Reviews

Orphan Black: Season 4, Episode 8 - "The Redesign of Natural Objects"

J.M. Suarez

Orphan Black continues to nimbly balance a great deal without ever feeling bogged down or overstuffed.


Orphan Black

Airtime: Thursdays, 10pm
Cast: Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Ari Millen, Rosemary Dunsmore, Kevin Hanchard, Kristian Bruun, Skyler Wexler, Josh Vockey, Gord Rand, Jessalyn Wanlim
Subtitle: Season 4, Episode 8 - "The Redesign of Natural Objects"
Network: BBC America
Air date: 2016-06-02
Amazon
Scott: Have you thought about how insane you are? Jumping in a chopper to a mad scientist's private island?

Cosima: Dude, we are mad scientists. Don't be a hater.

Scott: Now you're really scaring me.

Cosima: Where's your sense of adventure, Scott?

Scott: I just want you to find a cure.

Cosima: We will.

Two episodes to go, and Orphan Black's ramping up the action and moving forward in ways that are both exciting and inevitable, especially since things appeared so dire only a few episodes ago. "The Redesign of Natural Objects" is interested in reminding us of just how strong the bond between the sisters is. Even in a season when they've been separated for long periods of time, or overtly hostile to one another, ultimately they'll sacrifice over and over again for each other.

It's a lesson that works well because the clones, and their relationships, have grown and evolved by great leaps in four seasons. The tension in the show comes now comes from how they'll handle things together, not from wondering when they'll betray each other. It's a welcome distinction that a lesser show may not have made.

Dealing with the arrest at the end of "The Antisocialism of Sex", this episode opens on Donnie (Kristian Bruun) in prison (using the first of two excellent music cues this episode with "I Fought the Law [and the Law Won]"). Donnie's his usual self, regardless of setting: initially overly cocky and then quickly put in his place. The fact that he's in prison and now under the literal watchful eye of a Neolutionist prompts much of this week’s action, and offers an opportunity for Alison (Tatiana Maslany) to prove her loyalties.

It's been a tough season for Alison, and her only consistent support has been Donnie, so when she's threatened by Duko (Gord Rand) to give up Sarah's location in exchange for Donnie's safety, it's a real risk. That S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) is after Duko at the same time to avenge Kendall's (Alison Steadman) death only further complicates matters, but it also makes the eventual trap they collectively set for Duko perfectly orchestrated. There's no doubt that Duko won't survive the episode, not only because S would never allow him to live, but also because MK was able to dig up enough evidence of his illegal activities to make a case for his death and/or disappearance in the remaining two episodes.

Duko's death doesn't come before he imparts some information to S, namely that Evie Cho (Jessalyn Wanlim) plans to implant her bot technology into an unsuspecting public under the guise of gene therapy. Duko's unaware of her reasons why, but it's enough information to move them in the right direction. Enough good things can’t be said about Kennedy, but her showdown with Rand's Duko is such a perfect encapsulation of S's steely toughness and her emotional core. When she delivers her final line to Duko ("This is for my Ma") it's filled with so much resignation and anger and feeling that it's impossible to not empathize with her.

As this episode brings the sisters together again, Sarah and Cosima are at the center of the new plan to find a cure. MK (who's sick herself) helps them with an untraceable online connection to Susan (Rosemary Dunsmore) to try to work together, but it’s only when Cosima realizes their only real hope lies in creating embryonic stem cells that a plan forms. By using Sarah's eggs to be fertilized with Ira's (Ari Millen) sperm, they bring together the two halves of Kendall's DNA, and in turn offer viable experimental genes with which to work. In essence, LEDA and CASTOR are reunited to work together for a common cure, however strange and unpalatable that may be. Cosima chooses to travel to Susan to work on the cure together while Scott (Josh Vockey) stays behind. His refusal to work with Rachel is understandable, but it also leaves Cosima alone in an environment that could very easily become hostile.

"The Redesign of Natural Objects" can't be discussed without acknowledging the brilliant Jesus Christ Superstar number that scores some of the more crucial moments of the episode. While a community church musical rehearsal isn't typically the stuff of high stakes, Alison’s rehearsal takes on all the importance of "Superstar’s" lyrics as Donnie's fate's decided and a weight's lifted. It's not only great fun (plus an excellent showcase for Sarah Stubbs' [Terra Hazelton] amazing pipes), and often hilarious, but also such a clever illustration of Alison's arc this season. Maslany never seems to have as much fun as when she's playing Alison at her most ridiculous, and a cape-clad Alison fully immersed in a musical theater performance may be that moment.

With only two more episodes left, some questions remain unanswered. They're as varied as: will a cure finally be found, to what do Rachel's visions of swans (and a strange man [Percival Westmoreland?]) mean, to wondering if Alison's priest is working for someone else. Regardless if their answers are revealed this season or next, Orphan Black continues to nimbly balance a great deal without ever feeling bogged down or overstuffed.

9

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image