'Orphan Black' S4E1: The Collapse of Nature

Welcome back to Clone Club, everyone! We begin with someone in a lamb mask traipsing through the woods. They stumble upon a couple in EMS jackets tossing a body into a shallow grave. Before they start covering it up, they pause for a quick kiss. Awww, you know what they say, those who bury a body together… well, actually probably turn on each other and give their partner up to the cops. Only time will tell what’s in store for these creeps, but our masked observer leaves a bear sticker on a nearby tree and books it out of there. Probably wise, Lambchop.

This whole sequence felt like we were watching a different show, and — surprise! — we kind of were. When Lambchop calls Beth it becomes clear we’re in the past, sometime before the events of Season 1. Lambchop (named MK) tells Beth she saw the EMS couple, or the "cheek choppers," and warns her not to trust anyone next to her. Cue Paul sitting up in bed next to her, lol. Beth brushes off his concern and heads to the bathroom. She receives coordinates from MK for where to find the body in the woods. Her medicine cabinet is empty, so Beth pulls out a shadier looking kit and proceeds to snort her pills, rather than just take them orally. It’s clear Beth is already in pretty bad shape, and if her icy exchange with Paul is any indication, so is her relationship. Just before the opening credits, MK takes off her mask and reveals she is also a Leda clone.

Orphan Black S4E1

At the crime scene, Beth removes the sticker MK left for her, but its significance is still unknown, unless it’s just to confirm that Beth is in the right place. Once they dig up the body, however, there is no doubt Beth is onto something. The victim is Neolutionist Edward Capra, with his cheek removed — hence the name "cheek choppers" — one white eye, and much to Det. Art Bell’s disgust, a forked penis. Beth and Art are skeptical, but the M.E. suggests the victim did it as a statement of "masculine-feminine duality." Hmmm, sounds a lot like Kendall Malone, doesn’t it?

There were so many callbacks to Season 1, with the return of long-forgotten characters like Det. Angie Deangelis, Raj Singh the police station IT guy, Olivier Duval (the guy with the tail), and Dr. Aldous Leekie. We even got a glimpse of Felix at the police station, but thankfully he didn’t see Beth, or that would’ve opened up a whole other can of worms… It was so great to see Beth’s relationship with all these characters, even the minor ones. Previously we’ve only been told about her from other characters. It’s interesting to go back and view characters’ reactions to Sarah while she impersonated Beth in Season 1 now that we understand Beth’s personality a little more.

The most interesting to me was Beth’s relationship with MK. So far we’d been led to believe that Beth was the one who brought all the clones together, who made them self-aware. We did get a chance to see her relationship with both Cosima and Alison, and Beth played the part of wise older sister to both of them. It turns out, however, that it was MK who initially clued Beth in to what she was, which means it was MK and not Beth who founded Clone Club. MK is extremely paranoid, with good reason, so when Beth meets her at her trailer MK only appears on her computer screen, not in person. Beth is frustrated; she’s a cop, after all, and she needs answers, even if she has to get her hands dirty. MK’s distance makes it hard for Beth to trust her, yet she still kept MK’s identity a secret from Cosima and Alison when she initiated them into Clone Club. I think Beth wants someone she can trust, but more importantly she needs someone she can share the burden of all this with. Beth’s sisters take their cues from her, Art is increasingly suspicious, and Paul is a confirmed spy; MK would be someone she could confide in, someone who could lighten her load. But MK’s paranoia keeps her out of the fray, so it all falls on Beth. No wonder she couldn’t handle it in the end.

Before their three minute allocation runs out (White Rose, anyone?) MK warns Beth that there are Neolutionist spies everywhere, including the police station. Then MK signs off, leaving Beth to track down leads on her own. She goes to Club Neolution, where she chats with Trina, a pregnant girl with one white eye and magnetic finger implants. She and her boyfriend Aaron deny knowing anything about Edward Capra. Beth follows the Neolution trail to an event where Aldous Leekie is promoting his book, "Neolution: The New Science of Self-Directed Evolution." She walks right up to Leekie and asks him to sign her book, all the while probing him for information on Capra. Wow, Beth really was fearless. Beth doesn’t know how involved Leekie is in Project Leda, but we do, and so does his associate, Evie Cho. Cho seems to be involved in whatever Neolution is plotting with all this cheek removal business, but she and Leekie both deny knowing Capra or anything concerning his death or body modifications. Cho knows enough to recognize Beth as a Leda clone, so I call BS. This lady has a hand in everything that’s going on, but how deep does her influence go?

