Orphan Black: Almost Ouroboros; Not Quite Down The Rabbit Hole!


Orphan Black (BBC America, Thursdays, 10/9C) returns with a bang as – like the worm Ouroboros that encircled the world and swallowed its own tail – we return to the beginning. Well, actually, to before the beginning.

As the previously released teaser shows, we begin with a sheep-masked individual witnessing two EMTs burying a body, following which she calls Detective Beth Childs – the woman whose suicide prompted Sarah Manning to steal her identity in the series premiere. We learn that the caller is M.K. – yet another clone! And then… well, it gets weird!

The Collapse of Nature is unique in the series, being almost entirely a flashback.

When Orphan Black premiered Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) watched in shock as a woman who looked exactly like her calmly removed her shoes, set down her purse and stepped off a train platform into the path of an arriving train. Sarah then took the purse and shows and fled – now in possession of a new identity.

Over the past three seasons, we’ve Sarah, her clone sisters and a select few other people try to unravel the mysteries that surrounded them – how they came to be; why one of them, Cosima, is slowly dying; who their biological parents were, and so many more.

What we haven’t seen is Beth’s story. We know that her suicide was part of the ongoing puzzle and that she felt she was in so far over her head that death seemed to be the only way out.

The Collapse of Nature takes us into the last few days (weeks?) of her life and shows us some of what had been going on in that pushed her to such lengths.

OBIV_Sheepish - Ken Woroner

We learn about a case that she was working on; see a bit of her relationships with her partner, Art (Kevin Hanchard), Alison, Cosima and the mysterious MK (another sterling portray from the inordinately talented Ms. Maslany). We see people we’ve already met – but before we actually met them – and, because we’ve had the benefit of learning so much about Neolution and certain of its members, we get to be privy to bits of information from a new and intriguing perspective.

While it’s difficult to review any episode of Orphan Black without a bit of description of at least a few scenes, The Collapse of Nature is practically all spoilage.

The online screener had chirons that blocked the opening credits (they could be further down on the screen and let us actually see who did what on the eps), but going by the show’s history to date, The Collapse of Nature was probably written by Graeme Manson and directed by John Fawcett (the show’s co-creators).

They cultivate a mood that seems to be a hallmark of the series: a kind of brooding melancholy and growing creepiness. The device of returning to the beginning allows them to bring us new insights and a fresh perspective – that of Beth Childs.

The result is a mesmerizing episode that establishes yet another direction from which paranoia can be raised and the story deepened. And just when you think we’re not going see much of Sarah in the present… BAM! There she is – and trouble is coming!

That is damn fine TV!

Final Grade: A+