Orphan Black: “The Stigmata of Progress” Review

orphan black season 4Our latest episode of Orphan Black was quite a stunner. I have a serious fear of going blind, and there’s a greater than average chance I’ll have to have some dental work done soon, and thanks to this episode, now, I… really don’t want to do that. I didn’t realize this season of Orphan Black was going to have to come with a trigger warning for body horror every single episode.

Having said that, uh, spoilers and body horror after the jump.

orphan blackOther than robotic cheek maggots, this episode was about family and all the iterations thereof. Rachel’s “family” is now comprised of Susan Duncan, our littlest clone Charlotte, and new Castor clone Ira, who serves as Rachel’s doctor. Ira was raised outside the whole Castor complex and doesn’t act much like the Castor clones we’ve met, which leads Rachel to say he’s “not a real man.” When the Castor clones were first introduced, I was hoping the show would use them to interrogate toxic masculinity the same way that the Leda clones were used to look at the patriarchy, but with all the plotlines piling up in Season 3, we never got into it. Hopefully Ira’s existence means that we’re going to get another chance to see these themes play out (and get more of the sister-brother relationship the Leda and Castor clones can’t seem to escape). However, I’m more interested in Rachel and Charlotte. We don’t really know what happened to Charlotte between the end of Season 2 and now, but she had a mother figure before this, so what happened to her? Did Susan have her killed? And Rachel’s always wanted a kid, as evidenced by her kidnapping of Kira, so it’s not a surprise that she’s bonding with Charlotte. However, given that Charlotte was cloned from Rachel’s DNA and that Charlotte clearly has the same disease that Cosima has, this has to be playing havoc with Rachel’s already fragile emotional state.

Helena’s still living with the Hendrixes and, apparently, getting healthcare by pretending that she’s Alison.They haven’t gone into the details of how this works, but I have to wonder, did any of them really think this through? The different hair colors can be explained, but Alison doesn’t have an accent and isn’t pregnant—do they expect that no one will be able to tell the difference, particularly people who have met Alison before? This comes into play this episode when a couple of cops investigating Pouchy and co.‘s deaths come to ask Alison some questions. Alison and Donnie are in the garage exhuming Leekie’s body to get a cheek worm for Cosima to study, so Helena has to take over—but, of course, she doesn’t know everything Alison knows and can’t quite act the part convincingly. I love seeing the clones play each other, but in this instance, the playacting is going to have real consequences if and when someone discovers that “Mrs. Hendrix” isn’t really a pregnant Ukrainian immigrant. Plus, at some point I expect that Alison’s frustrations with Helena taking over her life are going to come to a head. There’s a lot more tension to come from this particular plotline.

Meanwhile, in Sarah, Felix, Mrs. S, and Kira’s family, Felix has, despite Sarah’s rather selfish protestations, found his biological half-sister, Adele. She seems just like him, from the drinking to the artistic inclinations. Since it’s Orphan Black, I’m wondering if she’s actually his real sister—I’d like her to be, for Felix, but I’m also afraid that a plotline with Felix’s biological family will lead to him being like Alison from last season—sidelined and largely left out of the main plot. I hope the show can find a happy medium somewhere between the two.

I love Alison this season, though. Even Donnie's growing on me.

I love Alison this season, though. Even Donnie’s ineptitude is growing on me.

Since Felix refuses to help Sarah, she gets some help from Art, who tells her that the missing-cheek-guy from the case he and Beth were working on had gone to some dental clinic in the area, and Sarah goes to check it out. Once in, she’s mistaken for Beth, and manages to talk one of the dentists into removing the worm in her cheek. This seems like a patently ridiculous move for Sarah—she’s smart and she’s supposed to be at least a little cunning, so why would she just blindly go into a procedure she clearly knew nothing about and which clearly wasn’t explained to her beforehand? I know she desperately wants to get the worm out, but not this desperately. I guess I’ll just assume that she’s severely sleep deprived the whole episode. Either way, it doesn’t work out for her, as Ferdinand waltzes in, kills the dentist, and leaves the worm in Sarah.

Finally, throughout the seasons, Kira has had a hard time of it—first her mother comes back from wherever she was, then she’s taken by Mrs. S and squirreled away by Sarah and Felix, kidnapped by Rachel, then sent off to live with her dad in Iceland and then unceremoniously dragged back to Canada for this season. No one seems to be explaining anything to her, and on top of everything, now she seems to be having some kind of prophetic dreams. While it could be that the robotic worm maggot that’s possibly in her cheek is affecting her in some way, I think it’s more likely that Kira is that next step of evolution that Susan Duncan was talking about. We’ve seen some weird things about her in the past—she heals abnormally fast, she can tell any of her mother’s clones from each other, and now she’s acting out, either thanks to the utter lack of attention being paid to her or due to some developing new powers. Orphan Black‘s known for its plot twists, and I think it’s going to get a lot more exciting really soon.


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One thought on “Orphan Black: “The Stigmata of Progress” Review

  1. Pingback: Orphan Black: “Human Raw Material” Review | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

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