Thursday, May 30, 2024

Orphan Black 4×03 Review ‘The Stigmata of Progress’

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Spoilers ahead through Orphan Black Season 4 Episode 3.

Aaaaand we’re back and on track for weekly recaps and reviews for Orphan Black Season 4. If you missed the recap for Episodes 1 and 2 swing by here first, alrighty? Now buckle up for Episode 3!

Recap: Episode 3
‘The Stigmata of Progress’

We open on Charlotte watching Rachel as the latter receives pigmentation for her biotech eye. Rachel’s eye doctor just so happens to be a Castor clone named Ira. Later Rachel works through some physical therapy, holding onto rails as she retrains herself to walk. Susan enters the room and remarks that Rachel is making progress, but Rachel is 110% done with her ‘mom’ and tells Susan to go to hell. Such a lovely family.

While the comic book shop owner attempts to distract Kira with a board game, Cosima and Scott examine the worm inside Sarah’s mouth. Cosima discovers that it has an attaching mechanism penetrating Sarah’s artery. But they can’t figure out what it will do to her without further study. Sarah leaves immediately to get Felix and find a way to get rid of it.

When she arrives Sarah finds not Felix, but an annoyingly oblivious woman who thinks that Sarah is a drug dealer. Turns out she’s Felix’s biological sister, Adele. Sarah is anything but interested or impressed with Adele and tries to drag Felix away when he shows up. Felix refuses and the two fight over which of their personal issues is more important, with Sarah dealing a final low blow by calling Adele a possible neolutionist. She and Fe tell each other to piss off, mutual hurt seething beneath their harsh exteriors.

Kira: “They never tell me when things are bad. But I always know.”

Cosima then calls up Donnie and instructs him to check Alison’s mouth for a worm. When Cosima mentions that neolutionists get these worms implanted voluntarily, a lightbulb goes off in Alison’s mind—there’s a neolutionist buried in her garage. Between Alison’s gagging Donnie declares her biotech-free. Alison tells Cosima that she may be able to locate a worm for her to study. Cut to Alison and Donnie staring at the slab of concrete beneath which Dr Leekie is buried.

Sarah goes it alone to track down the guy that showed her the worm video, whose phone she stole while out looking for MK in the previous episode. He’s heard theories about what the tech worm is for—biometrics monitor, a delivery system like for insulin… but why place it in the jaw when you could place it in the thigh? His theory? Proximity to the brain. Sarah is horrified. That worm has to come out stat. MK seems to be impossible to find so instead all Sarah gets is the name of the guy in the video—Alonzo Martinez.


Donnie: Ali, we are not going to exhume the dead guy in our garage, that is a haywire plan.

Alison: Donnie, my sister has a robot maggot in her face. You tell me what the solid plan is.

Meanwhile at the world’s most frigid dinner party, Susan chooses densely inappropriate dinner conversation and reveals that Charlotte was cloned from Rachel after 400 attempts. A horrified Rachel promptly puts an end to said dinner by making Susan and Ira leave. Later Rachel ends up bonding with Charlotte and the two send secret messages to each other on their art canvases, knowing that everything they say can be heard by Neolution. Charlotte has the same blood-clotted cough as Cosima. Yikes.

Art is in his apartment watching the Beth footage (I’m not crying you’re crying) when Sarah arrives at his door. She shows him the video of Alonzo, and Art heads off to the station to find a lead.

Felix and Adele continue to bond over martinis, and we learn a little more about Felix’s backstory—he and Adele share the same father, an American who had an affair with a British dancer. Adele only found about Felix’s existence recently after their father passed away.

Back at the Hendrix house, the sound of a jackhammer fills the atmosphere as a pregnant Helena casually eats Donnie and Alison out of house and home. Donnie comes into the kitchen to ask Helena to watch the kids for a few hours, while he and Alison work on their “project” in the garage.

Helena finally gets onto Sarah to give her the news that she’s having twins, glad that they will have each other like her and Sarah, but concerned that the babies will be “like her”. Sarah understands that feeling. The doorbell rings so Helena hangs up.

On the doorstep are two detectives who assume that Helena is Alison. They’re investigating the triple homicide of the drug dealers at the garage, and despite being the murderer they’re looking for Helena pulls a classic Helena and casually lets them in.

Sarah: Okay, you uh, rub that belly for me.

Helena: I will rub it.

Sarah: Okay.

Donnie swings into the house right as the detectives are settling into his living room. He bolts back into the garage to abort the mission with Alison. By this point, of course, it’s too late, because Alison has already dug far enough to unearth an ungodly smell that almost sends Donnie to his knees as he tries to choke out a warning about the detectives.

Alison’s campaign flyers were found at the scene of the crime. Helena gets queried on the names of Alison’s campaign team and when Donnie tries to help out one of the detectives tells him that when they ask his wife a question he needs to let her answer. Donnie is unable to remain straight-faced and cracks a laugh, responding, “I don’t know if that’s true, actually.” He corrects himself. “I’m just saying … legally … I don’t think that’s true.” Only Donnie could exhume a body and dig himself a grave simultaneously. Helena comes through for them both by miraculously knowing all the campaign people, and the detectives leave.

Back in the underground lab, Kira is sitting alone kind of zoning out. When Cosima gets her attention Kira says she was asleep (with her eyes open!) and had a bad dream about all the aunties setting Sarah on fire. Jeebus. Sarah, can we get to the part of the story where you stop leaving your kid to couch surf between replicas of yourself? Something tells me it’s not really great for the developing brain. Cosima assures Kira that they would never set Sarah on fire. Kira goes for the classic creepy-kid response and says they had to, because Sarah was changing, but she couldn’t explain how.

