Orphan Black: The Collapse of Nature
April 14, 2016 9:45 PM - Season 4, Episode 1 - Subscribe

A sort of prequel episode, we learn about one clone's recent history while being introduced to a new one.

What a way to start the season! My DVR even recorded "After the Black" after the premiere all there were some interesting insights from Tat and Kevin. It was a cathartic episode for them, actually playing out the circumstances that led to Beth's suicide that was only talked about in season 1. And Tatiana was glad to really delve into Beth, who she didn't get a whole lot of experience with. Interestingly, M.K., or Mika, was based off of the Icelandic singer Bjork.

And your eyes didn't fool you, due to production constraints (a lot of earlier sets were dismantled after season 2), the police station is very different and a lot smaller.

I'm excited we'll get to see another non-American clone. But M.K. is a fragile one, with the emotionally stunted maturity of a teenager, while being super intelligent, so let's see how that plays out. And such a tease with Felix within feet of Beth!
posted by numaner (41 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I had no idea they moved it to Thursday, so I guess the associated promotional campaign there must have been (...right?) didn't work out so hot.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:47 PM on April 14, 2016

I love how unable I am to predict basically anything about this show. I love how it throws so many balls in the air but doesn't feel out of control. So much has happened, so many interests involved, and we're only 31 episodes in? It's hard to appreciate I think how dense and intricate the plotting must be. It's such a bold move to go back and do a prequel; it feels sort of like an announcement that the writers know what they're doing, that they understand how their stories fit together, how they develop. It might be a con, but so far, I'm their mark.
posted by cgc373 at 11:48 PM on April 14, 2016

At first I was annoyed with going back to Beth--it seemed like a reboot--but it was fun and fascinating to see these other, earlier sides to, say, Alison and Cosima.

M.K. is certainly Bjork-like with the mask and all, but I find her a bit annoying for now. If we want quirky there's already Helena.

Meanwhile, After the Black was such an annoying imitation of Talking Dead that I found it unwatchable.
posted by TwoStride at 5:14 AM on April 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh! I forgot it moved to Thursday, too! Completely missed it.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:32 AM on April 15, 2016

I loved it, and I felt it was going a bit off the rails and flailing on S3 with the Mind Control Worms.
But, in deference to those who haven't seen it: I love how they have looped back to the beginning and have tied it all in, so it make sense.

Tatiana as Beth and MK seemed.... like Sarah and Helena, but I suppose playing 9 or 10 roles in the one series is going to test the finest of actors.

As cgc373 says, it feels like they know what they're doing, which I wasn't sure they did last season.
posted by Mezentian at 5:39 AM on April 15, 2016

If we want quirky there's already Helena.

I don't know, MK seems quirky-mad, while helena is more a quirky-insane type, if you know what I mean ?
I'm getting a bad fibe from MK, while I loved Helena from the beginning, even when she was killing other clones.
posted by Pendragon at 10:08 AM on April 15, 2016

And MK is called Mika, according to the dutch subtitles. So she's Finnish, I guess ?
posted by Pendragon at 10:09 AM on April 15, 2016

For those that missed it, it's available online. Doesn't need a login or anything.
posted by cashman at 1:52 PM on April 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

I didn't care enough about TWD to watch Talking Dead, but I enjoyed the behind the scenes stuff in After the Black. And it seems more like getting into the minds of the actors rather than just random celebs discussion the episode.
posted by numaner at 1:52 PM on April 15, 2016

ut I enjoyed the behind the scenes stuff in After the Black

That's true, but the loud enthusiasm and (over)excitability of the hosts and the flogging of social media (eg, "WE'LL READ YOUR TWEETS ABOUT YOUR FAVE CLONE!") bugged me--it's the quickness and yelling more than the content that I object to, I guess.
posted by TwoStride at 2:43 PM on April 15, 2016

