Orphan Black Recap: Who Are You? What Have You Sacrificed?

Orphan Black

The Redesign of Natural Objects
Season 4 Episode 8
Editor’s Rating 3 stars

Orphan Black

The Redesign of Natural Objects
Season 4 Episode 8
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Kristian Bruun as Donnie, Tatiana Maslany as Alison. Photo: JOHN MEDLAND/Orphan Black IV Productions Limited

When you’re a reformed theater kid, ’70s rock operas have a tendency to haunt your dreams. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar … if it’s psychedelic, it’s not for me. But even I have to admit: The use of Alison’s Superstar production is nothing less than inspired. It’s entirely fitting that Alison play Judas in her darkest, most doubtful hour, and the lines of her song are so perfectly aligned with the clones’ plight at this moment. Now’s the time for everyone to decide who they are and what they’ll sacrifice to ensure their survival.

Alison’s terror is entirely justified, of course. Donnie is stuck in jail with one of Neolution’s thugs, who will shiv him in colorful ways if she doesn’t give Sarah to Duko. We could have avoided this blackmail mess had Piper Chapman over here been able to go even a day without bragging about his pharma empire to the first guy who asks, but here we are.

Now in crisis mode, Ira and Rachel rally together as brother and sister to convince a fatalistic Susan she should keep researching a cure for their illness with them, though odds are she would’ve turned them down again had it not been for the surprise video chat (encrypted, courtesy of MK) they received minutes later from Sarah and Cosima, who naturally want the same thing.

Cosima would also like Rachel and Ira to get lost with a quickness if they’re to collaborate on a cure — not to appease her own lingering resentment, but sweetly enough, to appease Scott’s. His “some taken” comment in the previous episode must’ve sunk in, because she finally prioritizes his feelings over “the greater good” without pause. This is what some cultures call friendship.

About that encrypted video line: MK is back with a vengeance, informing Sarah, Cosima, and Siobhan that Ferdinand’s $3.7 million has been “well invested,” whatever that means. She’s also dug up everything on Duko, including his offshore account and violent résumé. (Sarah is suspicious of MK’s sudden return, but she doesn’t have to worry, it’s only because her disease has advanced as rapidly as Cosima’s.) Before connecting them all, MK also shares a clip she dug up from Evie’s Neo coup video chat with Susan and Rachel — enough to reveal that Evie plans on killing all self-aware clones, but oddly, not so much that they witness Rachel attempt (and fail miserably) to sell them down the river. It’s a lucky omission for Rachel, who now says she’s “looking forward” to bringing down Evie and restoring Susan as the head of Neolution alongside Sarah. If she ultimately betrays Sarah and offers her to Evie as a bargaining chip, even though Evie basically considers her subhuman … well, that’ll be fun to unpack in therapy!

Meanwhile, Siobhan learns that Duko is the one who killed Kendall, a realization that flips a switch in her that Sarah has dubbed “some Black Irish shit.” She grabs her rifle and takes off, assuring a nonplussed Kira she’s just going out to run an “errand.” Before she can take Duko out sniper-style in a wheat field, she accidentally stumbles upon his blackmail meetup with Alison, which — once Art is also looped in — allows the sestras to set a trap at the comics shop.

So, yeah, Alison is having a rough week. She should be applauded for her composure: first with her pastor, who all but suggests she sell her sisters down the river for Donnie (or maybe ask God about it, IDK!); then, when considering the vodka in her Caboodle; and finally with the whole Duko situation, all the way through to her “betrayal” of Sarah’s plan to be at Rabbit Hole Comics that night. Siobhan was right to be concerned, but only because nobody else has to hold it together quite like Alison. She has the most to lose, and on top of everything else, she’s the only one who has to stomach the banality of suburban life. She quite literally grins and bears it, with jazz hands, as her husband is brutally assaulted to the tune of a church-piano boogie. These eerie juxtapositions are the stuff of dystopian nightmares. And she’s still one of the few Ledas who hasn’t flirted with suicide!

Anyway, back to the trap: Duko practically strolls into his execution, first threatening Hell-Wizard with shady Dungeons & Dragons expertise. Now that is a dark dimension to give Thin Man in his final hour. He was once a hopeless nerd, compelled (at least initially, allegedly) by love for his niece to commit heinous acts for money. Over time, he withered into a dark shell of his former self, only making the occasional D&D reference here and there. (Hell-Wizard would like that evaluation, seeing as it would make him the Jedi to Darth Duko in a duel of nerds.) Sarah is indeed at the comic shop as promised, but, unfortunately for Duko, so are Art and Siobhan, the latter of whom begins rigging jumper cables and orders everyone out of the building. Disturbing story short, he offers up some potentially catastrophic information moments before S finally shoots him with the rifle, declaring, “This is for my ma.” Turns out Evie’s face-bots aren’t just for gene therapy — they’re something else. I suddenly feel sick about even owning a FitBit. Consumer biotech is truly going to end us all.

It’ll almost certainly be the death of Rachel, whose swan visions are more frequent and in greater detail. Those visions now include a strange man who stares at her. It’s almost as though he’s playback from the last time someone used her bionic eye. Oh, and just once, she sees a swan’s severed head. Heartening stuff.

As Rachel readies herself to visit Sarah anyway, Cosima is already en route to the island — with Sarah’s eggs in tow. The scientists’ jam sesh may prove to be unexpectedly fruitful: Without Kendall’s pure Castor and Leda genomes, and with Kira’s own DNA too muddled by Cal’s, they’ll instead try to fertilize a Leda egg with Ira’s Castor sperm. Sure, it’s gross in a fraternal sort of way, but if it works, it’ll produce an embryo from which they can extract pure-genome stem cells and potentially find cures for both Leda and Castor diseases. That is, of course, if they can figure it out before Ira’s brain short-circuits and everyone else’s lungs fill up with blood.

Additional Notes:

  • I think I like Ira? When Susan’s out of the picture, he seems to be a pretty nice person, which adds to the perspective that he’s been groomed by Susan for decades and is a victim of her prolonged abuse.
  • Maybe Adele isn’t a threat after all! She does just so happen to be a lawyer when Donnie and Alison (“Sarah’s twin”) need one, but she’s suspended and a drunk. If she causes trouble, it’ll be through alcoholism rather than a sinister plot, right?
  • I am getting seriously worried about Kira’s long-term emotional well-being. Even Matilda Wormwood received more attention than she’s getting right now. Times are rough for magical little girls.

Orphan Black Recap: Who Are You?