Orphan Black Recap: Who’s the Science Now?

Orphan Black

From Instinct to Rational Control
Season 4 Episode 4
Editor’s Rating *****
Tatiana Maslany as Sarah. Photo: Orphan Black IV Productions Limited

Things are fraying at the edges for the sestras. Sarah has fallen back into old habits since returning from Iceland, leaving Kira in others’ care yet again, snapping at Alison to pull her own weight, and of course, being a jerk to Felix when he expresses a desire for his own life. Alison’s jealous of Helena’s doubly viable pregnancy and trying to maintain her own non-clone-related life (though that doesn’t seem to include spending more time with Oscar and Gemma, whom we haven’t seen in months). Helena leaves home with backpacker gear. Rachel comes full circle and becomes the mother she hated by agreeing to sacrifice her “daughter” by not attempting to treat her disease, reasoning that a sick Charlotte is more valuable as a “data set” than, you know, a potentially healthy human being. MK, whose real name we now know is Vera, is in the wind with several million bucks to keep her going. And Cosima is still dying. This is getting worrisome. The moment when they finally reunite and rally against Topside/Neolution/BrightBorn cannot come soon enough.

So, Ferdinand is back. I have to confess: I have never been able to hate this dude. He’s so weird and gross and cold-blooded and totally a coward, but I’m still psyched he’s back. Does that make me a dirtbag? Correctly deducing that she had help escaping Iceland, he convinces Sarah to use her “source,” MK, to trace Rachel’s message, so he can rescue her and they can escape to paradise and live on his literal blood money. Unfortunately, MK figures out who Sarah is asking her to hack for and goes dark. Once Sarah tells him that they’re all clones, Dizzy is more than willing to track her to that trailer in a scrap yard. It’s here they discover that MK has been putting the pieces together for a decade, trying to identify Topside’s senior executives so she can exact her revenge for Helsinki, which included the murder of her beloved BFF and fellow Leda, Niki — and now they’ve basically handed Ferdinand to her on a silver platter.

Well, I guess MK took him from them, as she has, of course, been keeping tabs on all of Sarah’s communications. Posing as Sarah, she texts Siobhan to send Ferdinand to Beth’s apartment, where she’s set up a cool little plastic bomb at the dining table, which will be activated the second his butt touches the seat. Her approach to revenge scenarios is truly inspired: She sets up a candle for every Leda that died in the Helsinki massacre, plus one for herself — she should’ve been killed, too, but managed to escape with only a burn scar on her cheek — as well as a tankful of gasoline and, best of all, a projector and a full-blown Powerpoint presentation complete with Ferdy’s childhood photos. (He was a bastard, which supposedly explains why he’s such a bastard now? Whatever.) Incredible way to confront someone for burning your sisters alive and killing all of their families, made even better by her coup de grce: Extorting his bank account password from him, in exchange for not setting him on fire. She transfers all $3.7 million he’d been saving for his and Rachel’s happily ever after to her own bank account, and then disappears, leaving him behind to be spared by Sarah and Siobhan’s bomb-deactivating skills.

Meanwhile, Felix is dragged back into the muck by Siobhan’s family meeting, with the annoyingly forced reasoning that, had he known about the implant in Sarah’s face, he would never have blown her off. Okay, a facebot is gross and all, but it still doesn’t change the fundamental fact that Sarah treats him like an on-call, unpaid personal assistant. Anyway, after Alison is mistakenly confronted at a café by that goth girl, Trina, who misidentified her as Beth and chews her out for (a) going back to Club Neolution (actually Sarah), and (b) checking on an IVF clinic called Life Spring (suggesting that’s why Trina was pregnant … though hasn’t it been an awfully long time since she last saw Beth?), Felix and Donnie must go on a recon mission posing as a couple looking for a surrogate. (Beth already showed her face at Life Spring, which means Alison can’t go, but she does make a color-coded binder of all the intel she’s collected about the clinic, as well as some truly incredible fake IDs with her new laminator. They’re even based on real identities for the sake of background checks. It’s almost like she’s doing this to spite Sarah, who accused her of not pulling her own weight.)

The adventure is a success in three ways. One, it gives us a great scene in which Felix scolds Donnie for “mincing” by pointing out that 10 percent of the men he knows (and assumes are straight) are gay, and “acting gay” is just offensive. Two, Donnie jerks it to a phone-sex fantasy in which Alison pretends to be an Italian flight attendant getting him into the Mile High Club. And three, it leads them to BrightBorn, the company run by Evie Cho in tandem with Leekie’s Neolution movement. By the sound of its slogan, “Making the world a better place, one baby at a time,” BrightBorn is a commercially viable eugenics technology that actually resembles the worrisome evolution of the very gene-editing methods scientists are debating in real life, at this very moment — designer babies, basically. Will this show ever stop being so existentially terrifying?

Speaking of terrifying, the editors and music supervisors did a bang-up job this week, first with the cut between Donnie reaching climax and Cosima and Scott puncturing Leekie’s facebot tumor, which releases a gurgle of revolting white pus. Scott discovers the thing is covered in bioluminescent proteins, which suggests the bots are gene-therapy delivery systems (supported by the fact that living tissue has built up around the bot in Leekie’s rotting face postmortem) — which means that the one in Sarah’s face is changing her DNA.

And then there’s the scene in which Helena buries her “science babies” in their cryo-freeze tank after realizing she should’ve been replenishing its nitrogen to keep the embryos alive. It was so lovingly soundtracked with “Ave Maria” that, for a second, I forgot what a horribly bad idea it is for Helena to pack her things and leave the Hendrixes’ without telling them. She is just so excited to be a mom, and naturally wants her sestras to be happy, but because Donnie doesn’t have the people skills needed to explain that they love her and are glad she’s with them, but maybe tone it down a tiny bit with the stock-footage-baby-collage-making, she believes she’s become too much of a burden and takes off. Great job, Donnie.

Remaining Questions:

  • Wasn’t it way too easy for Dizzy and Sarah to triangulate the location of the home of a hacker who prides herself on absolute anonymity?
  • What are the odds that BrightBorn having both Donnie’s and Felix’s sperm will become a problem? High or extremely high?
  • Could this bot’s gene-therapy technology help cure Cosima’s illness, since treatments from Kendall seem to not work? Scientist sestras, the comments await your expertise.
  • Wheeeennnn is Delphine coming back? She’s coming back, right?

Orphan Black Recap: Who’s the Science Now?