I was so glad to jump back into this world (and to see all the different connections being tied together from earlier in everyone's lives) but Beth didn't strike me as all that different from Sarah... which I guess makes sense in-universe, since Sarah was able to blindly mimic her without getting caught for a while. Also fun to see all the now-dead characters (Paul! Leekie! ...Maggie?) and of course my favorite rando, Officer Angie, who I still am convinced was not in the script but is a rogue character who just inserted herself into everything for no reason.
posted by psoas at 3:29 PM on April 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

You forgot Fake Eddie Izzard as tail guy. We'd seen him before, hadn't we?
posted by Mezentian at 3:44 PM on April 15, 2016

You forgot Fake Eddie Izzard as tail guy. We'd seen him before, hadn't we?

Most assuredly. Helena cut that tail OFF in a rather memorable scene.
posted by torticat at 4:51 PM on April 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am so used to seeing Sarah as Beth that I kept expecting her to break character and start talking with an English accent.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:07 PM on April 15, 2016

I'm not so sure about the similarity of Sarah and Beth - I think that's more deliberate than accidental. Beth's more haunted, full of pain: her begging Paul to 'see me, see me, get inside me' was heartbreaking, especially when she repeated it with Art. Beth clearly didn't cope as well with the revelation of her heritage and the betrayal it represented.

We know, too, that Sarah was able to replace Beth both as a detective (it was her lack of procedural knowledge that caught her out, not her personality) and as the linchpin of Clone Club. I think it's possible that the clones do show up similar socialisation and personality traits. MK/Mika ( I'm sure Beth called her Mika at some point) isn't a Helena - she's being set up as a paranoid hacker/Anonymous type, hiding behind computers and an engineers precision (ie, the iced tea)

Remember, too, that Art fell a little bit in love with Sarah...

That said, I thought this was great. Details being fleshed out, a return to Freaky Leekie and the batshit Neolutionists (yay for creepy Olivier - boy did he deserve his fate back in the day), Fee being arrested and *almost* meeting Beth (LadyFriend7 and I were shouting 'Turn around, Fee! Turn around!), Maggie Chen, Alison and her gun, Ramon(!)...

In the contemplative pause during the credits, LF7 turned to me and said "It's good that they remembered the thriller aspect, not just the comedy" - and that's a really good point: OB is a pretty scary world. Clone Club is fun, but it existed because unprincipled people are meddling in Things That Man Was Not Meant To Wot Of.

Argh. There is so much I love about this show. But I especially love that Maslany isn't the Super Sexy Girl Hero offered up as sacrifice to the male gaze. I can think of so many genre shows that would play up the little black dress Beth wears for her date night, or her encounter with Art, or basically anything Cosima does (woo! Lesbian Scientist! She does it in a Sexy Lab Coat!)
posted by prismatic7 at 5:35 PM on April 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Okay...I just finished watching, thanks to on-demand. Wow. What a beginning. Getting to see events leading up to Beth's shooting Maggie Chen really helped flesh-out Beth's story.

I like MK. I don't really see her as anything like Helena. What I don't quite get is when/where MK and Sarah met in the first place. We've never seen her before now, but MK's call to Sarah seemed to imply they knew each other. I guess that'll be explained eventually.

And, yeah, those hosts of After the Black were really annoying. I call it the Chris Hardwick effect. Scream everything yet say nothing substantive.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:12 PM on April 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think I need a chart. So MK basically went hidden for the period encompassing the first three seasons?

I'd guess there needs to be at least two more flashback episodes, one to show how the first three clones met and another the weird horrifying life of Helena.

I'm still hoping for a Scottish or Swedish clone with another fun accent. :-)
posted by sammyo at 8:06 PM on April 15, 2016

Loved it. There are so many ways to go wrong with the introduction of a new, heretofore secret clone who's been involved with the Leda mystery since the beginning but instead this was a welcome window into the pre-Sarah days of Clone Club and hopefully laid groundwork for the show to go back to basics. It hardly even warrants mentioning four years into the show but Maslany did a fantastic job of fleshing out Beth in a single episode.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:36 PM on April 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I really liked this episode. Something I really like this show does seem to know what it's doing. The show understands & remembers its own history. Unlike .... so many other shows that just throw a bunch of shit on the wall and seem to be written by people who have never seen it before.

