We're at the halfway mark already! Time certainly flies.
In some ways this was a patchy episode, but also one that provided a surprising amount of insight on the show's various mysteries. Plus it saw the return of a fan-favourite (sadly, not the French blonde) and some great character dynamics.
It feels like I've been waiting forever for Krystal's return and she didn't disappoint. She's as innately funny as she is tragic, simultaneously smarter than she looks and impossibly dense. On the one hand she quite sensibly takes steps to learn how to defend herself, on the other she tells nearly everyone she comes across exactly what she's investigating.
The audience has the advantage of knowing much more than she does – not only that she was walking into a facility where at least six other people could instantly recognize her (so much for being undercover) but also the context of so many disparate pieces of the chaos that surrounds her.
I really hope the others introduce her to the Clone Club sooner rather than later. Not only is she in a terribly frightening situation, but she's also a liability when left to her own devices. Still, for now it's quite fascinating to see the entire conspiracy through the fresh eyes of someone who really has no idea what's going on. We were all Krystal once upon a time.
This episode also gives us a chance to see Cosima and Donnie working together, after a last minute switch between Alison and Cosima to investigate Brightborn on orientation day. This goes a little against what was established last week (that Alison couldn’t go in because Beth had already been there) but it does finally give Cosima something substantial to do. I'm very generous with handwaving things if the show is giving me what I want.
Donnie is naturally more concerned with his character's backstory than the actual place, taking Felix's advice to heart and telling Cosima: "I'm gay but I'm not super-gay, so maybe don't play the lesbian angle too much." Cosima wearily lets it slide, and I'm left wondering – is this the first time they've interacted one-on-one? Obviously they were both at the dinner party at Bubbles last season, but I don't recall them ever talking to each other before.
In any case, Cosima proves much better at the infiltration business than expected. There's a nice sequence when they realize Evie Cho will probably know what a clone looks like, so Donnie sits in such a way that obstructs Cosima from Evie's line of sight, and Cosima spends the rest of the episode accruing information.
This warms my heart.
In her speech Evie reveals that she had SCID (Severe combined immunodeficiency) as a child, only to go through an experimental gene therapy process to make her well again. There's no reason not to believe her, but the real interest lies in what she later says to Susan: "The last time a perceptive clone started poking around my side of things - it did not end well."
Clearly it's a reference to Beth, who we know went somewhere with a wig and a gun and came back with blood on her hands on the night she committed suicide. Does it have something to do with the scar on Evie's cheek? Because I definitely don't recall that in the Beth flashback episode OR on the Brightborn DVD.
After Cosima successfully hides from her, Krystal... doesn’t, and Evie immediately alerts Susan as to her presence. Yet, the fact that Susan and Krystal and Cosima end up in the same building at the same time is this episode's Contrived Coincidence, but I don't even care anymore. The rewards are too great.
Evie isn't exactly the best villain this show has had, as she spends this episode making mistakes and misidentifying clones (it's also revealed that she was funding the worm-bots and the dental clinic) but maybe she's not meant to be a major villain. She clearly takes orders from Susan, so perhaps she's just the facilitator of Brightborn and nothing more.
In any case, Susan approaches Cosima and strikes up a conversation. There's a lot of talk about embryonic enhancements, eliminating defects, germline gene editing, and Cosima gets to ask a few questions of Susan Duncan without realizing she's Susan Duncan (this was a bit confusing – surely Sarah told Cosima that Susan was still alive, and yet she doesn't double-take at the name? Or check the last name on the swipe-card she steals? I'd say that maybe Susan is going under another alias since everyone thinks she died years ago, but the woman introduces herself as Susan. Ah well, as Cosima said, I'll just have to let that one slide.)
In this episode's best moment, Donnie is holding one of the Brightborn babies when Krystal arrives. His reaction is a thing of true beauty:
"I have to go... shit." For the second time in as many weeks I have to stop the episode to finish laughing.
From here we get Donnie and Krystal trying to bullshit the other (rather terribly) as one steals products and the other pretends to be a Brightborn employee, and they end up in a massage room with Krystal almost-naked and once more spilling her guts to whoever will listen. The fact that most of this is played for laughs, up to and including her discovery that a woman's stem cell treatment led to her growing teeth in her eyelids, means that her bombshell is all the more shocking: she mentions a blonde French doctor.
After I stopped hyperventilating (okay, it wasn't that bad, but it was still a mild heart-stopper) and laughed again as Donnie ruins his cover and gets kicked in the balls, I found myself wondering if perhaps this is a hopeful sign. I feel there's a chance Delphine may still be alive, otherwise why string out the question of her death like this?
Krystal also gets one last striking scene when she sees Ira and screams – this is the face of the men who kidnapped her and killed her boyfriend, and this moment more than anything makes me hope she'll eventually be let in on the Clone Club. She shouldn’t have to live with this.
