth knew, which leads Sarah to MK — though the two only speak on the phone again. When Sarah is attacked by neolutionists, it comes to light that she has that worm thing from the premiere implanted in her cheek, and the episode ends with her desperate and scared and determined to get to the bottom of it. Ah, just like old times.

This episode once again had a season one feel to it, though not quite so literally. But the fast-paced adventure, the dynamics between the sestras, the mystery to solve and the inclusion of Art, and the overarching sense of danger and immediacy to the drama brought me back to everything I love so much about this show.


Orphan Black has never had a bad season. But, like any show, it has its strengths and its weaknesses. This reviewer considers season one the strongest outing, and in its callback to so many of the things that made the freshman season great, season four is off to a fantastic start. There just aren’t enough words to adequately express the brilliance of Maslany as she tackles every clone as a unique and separate entity. Everyone says it, but I’ll say it again: you forget you’re watching one actress. It’s absolutely incredible.

But the supporting cast is just as strong. The group of actors playing Felix, Donnie, Art, Mrs. S, even young Kira, bring so much to the table as well, allowing Maslany to shine while also building an entire cast of characters we care to watch. This show is a standout among today’s TV viewing options — it gives the viewer everything we could want: strong characterization, interesting relationships, properly-paced storytelling, mystery, suspense... what more could we ask for? I am excited to watch every week, and this season even more so than the last two.

Kudos to the entire Orphan Black team for continuing to grow while still recognizing what makes this show so spectacular. I’m on the edge of my seat as I watch this unfold, and the credit goes to the show’s writers as much as the actors. If you aren’t watching Orphan Black yet... what are you waiting for?

Odds and ends:
  • Am I just not remembering something, or do we not know how Beth was able to afford a Jaguar? Her swanky condo was apparently paid for by Hot Paul, so was her car, too?
  • I miss Cal. I know he’s busy being all swoonworthy on Game of Thrones, but poor Kira isn’t the only one missing her dad.
  • Interesting to see Felix having a bit of an existential crisis. He’s always been a source of fun and humor and lightness on the show, and though that might be missed a bit, it will also allow Jordan Gavaris to really flex his acting chops.
  • Of course, we always have Helena, Alison, and Donnie for those moments of humor. I’m loving this trio’s dynamic, and Donnie has really grown on me as a character. He’s arguably had the most character growth of anyone.
  • So... Delphine’s dead or alive status is unknown? I was sure she was a goner, but maybe not? I’m actually not sure which option I’d prefer. I love Evelyne Brochu, and Cosima deserves happiness, but the storytelling options with her death are rich and deep. 
  • I mean, really, how ridiculously amazing is Tatiana Maslany. Each new clone reminds me that this woman is in a league totally of her own, and if she doesn’t win ALL THE AWARDS this year, I may riot.


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