Consequences and Coping Mechanisms: Orphan Black, “The Antisocialism of Sex”

Soooo remember when Orphan Black co-creator John Fawcett said that 4×05, 4×06, and 4×07 would be a crazy three-episode arc? Yeah. Last week’s heart-ripper of an episode, “The Scandal of Altruism,” subjected Sarah’s already-risky plan to every possible monkeywrench, leaving her freed from her creepy bot implant but everyone else absolutely screwed and devastated. And this week, we looked at the crazy mess of guilt and self-harm that comes out of the Clone Club’s massive setback.

Spoilers for Orphan Black 4×07 “The Antisocialism of Sex.”

I’d like to apologize for missing last week’s recap; I was unable to either watch or post about the episode, so I caught up earlier this week. And wow—after the spy silliness of 4×05, this was one of the series’ most brutal installments. I wrote down a bunch of off-the-cuff reactions while watching:

  • I was right about Evie Cho’s cheekbone scar having significance! It was really cathartic to watch Beth beat her up, even if it were pre-series.
  • Oh my lord, the way that Cosima just crumpled into sobs upon hearing about Delphine’s death was absolutely heartbreaking.
  • …But is Delphine really dead?? We haven’t seen a body yet!
  • Even though Alison has been removed from the major action, it was very weird to not see her at all in the episode.
  • Krystal brought the only levity to this episode, with Felix (dressing the part as an international man of intrigue) playing to her level of incredible seriousness about the stem-cell conspiracy.
  • Damn, S is not gonna forgive Sarah for a long time.

While past episodes have picked up immediately from cliffhangers, I appreciated that 4×07 took the time to show everyone licking their wounds. Not that Kendall getting shot (I’m still tearing up at her unbelievably brave final words) was a cliffhanger, per se, but the show could have doubled the pace and gone into an action episode, which it thankfully didn’t.

Clone Count: 7

It’s interesting how, after the Clone Club-centric events of last week, we started this week by returning to Rachel—rather, actually finding out which remote island (Dr. Moreau’s, Susan grimly jokes) she’s on. With Ira mostly recovered from his suicide attempt (though not Rachel’s sick burn about his “fortunate” and “ineffective” choice of method), Rachel turns her attention to sweet Charlotte. But even as she tries to break the news that Charlotte is dying now that the original is gone, her younger self won’t believe it. (Or maybe she and Kira are psychically chatting and coming up with a Plan B.)

Drowning in guilt, Sarah peaces out of the safehouse, with Kira assuming she’s gone for good again (aww), to engage in some good ol’ fashioned bad choices that have nothing to do with clones and conspiracies. Cosima, who’s even more traumatized knowing that Neolution left her alive so she could tell the others their hope is dead, obsesses over Sarah’s bot and the fact that Delphine is dead. Still physically separated from the Clone Club, Alison nonetheless struggles to write a condolences letter to S to go with her impeccable flowers. (I found her grief interesting, as I can’t remember her and Kendall ever interacting much.) And MK reappears, in virtual form…

RIP Kendall, who will never show up in a Clone Count again. (sob)

Orphan Black 4x07 "The Antisocialism of Sex"

“What’re we gonna do now, Brain?” “The same thing we do every night, Pinky…”

The Future of Neolution

Has there ever been a more awkward conference call? To add insult to injury, Evie Cho follows up last week’s coup with a more formal takeover of Neolution, as the investors turn their support to her patents for genetic implants. Because the cheek-bots are doing so well, ugh. Look, I’m no Rachel fan by any stretch, but it was so difficult to watch her stutter her way through what was sure to be a great comeback. It’s fitting that Susan and Rachel, who have been deemed obsolete, are turning back to the Victorian-era books about Neolution–hopefully to find a new route toward their goal? Wait, why did I say “hopefully”? Damn, this show is almost as bad as The 100 for making me sympathize with antagonists.

Even more chilling was Evie’s casual mention that, while there would be no “Helsinki event” for the innocent Leda clones, our beloved Clone Club will not be so protected. Thing is, they’re not exactly keeping themselves safe anyway…

Questionable Sexytimes

In Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, Donna Haraway quotes E.O. Wilson’s Sociobiology: The New Synthesis:

Sex is an antisocial force in evolution… When sexual reproduction is introduced, members of the group become genetically dissimilar… The inevitable result is a conflict of interest… The outcomes of these conflicts of interest are tension and strict limits on the extent of altruism and the division of labor.

