Orphan Black: 405-407 Review
Reviewed by Connor Johnston.
Perhaps the most alarming thing about the last 3 weeks of Orphan Black is the fact that even after 4 series of witnessing Tatiana Maslany tackle so many different roles with such amazing clarity and ability – she is still finding ways to blow my mind. So much so that during “The Scandal of Altruism” I heard myself remarking how great it was that the actress who played Beth had agreed to return all this time later, before appropriately losing all faith in my own intelligence. So sincere and gripping is Maslany’s performance across the board that its difficult to fathom how one person can devote such a thorough understanding to so many characters simultaneously.
Without question, the real breakout character of this chapter is Jessalyn Wanlim’s unsettling Evie Cho – who despite having her prominence teased throughout the previous episode really only makes her true debut towards the conclusion of episode six when the extant of her power and influence over events both current and past, is revealed. There’s something remarkably disturbing about an antagonist who acknowledges the sick nature of her actions while vehemently insisting upon their necessity. As Evie’s influence and power increased, we watched as Susan slowly lost her point of authority in current events. Betrayed and disgraced by Evie Cho, Susan escapes to the “Island of Doctor Munroe” to bide her time with her lover Ira, Charlotte and of course Rachel.
Speaking of Rachel: despite existing quite separately from the mammoth sized main narrative of the last few episodes, her storyline has not been entirely dormant as she recovers from her injuries in isolation. One of the most confronting scenes of the series so far was where we see Rachel converse with Charlotte over the inescapability of their condition, which works to remind us both of Rachel’s cold personality without sacrificing the shards of her humanity that make the character so complex. Of course Rachel’s prominence in the series seems to be on the increase, with the confusion behind her scattered visions opening up more questions and mysteries as we lead towards the last stretch of episodes. Alison too has existed quite separately from the Brightborn narrative, though has not remained unaffected. Struggling with the emotional toll of current events, Alison’s attempts to find solace in her everyday life are foiled when confronted by Duku who arrests Donnie for drug trafficking. Krystal’s return to the show is something I was counting down to for weeks, and I’m pleased to say she didn’t disappoint. Swept up into the Brightborn conspiracy (while being totally unaware of true events) Krystal’s involvement in these few episodes have made for some thoroughly entertaining sequences – especially in regards to her interactions with both Donnie and Felix – and is again a shining example of Maslany’s talent and versatility.
Oh Cosima, my poor Cosima – it has not been an easy few weeks has it? From going undercover at Brightborn and discovering the horrors of the institute’s true motivations, to meeting her maker in the form of Susan Duncan and baring witness to the brutal death of Kendall Malone; this carousal of tragedy showed no sign of end. Cosima has really been a ticking time bomb for most of the series now, and with one struggling to shake the sickening feeling that this series is counting down to the death of a prominent clone the fact that her illness is becoming worse and worse is incredibly troubling. In Brightborn Cosima witnessed pregnant mothers living in cages and the inexcusable experiments being performed on them. So disgusted is Cosima, that when she comes to face to face with Susan, she doesn’t flinch in her condemnation. It’s a wonderfully powerful moment for Maslany. Speaking of powerful moments for Maslany under the mask of Cosima: watching her break down at the death of Kendall Malone and the news of Delphine’s shooting was absolutely shattering. Broken by the events of Episode six, Cosima loses all hope by the conclusion of episode seven and attempts to risk her own life only saved by Felix informing her that Delphine’s fate may not be yet sealed.
It has been a real whirlwind for Sarah the last couple of weeks, starting episode five still concerned about her face bot-bug and suspicion’s of Felix’s biological sister Adele, to suffering a complete behavioural breakdown in episode seven. There’s something frightfully unsettling about seeing Felix and Sarah at odds with each other. For 4 series now Felix has remained a point of strength and support for her sister – and seeing their relationship in tatters due to a combination of Adele’s presence, Felix’s frustration and Sarah’s confusion is a very unorthodox situation for the pair. In failing to disprove Adele’s connection to Felix Sarah is left embarrassed and more alone than ever before entering into her negotiations with Susan Duncan over the removal of her face bot and supply of Kendall Malone’s DNA. Things go from bad to worse for Sarah, with Mrs S’s reaction to Kendall’s death sending her on a downward spiral in episode seven, mixed up in drunken escapades and pushed to same mind-set Beth was in when she made the decision to end her own life.
Finally, it was Beth’s chapter that we finally saw come full circle in the breath-taking and utterly moving final sequence of Episode six. Set up by Evie Cho, Beth made the choice to threaten the life of Susan Duncan, unaware of the fact that she was her creator. Upon realising that Evie had been manipulating her to kill Susan unjustly, Beth confronts her; only to have the lives of all those she cares about threatened because of the information she has uncovered. These scenes link up with previously aired exchanges between Beth and MK and we become aware that these events form the framework to Beth’s final night alive. The emotional climax of the series ends with a haunting scene of a solitary Beth walking down a long tunnel toward the train tracks; and it is one of the most powerful images of the entire shows history. I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge how proactive and successful to revisit Beth’s character has been for the show this series, and given her ghost remains connected to Sarah for some reason – here’s hoping we’re not down with her just yet.
- 405: “Human Raw Material” Verdict: 8/10
- 406: “The Scandal of Altruism” Verdict: 10/10*
- 407: “The Antisocialism of Sex” Verdict: 9/10
*Not only is “The Scandal of Altruism” a 10/10 episode, but without hesitation the best episode of Orphan Black to date – across all 4 seasons.