I'd actually entirely forgotten that series four had finished already, which is why this review is moderately late. It's also late because I have absolutely no idea what I'm even supposed to say about this series. The usual thing with Orphan Black is that it starts off slow, and then by the end I'm completely enthralled, but that isn't what happened this time.
Picking up shortly after the end of the third series, the fourth series of Orphan Black sees Sarah and the other clones drawn back into the fray, as Neolution, under the control of Rachel's mother Susan Duncan, seeks to re-establish their control over them. Through a combination of subterfuge, violence, and diplomacy, Sarah and the others manage to establish an uneasy truce with Neolution to cure Cosima's sickness, only for an internal struggle within Neolution to thwart them, as Evie Cho, a rival scientist and leadership candidate to Susan, violently takes control.
To be honest, I don't have many thoughts or opinions on this series. It was just kind of - there. I didn't hate it, certainly, in fact, I'm fairly sure I enjoyed it, but for the most part I could have taken or left it. It failed to rouse any particularly strong emotions in me, failed to really keep my interest over a sustained period of time, failed to really leave any kind of lasting impression.
|I think I remember this scene, very vaguely.|
(In fact, it failed so much to make a lasting impression that at one point, Helena, Allison, and Donnie contact Sarah from out in the wilds of Canada, and despite it being a major plot point that they'd gone out there, I found myself totally baffled by it, because I'd completely forgotten that that had happened.)
I think part of that is that Orphan Black has played all of the cards it has, and now it just feels like it's rehashing the same storyline again and again. How many times now have Sarah and company formed an uneasy pact with their enemies, only to discover some new enemy working behind the scenes? The answer is a lot of times, enough so that I rolled my eyes a little when it happened part way through the series, and rolled my eyes again when it happened at the end of the series, with the founder of Neolution being revealed to be immortal and still controlling the movement.
More than that, though, the storyline felt like it was always either rehashing old plotlines, or throwing new ones in out of the left field that have never been foreshadowed before. Cosima is trying a revolutionary new treatment, but then something thwarts her doing so? Old plotline. Worm-like things that attach to the side of people's mouths and alter their DNA? Never foreshadowed. Neolution and/or Dyad controlled law enforcement cause trouble for Allison and Donnie? Old plotline. Immortal Neolutionist leader secretly controls everything from behind the scenes? Never foreshadowed.
|Don't remember this one, though.|
But maybe even more than that, I feel like this series led the audience around in a circle. The Evie Cho storyline ultimately doesn't amount to anything, because the bots (aforementioned worm things, although I guess they're more like leeches?) are a totally unrelated scientific endeavour to the clones, as is Evie's experiments on fetuses, and by the finale, both scientific endeavours have both failed to become at all relevant to the overarching storyline about the clones and basically vanished into the aether. All it really seems to be there for is to create drama, keep the clone-sickness plot going, and give Rachel a push to go axe-crazy - a push she never really needed, because Rachel's always been characterised as quite violent and unhinged, and it would've made plenty of sense for exposure to Susan (a woman she believed was dead) and her mechanical-eye-induced hallucinations to be the thing that pushed her over the edge.
(On the bright side, the acting is still A++. Tatiana Maslany's ability to effortlessly slip into other characters remains quite awe-inspiring, and this series even introduces a new clone to demonstrate that. I've lost count of how many there are now.)
|Oh, I do remember this one, though.|
So I'm disappointed, and left in the position that I seem to always eventually end up in with television shows: Having to say that Orphan Black has gone on too long and should probably consider finishing. I think they're kind of easing that way anyway, since there's not really any kind of villainous step up from 'evil immortal geneticist,' and to be honest, I'm fine with that. Five series is a good stopping point for any show.
That's Orphan Black series four then - not bad, but not especially good either, and visibly running out of ideas more and more with every series. Oh, but on the bright side, Delphine was brought back, thus making Orphan Black one of the few shows this year to not only not kill off any of its queer female characters, but also to bring one killed off in a previous series back from the dead. That's nice, at least.