So far, Sarah is the only Leda clone for whom sexual reproduction is an option, but in this episode we see her gunning for purely recreational, fuck-the-pain-away encounters—first with a smiley couple at the local watering hole, then with Dizzy at his place. Despite getting up close and personal with basically anyone who crosses her path, Sarah keeps to the “antisocial” part of the phrase, as any reminder of her guilt sends her reeling away.

I have to say, though, I’m glad that Sarah decided to have a drug-fueled threesome with strangers rather than turn to Art for comfort, which was my fear after seeing the episode title. She hasn’t crossed that line with him yet, especially after finding out that he loved Beth, but I had low hopes for her coping mechanism.

Orphan Black 4x07 "The Antisocialism of Sex"

Suicide is Painless, It Brings On Many Changes…

In fact, her search for physical connection is jarringly similar to Beth trying to seduce Paul in the 4×01 flashbacks—”Can you look at me? Look at me. Can you see me? Can you knit me together? Or just tear me apart?”—and her subsequent breakdown. No surprise, then, that ghost!Beth begins appearing to Sarah, first in the mirror at the club, then out on the street, and finally at the train station, where she contemplates mirroring her doppelgänger and flinging herself onto the tracks.

Meanwhile, Cosima is also considering dangerous mirroring: She locks herself in the downstairs lab at the safehouse and cuts into her cheek with a scalpel with the crazy plan of implanting herself with Sarah’s bot so that it might turn on whatever gene will make her immune to the disease. While Kendall’s death is clearly influencing such uncharacteristically reckless behavior, she’s mostly spurred on by the hopelessness of her lab partner and soulmate Delphine being gone.

Orphan Black 4x07 "The Antisocialism of Sex"

…But I Can Take or Leave It, If I Please

And in comes Deus Felix Machina. Poor guy gets stuck juggling two emergencies, and I was almost worried that he was going to have to make a Sophie’s Choice about whether he lets Sarah fall or Cosima hook up a bug bot to her bloodstream and central nervous system. Thank god for smartphones! And Felix’s “OH YEAH I forgot to tell Cosima about Delphine.” This is not a show with many plot contrivances, but that was a glaring one. How could Krystal’s intel have slipped his mind? At least it means that Cosima drops the scalpel—albeit having left a nasty hole on the inside of her cheek—and succumbs to relieved sobs. We also still don’t know who picked up Delphine after she got shot, so that’s another mystery to be solved in the next three episodes.

Orphan Black 4x07 "The Antisocialism of Sex"

Orphan Black 4x07 "The Antisocialism of Sex"

Ghost Stories

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention poor Donnie’s unfortunate plot twist. It was a great reversal, the kind the show is good at, to have Donnie go from telling ghost stories with happy endings to a real-life scary story when the police bust in, destroy Gemma’s party, and cuff her dad in front of her. Next week: Donnie in the clink!

I’ve Seen Things You People Wouldn’t Believe

This Blade Runner quote keeps appearing online all this week, so I’m going with it. After flipping through the old Neolution text, now Rachel is seeing a glitchy swan all around the house. At first I thought she had an issue like Castor, but it would appear it’s something built into her brand-new eye. And speaking of weird appearances, Kira gets a visit—in Minecraft, hah—from MK in her sheep mask. “You’re the one in the shadows,” says little Psychic Monkey. Looks like MK is preparing to step out into the light.

Orphan Black 4x07 "The Antisocialism of Sex"

Other Thoughts

  • I was glad to be proven wrong about S and Sarah—that final shot of them clutching hands over breakfast almost sent me into tears again. Especially after “You came to me an orphan, that’s how you’ll leave” (or “that’s all you’ll ever be”?), which, yes, S is heartbroken, but that’s so harsh.
  • It is so creepy how Ira calls Susan “Mother” in front of Rachel and Charlotte. Though I wonder if things between them are kaput after she thought he kidnapped Kendall and he tried to off himself.
  • “It’s only about forty feet down. You screw that up, you’ll end up like Rachel.” Grim humor from Beth, and yet another example of the clones mirroring one another.
  • Speaking of… Is Rachel’s swan like Helena’s scorpion Pupok? If so, Tatiana Maslany will have to voice it!
  • So, turns out Dizzy was friends with Ed Capra, our corpse with the bifurcated penis from 4×01. Think Dizzy shares his friend’s interest in body mods?
  • “No offense, Scotty.” “Some taken, honestly.” DAMN, SCOTT. Slow clap for standing up for yourself.

Photos: Ken Woroner/BBC America

Natalie Zutter wonders if Project Leda being discontinued means Clone Club is all the clones we’ll have for the foreseeable future. Read more of her work on Twitter and elsewhere.

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