I liked how they showed so many sides of Beth's personality. Especially illustrated by her two visits to Mika's place, first as competent detective with updo and then as someone being dragged under a riptide, with flat hair. It does make me wonder if there's a TV tropes article for "Detective trying to investigate a conspiracy on her own time who won't involve her partner despite his desperate pleas." How many shows have I seen this on recently... River, Prey...
posted by bleep at 9:14 PM on April 15, 2016

Tatiana as Beth and MK seemed.... like Sarah and Helena, but I suppose playing 9 or 10 roles in the one series is going to test the finest of actors.

I thought that parallel was interesting but was impressed how much Maslany in spite of it made Beth and MK into believably separate characters from the other two. She creates these incredibly subtle distinctions with body language, gait, voice, and the set of her face. Beth and MK are both sadder and quieter versions of Sarah and Helena. Beth is assertive enough, but she's not the loudmouth or the dynamo that Sarah is. MK's kinda wacky-cute like Helena, but she doesn't seem as damaged for sure, and she's not (again) the same kind of aggressive go-getter that Helena is. I dunno, I found it fascinating how Maslany pulled all that out, as Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish said, in one brief episode.

MK's call to Sarah seemed to imply they knew each other

Did it? I thought that MK said "I knew Beth," or something like that, and that they didn't know each other. Need to rewatch.
posted by torticat at 11:01 PM on April 15, 2016

So glad it's back
posted by DowBits at 11:09 PM on April 15, 2016

Oh yeah--and the sad, quiet, kind of soft or dreamy aspect of Beth fits perfectly with the short clip we'd seen of her before (over and over during the course of the show), of her walking off the train platform. It's pretty cool to see the backstory and to see Maslany match Beth to the so-brief window we saw of her in the very first episode.
posted by torticat at 11:10 PM on April 15, 2016

~MK's call to Sarah seemed to imply they knew each other

~Did it? I thought that MK said "I knew Beth," or something like that, and that they didn't know each other. Need to rewatch.

Hmmmm...Maybe you're right. On-Demand was glitchy as hell, so it's possible I missed a line. Who would have given her Sarah's number, though? Mrs.S? Unless Sarah picked-up with MK when she assumed Beth's identity, and kept MK a secret all this time, as Beth would have?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:21 AM on April 16, 2016

MK went to Art. He called Sarah and handed MK the phone.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:36 AM on April 16, 2016

I just figured MK got the number on her own through Magic Hacking Powers.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:36 AM on April 16, 2016

Ah, I was thinking that MK was Katja Obinger the other clone killed by Helena in the first episode. So will we get Katja's prequel? What a grand spinoff, Helena vs Katja in a grand subversive battle through the capitals of eastern europe!

That last phone call scene was a jump to present time, right? What was MK doing during the time period of the first three seasons? Be disappointing if she was just interned in yet another desert military base for the duration.
posted by sammyo at 8:02 AM on April 16, 2016

Yes, the last scene was a jump to today.

MK went to Art. He called Sarah and handed MK the phone.
I forget...Does Art know about the clones? I think he does, but it's all become a little hard to keep straight.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:41 AM on April 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Art does know. He's been helping Sarah on and off since the first season. He even hosted (fed) Helena once at his apartment.

And fairly recently I think (last season) he confessed to Sarah that he'd been in love with Beth.
posted by torticat at 10:40 AM on April 16, 2016

MK's background is explored in a comic series (that's got one issue to go, grrr) and explained slightly on the BBC America website.
posted by plastic_animals at 4:24 PM on April 16, 2016

Ah, I don't bother with websites. Oh my, the trailer for the spanish language telenovela spinoff "Las Dorgas del Amor" is hilarious!
posted by sammyo at 5:13 PM on April 16, 2016

Can we talk about the urine for a second?

