Thursday, April 21, 2016

REVIEW: 'Orphan Black' - Sarah and Art Delve into Beth's Past for Answers in 'Transgressive Border Crossing'

BBC America's Orphan Black - Episode 4.02 "Transgressive Border Crossing"

After evading a Neolution attack in Iceland, Sarah returns home to track down an elusive new ally. She follows breadcrumbs and uncovers the next facet of Neolution's agenda.

Sarah was happy and safe with her family in Iceland. It was a peaceful existence for all of them for a little while. And yet, it wasn't destined to last. Neolution has discovered where they are. The safe house goes up in flames and the family is on the run again. Sure, it's weird that they all decide to return home. It's a predictable place to lay low for a little bit. But now, Sarah is motivated again to get to the bottom of this mystery. She knew that Neolution was the true source behind everything before she left for Iceland with Mrs. S and Kendal. And yet, the family being forced from their home is what forces her to reunite with Felix and her seestras to get to the bottom of this once and for all. That means going all the way back to the beginning. "Transgressive Border Crossing" features a number of welcome returns and it all works incredibly well. This season is off to such a strong start.

Sarah wants to be an active part of this investigation. She gets a new lead that she can pursue in M.K. Sarah is very grateful that M.K. was looking out for her and her family. And yet, she's concerned about how secretive this new clone is. M.K. is the source of knowledge for everything about Neolution right now. She was working with Beth and the two of them uncovered something that sent Beth spiraling to the point of committing suicide. It has been such a strong decision to incorporate Beth into the narrative for these first two episodes. At times, the premiere was a little too straight-forward and formulaic with her story. But here, she appears to turn everything on its head while only pushing the main mystery further into weird and dark territory. It's completely devastating as well. Everyone is on a search for answers. And yet, that's the precise thing that sent Beth to that train station.

The investigation sends Sarah and Art back to Beth's apartment. So much of it is still intact even though Sarah hasn't been there for awhile. Paul apparently kept making payments for it through the end of the year. That's a good thing. It means Sarah and Art are finally able to get a glimpse into what Beth was doing during the final days of her life. The premiere showed that this new case with ties to Neolution really messed her up. Her pursuit for answers only got an innocent civilian killed. And now, she's unsure of herself while she's going toe-to-toe with Detective Duko, the Neolution mole inside the police precinct. But Beth did ultimately take action. She put on a disguise and carried a gun to kill someone. The show doesn't reveal who she killed. But the aftermath of that moment is devastating.

It's also so wonderful to see the relationship between Beth and M.K. be meaningful and genuine already. Beth was M.K.'s closest friend. She opened herself up to her and trusted her more than anyone else in this world. Beth kept M.K. a secret from the other clones. But that was largely out of respect for M.K.'s privacy. And yet, M.K. wants to be a part of Beth's life. She's been digging deeper and deeper into Neolution. She's determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. And yet, Beth isn't able to reciprocate those feelings. She has just done something horrifying that has rocked her world. The only answer she sees for herself is to walk in front of a train. M.K. keeps her promise to look after the rest of the seestras. But she does that from afar. She warns Sarah when Neolution is coming for her in Iceland. But that doesn't mean she wants to form a relationship with the other clones now. She doesn't want to be hurt like she was when Beth walked away from their relationship.

And yet, Sarah and company are going to need M.K. if they are going to understand what the hell Neolution is up to. The mysterious organization is working on some nefarious organic project. It's creepy watching this organism craw around in a person's cheek. It's much more surprising and chilling when it's revealed that the clones seem to have this thing in them as well. It also serves as a big identifying mark amongst the clones. All of this happens because Sarah wants to understand what M.K. knows. She is able to thank her for warning her about Neolution. But that's about it. She's desperate to understand this new clone. And yet, M.K. only seems to run away. It's frustrating to Sarah. And then, it becomes very dangerous once it appears that Neolution henchmen, Frank and Roxie, have tracked her down for sinister reasons. That's a tense sequence but it also highlights the big mystery that is happening within the clones right now. It's because of that showdown that Sarah learns this thing is in her cheek. It's terrifying to her because she has no idea what it is. She sees how dangerous it is. She wants it out. Neolution is up to something much bigger than simple body modifications. That mystery is fueling this season's story and it has been very satisfying so far.

However, not everything in this episode focuses on Sarah's investigation into Neolution and trying to understand M.K. The hour also makes the time to catch up on all the other members of this family. Things aren't as happy as they were before Sarah left. Some of these stories are better than others. Cosima and Scott have a pretty cool secret lab underneath a comic book store. They provide the explanation that Dyad has gotten out of the clone game and will no longer be important this season. That's a welcome development that allows the narrative to simplify things. It's also intriguing to see how Cosima is still in anguish over what may or may not have happened to Delphine. She doesn't know where she is and it's slowly eating her up. At least she has Mrs. S for support. Elsewhere, Donnie takes Helena to a doctor's appointment where she learns that she is having twins. It's a joyous moment that she needs to share with the rest of her seestras. Donnie and Helena continue to be an amusing character pairing. But this story also seems to be causing some discomfort in Alison and her own struggles with getting pregnant and parenting.

And lastly, Felix is off being moody and mad at the world because his family essentially left him behind. It's interesting that Felix seems to be getting a story of his own this season. But it's also a severe change up to what makes his character and his relationship with Sarah work so well. Their playful banter has always been so amusing and fun. But now, that dynamic is filled with tension that makes things a little too awkward and forced between them. It's all because he has decided to search for his own biological family. That could be an amusing tease of the story to come this season. However, it also feels extremely tangential to the main narrative of the season. Plot tangents have hurt the show in the past so hopefully this story won't get in the way of the character dynamics that work so well between him and the seestras.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Transgressive Border Crossing" was written by Russ Cochrane and directed by John Fawcett.
  • It also seems like Kendal's DNA wasn't the cure for Cosima like everyone was expecting it would be. Even after all of this time, Cosima and Scott are still just trying to understand this illness and how to cure the clones before it's too late. At least Cosima is somewhat strong enough to deal with all of this right now.
  • Mrs. S trusts Benjamin without any question. Not only that, she immediately trusts anyone who is working for him. That shows that the two have a deep connection. But it could also leave her vulnerable if anyone should decide to manipulate that bond.
  • Kira worries about whether or not she will ever see Cal again. It's noticeable that the show couldn't get Michiel Huisman back for more episodes. This hour brings a lot of attention to that fact as well. Now, it seems like Kira loves Cal more than she loves Sarah.
  • Kendal isn't long for this world either. Her introduction to the story last season was the height of all of the conspiracy nonsense. So it's not surprising the show seems to be writing towards her exit - with everyone wanting her and her having leukemia. Only Scott knows about her illness though.
  • It's just great that Felix still enjoys painting in the nude. And he's naked a lot in this episode as well. It's just wonderful to see Alison and Sarah's different reactions to it.
  • Did Sarah not know that Beth was abusing drugs during her final months alive? I thought she did. But her reaction to finding it underneath the sink here would suggest otherwise. Plus, she's keeping that information from Art who is learning more and more about the woman he once loved.