Orphan Black, Season 4, Episode 4 “From Instinct to Rational Control”
This season of Orphan Black has fully embraced the slow burn. There’s been a few pops and flashes so far, but it’s mainly shuffled pieces around in some kind of combination of chess match and shell game. As always, the series makes up for a lack of narrative propulsion with character interaction. This week it leaned heavy on Donnie and to a lesser degree Felix to add some bounce to what could have been an extremely heavy episode. Here’s a cone-by-clone rundown of the show:
MK: Wolf in Sheep’s Mask
After being a reclusive mystery so far, we learn all there is about MK this time around, and it’s more than a little scary. MK grew up in Finland with the name Vera. She was the first to discover she had a twin sister. Vera and this sister, Nikki, became best of friends and sisters in every sense of the word. When Vera was a teen, Topside came calling with their wet works operative, Ferdinand, as the point of the spear. Ferdinand killed Nikki’s family and burned Nikki alive in this “purge.” Vera’s face was burned in the fire, and MK was born in that moment. Since then, MK hasn’t been on a quest of discovery like Beth or Sara or the rest of the Clone Club. MK has used all of her hacking knowledge and resources to hunt down as many key members of Dyad and Topside and eliminate them in revenge for Nikki’s death. Not knowing this background at the time, Sarah gives MK a vital piece of information about Rachel that ties back to Ferdinand as Sarah’s information source. MK lures Ferdinand to Beth’s townhouse where she’s rigged a bomb to a table. She gives him a multimedia “this is your life” refresher about Nikki before she dumps gasoline on him in an effort to burn him alive. Sarah walks in and interrupts the scene. MK leaves in a huff but not before she steals Ferdinand’s $3.7 million nest egg. An MK with a vast pool of resources and an axe to grind with her creator, Susan Duncan, is a dangerous MK indeed.
Sarah: Can’t Get One Thing Done
All Sarah wants is to get the damn robo-worm out of her face and she really doesn’t care about much else at the moment. However, since she’s the de-facto ring leader in all this, Sarah is stretched in 17 different directions. Mrs. S wants she and Felix to make up. Ferdinand is playing games because he wants to get Rachel back. Alison has a lead and an uncooperative attitude. MK might have some info about Susan Duncan (someone who might be a worm removal expert), but MK’s trailer is booby-trapped. Beardy hacker dude is not being subtle about wanting in Sarah’s pants. Ever the good soldier, she gets the side tasks done and even manages to save Ferdinand’s life in the process. Now if she could just get that damn robo worm out of her face.
Rachel: Between Rock and Hard Place
The battle of wills between Rachel and her mother, Susan, rages on. The young clone Charlotte is showing signs of the degenerative disease that has killed other clones and is currently plaguing Cosima. Susan essentially gives Rachel a choice. Treat Charlotte with a therapy that has a slim chance of working, or let the little girl continue to degenerate and collect the data that will help the older clones. Rachel makes the tough choice to let Charlotte go untreated, which is exactly what Susan wanted to do. Before Susan leaves for another extended time, she drops the bomb that she knows Rachel has been sending messages out to Ferdinand, which demoralizes Rachel even further.
Alison: Spymaster, Naughty Italian Stewardess
After re-living community play memories with a friend over coffee, the previously pregnant Neolutionist from the flashbacks mistakes Alison for Beth and reads Ali a “cops, man” riot act. Alison stealthily snaps her picture and consults with Sarah on what to do next. Sarah tells Alison to figure out a way to get inside a fertility clinic called Lifespring, which the girl mentioned during her rant. So on the fly, Alison makes fake IDs for Donnie and Felix to pose as a gay couple looking to have a child via surrogate. When Donnie needs “inspiration” to produce a sperm sample, they play a well-rehearsed game of Italian flight attendant on the phone that helps Donnie get results almost before he remembered to open the sample cup. As she is scoping the scene, Alison spies an old neighbor who she thought had given up on having children naturally, very much pregnant. Alison fakes a run-in and tells this a story about still wanting to have a baby herself that rings truer than she expected. The friend says to ask for a specific doctor and about the “Brightborn” procedure. Moments later, Donnie and Felix sweet-talk their way into a couple of Brightborn information kits.
Cosmia: Worm Wrangler, Science Maker
Cosima’s time on screen was short but significant. She and Scott get the robo worm out of the tumor from Leekie’s cheek and discover it was producing a luminescent substance that could be used to track something like a gene therapy – news of which makes Sarah want the thing out of her head all the more. Later on, she and Felix watch the instructional DVD from Bightborn, which has a message of bigger, stronger, better babies and in the context the Clone Club screams, genetic engineering rather than increased fertility.
Helena: Baby Crazy and Probably Actually Crazy
Domestic life under the Hendrix roof hasn’t exactly been smooth. Sure there is a lot of food, kids to play with and a room full of crafting supplies, but there is also a lot of tension and rules to deal with. The breaking point is reached when Donnie, asks Helena to be sensitive about Alison’s feelings. Donnie and Alison tried for years to have a baby of their own and not being able to (which is a deliberate side effect of the cloning experiment) was tough in Alison. With Donnie and Alison away on their spy mission, Helena packs her things, buries the canister of dead embryos she’s been carrying around (she didn’t know she had to feed them liquid nitrogen) and leaves. The scene didn’t have the Incredible Hulk’s “David Banner walks away” theme, but totally should.
Next: Babies, babies, babies.