Orphan Black S4E1: The Collapse of Nature

Tatiana Maslany as Allison learning to use a gun in Orphan Black

Orphan Black season 4 episode 1 is “The Collapse of Nature.” It gives us Beth’s (Tatiana Maslany AKA everyone) story as an extended flashback and then brings us back to the present where Sarah is hanging out in Iceland.

Beth is awakened by a call in the middle of the night from clone we haven’t met before. This one wears a sheep mask. Her name is Mika or MK. Beth knows her.

Mika tells her she just saw two “paramedics” (Ian Matthews and Miranda Edwards) bury a body.

Tatiana Maslany as Beth using drugs in Orphan Black
Beth “Nurse Jackie” Childs snorts pills

Beth drags herself out of bed, locks Paul (Dylan Bruce) out of the bathroom, and stokes up on drugs she has hidden under the sink. She meets Art Bell (Kevin Hanchard) at the crime scene.

The dead man with his cheek cut out
The Cheek Choppers strike again

The dead guy is one of what MK calls The Cheek Choppers victims. He has a surgically bifurcated penis – good for a few jokes during the episode. The Cheek Choppers have something to do with neolution.

A quick phone call between Beth and Cosima reveals that Alison is paying Cosima’s tuition if she will change schools for the clone club. So Beth, Alison, and Cosima  are all aware of each other. Only Beth knows about MK.

Inga Cadranel in Orphan Black
Beth is shaky, I can see it

Art worries about Beth. He can tell she’s not all right, but he’s protective. Det. DeAngelis (Inga Cadranel), on the other hand, knows that Beth is on shaky ground. Art defends her.

Jordan Gavaris in Orphan Black
Who me a criminal? No!

Back at the police station Felix (Jordan Gavaris) is booked. He doesn’t so much as glance at the cop who looks just like his sister Sarah. Did he already know about Beth?

Beth is using her time to hit up Raj (Raymond Ablack) for some police surveillance equipment. She intends to spy on Paul.

The sheep clone on a computer monitor
Face to face with Mika

Beth goes to Mika’s home. It’s a modified trailer with at least 7,000 computers inside. I may have added a few extra zeroes. Beth thinks she’s going to talk face to face with Mika, but she only sees her on a monitor. Mika tells Beth again that her boyfriend is a spy and that neolution has a spy in the police department. Neither of them can understand why neolution is cutting off people’s cheeks.

Allie MacDonald in Orphan Black
Beth meets Trina at Club Neolution

Beth goes to Club Neolution to learn more about the neolutionists. She meets Trina (Allie MacDonald), a pregnant girl who tells her a few things about how humans can be enhanced and surgically modified as part of the neolution ethos. Beth picks up a book by Aldous Leekie (Matt Frewer).

Beth reads the book while on the phone with Alison. Alison has a brand new gun that Beth is going to teach her how to use. While they are on the phone, Beth receives flowers from Alison. Packed with the flowers are more pills and a vial of urine from Alison’s little girl. Beth pops a pill immediately.

Beth reminds Alison to transfer money for Cosima. Alison tells Beth she’s going to have to administer the funds from now on.

Tatiana Maslany, Jessalyn Wanlim, and Matt Frewer in Orphan Black
I’ll never let on that I know you’re a Leda clone!

Beth talks to Aldous Leekie about the dead guy with his face cut off. He’s with a woman who is aware of who the Leda clones are. She’s Evie Cho (Jessalyn Wanlim). Leekie pretends to know nothing and to not recognize Beth. He comments that it’s unusual for a cop to be interested in biotechnology.

Evie Cho will be a recurring character in season 4, so watch out for her in future episodes.

Beth pours urine in a cup
Yes, Beth is going to her meetings and can produce drug free urine – see?

The police have Beth under supervision because of her history with drugs. She regularly has to take a pee test. That’s explains the urine. If they knew how high she was, they’d take her badge in two seconds flat.

