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ORPHAN BLACK Recap: The Stigmata of Progress

Hello, sestras, and welcome back to our weekly recaps of BBC America’s Orphan Black. If you’ve not seen the episode, note that there will be spoilers below. You’ve been warned! 

Orphan Black‘s clone club is nothing if not a family like no other. And this season, more than others, has tested the limits of the ties both blood and not. Be it Sarah and Felix, the sestras themselves, Mrs. S and Kendall, Rachel and Charlotte, everything

First up, we should probably talk about Rachel. And Charlotte. And Ira and Professor Duncan. This family, tucked away in who-knows-where, is truly the pinnacle of Neolution nuttery. Rachel has clearly made demonstrable progress in her motor skills, but she’s not out of the woods on the “mad at mom” front. Susan Duncan’s return to their tucked away compound signaled a few things to Rachel: a.) their attempt to get Kendall Malone back failed, b.) there’s something else these Neos are getting up to, and c.) Momma Duncan doesn’t care about Rachel as a person so much as she does a legacy and scientific breakthrough.

Poor Rachel. But at least she has Charlotte—whom we learned was cloned FROM Rachel, and was attempt number 400 to boot (jeez). Unfortunately for Rachel, that’s about as much motherly love we suspect Susan Duncan could ever muster, but fortunately, it gives Rachel and ally and sister-ish version of herself with whom she can scheme. And scheme they did–Charlotte getting a message out for Rachel (to Ferdinand) unbeknownst to Susan Duncan and Ira. Success!

Which, Ira: we’ve got to talk about the clone that Susan Duncan ended up raising, the Castor cast-off who was too “different” (what the hell does that mean?) for his brother’s uniform living. Now a doctor (or something), Ira is as cold and calculating as Susan, and perhaps the best indicator of her reach and deceptions. He lied to Rachel constantly (“no one is watching”) throughout their eye treatment, made pointed remarks to try and cut her down, and his evasive maneuvering game proved not to be trusted. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but: I miss the other Castor clones, you guys. I miss Mark!


Perhaps the biggest revelations of the night, though, came from this particular family. Namely the reveal that the ultimate goal of Neolution is “to create a more perfect human being.” So, uh, just wait for this shit to get weirder! But it sounded like this relationship between Castor, Leda, and Neolution has been tenuous at best, as Rachel off-handedly noted that Castor wasn’t always in Susan Duncan’s control. How she got that control back enough to put both projects “in a box”—whatever that means—however, is still a mystery to be seen.

Of course, there’s a far bigger mystery at play here: Kira. Because like, what in the actual fuck was up with her creepy possessed-self-aware-knowledge-zone stuff, right? It was so weird. So, so weird—even for our little monkey who’s managed to survive, with nary a scratch, getting hit by a car. We’ve always known there was something funky up with Kira, but it seems like the show is going to up the creep anté this season.

It started out from the top, when Kira was playing a game and off-handedly said that, even when her mom lies to her about whether or not things are bad, “but I always know.” And it only got weirder from there! Later, while Kira was hanging out with Cosima, she described a dream she had that, apparently, felt quite real. And it has us nervous as all fuck for what’s going to happen to Sarah this season. “I was dreaming, all the aunties were there, you set mom on fire,” she stated like a possessed child of the corn. When Cosima explained that she would never hurt Sarah, Kira retorted, simply and detachedly, “You had to, she was changing,” adding that she was there but she “couldn’t see.”

Now this—coupled with that crazy extrasensory connection Helena and Alison had (more on that later)—has this particular recapper thinking that there’s something in the girls’ biology that contributes to this. In the case of Sarah and Kira, our money’s on the maggotbot. First, you’ll remember that the creepy Neo cleaners noted that Sarah didn’t have a scar, which leads us to believe that she was implanted with that worm at birth (does that mean Helena has one, too? And that’s why they can have children?), and that whatever evolutionary muckery the maggotbot has done was passed down to Kira, giving them some sort of connection (and an ability to heal).

Leslie (SIOBHAN MURPHY), Ferdinand (JAMES FRAIN) and Sarah as Beth (TATIANA MASLANY)

After all—as Dizzy pointed out—there’s no reason you put something that dangerous and volatile that close to the brain unless it’s for something really, really serious. Something tells us this is about way more than biometric monitoring or drug dispensing. Especially when you take into consideration the self-destruct/kill the host mechanism in place—that Alonso Martinez video is sure to haunt my nightmares. It’s no wonder Sarah was so desperate to get the damn thing out that she went to an old dental office lead of Beth’s.

But let’s get to the humor, shall we? By that we mean everyone’s favorite happy family of murderers, Alison, Donnie, and Helena. The newly be-twinned sestra, Helena, managed to get herself into quite a pickle when the cops showed up to question her about that time she totally murdered a bunch of druglords while Donnie and Alison jackhammered their way back down to Mr. Leekie’s body—and the maggotbot held within it. Naturally, all of this was done in the name of science—Cosima needs that maggotbot for research purposes, after all—which made it equally heart-rendering and heart-exploding in terms of stress levels. We need to know what’s up with that non-organic core and its need for a maxillary arterial connection to the host!

But Helena was able to answer questions she totally shouldn’t have …thanks to Alison simply thinking really hard and basically clone-style ESP’ing the right responses to her. Um, we’re going to need to know more about that immediately.

Of course, we’d be remiss to not mention Felix’s hunt for his biofamily, starting with his half-sister, Adele (because of course her name is Adele). The arrival of the boozehound-y disbarred lawyer with a serious drughound has proven itself to be a huge issue for Sarah and Fee (thanks, jealousy), but we’re fairly certain it’s only going to get worse because like, there’s no way she’s actaully Felix’s half sister, is she? She’s got to be a Neolutionist plant. (I mean, right?) That said it was nice to hear the backstory of how Felix came to be (dancer mother, American father) and how he ended up with Mrs. S.



Some Additional Thoughts:

  • Did Helena call Donnie Hendrix Donnie Henry? Because if so I’m OBSESSED WITH THAT.
  • Are they ever going to talk about what happened at Helsinki on the show, you think? Or is that going to be a comics-only sort of thing?
  • Sarah saying “Meathead, that’s huge!” was the cutest.
  • As was that moment that Alison called Helena her sister. Aww, Alison!
  • Donnie had a ton of amazing one-liners tonight. From “Maybe we should just buy one” about the jackhammer, to…
  • “Just gestate and watch the kids,” which was the best.
  • Alison was no slouch herself, though:  “She’s a scientist and a lesbian, she’s not going to let it slide!”

And for more details on the season from Donnie Hendrix himself, watch below!

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: BBC America

Alicia Lutes is the Managing Editor of Nerdist and president of our in-office Clone Club chapter. Find her on Twitter (@alicialutes) and catch her co-hosting Fangirling on Friday, April 29th at 4p PST/7p EST, featuring a segment with Tatiana!

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