Orphan Black S1x04 – “Effects of External Conditions”

I review Episode 4 of Orphan Black, which aired on Friday in the UK along with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 

Orphan Black DVD Boxset

And my new favourite show continues its stellar form as we reach the fourth Episode of Orphan Black, where we see Sarah learn the identity of the crazed clone, named in a sequence as Helena, and Alison has to visit Sarah’s child as Beth in Sarah’s absence. Also, Helena breaks into the Beth’s workplace, and the mystery deepens.

Wow. Unlike Peaky Blinders, which dropped a little bit in form this week, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, which still remains fairly flawed, Orphan Black is one show that continuously remains in its A-Game and with each new episode comes a better reason to stay in on Friday nights. As usual, all of the cast bring their best to the table, with Tatiana Maslany delivering some stunning performances in the five (if counting Beth) characters that she plays in this episode, each making them brilliantly unique and individually stunning.

The episode here also manages to actually improve in terms of plot development, pace and storyline. Effects of External Conditions moves along at a much quicker pace than previous episodes, with a compelling main plot that focuses on Sarah, disguising herself as Beth in order to investigate Helena as she tries to find out why she’s hunting down their clones. We’re thrust into a very creepy and very graphic opening that once more clearly reminds us that this show is an adult series, and it’s to the show’s strength that it still treats the audience like the people who are watching it are meant to be adults, and for the most part, they will be. The plot is smart and clever, and the direction as to where this show goes is still anyone’s guess, especially given the ending – that rather than answering questions leaves us posed with a whole heap of new ones. It’s easily my most anticipated show each week, and it’s a real shame that nobody that I speak to outside of my family, and the odd few on twitter and various forums has actually seen the episode in question – apart from one person. This show should be getting the amount of exposure that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has now currently, because it’s more than twice as good, and just as brilliant. I’m probably going to be saying the same thing each week – Orphan Black is a show that you should be watching, and has a very good potential to become big on a similar level to Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and other similarly awesome shows. It just needs a little more people watching it, because I’ve rarely seen complaints for this show so far.

The highlight of this episode was easily the wonderfully handled tension in both meetings that Effects of External Conditions brought us. The meeting between Sarah-Beth and Helena played out wonderfully well when compared with the meeting between Alison and Sarah’s daughter, made even more unpredictable when you consider that in a previous sequence, Alison has had to train to adopt Sarah’s punk guise, and the added twist in having Kiera recognise Alison as an imposter was pulled off wonderfully well.

Also, there are still questions that should be raised – Sarah, remember – is supposedly dead. I hope this comes back to prove a major flaw to Sarah in future instalments, especially when you consider that Sarah’s ex-boyfriend hunting for her took up a large portion of the first two episodes, what has happened to that subplot now? And whilst Felix has risen out of the one-dimensional character that he has been introduced as, Art still hasn’t – and I hope his character improves before the end of the series even though Sarah, as Beth – has now just resigned from the police at the end of the episode. It’s certainly something that I fear will have interesting consequences on how the rest of the season outplays, and it’s certainly something that I can’t see Paul or Alison being too happy with.

However, despite any gripes that I have had with this episode, Orphan Black is the best damn thing currently on TV at the moment and I’m looking forward to more. When this season wraps up I hope that we get Season 2 at the same time as BBC America gets it – because if I have to endure a long wait like I am for The Tomorrow People and possibly The 100 (if I do choose to watch it – It will depend on good reviews on the CW before they air on Channel 4, I won’t be pleased in the slightest. This show is just show damn good.

VERDICT; 4.75/5

ORPHAN BLACK SEASON 1 EPISODE GUIDE: S1x01: Natural SelectionS1x02: InstinctS1x03: Variation Under NatureS1x04: Effects of External Conditions, S1x05: Conditions of Existence, S1x06: Variations Under Domestication, S1x07: Parts Developed in an Unusual Manner, S1x08: Entangled Bank, S1x09: Unconscious Selection, S1x10: Endless Forms Most Beautiful

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