Orphan Black, Season 4, Episode 1 – “The Collapse of Nature”
By Heather Dyer
Clone Club, I am so ready. Here I am in my black hoodie, smoky eyeliner and drinking a pint. So let’s get to it, yeah?
Orphan Black became extremely complicated in Season 3. It was nearly impossible to keep track of Neolution and Topside and Castor and Leda, and who is on what side, and my God, all those Castor boys act psychotic so you can’t even tell them apart! Thankfully, Season 4 kicks off with a much more focused storyline, aimed at exploring how Beth began investigating what would be known as Project Leda, and what compelled her to step out in front of that train back in the series opener.
The Spooky Forest
This is our first glimpse of a brand-new sestra, MK. She’s creeping around the woods at night in a sheep mask spying on two people in EMT jackets who are burying a body (and making out, because what’s hotter than dead people?). She sneaks away and immediately calls Beth. “I saw them. The Cheek Choppers.”
When daylight returns to the Spooky Forest, Beth and Art are at the crime scene. Beth claims she got an anonymous tip about the whole thing, and–surprise–it pans out because they find the body. The victim has Neolution modifications and tattoos, and is sporting an impressive cheek cut-away.
Now we start to see that some of the clones have found each other, as Beth talks to Cosima about college tuition being due (remember, they have a bank account specifically for Clone Business) and her move to be closer to everyone and continue her research.
Alison talks to Beth as she walks around her craft room with a glass of wine and a shiny new handgun. This is the sort of juxtaposition I love about the Soccer Mom. It’s refreshing to see Alison because there’s a lot of weighty stuff going on with Beth, and Alison brings levity to the episode.
Felix is at the police station when Beth walks in. Eeee! FELIX! There doesn’t seem to be any reason in the world for him to be in this episode except that Felix is fabulous and we need to see our TV bestie!
Picking up the tail, er, the trail
MK explains to Beth that Neolutionists are preying on people who are basically Neo groupies and then using them to experiment on. She suggests that Beth make a trip to a Neo nightclub to see if anyone knows the dead guy. Speaking of Club Neo, remember Olivier, the guy whose tail Helena ripped off? He’s the club manager or something, and he’s picking out some sweet threads to accentuate his little wiggler. He’s concerned about Beth showing up at his club asking questions, and calls Aldous Leeki.
Dr. Leeki assures him that everything is fine and hangs up, and is joined by the woman Beth will eventually kill: Maggie Chen. “One of my subjects seems to have exhumed one of yours,” he says. So Chen is involved in Topside? Interesting.
Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang
Beth’s instability hasn’t gone unnoticed around the station, and the lieutenant takes Beth off the Neolution case and mandates a drug test. This is really the point where we see Beth start to buckle under the pressure. She is still coming to terms with the fact that she’s a clone, her clone sisters rely heavily on her, her job is taking a toll, she’s abusing prescription medication… and she is starting come undone. She tries to turn to Paul for comfort, but she doesn’t know how to be vulnerable and he doesn’t trust her. She ends up at Art’s apartment, desperate to feel connected and comforted. Of course, they end up in bed together, because he’s already in love with her.
We interrupt Beth’s emotional meltdown to bring you a phone call from the pregnant woman Beth talked to at Club Neo, who is worried about her boyfriend meeting up with some “serious Neos,” aka the EMTs from the beginning of the episode. She says they put a little seed in his cheek, but now it’s growing. Never fear, emotionally fried, pill-addicted Beth to the rescue!
Beth ends up outside a building downtown and peers through the window to find three people in a room slicing off the victim’s cheek. What are they pulling out of the flesh? The same kind of worm that Dr. Evil tried to spit into Delphine at the end of last season. Eww. Beth startles and knocks over some stuff, alerting them to her presence. Frightened, she bolts, and when someone approaches from behind her she fires first and asks questions later. The person she shot is, of course, Maggie Chen. She calls Art in a panic.
In another act of support, and because he is stupidly in love, Art stages the crime scene to look like self-defense. He helps her practice her story until everyone else arrives. The upside is that Beth has a union representative who is there to help her through all of this. OH, WAIT. Detective Duko, who Beth saw at the station, and who was just up in the room with the Neos, is also Beth’s union rep. “Don’t worry,” he says, “I’ll be with you the whole time.” Well, now she’s really screwed.
Iceland, Iceland, Baby
Fast-forward to the present: Sarah gets a call from Art while she’s in Iceland with Kira. MK is with him, telling Sarah that Neolution knows where she is, and she needs to run now. This is a terrific way to end the episode, like the whole time we were pulling back an arrow, and with this phone call we let go and watch Season 4 fly.