Is it okay for a TV show to clone itself?
To go back to the beginning, to re-spin a tale untold?
Orphan Black returned for season four and they may have paid heed to criticism for seasons past. What criticism you say? Widening the mythology including a vast government conspiracy. Diluting the narrative by expanding to a whole new line of clones. Diverting the focus from the beloved Clone club.
Granted, there is a large following of Orphan Black that couldn't give a flaming petri dish how big the overall plot line got. The characters, mostly played by the indomitable Tatiana Maslany, were draw enough for it's own sake to make the show worth watching. I myself am continually blown away by her acting virtuosity. (Why wasn't she cast for one of the Star Wars movies?)
However, the focus was beginning to slip a little and I feared we were going to drift too far from Sarah and friends. (Family?) Watching a military plane load full of Castor clones as Paul and Siobhan callously looked on last season was a bit frightening. Both from a narrative and fan boy point of view. Sure, the Castor project was fascinating in its own right and Ari Millen proved to be an acting revelation on his own. But shrinking the screen time from Tatiana and friends was distressing and I was afraid splitting the on air time with all the newcomers would seriously dilute their respective stories.
I guess I can step back from the ledge.
Orphan Black has spun the centrifuge and its taken us back to a time before Beth met her sad demise. This is exciting on many levels. Not only do we get the prequel story before Sarah was made the focal point of the story. But we also get to see Tatiana's take on Beth. Not the, Sarah as Beth we all grew up on, but the pure Beth unvarnished in all her paranoid and coked up glory.
This character is complicated and courageous but she is also spinning out of control. This is sad because one can only assume, despite her contact with Cosima and Alison, her personal safety net isn't as expansive as Sarah's.
I watched the four minute sneak peek that my DVR recorded before the season premier. I was shocked and happy to see Paul rise out of the bed behind Sarah. Only this wasn't Sarah it was Beth!
Holy smokes I thought to myself we're going to see the Beth story and the dead-too-soon Paul is back on the show if only for a short time. Yes, the Neolutionist conspiracy is being re-spun also but who cares. We get Tatiana as Beth and her story!
Beth is a mess. A very sympathetic mess. Once again Tatiana is brilliant. You can almost see the psychological cracks in her face. It won't be long before the shattered remains of her clone mirror are left scattered to the floor.
Despite sharing the bed with Paul she quickly skips off to the bedroom where she finds solace in a few lines of coke. What a way to start your day.
We watch as her paranoia deepens as she installs cameras in her apartment in order to catch the unfaithful Paul. She's not wrong, its just its just that Paul eventually has a soul and a conscience after all. Sadly, it takes the Sarah/Beth and Sarah versions to pull it out of him.
How odd was it to see Beth getting her drugs from Ramon. At first I thought it was funny then I thought it a bit sad that Alison enabled Beth. By introducing Beth to Ramon this actually contributes to her downward spiral. Was anyone else distressed to see this and the making of Alison complicit in Beth's suicide?
It's pretty apparent the physical relationship with Paul isn't enough for Beth and she tries a seduction of sorts to see how much he really cares. It's obvious Beth is desperate as she can't even wait for the video evidence of Paul's duplicity. She forces the issue and her personal radar goes off when Paul reacts to her affection with stony silence.
Beth nearly hits the breaking point that is to come by holding a gun to Paul. To his credit, Paul nearly takes the bullet because he can barely take the monster he has become. Beth pulls back just in the nick of time.
Paul's icy reticence sends her into the arms of Art. This is doubly sad because it was last season that we learned that Art loved Beth. Sarah managed to pull this out of him in that sad cafe scene where he admitted to as much.
Now we know it wasn't just a crush on his partner but they had a physical relationship as well. This just deepens the character arc for Art. It also tells us that Beth couldn't find the love and validation to her life that might of saved her.
Orphan Black never fails to sting us with a health dose of the existential crisis.
Beth's personal crisis comes to fruition when she pulls a gun once again in the alley. Seeing a Neolution bug getting pulled from someone's face will do that to you. Seeing part of your police force take part in it is also damning.
This time Beth pulls the trigger and kills some poor innocent (?) woman. This sickens her to her core.
She is then driven into the arms of the person who not only is supposed to protect her as her union police rep but is acting for the very evil Beth seeks to expose.
Can you say hello subway platform and suicidal train tracks?
It was pretty clever to close the episode the same way it opened. This time with Sarah receiving the late night phone call from M.K.. Sarah even looked out a pane of glass with a deepening sense of paranoia much like Beth looked through the glass as she made her grisly discovery.
I think I read somewhere where Orphan Black will involve the story of Beth at least in the first three episodes of the new season. This is a bold and welcome step as OB seeks to reset its story and reassure its fan base they are not going to stray too far from the beloved Clone Club. Wise move OB.
(BTW, check out the way Tatiana knits her eyebrows as Sarah above and as Beth in the first photo. Is there a subtle difference or do I need to step back from the fanboy subway tracks?)
The Walking Dead
It was also fun to see a roll call of the Orphan Black dearly departed.
Seeing Leekie was amusing but I hope we don't see too much of the Neolutionist plot line. I like a conspiracy as much as anyone else but the Beth/Sarah narrative is far more interesting. We saw Frank and his tail also. He's dead too right?
As we know, Paul is dead. (Does that make him one of the Beatles?) I liked his heroic arc they eventually developed for him. Too bad they killed him off. But at least they have breathed new life into him. Hopefully we'll get to see more into how he drove Beth to the train tracks. Hmm, do I really want to see that?
Of course Beth is dead too. It was pretty impressive the way she snapped that flashlight and gun into place like a real cop. That's a lot of training folks. I take a flashlight into the backyard when I let my dogs out late at night. I'm lucky I don't chip a tooth when a branch snaps in the woods.
I wonder if M.K. or Mika is among the walking dead? It looks as though we'll get to see the back story into what eventually led Beth to her doom. She's that hiden agent we've always wondered about. Is she still out there feeding info to the clone club?.
Odds and Ends
Felix you cheeky devil. Still in trouble with the police early on I see. A close encounter with Beth too. So close.
We see Cosima too. What hand does she play in Beth's demise?
Alison also. Sadly, she plays a role in Beth's suicide by introducing her to Ramon. Thereby enabling her drug dependence.
Don't think that terrible habit didn't play a role into Beth stepping out on to the tracks.
Alison is adorable but she is deadly. She watched her neighbor choke to death and she has a body buried in her garage. Who else is notched in her belt?
The episode ends as M.K. contacts Sarah much as she did Beth. With a midnight phone call.
That symbology is rife with meaning in this episode. Not only did M.K. bookend this entry with Beth and Sarah but we may have been afforded a sneak peek into how Orphan Black will conclude. With MK added to the story we not only saw how it all began with the Clone Club but she may be the avatar into how it will all end. Is she an angel of death? Will Sarah heed her warning or will it lead her down the same path as Beth? I'm not saying this is the last season of Orphan Black but we may have been afforded a glimpse into its end game and M.K. is the key.
Let's watch how this season progresses and see how large a role M.K. plays. It may mean the end.