Orphan Black S04E01 “The Collapse Of Nature” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Netflix, new episodes every Friday
Writer: Graeme Manson
Director: John Fawcett
Essential Plot Points:
- A mysterious figure wearing a sheep mask watches two paramedics burying a body in the middle of a night-time forest. The woman calls Beth – yes, Beth; this entire episode is a flashback – and tells her where to go. Then she removes her mask: she’s another Leda clone.
- Beth leaves boyfriend Paul behind and heads off to the crime scene, but not before snorting coke first. This is a theme for this episode. Beth is not a clean-living gal.
- The coroner checks over the body, which has been bio-modified in many ways, from a weird eye to a bifurcated penis (ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch – at least we don’t see it…). The guy’s cheek is also missing, as though something was cut out of it.
- We follow Beth as she goes to work at the precinct, realising that she’s in touch with Cosima and Alison. We also spot Felix being questioned by a detective after being picked up for solicitation.
- Beth meets up with her source, the paranoid MK – she only appears on a computer screen – who tells her to go to Club Neolution to find out more about the deaths of what she calls “Tadpoles”: people testing out Neolution gadgets.
- At the club, Beth questions some fans of body modification, without much success. Next, she goes to talk to Dr Aldous Leekie, who humours her queries and is his usual smug self.
- A sudden urine test at work could be Beth’s undoing… but she’s a smart one, and has already obtained pee from Alison’s daughter to use as a decoy to be tested.
- Her romantic dinner with Paul that night is anything but. Beth knows he’s spying on her and wants him to “see her” as the person she really is, but he’s distant. Upset and drunk, she goes to see Artie instead… and seduces him (not that he’s unwilling, mind).
- Beth suddenly gets a phone call from the girl she spoke to at the club earlier that day. Her boyfriend has gone missing after meeting with some Neolutionists who were going to remove an implant he had in his cheek.
- Following the girl’s directions, Beth finds the guy and observes the surgeons operating on his cheek. They pull out… dun dun DUHHHH… a worm!
- Horrified, Beth then panics when she sees the guy overseeing the procedure, Detective Duko, works at her precinct. As she runs away, she’s surprised by a noise behind her and accidentally shoots someone dead.
- When Duko is assigned as her union rep over the shooting, Beth suddenly realises she’s in way over her head, and goes to see MK, feeling desperate and, as we now know with hindsight, potentially suicidal.
- In the present day, Sarah’s phone rings. It’s Artie, and he puts Mika on the line. She tells Sarah she has to leave Iceland immediately – Neolution is coming for her…
Now this is what we call a brave way to start a season: an entire episode from the perspective of a character who died in the first few minutes of the show three seasons beforehand, with no explanation, apology or warning. We’re in Beth’s world now, and that’s that. Deal with it.
Thankfully, it’s a very interesting world indeed. Beth’s final days are a mess on every level, and we really get the sense that things are starting to unravel for her. From the drugs to the systematic way she deals with the drugs with someone else’s urine – wow, that’s some serious deviousness right there, almost worthy of Sarah herself; from her disastrous relationship with Paul (holding a gun to his head without him knowing; now that’s cold) to the way she throws herself at Artie; from her juggling her investigation of her clone past with a full-time police job; to the final straw of killing someone and then realising the Powers That Be don’t have her best interests at heart at the station… No wonder she eventually buckles and jumps in front of that train. If we’d followed her in her final hours, we can only imagine the state she would have been in; it’s almost a blessing we catch her here, just before the rails really come off.
As always, Tatiana Maslany is 100 per cent convincing; Beth is probably the clone that’s most similar to Sarah, but she manages to downplay her enough to make us believe she’s someone else. It’s difficult to know what to make of MK, however. At the moment she simply seems to have a mild Eastern European accent and is as twitchy as Elena; hopefully she’ll get a chance to shine in future episodes. And, as always, it’s nice to meet another “seestra”!
There’s also some clever scriptwriting going on here for those who thought the subplot about the body modifications and the icky worm last season came out of nowhere. Nope, it was there all along – we just didn’t know about it. Nice one.
- The opening scene of two paramedics having a quick, open-mouthed snog while they bury a body is massively chilling. Ew.
- “Hey! So what’s up with the mutilated face and the modified dick?” DeAngelis is not someone you want sitting at the next table when you’re in a diner, that’s for sure.
- “I’m looking to have my breasts genetically modified into corkscrews,” says Beth as she enters the club. And now we’re wondering if they actually do that there.
- Felix making a cameo in the police station is rather amusing – explaining away peeing on something as “performance art” is so very him.
- While there’s a lovely little moment with Alison waving a gun around, there’s not much in the way of banter in this episode. A few wry Beth one-liners, plus a coroner who seems to be having way too much fun with her job, aren’t really enough to inject the kind of life into proceedings we usually get from Felix, Alison and Helena’s bizarre conversations. Still, it’s more of a formulaic cop drama episode this week, so it makes sense.
- The club owner is having a tail fitted when we meet him. It’s fair to say that he’s shaping up to be a right weirdo…
- Best Quote: Artie, failing at being a supportive partner: “Did you get any sleep at all? You look like shit.”
Reviewed by Jayne Nelson