A Look at Orphan Black- Season 4, Episode 3: “The Stigmata of Progress”

Time to catch up with Rachel and see what she’s been up to in isolation.  Oh, and those gruesome murders Helena committed last season?  What, you didn’t think we were done with that, did you?

The Stigmata of Progress- Ira examines Rachel

The episode begins with Ira examining Rachel’s new eye.  Charlotte thinks the eye looks like Pluto.  Interesting observation.  Charlotte doesn’t feel she’d be bothered by Rachel’s insults.  The eye is still photosensitive, Ira notes but Rachel wonders how he would know that, given how he’s missed three consecutive treatments.  That just reinforces her theory that she’s in isolated territory.

Six weeks have passed without a visit from Professor Duncan.  Rachel taunts Ira, calling him a pale shade of Castor, though he doesn’t have the same antipathy for his siblings as Rachel apparently does for hers.  Rachel knows that Susan is back and watching her, but Ira says no such thing is happening.  She then receives her pigment treatments for her eye to look normal again.  So that’s a thing.

The Stigmata of Progress- Hell-Wizard and Kira play a game

Back at the comic book shop, Hell-Wizard plays a game of what I’m assuming is Dungeons and Dragons with Kira, who is worried about her mother.  She always knows when bad things happen, even though no one tells her.

The Stigmata of Progress- Examining Sarah's mouth

Downstairs, Scott and Cosima examine the worm in Sarah’s mouth.  At the very least, Scott figures that it’s not a tracking device, but it must contain some anesthetic, which is why Sarah never felt it.

The Stigmata of Progress- Rachel's physical therapy

Rachel, not allowed a computer, continues her treatment and physical therapy when Charlotte asks her about Adam’s Rib.  That’s enough of a distraction for Rachel to fall when she looks up and finds Professor Susan with her again.  Rachel wants her to go to hell.  Nice mother/daughter interaction.

The Stigmata of Progress- Mrs. S and Sarah watch the footage

Sarah needs to find Dizzy and settle some matters with Felix.  Mrs. S. wants her to rest and assures her that the family should support Felix if he wants to find his family. Upstairs, Kira then pushes over the game of Dungeons and Dragons because she’s an ass.  Or bored.

The Stigmata of Progress- Donnie checks Alison's mouth for worms

At House Hendrix, Cosima talks Donnie through as he searches Alison’s mouth for a similar worm or research device.  Alison perks up when she learns that this has to do with Neolution.  And this is when the two return to the garage to potentially exhume Dr. Leekie’s body.  Nothing about this is a good idea.

The Stigmata of Progress- Felix introduces Sarah to his sister, Adele, played by Lauren Hammersley

Sarah heads to Felix’s place, but ends up finding some random woman named Adele, played by Lauren Hammersley, who is apparently Felix’s biological sister.  Then Felix enters and clears things up just before Sarah asks if she can speak with him alone.  Felix likes Adele.  And he won’t stop hanging out with his sister because Sarah is suspicious of her being a Neolution plant.  Nor will he drop what he’s doing to play sidekick.

The Stigmata of Progress- Donnie and Helena in the kitchen

Then we get Helena raiding the kitchen in nothing but a towel.  Donnie needs her to watch the kids because he and Alison are working on a project in the garage that no one can enter right now.  Sarah apparently won’t answer her calls, though Helena feels she can help solve problems. Donnie feels that sometimes, Helena’s type of help isn’t needed.  I tend to agree, but she’s at least useful.

The Stigmata of Progress- Sarah goes to Dizzy for information on Neolution

So with no Felix at her side, Sarah goes solo with her investigation, even ignoring a call from S.  She meets up with Dizzy and says that she is M.K.’s sister.  Dizzy isn’t interested at first, but then Sarah shows him the plant in her mouth.  Dizzy heard chatter a few months ago about the technology.  Some theories include biometrics monitor, but Dizzy asks why put such a plant in the jaw where so much can go wrong?

If the monitor was for insulin, you could put it in the thigh, but in the jaw, it’s so much closer to the brain.  Sarah needs to get in touch with M.K., but Dizzy assures Sarah that M.K. will find her.  Right now, Sarah wants to know about the man in the video.  Word is the man is Alonzo Martinez.

