Orphan Black: 403-404 Review
Reviewed by Connor Johnston.
What an explosive two weeks of Orphan Black it has been. From more shock returns to the introduction of new characters, gripping mysteries and enticing teasers of greater battles to come: Series 4 continues to build its case as one of the strongest, most focused and most assertive run of episodes to date.
At the centre of the action of the last two episodes is the questioning of Sarah’s wellbeing given that the Neolutionist implant remains inside of her. As per usual, Sarah’s panic and impulsion is what continually drives her into dangerous positions. This week that entailed being trapped in a Neo-Dental clinic only to be rescued by the return of Ferdinand, whose actions remain motivated by personal interest. Regrettably, there was a time a long while ago where Alison and Donnie’s storyline was my least favourite aspect of the show – an attitude I cannot even fathom now that it’s become much the opposite. From digging up the corpse of Dr. Leekie, going under-cover in a fertility clinic with Felix, engaging in some utterly hysterical phone-sex and even dealing with police inquiries regarding Helena’s drug-kingpin massacre – their storyline continues to be one of the most entertaining and rewarding aspects of the show. Speaking of Helena, her dynamic with Donnie remains a highlight, so too her excitement over her pregnancy. Now that she’s left “Family Hendrix”, it will be interesting to see where her path leads next. Could a return for “Jesse’s Towing” be on the cards?
If I’m being completely honest, regardless how interesting and suspicious I found her in the opening three episodes, it wasn’t until “From Instinct to Rational Control” that I felt Mika had truly earned her prominence in the series and became a character I was actively invested in. In episode four we are given an insight into her tragic backstory, escaping a ‘purging’ of clones and their families at the hand of Ferdinand and Topside in Helsinki. This revelation not only justified the distance and lack of trust she has in others, but also set in motion her plans of revenge, luring Ferdinand to Beth’s apartment and rigging him with explosives making for one of, if not the most climactic moments of the series so far.
Though holding quite a prominent role in the second episode of the series, Cosima’s storyline does seem to be slightly forgotten over these two weeks. Reduced to a laboratory helper monkey that occasionally contributes some scientific finding to progress her sister’s storylines, the lack of focus on her narrative is the only area in which the show needs improvement. Where the scarceness of Cosima’s screen time has left holes, it’s the return of Rachel, Charlotte, Susan Duncan and the addition of Caster clone Ira that has occupied their space.
Rachel continues to be a personal favourite of mine among the Leda clones, whom I feel shines particularly whenever her vulnerabilities are explored on screen. In breaking down her relationship with Susan, or indeed the absence of one, Rachel is awarded a significant amount character depth that not only endorses the audience to sympathise with her situation, but also understand what circumstances led to her fractured persona. It is also refreshing to see that the show’s creators have opted to drastically reduce the presence of the Castor clones following Series 3’s slightly hit and miss record with both their characterisation and prominence. However harsh it may sound, there really wouldn’t be any objections from this reviewer if ‘Ira’ melted more and more into the background, regardless of how confident a performer Ari Mullen continues to be.
While “The Stigma of Progress” was slightly slower than the rest of the series so far, it was still a confident and robust episode that did wonders for narrative progression; especially in bringing back a number of powerful players, such as Rachel and Ferdinand, back into the mix. “From Instinct to Rational Control” however is the pinnacle of the show’s quality. Its balance of character driven drama, gripping mystery and chaotic action encapsulates everything that one has grown to love about the series. One can only hope that in continuing on this gradual incline Series 4 hasn’t peaked too early.
However, with the next few episodes seeing the sinister Evie Cho take more of a prominent role as the latest antagonist, the credibility of Adele brought into question and Krystal make her long awaited return to the series: I believe it’s safe to once more put a tremendous amount of faith in the series to continue on this stunning run of episodes in style.
PS: If we could just organise a #JonSnow for Delphine ASAP that would be sensational. Also a compulsory factor in my continued enjoyment of the series. Thankyou.
403. “The Stigma of Progress” Verdict: 7/10
404. “From Instinct To Rational Control” Verdict: 10/10