Paul Returns To ‘Orphan Black’ Following His Tragic Death In Season 3, But Is He Here To Stay?

Although the future may be fuzzy for our favorite Project Leda clones, one thing is certain: the Orphan Black Season 4 premiere doled out more than its fair share of surprises. First there was the fact that almost the entire episode was a flashback, which meant that we didn't see protagonist Sarah until the final thirty seconds or so. Second was the revelation that Neolutionists have been planting nasty worms in their followers' cheeks for… some undisclosed nefarious reasons. And then there were all the delightful cameos that the time-warping episode allowed for, including Aldous Leekie, man-with-a-tail Olivier, suspicious detective Angie, charming drug dealer Ramon, and — most satisfyingly — Paul Dierden, killed in Orphan Black Season 3 when he sacrificed himself to blow up Dr. Coady's lab.

We first saw Paul when Beth rolled over in the middle of the night to take a phone call from new clone M.K. We soon learned that the mask-wearing hacker had already clued Beth in to her boyfriend's status as a monitor… and this revelation had understandably wreaked havoc on their relationship. She had pulled away from Paul emotionally and physically, leaving him in the middle of the night to snort crushed pills in the bathroom and investigate grisly murders in the woods. The one time she tearfully tried to reach out to him and reconnect, he couldn't even bring himself to look at her — either out of guilt or because on some level he knew that she knew. (Given the state of things in this extended flashback, it's no great wonder that Beth stepped in front of a train soon afterwards.)

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Even though we had seen multiple characters bite the dust before Paul, his death felt like such a blow because he was the first member of the show's main cast to get the axe. He was someone we'd been with since day one, who appeared in almost every episode, and whose name we got used to seeing in the credits. Speaking of those credits… Eagle-eyed viewers probably noticed that actor Dylan Bruce's name still appeared in the title sequence this week where it habitually did during the show's first three seasons, right after Jordan Gavaris (Felix) and right before Kevin Hanchard (Art).

So what does this mean? Is Paul back and here to stay, either through continued use of flashbacks — or perhaps because Paul is somehow still alive? Sadly, this doesn't seem to be the case. Bruce's name wasn't mentioned in any of the press releases for the new season, so his cameo here was likely a one-off. The flashback in this episode pretty much caught up to the moment when Beth commits suicide, so I'm not sure what else there would be to flash back to. And both the writers and Bruce himself have acknowledged that Paul is actually dead; the writers told TVLine that "[This] was our plan from the beginning [of] plotting out Season 3," and that "It was a little sad to see him go," while Bruce said at Comic Con that he was happy to be "going out like a boss."

BBC America on YouTube

Of course, Paul's presence in this episode was a surprise, so it's impossible to rule out any further surprises in the future. But it seems unlikely that the character is back on the show on any sort of permanent basis. (I suppose we'll find out for certain one way or another when the credits roll next week.) Thankfully, it seems like Season 4 will be keeping us plenty busy with new clones, Neolution worms, and the like so we won't miss Paul too too much.

Images: BBC America; Giphy