She’s the unsung hero of the Orphan Black world. We meet her for mere moments as she removes her shoes and sets her belongings down, before she jumps in front of a train in the first five minutes of the first episode of the series. But her presence lingers. Not just in the world Sarah attempts to inhabit as her, but her impact on her sisters, especially Alison, Cosima, and MK. Her impact on Art, her partner. Her impact on Paul, her monitor and the man she loves.
She’s part of the mystery that Sarah tries desperately to untangle. And until this season, we only got snippets of who she was: marathon runner, junkie, dedicated cop. But she was so much more. She was struggling, trying to figure out her and her sisters’ purpose and origin. Trying to survive when the answers dragged her further down the rabbit hole to maggot bots and dumped bodies. Trying to survive when everyone around her might be in on it. And knowing that Paul was part of it, but not in the way she thought. If only she could have confided in him, but they both kept each other in the dark. Paul trying to keep Beth safe while working for the very people behind it all; Beth trying to protect herself and her sisters.
Beth was so torn up inside and everyone could see it. Art and Paul tried to help, but couldn’t reach her. She was too afraid to confide, too afraid that they’d betray her confidence. But her sisters were there for her. Alison tried to keep her grounded by enabling her addiction. As screwed up as that is, it was the only way she could help her from afar. Beth returned the favor by supplying her with a gun and teaching her how to shoot. Cosima transferred schools to be closer to her sisters so she could help with the science aspect. MK investigated avenues that Beth could not reach and found a new friend after losing Niki in Helsinki incident. Beth called her Mika.
Everyone had a part to play as they tried to connect the dots. Until the fateful night that she shot Maggie Chen. She was at an all-time low, fearing Paul’s connection to Neolution and clones, seeking out Art for physical comfort, high on the pills that she drowned with booze, seeing a fellow cop deeply involved in the extraction of one of the maggot bots. It was too much. It broke her. And the tragic thing is that she didn’t even know that Maggie was connected to it all, too. She was a piece to a completely different puzzle.
Beth may not have been the most together or stable person. And how can anyone blame her? She was drowning in her guilt for shooting someone she thought was merely a civilian. But everything she did was in service of her sisters. She was drowning in the truths that kept being revealed. And that was true to the end, as we learned in “The Scandal of Altruism.” She’d been played by Evie Cho to target Leda’s still-living creator, Susan Duncan. And while Susan Duncan is not a great person by any means for abandoning Rachel to Leekie in favor of the science, she only wanted to protect and heal Leda. Neolution had other plans, as it always does. And Beth figured it out. She was too good of a cop, too good of an investigator, too close to the answers.
And her knowledge would cost Alison, Cosima, Mika, and Paul their lives. She was a liability to Neolution with her position on the force. She could end it all for them, but not before they took away everyone she cared about. Along with any other Ledas that made their presence known. From someone who seemed so selfish on the outside to everyone except her sisters, she did the most selfless thing to protect the people she cared about. For her sisters, who she’d only known for a short while.
With a Neolution plant on the force, she couldn’t risk her knowledge spreading. To more people getting hurt. He had too much access. Neolution had too much access, too much power. She couldn’t be sure Evie and the cop would actually make good on their promises, but she wasn’t willing to take the chance. And maybe they wouldn’t have immediately because Sarah as Beth was mostly left alone in the beginning, until Leekie and Olivier got word of her. But Beth made the call before anyone else got hurt. She couldn’t see a future where Neolution wouldn’t swallow Leda alive.
Seeing Sarah on that platform was likely the final push she needed. She could be sure there were more than just Alison, Cosima, Mika. She was convinced they needed her to sacrifice herself so they could live. She couldn’t run or hide from what she knew, she could only do what was needed to protect her sisters.
I think we all need to take a moment to appreciate how impactful Beth Childs is on the entire Orphan Black series and how someone we initially met for just a few seconds became one of the most gut-wrenching, heart-breaking characters I’ve ever watched. My Beth Childs feelings are mighty and her impact on the story will never be lost on me. Last night’s episode destroyed and traumatized me, which is a testament to how amazing Orphan Black is.