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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Orphan Black hits the reset button on its season

Jordan Gavaris, Tatiana Maslany
There were other photo options for this episode, but there weren't REALLY other photo options, you know? / Ken Woroner, BBC America
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Well, just when you think Beth’s story can’t get any sadder, it does. We learn, at last, that Beth wasn’t exactly suicidal—she was just doing the only thing she knew would protect her sisters.

“The Scandal of Altruism” is one of the more finale-esque non-finales out there. Clone Club loses nearly everything, there are a ton of revelations, and somehow there are still four more episodes of the season to go. Which is good, because a lot of this doesn’t really hold together.

To start with: the notion that Evie Cho and Duko encouraged Beth to kill herself, and then did nothing to Sarah when she stepped into Beth’s life. As far as they know, that’s the same person. Sure, there’s eventually security cam footage available, but since Beth didn’t say, “Sure, I’ll skedaddle, and it’s going to be at a train station later today,” they had no way of knowing that Beth was Sarah. Also, the whole point of threatening Beth is that she knows too much. But now Sarah and Cosima (and we can assume Alison as well) know just as much as Beth did, and Evie Cho is going to leave them all alone? Why kill Kendall and not Cosima? There is no reason to leave Cosima alive, given that she witnesses Evie Cho and Duko doing some very bad things, can identify both of them, and everyone spends the whole episode talking about how smart she is. If you are Unexpected Supervillain Evie Cho, and you’re happy to kill people off when they annoy you, why do you leave Cosima?

It’s possible some of this will be explained down the line and oh for heaven’s sake, there’s no way Cosima and Scott wouldn’t back up their data. Come on. They’ve been doing massively important research for months that is necessary to save Cosima’s life, and they have one copy of it. People save even their less attractive selfies to the cloud for safekeeping, and these two geniuses were like, nah, one computer hard drive is fine?

While the mystery of who the supervillain is going to turn out to be adds a constant element of tension to the episode, the eventual reveal lacks a certain amount of weight. As a character, Evie Cho just doesn’t have quite the same magnetic pull as Susan Duncan, or Leekie, or the Prolethians. She’s barely a character before this, even if the show has been telegraphing all season that she’s significant. It also hasn’t really been clear that there’s any kind of divide in Neolution between people who are interested in the clones and those who only want to do body modification. And if Evie isn’t interested in the clone project, why does she want Cosima’s research? This is also (so far) a waste of the blandly menacing Duko, who turns out to just be Evie’s heavy. Kendall prodding at why he’s helping suggests there’s something else there, but it’s going to take a lot of groundwork to turn him into someone worth caring about.

If you can move past the various seeming plotholes (and this being Orphan Black, I’m happy to give them the rest of the season to untangle this), there’s a lot of interesting Cosima stuff going on. Despite everything that’s happened, she’s remained the one clone who’s managed to avoid personal danger and violence so far. In some ways, she’s the most normal clone—she’s taken part in some mild corporate espionage, but often she can act as an audience surrogate. A reasonably hip young professional from an (oddly mysterious) traditional American upbringing, Cosima never has to face the kind of horrors Alison, Sarah, Helena, or Rachel do. But that ends in this episode, because of the more or less fluke happenstance of getting trapped as Evie’s bargaining chip. And in her worst moment, she gets confirmation that Delphine is dead.


Unless, of course, she isn’t. It seems awfully pointed that we see Krystal say she saw Delphine get shot, and then we don’t learn if her story corroborates Evie’s. Plus, did anyone else notice that when she mentioned Delphine, she used the present tense to ask about her? “Is she involved in all this,” not “was.” Maybe we’ll still learn Delphine didn’t make it, but Krystal’s version of the story sounds like it might be important. So important, she may actually get to learn about the real Clone Club, and not the Vidal Sassoon version. Until then, the possible Susan Duncan/Clone Club alliance Evie just inspired is pretty tantalizing, especially if they bring Rachel in as well.

Stray observations

  • There was a tragic lack of Kristian Bruun in this episode, but thankfully we still got Krystal referring to him as “that husky masseur.”
  • “He’s from London.” “You said Scotland.” “OK, that’s as far as that’s going to go.” Krystal is a delightful addition to Clone Club, even if she doesn’t know what’s going on.
  • It’s impressive that Susan manages to insult her daughter, even when Rachel isn’t in the episode, when she says, of Cosima, “I wish Rachel had such an inquiring mind.”
  • Did anyone else get a sense that there was a slight flirtation happening between Evie and Cosima, even (and especially) given their intense dislike of each other? They have a lot in common, in spite of their serious philosophical conflicts.
  • Despite the vast differences between Kendall and Cosima, the show did some sweet things with their tentative friendship. And Kendall behaves pretty heroically for her in those last moments. It’s pretty badass to say “No tears, Cosima. These shites aren’t worth the salt.”
  • This final bullet point accurately represents the level of my investment in Ira.