Orphan Black: “The Mitigation of Competition” Review

orphan black season 4

I always feel guilty getting behind on Orphan Black, because the show always delivers such quality content that I feel like I owe them my regular viewership. Unfortunately, my busy schedule of con-attending (and then con-recovering) left me yet again an episode behind this week. It’s always fun to do a bit of a mini binge-watch, though, and this episode pulled a lot of our disparate plot strings back toward the center of our clonetastic Gordian knot.

Spoilers—and probably more mixed metaphors—after the jump.

Our two major focuses this episode are the aftermath of Donnie’s jail time and the tentative start to Rachel and Sarah’s partnership. But first and most importantly, this episode sees the triumphant return of Helena! She’s been living in the woods off of like, deer meat and tortillas, but returns to civilization when a check-in call to Sarah leaves her suspecting something’s amiss. She’s hugely pregnant and eager to see her sestras again, which ends up throwing a bit of a wrench into proceedings. Back with the Hendrixes, Donnie is released on bail, and is only bemused by Alison’s desperation to reconnect with God. They’re also struggling with his case because Felix doesn’t want Adele in Clone Club (for her own safety), so there’s a limited amount of information they can give her to work with for Donnie’s defense. helena s4e9The situation is exacerbated when Helena barges into Felix’s apartment while Adele is there. Adele was already somewhat suspicious of the “Sarah and Alison are twins” story, but seeing a third Sarah, and a grim, bleach blonde, Eastern European version of her at that, leads to a confrontation with Felix. He basically tells her that he’s keeping her in the dark for her own good, which she accepts, for now. After a season of a clone-free subplot for Felix that asked if genetics make a family, it seems that he’s moving away from his bio sister and the plot independence she gave him and returning to the Clone Club fold. It’s a rough call to make, certainly; but Felix knows that the unfortunate truth is that people who know about Leda often end up dead. It is rather unfair for Adele, though; she’s pulled into Felix’s world and then kicked right back out again. 

Back in Suburbia, the Hendrix household is raided by the Neolutionist bot-installer from earlier this season. He’s looking to torture information on Sarah out of Alison, but Alison’s frantic prayers for help are answered by her very own grim, bleach blonde, Eastern European guardian angel. Helena shoots the guy through the neck with her homemade deer hunting bow, and that’s that.

On the other side of things, Rachel sends Sarah after two escaped Neolution surrogates, who witnessed—and filmed!—a Neolution baby being euthanized for its deformities. The goal is to get a hold of the footage and leak it to discredit Evie, who’s trying to launch a huge new Brightborn facility. kendra neolution brightborn orphan blackUnfortunately, Sarah and Art’s methods aren’t quite brutally efficient enough for Rachel, who ends up interfering at what seems like a very inopportune moment. There’s even a brief moment where we are led to believe that Rachel is double-crossing Sarah et al; she corners Evie and says that she’s willing to betray the rest of the clones if it will get her back into Neolution’s high command circle. It turns out to be a ruse, thankfully—she manages to capture Evie on tape admitting that killing the deformed newborns was a necessary step in Brightborn’s evolution, and the resulting media chaos is enough to doom Evie’s future for good.

And finally, back at the lab, Cosima starts to warm up to Charlotte, and begins to dig into the history of Neolution after being lent a book written by its founder by Susan. I wonder what she’ll find there; is Susan trying to give her a clue or just lull her into a false sense of security? Or maybe now that she has Cosima to herself, she’ll try to sway her to the Neolution school of thought? Time will tell, I suppose.

This episode left me thinking about consequences a lot, both within the show’s universe and on a more meta level. While it’s viscerally satisfying to see people like Leekie, Pouchie, Duko, and Nameless Neolution Bot-installer #1 meet a brutal end, the bodies are really starting to pile up. It can’t be long before there’s real trouble for the Clone Club, especially the Hendrixes, what with all these corpses. I especially wonder how Alison will interpret Helena murdering that guy in terms of her attempts at recovering her faith—Helena appeared in seemingly perfect answer to her prayers to rescue her. mitigation of competition orphan blackOn a more meta level, while it’s satisfying to see the sinister and ableist Evie Cho brought down, her meteoric removal from power means that we’re once again down a major character of color, and our only major woman of color at that. And not only that, the coup will likely put a white woman back on top.

There’s only one more episode in this season, and I’m really curious to see how everything comes together. What plotlines will get wrapped up and what will be left for Season 5? What new mysteries will be introduced with the reintroduction of the not-dead Delphine? Is she really the one sending the messages to Rachel, as implied, and if so, what is she trying to tell her? Considering that the Leda myth centers around a swan and Rachel’s visions are of a swan being beheaded, are we going to lose a major clone before the season is out? Will we see the return of Cal as well? Will Adele be inducted into Clone Club or is she gone for good? By this time next week, we’ll have at least some of the answers—but till then, we’re just going to have to hurry up and wait.

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