“Is this my life now?”
What a fascinating way to open a new season of Orphan Black. When the new year starts, you expect to get advancement of the present-day narrative and answers to lingering questions, but “The Collapse of Nature” defies expectations, instead choosing to delve into the backstory of Beth Childs. We already know her story–to an extent–through pieces of information that we’ve gleaned throughout the first three seasons, but that story has always been filtered through the eyes of Sarah Manning…and by extent, through the eyes of the other clones. Here, though, we get the backstory front and center, and it’s a great way to reintroduce us to the perfection that is Tatiana Maslany.
Beth Childs’s tale is one of uncertainty and isolation, and Maslany expertly navigates the range of emotions her character experiences here. It’s a story of a life led as a lie, of the various hardships she struggles with all compounding and culminating in that heartbreaking final sequence. It’s a very character-based episode, and it’s certainly difficult to watch Beth spiral downward into her foregone conclusion. What’s important to note here is the reaction Beth has to these struggles: guilt, specifically in reference to other people. She laments dragging other clones and Art into her mess, and she states early on, “this is my shit”. What’s interesting about this is its seeming contrast to an overarching theme of the series: the idea that the clones are stronger when they’re together, when they’re family. That holds true, but it’s understandable that Beth would feel this way; it also exacerbates her sense of loss and isolation .
At the same time that the “rah rah team” mentality is pushed, the show is also introducing ideas like the ones that form the Neolutionist foundation. “Neolution is just an ethos,” Trina tells Beth midway through the episode. “It’s about, like, creating yourself…individual evolutionary choice.” It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on this mindset moving forward.
-Nice to get so many appearances from characters of past seasons.
-Interesting contrast between the Paul-Beth scene in this episode and the steamy sex scene between Sarah and Paul in the pilot.
-Probably won’t have time to review every episode this season. Apologies for the significant cut down in television coverage. I plan on making Person of Interest a priority when it returns in a few weeks, though.
Photo credit: BBC America, Orphan Black