Orphan Black 1×04 Photo Recap: “Effects of External Conditions”
Every great TV show has a turning point when it goes from good to excellent. The show finds its original voice and the storytelling is all engrossing. Some refer to this turning point as “Growing the Beard” and it typically happens around episodes 4-6. In Battlestar Galactica, it’s “You Can’t Go Home” and in Fringe, it’s “The Arrival.” These episodes really standout for me because each one marks the point in the series when the show dives into the overarching story/theme, having already introduced the characters in the first couple episodes. The moment Orphan Black ‘grows its beard’ is in 1×04. Helena is introduced as a clone brainwashed to kill the others, her ‘sisters.’ She is the season’s ‘big bad’ but the line between evil and good is not so clear cut. She wasn’t born evil. She was influenced by her environment, therefore, should she be killed because of that? Even if they did have a chance to terminate Helena, could they? Perhaps not, since Sarah let Helena escape out the window, but she is definitely not afraid to injure Helena. Episode 4 begins with Helena in the bathroom of a stranger’s house cleaning her wound after being impaled by Sarah. It seems like the opening of a Stephen King novel.
This kid will have to see a therapist later.
With Cosima back at the University of Minnesota, the girls rely on
Tinder Skype to stay in touch. It’s so awesome to see Felix as a member of the clone club. He’s not a clone but he is never shy to voice his opinions on how the girls should handle situations.
Helena’s quick bathroom break definitely does not go unnoticed since Art and Sarah have to respond to the scene. Art quickly chats with the mom who is upset she has to pay for pricey therapy sessions for her son from now on, and then, he speaks with the kid. He asks Trevor, who is holding a bloody cootie catcher (kids+serial killer tokens=CREEPY), if he can identify the intruder to which Trevor responds by pointing to Sarah. AWKWARD! Sarah tries to shrug it off as though it is a case of mistaken identity but we all know it isn’t.
Art and Sarah continue to follow Helena’s bread crumbs and find her lair. All villains have lairs. Meanwhile, crazy eyes Helena, dresses up as Beth Childs and visits the precinct. Is the security that relaxed at the police station that anyone without credentials can walk in? She strolls around the station, looks at the pictures of evidence and steals Sarah’s uneaten muffin. Seriously, how does Tatiana Maslany not have more awards? Her scenes as a clone pretending to be another clone are bewitching. She is so entertaining that you often forget you are watching AMAZING acting. The clone pretending to be another clone tries to fit in but can’t because personal traits always come out and these small reveals are executed with perfection by Maslany. I would give her muffin eating scene an Emmy for ‘Best on Screen Use of Food.’
Since the case is taking longer than expected, Sarah has to call upon Alison for a favor. Mrs. S would surely cancel any future opportunities for Sarah to see her daughter if she misses her visit with Kira later that night. So, what is a girl to do when she has to be in two places at once? Call up her clone, of course! Felix goes to the suburbs and tells Alison the situation, who surprisingly is totally game for it. Who knew Alison was a theater geek!
Paul goes to the precinct thinking Beth called him, but really, it was Helena pretending to be Sarah pretending to be Beth. Poor Paul, he gets played more times than a Cher song at a gay club. After almost getting into a tussle with Art, Sarah takes Paul outside. He probably thought he would be rewarded for his machismo but Sarah played it cool, telling him she needed to get back to work. Womp womp.
It’s showtime for Alison!
Art, of course, is back at the precinct trying to figure out who stole his favorite coffee mug. I wonder if he has a social life. He doesn’t seem like the guy who goes home after work and catches up on episodes of Dancing with the Stars.
Kira puts the adult men in this show to shame! Without batting an eyelash, Kira, like a bamf, tells Alison she is not her mother. Alison definitely makes the effort to be Sarah but that little girl knows. She doesn’t understand why Alison looks like her mom, but she knows Alison isn’t Sarah. Instead of telling Mrs. S, Kira remains quiet and plays along. Coolest kid ever!
As Alison is saving the day, Sarah in another part of town comes face to face with the “angry angel” and realizes she can’t hurt her. Helena is clearly an unhinged clone but Sarah can’t shoot her. She points the gun at her, but can’t pull the trigger. She knows Helena is after the girls, yet she sees herself, at least what she could’ve become. It must be extremely jarring for Sarah to see other versions of herself. The version she may have become if she had been adopted rather than fallen into foster care. They all have free will but they are also the product of their environment. Sarah sees that and refuses to kill Helena. (It also doesn’t help the series if the awesome antagonist gets killed so early in the season.) I’m glad Helena is going to stick around. I like her. She is animalistic in behavior but not simple. She doesn’t fit in this world. She not only knows that but she acts on it as well, trying to desert the physical world and reach a higher plane. She is a scene stealer so I’m looking forward to what she will do next. After Art finds Sarah in Maggie Chen’s apartment, he takes her back to the precinct. Sarah meets with Lieutenant Hardcastle (Seriously?) and lies when they ask her why she was at the apartment. Lying is really her only option because telling them her clone told her to go there probably wouldn’t fly with them. She also drops a huge bombshell. She tells Art and Lt. H that she quits. She isn’t ready to return to the force so she is leaving all together. I believe this is what writers call a “turning point.” It will be interesting to see how the Clone Club manages without the help Beth’s profession provided them.
Oh man! So much happens in this episode! It sort of feels like that Portlandia scene in which they watch Battlestar Galactica. You can’t just watch episode 4 of Orphan Black and not watch the next one.
Thanks for reading!
Special thank you to kissthemgoodbye.net for the screencaps.