Friday 3 June 2016

Orphan Black – It’s over.

Orphan Black: 4x07 The Antisocialism of Sex.
Sex is an antisocial force in evolution. Bonds are formed between individuals in spite of sex and not because of it. Perfect societies if we can be so bold as to define them as societies that lack conflict and possess the highest degrees of altruism and coordination, are most likely to evolve where all of the members are genetically identical.  
Edward O.Wilson: Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. 
There’s more than biology between us, there’s something else. -Beth Childs 

The tomb in which Rachel was held for all these months serves as a powerful metaphor this episode. We find out that it was built by the forefather of Neolution, a Victorian industrialist named Percival Westmoreland. As much as it contains all the artefacts of 19th century science, Susan Duncan made it her own. The upper floor, the one that Rachel reaches with difficulty, climbing the steep stairs with the help of her crutches, was entirely created by Susan Duncan. It is flooded by light, and the old books, both scientific (Darwin, Mendel) and mythical (the title-giving legend of Leda and the Swan) are nothing but decoration. This is the edge of the known world; the island of Doctor Moreau, where the future of humanity is created, far away from the reaches of any moral disagreement or intervention; and yet, at the beginning of the episode, Susan is entirely defeated. She is as conscious of having built on the remains and heritage of someone else as she is of the fact that Evie Cho is now building on her own remains, and having been in Evie’s position (presumably, a female scientist in the 1960s and 1970s), she is aware of the fury and anger necessary to go up against established boundaries and glass ceilings. It isn’t made explicit in the episode but I think that Susan Duncan knows that she, the establishment scientist who enjoyed all the support and funding over the years, poses a threat to Evie Cho, who is trying to make a name for her own with means that are radically different from the old tradition. 

There is more to this, of course. Rachel has chosen a course of action and it is gaining agency through following in her mother’s footsteps, and becoming the leader of Leda rather than its subject. Except now that Evie Cho is in charge, Leda itself has become an artefact, something for the museum. It’s funding will be diverted to other undertakings, its assets dismantled for the monetary value and used elsewhere. Rachel has bet on the wrong horse, and the scene in which she sits on her mother’s left side to take lead of Leda, symbolically, but is entirely dismantled by the new Neolution establishment, is a perfect symbol of it. Evie thinks that the cloning business is obsolete, and so is Rachel, and she will never be more than an artefact of a scientific programme that is now entirely irrelevant, and similar to Susan Duncan’s old dusty books about the past history of the present. 
Siobhan: Came to me an orphan, that’s all you left me. 
Equally, Sarah’s entire life recently, uniting the clones, finding strategies, has been built on someone else’s legacy. When Sarah took over Beth’s life, first as an impostor, than as someone also accepting the responsibility, she built on something that was created by someone before her. As much as the house serves as a reminder of lives past in Rachel’s arc this episode, Beth’s literal ghost haunting Sarah serves as a reminder of the life that Sarah took over, and then made her own. This version of Beth is nothing like the one we saw in the flashbacks – it is of Sarah’s creation, a ghost as cynical as herself, someone leading her and misleading her, putting her in danger, abandoning her, but also, finally, getting to the core: that she must reunite her sisters in this struggle. For a very long time this episode, we think that Sarah chasing Beth’s ghost is going to lead to a very dark place, close to the train tracks, when instead, Beth is merely making a point: that in taking over her life, and watching her take her life, Sarah has also assumed the responsibility for every single life that Beth held in her hands, for all of her sisters, and she is now more than ever obliged to live up to that responsibility. OF course it is Felix, chasing her all that time, refusing to believe that Sarah is still the same person that would leave her family behind for her own selfish reasons, to go off the rails and be free of her responsibilities. As much as it is Beth’s appeal for Sarah to reunite the sisters, who have been oddly disconnected this whole season (and where is Helena?), it is Felix’ strength, conviction and belief in his sister that saves her from the abyss that is staring back at her when she chases Beth’s traces. 

I think that all of this is pointing back to the beginnings, which is why Rachel ends up having a vision – or a technological feedback, from her implant – of a swan. Mika seems omnipresent and potent, able to contact Kira (who is, after all, the girl who knows everything), and it seems quite possible that she would be capable of hacking Rachel’s implant for that purpose. After all, Beth’s message to Sarah to reunite all the clones must include Rachel – this isn’t Beth, it is Sarah’s version of her, and Rachel, as much as she insists on her otherness, is one of the sisters. 

Random notes: 

Evie reveals that Neolution is after leaving the “naïve” clones to themselves, but are eager to tie loose ends with the self-aware ones. It feels like the police arresting Donnie and Duko having a word with Alison is a first step in that direction. 

The scenes between Siobhan and Sarah are among the best the show has ever done – Sarah going off the rails because of her guilt, and Siobhan’s fury about not even having a body to bury, a way to find closure in all of this, and yet, in the end, cooking breakfast for her daughter. Also Siobhan is now well aware that Duko is to blame, and has, along with Art, who loved Beth, enough reason to go on a rampage (cleaning her gun, getting ready for war). 

Pointed out elsewhere, but still relevant: how did Felix just conveniently forget to mention to Cosima earlier that Krystal saw Delphine being taken away – alive – from the parking garage. 


(and a cynical part of me realises they would have never given us any certainty either way and are just betting that eventually, Evelyne Brochu will become available again, but maybe, just maybe, they had time to film a little video thing with her? Maybe?)

“It’s fortunate you’ve had such an ineffective means of suicide, Ira.”

These three make the weirdest family. 

Scott does take it rather personally that Cosima considers him a second-at-best lab partner. Also, what a performance – Cosima ready to implant the bot that Sarah was so very eager to remove from herself, because it is the only thing left to her, until Felix’ phone call. 

Donnie’s story and Alison’s are very much on the sidelines but there is a creepy parallel between the ghost story that he tells to the children and Sarah chasing Beth, or being chased by her. “His face was white, like he had seen a ghost. Or was he a ghost?”

Dizzy is very interested in Sarah because he has a bot implant himself, that I assume will come in handy in the future. 

PEACHES! Girls wanna be her, boys wanna be her. 

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