In the garage Alison and Donnie locate Leekie’s face and its respective worm. They skype Cosima to tell her to come get it and Donnie explains in as few words as possible that he shot Doctor Leekie and buried him in the garage (like literally, that’s all he says).

Cosima: You killed Aldous Leekie?

Donnie: Boy did I ever, yeah.

Art gets Sarah the name of a clinic that specializes in implants. When Sarah arrives and sneaks into the back a nurse recognises her as Beth. Sarah quickly gleans that this nurse helped Beth somehow, likely with the case she was investigating, but now wants to be done because she did some really illegal shit to cover for Beth. However when she realizes that ‘Beth’ has an implant too she agrees to help get it out, but before we get there…

…Mrs S is out in a darkened park waiting to meet her contact Benjamin who hasn’t shown up. Who does? Ferdinand. And he isn’t too friendly. He’s concerned that S and Sarah are investigating neolution tech, and asks why. Before S can explain, Art rings her to announce that Sarah has fallen off the radar…

…and then shit gets real. Remember I told you to buckle up? This is your captain speaking, we’re about to experience some heavy turbulence.  

When the clinic closes the nurse gets Sarah in the chair. But as soon as she does she pulls a 180° and penetrates the device in Sarah’s mouth with a dentist tool, telling her that if she moves even a hair that thing will unleash and kill her. Sarah can’t even panic over getting herself into this screwed up situation because at this point not even breathing is safe. The nurse, still thinking that Sarah is Beth, explains that she’s called her supervisors because ‘Beth’ really should have stopped snooping around. Out of nowhere shit gets even more real when a mysterious figure arrives with a knife in hand and slits the nurse’s throat á la Gone Girl right over Sarah’s dentist chair. Sarah almost flinches but manages to grab the tool poked into her cheek and keep it there, literally holding the pin to the live grenade that is her face.

The mysterious figure is revealed to be Ferdinand. He calmly takes the tool out of Sarah’s mouth, assuring her that if the nurse really had punctured it that Sarah would already be dead. Instead of explaining what the fuck just happened, Ferdinand tells Sarah that Susan Duncan is alive.

Speak of the devil, Susan Duncan appears in the final scene to apologise to Rachel for not raising her herself, but reassures her that their purpose in life is all in the service of the greater good: “To control human evolution and create a more perfect human being.”

Aaaand credits.


Aside from that wild ending with Sarah-turned-grenade, Episode 3 moved slightly slower than the others so far. The middle dragged a little as Sarah and Cosima tried to figure out the worm tech. I hope that the next episode rounds off this plot point and we can move on from figuring out what the worm is to what it’s for and why so much of Season 4’s plot seems to be circulating around it.

Okay, so, last time I talked about how excited I was for Felix’s subplot and I have to say that so far I’m pretty disappointed? Like, they went the predictable route and let it create a significant rift in Sarah and Felix’s relationship. I couldn’t find a description specific enough but there has got to be a TV Trope for when best friends fight over something dumb and it tears them apart, right? Anyway. I’m hoping the development continues for Felix but the way they’ve started out this biological family revelation it feels like it’s only going to last a couple of episodes. I hope I’m wrong but I’m calling it now—something will come up for Adele and she will leave, proving that Felix was not as important to her as Felix thought. He’ll then feel really cut up about it and go crying to Sarah, who will push him aside until she takes a second to understand what happened. Then Sarah will take Felix back and they’ll be best buds again, and he’ll realize that she was his real family all along. I hope to god that isn’t the case but I’ma little worried. I don’t want to see my boy Felix get screwed over both family-wise and plot-wise.

In positive news, the goings-on at the Hendrix house were the best parts of the episode. Alison and Donnie’s plot is already rife with dark humour but with a tablespoon of Helena in the mix it’s even more intense. But damn, I don’t know how they are going to get out of this one. Those detectives are guaranteed to make a second round and at this point Alison and Donnie are having to lean against their closet to stop all these skeletons from bursting out.

Despite Susan saying that Neolution is trying to create a more perfect human being, at the moment it looks like her scientific developments are only going backwards if anything. Charlotte having the same symptoms as Cosima is a scary revelation, seeing as she’s almost 20 years younger than most of the other Leda clones. That can’t be a good sign. Rachel was certainly concerned, but hid it well.

Oh man, Art watching the Beth footage just about did me in. I didn’t mention in the recap but when Art went down to the station he ran into the ‘detective’ who took Beth’s case and called him out on his unprofessional house call to Beth. The fact that their potential romance is living on in Art’s determination to do good by Beth’s memory is just fueling my tired shipper soul, you know?

AND SPEAKING OF WHICH, STILL NO WORD ABOUT DELPHINE WHAT THE HECK I DON’T KNOW HOW LONG I CAN GO ON LIKE THIS. But seriously, if they’re going to drag out the is she alive thing for at least three episodes… Surely she must be??? Because it seems a little late now to cut back to that car park or even to a hospital—at least too late to do both Delphine’s character justice, not to mention Delphine and Cosima’s relationship. So surely something bigger is going on. Delphine’s story can’t be over.

That’s all I’ve got. What are your thoughts?

Orphan Black reviews continue next Monday with Episode 4, ‘From Indistinct to Rational Control.’ 

Images courtesy of BBC America. 

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