Meanwhile, Cosima is heading into her own horror story. The sight of the screaming mother in labour being hurtled down the corridor is deeply unsettling, as is the sight of the pregnant ladies under observation. Someone on Previously TV said it best:
There are two different groups of women at Brightborn. There are the rich women (like the lady Alison knows) who pay a huge amount of money to become pregnant and have babies (Cosima pointed out that all the babies in the brochures have dimples so there's a strong chance that the rich women's babies have had their genes edited as she discussed with Susan). They are the ones who get to use the fancy facilities mentioned in the tour (salt water pool, Swedish and shiatsu massage, body wraps, yoga, birthing suites with squat bars, rocking chairs, and jacuzzi tubs). They come to Brightborn for fertility treatments but then they leave and go home.
The women downstairs who Cosima saw are told they are doing paid research. They are paid a huge amount of money (according to Susan, but she didn't specify how much) to carry these babies to term (I'm guessing they're artificially inseminated and serve as surrogates so that the babies are not biologically related to them). They are living at the facility 24/7 in what looks like a pregnancy dorm with several women in each room. One of the women asked if she could go home for her son's birthday and would be "disqualified" (unpaid) if she left. They are referred to as carriers and the babies are referred to by their batch numbers.
It's interesting to consider that this is the sort of environment Amelia escaped from before she gave birth to Sarah and Helena.
What follows is a tad predictable, yet no less horrifying. Cosima finds herself in a room where the pregnant woman gives birth to a deformed baby. The worst thing was the sound of its breathing – a sort of high-pitched whistle. I'll spare you a screencap.
From there it veers into some fairly predictable story elements, with the woman weeping for God's forgiveness and Cosima criticizing the act of tinkering with the stuff of life, but it comes down to a choice: whether or not to hand over Kendall Malone. I have to admit, it's a tad anti-climactic. After all of the subterfuge and danger, the big confrontation ends with Susan simply asking Cosima where Kendall is hiding, so that they can find the original genome and provide Cosima with a cure.
There has to be a catch; one that goes deeper than Cosima giving up her integrity.
Sarah and Kira are finally having some quality time together, though Sarah is also trying to get Kira to open up about her strange visions (about time!) She's also still super-suspicious of Adele and her sudden appearance in Felix's life, though at the same time you can tell there's a hefty dose of jealousy in there too. And honestly, Tatiana and Jordan pull off the sibling resentment perfectly – right down to the below-the-belt jabs and thrown food at the dinner table.
I have to say I was fully on Sarah's side when Felix made the ludicrous decision to bring Adele to the safe house (I'm glad Mrs S. called him out on that) though I think she's on the level. To make her a Dyad/Neolution plant would be retreading ground already covered with Donnie – though since we didn't hear the other side of Sarah's phone call to Scott, I'm open to the possibility that he told her more about the DNA situation than she was letting on.
Finally, Art and Duko are still circling each other at the police station – and it seems obvious from his veiled threats that Duko knows Art has some sort of connection to the clones. I'm not entirely sure where the writers are going with this return of the garage massacre and the drug dealing. I can appreciate the continuity, but at the time this whole subplot felt like a bit of dark comedy that didn't really need to be expanded on – especially not this close to the finish line.
I'm also not sure what the writers wanted me to think of Susan/Ira in a romantic relationship, though clearly they thought it was a big enough deal to leave as the final reveal of the episode. If they were hoping for an "eww gross" reaction based on the age difference, they didn't get it from me (it's not like we don't see male actors paired up with girls half their age all the time) and if there's anything to be squicked by it's the power difference: that Susan's lover is her own creation.
So Evie's aid was the same woman who attacked Sarah at the laundromat, right? She looked the same, but her accent sounded different.
With all this talk of germline editing and improving genetics, could it be that Kira is the superior child that Neolution is hoping to design? It's already been hinted that her birth is something of a miracle, that she's vaguely psychic and that she's got super-healing abilities – now she tells Sarah that she can feel all the other clones' emotions? Answers soon, please!
As I suspected back when the Neolution girl identified herself as such, the term "carrier" refers to the experimental pregnancies and not the worm-bots. Go me!
Along with Cosima/Donnie, this feels like the first time Scott and Sarah have interacted with each other in any meaningful way.
Laughed at the return of Sarah and Alison calling each other: "bitch."
I realize Sarah's edgy attitude is doubtless to do with all the crap she has to deal with, but could it be that the worm-bot is also having an effect? We know it meddles with DNA, and there's also Kira's vision of the other clones destroying Sarah to consider...
There's not a lot of clone interaction this season. In fact, there's only been the short scene between Cosima and Sarah; everything else has been skyping and phone calls. I know it must be a real headache to film, but I'm missing the clones being in the same place!