How did Alison's daughter's urine get collected? And why hers, and not Alison's?
And why wasn't someone in the cubical when Beth gave the sample? Don't they do piss-tests like that in the US?

So many questions.
posted by Mezentian at 11:29 PM on April 16, 2016

Alison would not have passed a urine test any more than Beth would have, she wasn't only dealing the stuff.
posted by Coaticass at 11:58 PM on April 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Of course. I am stupid.

It just now leaves the 'how', which, frankly, is more horrific than tail guy.
posted by Mezentian at 12:04 AM on April 17, 2016

And why wasn't someone in the cubical when Beth gave the sample? Don't they do piss-tests like that in the US?

I've had to take drug screening test for employment purposes (here in the US), and for the most part, they were as depicted in the show -- in a closed cubicle with the bathroom door open. I wasn't allowed to take anything -- coat or purse -- in with me, and I always had to empty my pockets. No one stood outside of the cubicle, but waited outside of the open bathroom door. If there was no cubicle (I've had a lot of jobs that required pre-employment drug screenings) then they just stood outside with the door closed. I don't think I've ever had to pee with anyone watching me for a drug test.

Also, the show is filmed and set in Canada, not the US. If I remember correctly, only Cosima is from the US.
posted by patheral at 10:50 AM on April 17, 2016

I used to work at a substance abuse treatment center (in the US) where the clients did have to be observed by the nurse for their tests. I guess it depends on the context?
posted by bleep at 2:43 PM on April 17, 2016

The Mary Sue's Science Recap is up, mainly about the Neolutionists' cheek worms.
posted by Coaticass at 5:44 AM on April 19, 2016

The show is filmed in Toronto, but set in New York City for most of season 1 and 2. Beth and Allison are both raised in New York, the latter in the suburbs. It's shown in this episode that Cosima moved from somewhere else to be closer to them in NYC, most likely California (she seems like a Berkeley type). Sarah came from London.
posted by numaner at 6:00 AM on April 19, 2016

I'm pretty sure it's set in Toronto -- don't they all have Toronto license plates and use Canadian money?

Cosima definitely went to University of Minnesota in the first season, and here we see her transferring from Berkeley. I'm not sure why the rationale for MN as it's still a flight away. Maybe she didn't get into Toronto, or MN had a better PI for her. (Also, why was she paying tuition as a grad student in the sciences who is clearly working in a lab when we see her in Season 1? Because of the timing of the transfer?)

I really enjoyed this one -- it was fun to see the past fleshed out and to lay groundwork for the future.
posted by esker at 7:03 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Orphan Black takes place in an unspecified North American city that has become more like Toronto as the show's seasons have progressed. That was an intentional choice by Manson and Fawcett, who did not want the show tied to a specific place. It has never been set in New York.

Cosima grew up in San Francisco, went to Berkeley as an undergrad, and started her Ph.D. Program in Minnesota before quitting to work at Dyad.

AFAIK we have never been told how Alison, Beth and Cosima came to learn that they were clones.
posted by plastic_animals at 8:44 PM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

I kept having to remind myself that Beth wasn't an Agent of SHIELD, or Jessica Jones, or a lost Avenger - and that she can't superhero her way out of danger.

This was an awesome start to Season 4.
posted by kanewai at 2:37 AM on April 25, 2016

I thought Beth would be nailed after the drug test for forgetting to flush the toilet.

I'm confused about the shooting of Maggie Chen... wasn't Helena involved in that somehow? And it involved a "courtyard" not an alleyway and during the daytime not at night. Right, she was a Prolethian but she and Helena fell out for some reason, Helena was trying to get away from her and somehow it ended up with Beth shooting Maggie Chen.

So is this oops, season 1 was so long ago we forgot? or is it unreliable narrator? or did I dream Helena's involvement??
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:09 PM on June 12, 2018

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