Orphan Black Recap: Can I Offer You Some Breads?

Orphan Black

The Stigmata of Progress
Season 4 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating *****
Tatiana Maslany as Cosima. Photo: Orphan Black IV Productions Limited

Whenever I’d try to convince my friends to watch Orphan Black, I use lines like, “It’s super-feminist sci-fi, and one woman plays all the clones!” and “It’s a show about science that actually gets the science right!” After tonight’s episode, I can confidently add “There’s just the right amount of gnarly body stuff!” to that list. Orphan Black is executing some truly nasty, rotting, squirmy antics this season, and it is delightful.

This week’s first grody moment belongs to Rachel, who is wasting away her life in the secret custody of her not-dead mother, Susan Duncan. In truth, she’s under the tidy care of a passive-aggressive Castor clone named Ira, who seems to have been raised by Susan, after she passed off her Leda baby to Leekie and Topside. He conducts Rachel’s physical therapy and regular optometry exams on her new robo-eye, including (here it comes!) a needle injection of a pigment to eventually make it look real.

Rachel is long over the whole gilded-cage routine, and has been trying to mentally pinpoint her own location — at dinner, she correctly guesses that Susan was attempting (and failing) to capture Kendall in Iceland. Susan is ruffled and tells Rachel that she’s an ungrateful disappointment. Then, out of spite, she drops the bomb that their little half-goth Wednesday Addams, Charlotte, is actually Rachel’s clone … which means she also has their disease. (She coughs up blood at one point, in case it was unclear.) Susan later offers a non-apology, insisting Rachel is the real experiment and her sacrifices are for the greater good — i.e., a purer human race through Susan-directed evolution. Yikes. What a cozy little WASP nest. The only relationship in this nightmare den that could be described as remotely positive is between Rachel and Charlotte, the latter of whom is homeschooled online and gladly sneaks an S.O.S. to the outside world for her “mom,” who of course is not allowed a computer of her own.

Still shaken after that whole synthetic-maggot-in-face incident (we’re calling them “bots” now, which feels wrong given the world we live in, but whatever), Sarah is on a real tear. She’s a total garbage monster to Felix and his newfound biological sister, Adele, when he refuses to acquiesce to her demands that he help her. Woman, you didn’t even ask, let alone nicely! A choice between servitude to your hazardous ass or a nice baked-and-boozy picnic in an underpass skate park isn’t a choice at all. I pray that Felix and Adele’s conversation about their father, who cheated on her mom with his while visiting the U.K. and didn’t reveal he had a son until he was on his deathbed, is not somehow related to the clone stuff, because come on. Give the guy a break.

Without her slave/brother, Sarah goes rogue to get this thing out of her face. Still no idea what this abomination is, though. Cosima and Scott are pretty sure it’s not a tracker? When Sarah returns Dizzy’s phone and convinces him to talk by making him feel her face-bot — externally tangible now, I guess? — he suggests that something like that would only be implanted in a person’s head for its proximity to the brain. Cue Young Frankenstein horns. He names the unfortunate guy in that snuff vid: Alonzo Martinez. Sarah tells Art, who leaves her at Beth’s apartment to forlornly watch footage of Paul ambling around while he hightails it to the precinct to (a) stupidly make his suspicions known to Thin Man, and (b) discover that Martinez left a too-perfect paper trail. Turns out he came to Toronto from Bogotá for a single day, specifically to visit a dentist who specializes in implants.

Sarah infiltrates the dentist (shudder). When a technician mistakes her for Beth and appears to have previously helped her, she reveals she knows about Alonzo. The tech offers to remove her bot after the clinic closes — except she’s a Neolutioner and it’s all a ruse to get Sarah strapped down and frozen at the end of a needle while her bosses are en route. Moments later, the tech is spewing blood from her jugular on the floor, thanks to … our good ol’ freak pal Ferdinand! He received Rachel’s S.O.S. and tracked down Sarah via Siobhan. As a Topside operative, he happens to know a lot about bots. Also, Susan Duncan is alive. Could a rescue mission be afoot?

To top all this off, Sarah has been hardcore neglecting Kira. She leaves her with Cosima and that hapless comics -hop employee, a choice that’s equal parts understandable, in-character, and a totally grave mistake: This tiny person suffers straight-up terrifying waking “dreams” about Cosima setting her mother on fire “because she was changing,” like some sort of mystic oracle baby. Collect your child, Sarah.

Helena, whom everyone is still keeping out of the loop — it seems like a great idea to lie to a feral assassin nicknamed “meathead” for long periods of time, doesn’t it — has been loafing around in a bathrobe while “babysitting” and inhaling the Hendrixes’ groceries. She finally gets in touch with Sarah to tell her about the twins and how she doesn’t want them to end up like her. Meanwhile out back, the happy couple have decided to exhume the corpse of a man they murdered and buried under concrete because Alison realizes that, as a Neolutioner, Leekie might have a face-bot of his own for Cosima to study. And he does! (Note: Praise science advisors, for they ensure the eye-watering, projectile-vomit-worthy stench of a months-old unembalmed corpse is represented properly.) Since Cosima “is a scientist and a lesbian,” and you can’t lie to scientists or lesbians, they also must come clean about killing Leekie in the first place, which doesn’t seem like a big deal at this point. Standing ovation for Kristian Bruun and Tatiana Maslany for their comedic timing in this video-chat scene, because it is just … [kisses fingers like a chef].

Of course, it’s the perfect time for the cops to come calling about a triple homicide of some drug dealers, who happened to have had one of Alison’s campaign signs at the garage where Helena slaughtered them with a machete — and then mistake Helena for Alison, no less. Donnie comes in, attempting to steer the Helena ship, as husbands do, but she is not to be tamed. The suspicious detectives are more than happy to listen as she offers them “breads,” says she doesn’t know the victims because “they died,” and then, by virtue of some otherworldly miracle, manages to rattle off the full names and positions of all three parents on Alison’s campaign team. Listen up, sestras: Underestimating Helena is such a bad idea. I do not feel good about this plan of action.

Lingering Concerns:

  • Is no one going to ask “Alison Hendrix” where her heavy Eastern European accent originates, or why she keeps calling Donnie “husband”?
  • If Charlotte is indeed Rachel’s clone, wouldn’t Rachel have recognized her as her younger self?
  • Do we think Kira is more Firestarter or Minority Report, Jr.? Other theories welcome!
  • Will we get an O.G. Helsinki flashback? We deserve it, right? Six self-aware Ledas actually getting killed is just a ghost story until we see it play out.

Finally, a couple corrections: A few commenters made some excellent points regarding last week’s remaining questions. First, Kira is annoyed she can’t see her father, Cal, not Alison. Second, many thanks to the panel who pointed out that the language spoken by the EMS Ghoul Squad is in fact Afrikaans, not German. (In retrospect, that seems way too on-the-nose for a eugenics cult!) They may have been able to identify Sarah just by checking her mouth — if MK has a scar from where she removed her own bot, or if she never had one at all. (That said, this seems to confirm that Sarah is the only clone with a bot.)

Orphan Black Recap: Can I Offer You Some Breads?