In general, I hate prequels. There is no tension as we know what will eventually happen, and in order to create a story that isn’t just a rehash of stuff we already know, they usually involve a fair bit of retcon. This episode did none of that.
The episode managed to infuse tension into every scene. Despite knowing that Beth didn’t shoot Paul, Beth wasn’t murdered by Neolutionists, and that Beth wasn’t fired, I was terrified all those things were about to happen. There really aren’t enough adjectives to describe how amazing an actress Tatiana Maslany is.
Also amazing was Kevin Hanchard who, for the first time, convinced me Art was really in love with Beth and that the way he treated Sarah as she was pretending to be Beth was totally consistent with both that fact and their relationship and that was a big ask. When they first hooked up I was thinking “why in the world did this not come up at some point when Sarah was pretending to be Beth??” Then, Beth shot Maggie Chen and everything made sense. Of course that crisis would overwhelm everything else.
Paul and Beth’s interactions were exactly what I was expecting. It was killing Beth that Paul couldn’t love her and wouldn’t let her go. It must have been horrible discovering that the reason for this was that he was spying on her, but, at the same time, at least she had an answer. Her behavior with him was so hot and cold, so erratic, that his lack of suspicion of Sarah makes much more sense now. Beth even attempted to seduce him in a very similar way. She was less successful than her sister. Apparently Paul prefers the just out of the shower look to a negligee, or a partner obviously on drugs.
One interesting consideration is the fact that this episode, presumably, takes place several weeks before Beth’s suicide. Alison isn’t yet the gun expert she later becomes. What happens in the intervening days or weeks? Just throwing this out there: Beth isn’t the most put-together person in terms of personal care. Yet, in the pilot episode she is made-up, her hair is elegant and her clothes are more formal than anything she dons in her normal life. Why? Could she have been on her way back from a meeting? Maybe something to do with work, like with her union rep who just so happens to be a Neolutionist?
There was also a ton of animal symbolism in this episode. Sheep are a classic clone club symbol. Helena refers to her sisters as “sheep” in season one. And then, there’s Dolly the cloned sheep. The clones being sheep also speaks to their lack of autonomy. The fox is typically a symbol of cleverness or trickery. Again, they are also an animal general lacking in autonomy, this time by being hunted, not herded. The sheep are domesticated, while the fox belongs in the wild, in the shadows. Maybe M.K. and Beth should’ve switched masks. Finally, M.K. referred to Freaky Leekies as “tadpoles.” Maybe this was a reference to the gross worms some of them seem to have growing in their cheeks, or maybe it has more to do with the idea that people who implant magnets in their fingers and don a white contact lens at a club aren’t the enemy. They’re minor, inconsequential, a symptom of the bigger problem. The thing is, tadpoles don’t stay tadpoles forever.
The show gets major points for some seriously impressive continuity. In no particular order:
- We see Beth borrowing surveillance equipment from Raj. Sarah will later have to return this.
- A cop refers to Felix as a “Bay Street Blow Boy,” a name we first heard from Sarah in the pilot.
- Alison’s gun dealer Ramon delivers a floral arrangement with a less than savory toy surprise to Beth, as he did to Sarah in season two.
- Aldous Leekie and Olivier both reappear as does Olivier’s tail.
- Angie shows up, hopefully indicating the writers haven’t forgotten about her.
- We hear the term “freaky Leekie” applied to Leekie’s followers.
- Alison tells Beth that she should deal with the money from now on, which will lead Beth to set up the account Sarah later tries to rob.
- The worm things in the Neolutionists’ cheeks look rather like the one Dr. Nealon tried to spit into Delphine’s mouth.
- Beth promises to teach Alison about guns.
- A “sick German” is mentioned by Cosima.
- Beth and Art eat at Fung’s.
Of course, that’s just the little stuff. We also learn why Beth didn’t tell Alison and Cosima so, so much. She didn’t want to put them in danger. Having a Neolutionist on the police force was the perfect touch to send Beth over the edge of paranoia. She can’t confide in her sisters or the other people she cares about for fear of putting them in the crosshairs.
We also learn about how Beth found out about the clonespiracy in the first place: a new clone named M.K., named (or possibly nicknamed) Mika. The obvious question about the original clone clubber is where the heck has she been the past three seasons? M.K.’s caution and hesitance to involve others in what she knows was well established in the episode, but Sarah spent most of the first season impersonating Beth. Did M.K. somehow know that was not the same person or had she cut off communication with Beth prior to her death for some reason?
Now M.K. is back with a warning for Sarah: run. This season is going to be awesome.
Neolutionist Bits and Proleathean Pieces
Random, screwball theory: could M.K. be a survivor of the Helsinki incident?
Evelyne Brochu is out of the credits, but Dylan Bruce was still in them, so I don’t think we can extrapolate much from that.
Police Officer: “Only this time, we caught your Bay Street Blow Boy too.”
Felix: “Well, now I’m confused. Is that a sexual or narcotic reference?”
Alison: “How do I put bullets in this thing?”
Beth: “You don’t.”
Beth: “All I really need is a lover who can look at me in the eyes.”
four out of four Beths
sunbunny, who is probably not played by Tatiana Maslany
- Next episode
- Orphan Black season 4
- Orphan Black home
- Watch this episode or the entire season on Amazon now