Thursday, May 26, 2016

REVIEW: 'Orphan Black' - Sarah, Cosima and Alison Struggle After Kendall's Death in 'The Antisocialism of Sex'

BBC America's Orphan Black - Episode 4.07 "The Antisocialism of Sex"

Sarah regresses to old habits while struggling to cope with the consequences of her decisions - reconnecting with Beth on a dark night of the soul. Haunted by vicious memories, Cosima attempts a dangerous Hail Mary to find a cure. Alison is more determined than ever to create normalcy for her kids while Donnie is caught in the Neolution crosshairs.

Last week's episode of Orphan Black was such a game changer. Kendall's death rocks through the entire universe and has major consequences for all of the characters. Her death destroyed all hope the clones had in finding a cure to their defects. Now, it's just a matter of time before they all die of the same horrifying disease. They have no hope of developing a cure now. Evie Cho has made sure of that by taking away all of Cosima and Scott's research. She is now firmly in charge of Neolution. She has no need for the clone experiment. She's already looking ahead to the future. Clones were important at one time to Neolution. But now, they have evolved so much that Evie no longer sees any need for them. She still has to take them seriously as a threat. She has ruined all of their lives and they could do the same to her and her plans for the future. But right now, "The Antisocialism of Sex" is all about the clones reacting to the hopelessness of their lives right now. It's a very dark hour for many of the characters. There are hints that there is even more darkness on its way. But they all need to stand united right now and can't afford not to rely and talk with one another.

The emotions are so raw and powerful throughout this entire episode. Everyone is struggling with Kendall's death. Sarah, Cosima and Mrs. S were active parts of the arrangement that led to her murder. They are all blaming themselves for what has happened and how they let down all of the clones. And yet, the most moving and emotional reaction comes from Alison. She didn't really have a connection with Kendall. So that makes it so unexpected when the episode cuts to her in her kitchen praying for hope in this dark situation. She understands what Kendall's death means for her. She has been perfectly healthy for the entire series so far. But it's only a matter of time before she starts showing symptoms just like Cosima. She has seen how that has affected her sister's life. And Alison has a family to think about. She understands this could destroy their happiness together. So she tries to shove down her pain in order to give Gemma a sense of normalcy for a change. It's an honest and genuine gesture. It's good for awhile too. But darkness still creeps into the story and ruins any chance at a normal life. But it's not because of anything related to the clones. Instead, it's Alison and Donnie's past as drug dealers finally coming back to haunt them. Yes, Duko making that move against them is motivated by Neolution wanting to handle the clone threat. But it's still so devastating to see not even Gemma getting happiness during this dark and depressing time.

While Alison's response was the most unexpected yet moving, Sarah's is the harshest. She has a complete reversion back to the woman she was before she knew she was a clone. She has grown so much over the course of the series thanks to her clone family. They have been united against some really tough times. They need to rely on each other now more than ever before. All of their worlds have been rocked by Kendall's death. And yet, they are all struggling to reach out and connect with one another. Mrs. S wants to blame Sarah for her mother's death. Sarah takes on that blame as well. It's a full-on tragic spiral for her. She finds herself in the exact same headspace Beth was in before she decided to kill herself. She's at the mercy of Evie and Duko. Sarah was led to believe one thing only for these nefarious faces at Neolution to be pulling the strings instead. It's such a devastating time for Sarah. She doesn't even want to be there for Kira. That's how tragic this spiral is. She'd rather get wasted and do drugs. She's succumbing to the same vices that Beth was. The episode really lays that parallel on thick. The characters talk about it but more importantly Sarah actually hallucinates Beth. That's a little bit of an overkill even though Beth has been really important to the narrative of the season. The story also lacked some urgency because it didn't feel like the show would go through with Sarah killing herself. As Felix mentions at the top of the hour, she is unfortunately the glue that holds all of clone club together. It would be interesting to see them try to get by without her. But that's a plot that wouldn't work confined to just the final three episodes of the season. So instead, Felix saves the day and protects his sister once more. That's a fun and heroic moment for him - in a year where he has struggled a little bit in importance.

