Orphan Black: “From Instinct to Rational Control” Review

orphan black season 4

I’ve been behind on my Orphan Black-watching, and all I could remember from last season was a confusing blur and some vague plot points. It was, therefore, a pleasure to sit down and watch the first four episodes of this season in one fell swoop this week, ending with Thursday night’s “From Instinct to Rational Control”. The storytelling this season has been on point and I’m excited to see where we go from here.

Spoilers for this week’s episode after the jump!

The main focus of this week’s episode was new clone M.K. Sarah gets an encrypted message from Rachel through Ferdinand and takes it to M.K. to decipher, but M.K. doesn’t approve of Sarah’s uneasy alliance and cuts off communication with her. Sarah turns to M.K.’s friend Dizzy to help her track down the hacker, but while they’re snooping around M.K.’s stuff, she’s lured Ferdinand to Beth’s apartment to threaten him. orphan black episode 4Sarah pieces it together in time to keep M.K. from killing him, but I don’t think she’ll be getting any help from M.K. in the future. It turns out that M.K. hates Ferdinand because Ferdinand was responsible for assassinating another clone, name of Niki, with whom M.K. had been close.

Our B plot centered on the Hendrixes. After Alison is confronted by one of Beth’s sources about snooping at a fertility clinic, the team needs to go undercover and investigate there – but Beth had already been there. So instead of Alison going into the clinic to snoop some more, Felix and Donnie have to pose as a gay couple hoping to have a baby via a surrogate. (This gives us a fantastic aside from Felix when Donnie tries to play up the gay stereotype: Felix tells him that gay does not equal effeminate and that there’s no right way to “act” gay.) They’re able to get a lead on a suspiciously Neolutionist-sounding new fertility technology called Brightborn. Meanwhile, Helena, after being cautioned by Donnie that pregnancy is a touchy subject in the Hendrix household, packs her bags and runs away rather than continue to make them uncomfortable.

donnie felix orphan blackGiven how sidelined Alison was last season, it’s been a pleasure to see her take a more active role this time around. This episode was especially good for her in that regard. She not only took an active role in directing her boys to investigate the clinic, she also was vital in pressing a friend of hers who was treated there to spill about any experimental treatments the clinic might be providing. While Donnie and Felix did the infiltration and managed to escape with the goods (in this case, an informational video about the Brightborn treatment) it was Alison who actually extracted the information that got them to said goods. However, I’m really worried about Helena. I wonder where she’s going to go now that she’s removed herself from the Hendrix household (and if she’ll be able to find prenatal care wherever that is). She is still a trained assassin, so I’m not super worried about her defending herself, but I am worried about her mental state.

Finally, back at the lab, Cosima and Scott discover that the icky cyborg cheekbots are very likely a method of gene therapy distribution. This means that the one in Sarah is likely altering her DNA in some way, and this discovery only increases her desperation to get it out. I’m still very curious about these cheekbots—while we now know their purpose, and I can see why the Neolutionists might want them, I’m still unsure what the goal of modifying Sarah’s DNA in particular is. Are they trying to kickstart her into the new level of evolution Neolution is talking about? Or do they have some other shadier purpose? Do the Neolutionists who had them on purpose know about the failsafe killswitch thing?

charlotte rachel orphan blackWe only got a little screentime with Rachel and Charlotte this episode. Susan tells Rachel that treating Charlotte’s illness would compromise the data that would come from observing it as it takes its toll. Rachel is torn between her growing maternal feelings for Charlotte, her unique understanding of and perspective on the clones as an experimental group, and her ongoing conflict with her own mother. Meanwhile, two halves of our other two mother/daughter pairs didn’t even appear in this episode; given the minimal time the episode spent at The Rabbit Hole, Kira and Kendall never showed up, pushing back their ongoing issues for another episode’s attention.

I’ve been so busy lately that I’m weeks behind on pretty much all the shows I watch regularly, and the longer I’m away from them, the more I wonder if I really care about watching them at all. So many of them are shows that are very much problematic faves, whether that’s because of feminist issues or just because they’re badly written, and I feel like every time I write a post about one of them it’s to chew them out on some new flaw.  However, catching up on the Orphan Black episodes that have aired so far this season reminded me what it’s like to watch a show that I genuinely enjoy. I really liked this episode and it’s a pleasure to write a review where I get to speculate about the plot and commentate on the character developments instead of just shaking a finger at a given show’s writing team. Now that I’m caught up, I can’t wait for next week, and that’s a new and exciting feeling. Until then, Clone Club!


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