The Stigmata of Progress- Rachel, Susan, and Ira dine

Rachel dines with Ira and Susan.  She’s been thinking about why Susan disappeared without a word, and her theory is that the original clone has not been found.  So while Sarah Manning is on the loose, Castor and Leda are alone in a terrarium.  Susan, though, likes that Rachel has spent time with Charlotte, as Charlotte was cloned from her.

Not a viable way to replicate, especially after 400 attempts, but important nonetheless.  That’s when Rachel demands to be left alone.  Susan says that she’s given the world to Rachel, but Rachel’s obsession with Sarah has blinded her.

Though Rachel is still livid that there’s still no cure or original clone in captivity.  Susan strikes back, calling Rachel the biggest disappointment.  Well, at least Rachel got what she want and can now eat alone.

The Stigmata of Progress- Alison and Donnie unearth Leekie's body

Alison and Donnie finally hit pay dirt when the smell hits them hard, like hot garbage juice.

The Stigmata of Progress- Sarah heads to Art's place with information on Martinez

Art continues going through footage of Beth when he gets a visit from Sarah.  She shows him the footage of Martinez and the worm’s defense mechanism as it goes haywire.  Sarah doesn’t know which doctor to go to, but Art will head to the station and find what he can based on Sarah’s information.  He advises her to stay at his place and get some rest.

The Stigmata of Progress- Felix and Adele bond over drinks

Adele and Felix bond over drinks.  Felix asks about their father, who was American and had an affair with a dancer in England.  Felix barely knew his mother, as she died when Felix was young.  After that, he bounced around the foster system until Mrs. S. adopted him.

To Felix, he has a sense of his mother, like he can feel her presence.  As for Adele’s mother, she knew about the affair, but not Felix.  That came out on dad’s deathbed.  Then Adele asks what Felix’s other family thinks about him looking for his roots.  Right now, Felix doesn’t care about that.

The Stigmata of Progress- Sarah gets a phone call from Helena

Sarah watches the footage when she gets a call from Helena, who shares the good news about her having twins.  However, she doesn’t want her twins to grow up like her.  Sarah understands.

The Stigmata of Progress- Detectives Lindstein, played by Kirsten Alter, and Collier, played by Joe Pingue, visit the Hendrix home for questions

The call is interrupted when Helena gets an unexpected visit from two detectives: Lindstein, played by Kirsten Alter, and Collier, played by Joe Pingue.  They’re here to ask about a triple homicide that occurred at a garage a few weeks back.

Helena, now having to masquerade as Alison, welcomes in the detectives just as Donnie heads in and spots the detectives talking with Helena.  Donnie rushes to the garage and tells Alison to abandon the excavation due to the detectives asking about Pouchy’s garage.  Alison, though, tells Donnie to head in and take care of it while she covers up the body.

The Stigmata of Progress- Kira tells Cosima about her dream

S heads out, leaving a dazed Kira to hang out with Cosima.  Kira wakes up from her dream of all the aunts being there with her and Sarah being set on fire because she was changing.  How she changed, Kira doesn’t know.

The Stigmata of Progress- Alison listens as Donnie and Helena talk to detectives

The detectives present material from Alison’s campaign that was found at the scene.  Donnie and Helena deny any involvement or ever meeting anyone from the Pouzihno family, but the detectives still need to know who had access to the campaign materials.  Helena eventually names Alison’s campaign manager: Sarah Stubbs.

She names other members of Alison’s staff, but the biggest support came from Donnie.  That’s enough to convince the detectives for now.  Alison is curious how Helena knew all of this, but hey, she is a trained assassin.

The Stigmata of Progress- Donnie and Alison examine Leekie's body

Anyway, back to digging.  Alison and Donnie unearth Leekie’s decomposed body and find a portion of his cheek cut.  That’s just what they need.

