Sunday, May 1, 2016

Orphan Black 4x03 Review: "The Stigmata of Progress" (Sestra, Sestra) [Contributor: Meredith]

“The Stigmata of Progress”
Original Airdate: April 28, 2016

Orphan Black
is so good. So good. And it’s at its absolute best when Tatiana Maslany is showcasing her total brilliance by portraying all of the clone sisters within the span of one episode. And the show goes above and beyond when she gets the chance to showcase Maslany playing one of the sestras pretending to be a different sestra — which happened not just once, but twice this week. So yes. This was a fantastic episode.


The plot this week centered around discovering just what exactly the tiny robot maggot implanted in Sarah’s cheek is meant for. Yes. That in fact is a sentence I just wrote. S and Art and the dude from the Neolutionist club last week all lend a hand, leading Sarah to a dental practice in downtown Toronto, where a totally-not-trustworthy blonde acts trustworthy. In the end, Ferdinand (remember Ferdinand?) shows up and saves Sarah in the nick of time, because the blonde was definitely not trustworthy. But is Ferdinand trustworthy?

Elsewhere: Alison and Donnie decide to dig up Leekie from their garage because he probably has a maggot in his cheek that Cosima can study. While they are occupied trying not to pass out from dead body fumes, the cops show up to question them about some other deaths, because Alison’s campaign flyer was found at the scene (remember — Helena had something to do with this.) Anyways, Helena in a bathrobe poses as Alison, and Donnie intervenes, but Helena proves she knows way more than we thought about Alison’s campaign. In the end, all seems to be handled, and Alison and Donnie present a thoroughly confused Cosima with a new cheek maggot. Ah, what every girl wants.

To round out the episode, Felix has found his biological sister, and he blows Sarah off in favor of spending time with her. And finally, we see Rachel again. Rachel is raising Charlotte while locked away. She is also working toward recovery with Ira, the only non-militant male clone.

While much of the plot this week seemed to be filler, and is meant as a stepping stone in order to lead us to the next big thing, the pacing was done well, the character beats were hit perfectly, and so the episode felt just as satisfying as any other. Kudos to the cast for ensuring that the characterization is always so strong it almost doesn’t matter what the story of the week is.


The biggest strength for this show is clearly the out of this world performance (or, performances) by Tatiana Maslany. Everyone says this, always, but the viewer constantly forgets they are watching one actress play multiple people. Maslany has nailed the nuances of each clone: the tone and accent of their voice, their facial expressions, body language, personal style, etc. Each woman is so unique and individualized that even when watching two clones together, you never have a moment where you think anything is amiss.

This week had a little bit from pretty much every clone, save for the newly introduced MK. And, as such, Maslany really got to shine. Even better than watching her perfected performances as each sister is watching her play one clone acting as another. This is always fun, and often hilarious. This week we were rewarded with two such occurrences: when arriving at the dental office, Sarah is mistaken for Beth and quickly has to adjust to playing that role, without much context at all; and of course, Helena gets to act as doting wife to Donnie as she pretends to be Alison. Helena pretending to be anyone other than Helena is always entertaining, in a very overt way because these scenes are meant to be comical. But watching the other clones act as one of their sisters is equally as engaging, because the viewer gets to see just how truly astonishing Maslany is.

As I’ve mentioned before, the supporting cast is just as strong as Maslany, whether it’s watching Art try to find his footing with Sarah, S extending her maternal instincts to Cosima, or Donnie playing husband to Helena-as-Alison. Even more impressive is watching the young actress who plays Kira interact with Maslany as the different clones — Sarah is Mommy, but Cosima is Auntie, and the nuanced differences are impressive.

But speaking of Kira, this little girl’s creepy future-seeing abilities are just getting creepier. What’s this about the sisters burning Sarah to death? Uhhh... someone needs to get little Kira to a child psychologist, soon.


So what comes next? This episode laid a lot of foundation. We still don’t know exactly what the cheek maggot is for, or how to get it out. And what exactly is Ferdinand's role in all of this? Furthermore, what about Rachel and Charlotte? Where do they go from here? The police questioning “Alison” seems to have ended all right, but I get the sense this case is not closed. And of course — can we trust Felix’s bubbly Southern belle biological sister? I’m going to go with no, but then... maybe Felix needs to come back to Sarah not because his other family is a bust, but because family isn’t only bound by blood.

There are many threads to tie up, but luckily the season has just started. And it looks like we’re in for a lot of action, relationships, character development, mystery, and fun.

Odds and Ends: 
  • Donnie just gets funnier and funnier, and I’m loving this all-in, hands-on committing to the crime persona. Alison is a lucky woman.
  • I need more story for Cosima. Right now she’s just locked in a basement, serving as science sidekick for Sarah. Give her more to do. 
  • Does anyone else want to set up a playdate for Kira and Charlotte? They both need some kid interaction.
  • I want Rachel to end up on the side of the sestras. Stick together, ladies. Nothing good can come from being at odds with each other.
  • Can we get some more Hot Paul flashbacks? Please?


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