Dylan Bruce and Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black
Beth passes but Paul doesn’t catch

Beth is drinking and snorting pills when Paul arrives home. She tries to seduce him, get him to look her in the eye, kiss her, but he won’t do it. He sits down with his back to her. She raises a gun to his head and contemplates shooting him, but does not. Paul knows Beth knows he’s a monitor, and he’s trying to get her to break up with him; he’s being moral in an oddly admirable way. She won’t tell him to leave and he won’t leave on his own.

Tatiana Maslany and Kevin Hanchard in Orphan Black
Art will look Beth in the eye and accept her advances, too

Beth goes to Art’s apartment. He’s not as reluctant as Paul to give her what she’s after. Yep, Beth and Art had a thing. It wasn’t just unrequited love on Art’s part that’s kept him helping the clones all this time.

Miranda Edwards in Orphan Black
That sure looks like the worm Dr. Nealon tried to put in Delphine’s mouth

On a 2 AM tip from Trina, Beth climbs out of Art’s bed. Pops more pills. She goes to an alley. She climbs a fire escape and sees the two cheek chopping paramedics kill Trina’s boyfriend and remove a worm from his cheek. She also sees Det. Duko (Gord Rand) with them.

She’s found the neolutionist spy! Beth stumbles and makes a noise. They see her and she runs.

Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black
Oh, oh

Running in fear back through the alley, so high she can barely tell what she’s looking at, Beth hears a noise. She turns and fires. It’s Maggie Chen (Uni Park), who is unarmed. Beth stares with huge dilated pupils at what she’s done.

Art comes, puts a phone in Maggie Chen’s hand, and they concoct a story about how Beth thought it was a gun.

Gord Rand in Orphan Black
Don’t worry, you’ll be safe with me

Guess which detective from IA is sent to talk to Beth about the shooting? Yep, the crooked cop Duko.

Tatiana Maslany as Beth and Mika in Orphan Black
They need each other

Beth drops in on Mika. They finally do meet face to face. Beth is scared. She doesn’t know who to trust. She’s thinks she’s screwed for killing a civilian. If she loses her badge, the avenue to investigate the neolutionists will be gone. Beth thinks it was a mistake telling Alison and Cosima about what they are.

Beth passes out on Mika’s couch.

Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black
Mika says RUN!

The flashback finished, we come back to the present for the final few seconds of the episode.

Art phones Sarah in Iceland. He introduces Mika who tells Sarah the neolutionists are coming after Kendall Malone and they should run – right now!

Some Thoughts

Tatiana Maslany generates two more incarnations of the Leda clone in this episode. We’ve seen Beth before, but never fully built out like this. We’ve always seen Beth through Sarah’s memory of her hopeless, depressed face right before she stepped in front of the train.

It turns out Beth is a lot like Sarah – snarky and funny. She’s run marathons, so she can’t always have been so doped up. She’s smart on her job. At the moment when we meet her, she’s seriously screwed up because of her heavy drug use.

Mika is a bit like Helena. She’s socially awkward and shy. Mika’s voice is soft and not at all like Helena’s. She has a slight accent. She has dark wavy hair that isn’t as curly as Helena’s but reminds me of Helena’s mop. One of her more interesting quirks is her habit of announcing time limits on conversations before they begin. “You have 3 minutes.”

I hope Mika will be around for the remainder of season 4. I can’t wait to see her meet Helena. Her computer skills are bound to come in handy.

For the science geeks, The Mary Sue is going to run weekly science recaps of the episodes – gene therapy, parasitic worms – great stuff! Here’s the first one.

Season 4 Orphan Black Episode Titles

Season 4 titles are based on the work Donna Haraway, a Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness Department and Feminist Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Haraway is a prominent scholar in the field of science and technology studies, know for the essay A Cyborg Manifesto.

The episode titles are:

  1. The Collapse of Nature
  2. Transgressive Border Crossing
  3. The Stigmata of Progress
  4. From Instinct to Rational Control
  5. Human Raw Material
  6. The Scandal of Altruism
  7. The Antisocialism of Sex
  8. The Redesign of Natural Objects
  9. The Mitigation of Competition
  10. From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths

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