The Stigmata of Progress- Charlotte and Rachel paint

Rachel and Charlotte paint.  Rachel says that they all need to work hard at being a family.  She then asks Charlotte about her courses, this is all a front so the two can share messages on the easel, out of the camera’s view.  Charlotte apparently got Rachel’s message.  But then Charlotte coughs up blood- not the first occurrence.  Charlotte goes back to painting, but Rachel’s face is painted with concern.

The Stigmata of Progress- Art reports to Sarah about Martinez's last location

Back to the footage.  Sarah re-watches Beth confronting Paul when she suddenly gets a call from Art.  Martinez had a local address last year.  Four months ago, he stayed in town for one night and left right after that.  Though he did go to the corner of Queen and Broadview, and there sits a dental clinic that specializes in implants.  Art advises Sarah to check in with him in an hour.

The Stigmata of Progress- Art speaks with Detective Duko

Art then talks with Detective Duko about Duko’s visit with Beth.  He claims that it was out of concern for a fellow officer- even though house calls are uncommon- but seems surprised that Art knew about this.

The Stigmata of Progress- Alison and Donnie tell Cosima about Leekie's body

Alison and Donnie report to Cosima about their finding, with Donnie eventually admitting that he shot Leekie, who has one of those implants in his face.  That’s at least useful for Cosima, and now it’s on her to come pick up the body.

The Stigmata of Progress- Leslie, played by Siobhan Murphy, mistakes Sarah for Beth

Sarah heads to the dental clinic at the address that Art provided and sneaks in back without scheduling an appointment.  Cheater.  One of the dentists, Leslie, played by Siobhan Murphy, mistakes Sarah for Beth, thinking  she is still digging.  Leslie is in a tough spot and signed an NDA, but she still remembers the procedures.  Sarah mentions that the procedure was done to her.  Leslie can remove it, but it could be dangerous.

The Stigmata of Progress- Ferdinand speaks with Mrs. S about Neolution

S calls Benjamin when she gets an unexpected visit from Ferdinand.  He’s concerned because of the investigation into Neolution tech.  Ferdinand proposes a trade, as he knows about bots.  Someone in S’s group has one.  He can help with the Neolution network, but before we learn what he wants, Art calls S to tell her that Sarah has not checked in with him.  He thinks that she could be in trouble.

The Stigmata of Progress- Leslie operates on Sarah

Back at the clinic, Leslie closes up shop for the night when she heads into the back to operate on Sarah.  She begins the procedure and pries open Sarah’s mouth.  She penetrates the device, so if Sarah makes any movement, a burst of tendrils will release a fatal dose of tetrodotoxin.  Lovely.  The doctor tells Beth that she has no idea what she’s getting into, so she called her superiors.

Until then, it’s critical that Sarah not move.  Leslie talks about her orders to keep Beth guessing, but no one told her that Beth would return or that she’s one of the test subjects.  Beth apparently has no idea how lucky she is to be chosen.  Then Ferdinand enters and slashes Leslie across her throat.  Ferdinand learned some news from Rachel: Susan Duncan is alive.

The Stigmata of Progress- Susan tells Rachel about the plan to create a more perfect human being

We then cut to Rachel, who is resting when Susan approaches and says that detachment is her curse.  She doesn’t know how to be with Rachel.  Rachel claims it’s due to abandonment, but hey, both of them are Neolution.  Susan wanted to be her mother, but she had to cut the cord.  Susan advises Rachel to be kind to Ira.

Though Rachel is still upset about being sent away.  She wasn’t supposed to know about Helinski, though.  As it turns out, Rachel is the experiment and everyone needs a purpose in life to serve.  Theirs is in service to control human evolution and create a more perfect human being.

Good luck with that.  “The Stigmata of Progress” does manage to advance the plot with the reintroduction of Ferdinand and Rachel as we continue to delve into the big mystery that is Neolution, but it also allowed for some character development for several characters that all relate through one particular thread: legacy.

The Stigmata of Progress- Rachel upset at her mother

Take Rachel, for example.  She’s upset with her mother for abandoning her and still treating her as some sort of experiment.  But as cold as Rachel has been to other clones, Susan has no problem being just as heartless towards her own daughter.  Sure, parents try to be the bigger person, but not Susan in the instances where she and Rachel clash.