Beth’s shaky behavior has not gone unnoticed at work, and her lieutenant informs her she’s off the Capra case while Art resignedly looks through a case file for Yip, Xan. The lieutenant demands a urine test from Beth and Art scoffs, "Will you even pass?" Luckily Beth thought ahead on this one — apparently the sestras were swapping pee long before Alison ran for school trustee. Earlier, Alison had Ramon (yes, that Ramon) deliver flowers to Beth, concealing pills and a mysterious blue bottle. Now it becomes clear that it’s Gemma’s pee inside the bottle, which Beth uses to pass her urine test.

Orphan Black S3E9

Art’s concern for his partner extends much farther than looking disappointedly at her from behind case files; Beth shows up drunk and high at his apartment after a tense fight with Paul and we get the sense this is not the first time this has happened. Art sends his daughter to bed and Beth crashes on the couch. Beth urges Art to "look at me, see me," as she begged Paul before. Unlike Paul, he does, but he can’t do anything to help her. They kiss and sleep together, but it’s just a patch on a much larger crack in Beth’s fragile psyche. Somehow, when Art finally confessed to Sarah last season that he loved Beth, I didn’t think they’d had a relationship beyond being partners. It was heartbreaking to see that they did, but it wasn’t enough for either of them.

Trina’s call rouses Beth from Art’s bed, much like MK’s woke her from Paul’s, and she pursues Aaron. He left Club Neolution with the EMS couple who have come to harvest the implant they embedded in his cheek. They claimed it was for a biometric experiment, but what started out as a tiny grain grew into something bigger. Beth watches as the couple prepares to extract the implant, then she sees a fellow detective! So at least we know the Neolutionist spy isn’t Art. They extract the implant, a wriggling larva identical to the one Dr. Nealon attacked Delphine with last season. It looks like Capra and Aaron received the early trials of this particular implant, while Nealon had a later model. I am extremely curious to learn more about this technology, as disgusting as it is.

When Beth sees the larva, she recoils, stumbles backward, and attracts the attention of the Dirty Detective. She races down to the alley, gun drawn, and when she hears someone behind her, she shoots them twice in the chest. That someone is Maggie Chen, and we are treated to the series of events that plagued Beth and ultimately pushed her to commit suicide in the pilot episode. We now know that Maggie Chen was far from innocent and worked as a double agent for Dyad and the Proletheans, but as far as Beth, Art, and the rest of the world are concerned, she is a civilian and Beth killed her. Beth calls Art in a panic and he stages the scene so it looks like Beth mistook Maggie for the suspect on a different case: Yip, Xan. I love the way this unfolded — it was so exciting to witness firsthand events that so far had only been described to us as an audience. The lieutenant. introduces Beth to Det. Duko from the police union (aka Dirty Detective!!). He will accompany Beth to Internal Affairs to give her official statement. Beth begins to realize the magnitude of what she’s stumbled into, finally understanding MK’s warning: "You’re not scared enough." I think it’s safe to say Duko will play a much larger role going forward, as will MK. I can’t wait to learn more!

Flash forward to Sarah waking up to Art’s call (nicely mirroring Beth’s relationship with Art). He’s with MK, who has just resurfaced from going dark after Beth’s death. MK warns Sarah that Neolution knows she’s in Iceland with Kira and they’re coming for Kendall Malone. Sarah Manning is on the run again!

MVC (Most Valuable Clone) of the Week: Beth. This episode was super Beth-heavy and it was so cool to see the events of her story play out. I loved the sense of déjà vu and repetition in this episode. While I’m excited to catch up with Sarah, Felix, Cosima, and Alison, this flashback was necessary to lay some groundwork for where the season is headed, answer some questions and raise some new ones, and introduce new characters like MK and Duko, who I’m sure will play major roles as the season progresses. What did you all think of the season premiere?


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Apr 20, 2016 8:07PM EDT

Loved seeing more of Beth -- and seeing the Maggie Chen shooting play out. But I'm ready to get back to the present. Bring on sestra Helena!

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