Felix gets to play hero elsewhere as well. He stops Cosima before she does something very reckless and dangerous. She is spiraling just as much as Sarah is. She desperately needs to find a cure because she's the one clone experiencing symptoms right now. She was also the one to watch as Evie and Duko killed Kendall and destroyed all hope. If that moment wasn't horrifying enough, she also learned that Delphine was killed by Neolution. All of her connections to the world have been destroyed. She's back at square one without a viable lead to follow. All she has is the bot that Evie pulled out of Sarah cheek. None of the clones know or really care about the new research Neolution is passionate about. All they care about is what affects them and could pose a threat to their well-being. Cosima doesn't understand the bots. She knows what the one in Sarah was doing: trying to activate the gene that causes the clone defect. But that doesn't mean it could lead to a cure just as easily if it was inside of her. In that moment, that feels like the only viable option. Scott has major concerns and she locks him out completely. It's in this moment were the plot gets a little wonky. Scott just happens to call Felix to talk Cosima down. It's then when he remembers that Krystal told him Delphine was shot but some unnamed person rescued her. So, she's not as dead as Evie believes. That's a ray of hope Cosima really needed in that moment. But it's very manipulative on the show's part as well. Between the two episodes, Sarah and Cosima were able to share with everyone that Kendall was killed and all hope is now lost. And yet, Felix didn't have time to tell Cosima this major revelation about Delphine when she has been desperate for answers all season long? That just seems very unlikely but it's exactly what occurs here.

The reactions of Sarah, Cosima and Alison carry the bulk of this episode. It's a good thing that the show takes the time to analyze what the consequences of Kendall's death mean for everyone. But it also means a couple of responses get abbreviated as well. Mrs. S didn't always have a great relationship with her mother. But it's still significant that she died in this war. Her whole body has been destroyed. It does look like she is planning something big for the future. But now, she doesn't have much of a response. Instead, she is largely just dealing with Sarah, Kira and Felix. Elsewhere, it's meaningful that Kendall's death allows Susan and Rachel to be honest with each other and to Charlotte. It's weird that they still attempt to hold some power in an organization that doesn't want them. It's awkward that Susan tries negotiating her retirement with Evie and her associates. That moment really wasn't necessary at all. Nor is it that great when time was spent on Susan telling Rachel the history of Neolution. It's a plot point that is going to be important because Rachel sees a swan after she takes a fall down the stairs just like the one pictured in the founder of Neolution's book. But that's only a vaguely interesting tease for the future. It's much more meaningful that Sarah decides to return and unite with her sisters in order to handle the Neolution threat once and for all.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Antisocialism of Sex" was written by Nikolijne Troubetzkoy & Graeme Manson and directed by David Frazee.
  • Art finally gets to beat up Duko for all that he has done to the clones. It's good for him to get that anger out. But that really doesn't stop Duko at all from continuing to work for Evie and her nefarious agenda.
  • It could also be very troublesome that Duko manipulates his connection to the clones against Alison when Donnie gets arrested. He's planning on using her emotional state for some evil purposes likely.
  • Dizzy seems like a nice guy. But the season really hasn't spent the time to flesh him out as a character or someone Sarah should trust. He's nice but he also doesn't change his dynamic with Sarah after learning she has a daughter.
  • The hour also ends with the tease of M.K. reaching out to Kira. That's a surprising move that suggests Kira will be more important in the immediate future. M.K. only reaches out when it's important. But why Kira? Sarah has gotten in her way before. But why not Cosima or Alison?
  • Charlotte doesn't seem too concerned about dying even though Rachel makes sure she understands the seriousness of the situation. She believes that nothing is worse than usually. That's a cynical but very true understanding of this world.
  • Evie has shingles. That might be suggesting she may get what's coming to her before the season is over. And it would be her own technology that destroys her too. That could be some nice poetry and justice for what she has done.