The Stigmata of Progress- Susan and Rachel

Plus, as it turns out, Rachel ends up just being another pawn.  With the plan to create a more perfect human being, Susan shows Rachel that she’s just another cog in a much larger machine that’s going to better society.  Rachel has spent so much time focusing on Sarah and the other clones that, in Susan’s eyes, she’s become distracted from her true purpose.

The Stigmata of Progress- Susan has plans for Rachel

Yet, there’s still an element of regret when Susan tells Rachel that she doesn’t know how to be with her.  After spending so much time away from her daughter, it’s no surprise that the relationship between her and Rachel is so tense.  I’m glad that Rachel’s characterization remains the same and she hasn’t softened due to the alienation from Susan.  In fact, she’s even more upset at being left in the hands of a Castor clone.

The Stigmata of Progress- Charlotte has some blood on her lip

And, of course, Charlotte, who, like Kira, appears to know more than she lets on about the larger picture.  What’s the message?  No idea yet, unless it has to do with Ferdinand, but it does allow for some nice interactions between Charlotte and Rachel.  With her coughing up blood, though, I’m curious what her condition is, given how she seemed fine at the end of last season.

The Stigmata of Progress- Helena does not want her children to be like her

Briefly on Helena, who is also thinking about her legacy.  As Donnie and Alison point out, Helena is a killer.  Since becoming integrated with the other clones and the family as a whole, she’s softened and is now about to have children of her own.  However, she doesn’t want them to be anything like her.

The Stigmata of Progress- Donnie and Helena

I think Helena is growing used to the domestic lifestyle, given how well she bonds with Donnie.  And I don’t think it’s to cause any friction with him and Alison.  She’s helped them a few times and despite how odd they are, she’d do anything to help her sisters.  Plus, she’s not as aimless or unaware of everything going on around her, proving that when, with no problem, she provides the names of several people on Alison’s campaign staff.

Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow- Bloody Helena emerges

Also, I’m glad we’re addressing the incident at Pouchy’s garage from last season.  Granted, it’s not relevant to the other clones, so there’d be no reason to bring it up except for a conversation-stopper.  Though it’s been a few weeks since it occurred, at least the show followed up on it.  Now the question is whether House Hendrix is in the clear.

The Stigmata of Progress- Adele tells Felix about his parents

What’s unclear right now is Adele.  Sarah has every right to be suspicious, but Felix has just as much right to be upset at her for potentially interfering with the one, true connection he’ll have.  Is it possible that Adele is some sort of spy?  Yeah, sure, but that would be too convenient and contrived.  We’ve seen that scenario plenty of times on television and movies.  Let Adele be genuine and have Felix learn about his past.

The Stigmata of Progress- Felix has a sense of his mother

There’s actual curiosity when he asks about his parents and he looks to have grown to Adele fast, so I wouldn’t want her to be some sort of infiltrator.  Just let her be a character and don’t turn this into some scenario that ends with Sarah being right about Adele’s intentions.  And unlike last time, Felix didn’t reluctantly drop his plans to play Sarah’s sidekick.  Good on him.

The Stigmata of Progress- Sarah learns that Susan Duncan is alive

Not a ton to say about Sarah, though you’ve gotta wonder if it was desperation that made her so willing to trust Leslie getting in her mouth.  If she needed to keep up appearances as Beth, I get that, but Leslie already seemed surprised by this sudden arrival, so you’d think she would have been more questioning of Beth appearing out of nowhere.

The Stigmata of Progress- Leslie talks to Sarah

That’s if Leslie didn’t know that Beth was dead, which I don’t know she wouldn’t, given how she did all this digging a while ago, only to pop up for a surprise dental visit.

“The Stigmata of Progress” did a good job in dealing with characters’ legacies and showing the lengths they’ll go to ensure a better future.

Though Alison, Donnie, and Helena’s plot was fine, it only served to help Sarah’s situation instead of giving them something to do for themselves.  Ferdinand’s return is an interesting wild card and Susan’s plan to create a more perfect human being make for something to look forward to as the season progresses.

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