Orphan Black: Human Raw Material Review

It’s always a pleasure to see Tatiana Maslany do the rapid fire clone change thing in an episode that's equally zany and disturbing.

This Orphan Black review contains spoilers.

Orphan Black: Season 4, Episode 5

The past few episodes of Orphan Black have consisted of profound dental horror as Sara has quested to find out how to remove her mouth maggot. Along the way, she has gleaned pieces of the truth about the suicide of Beth Childs while the other clones have kind of taken a backseat. This week, Cosima and the returning fan-demanded Krystal are front and center as the seestras try to discover the secrets behind the Dyad fertility clinic that is responsible for Sara’s dental infestation.

So, Donnie and Cosima go undercover as a hopeful parent and a surrogate in order to snoop around Evie Choo’s state of the art and shady fertility clinic. Of course, Donnie instantly finds himself in trouble (and no, he doesn’t have to rub another one out into a cup), when he runs into Krystal. The whole thing turns into a Marx Brothers sketch as Cosima and Donnie also find out that Susan Duncan, the creator of the clones, is present as well, and if she sees Cosima, the whole operation is blown. So Donnie must pretend to be a masseuse to distract Krystal.

So let’s talk Krystal, the blondes have more fun clone seemed like a throwaway character last year, a one and done clone who served her story purpose and could have been put out to clone pasture. But Maslany so nailed the flighty beautician that you knew she had to return at some point. But like all the clones, there is so much more beneath Krystal’s spray on tan and fake nails. Remember, Krystal was kidnapped last season by the Dyad clones and now wants to find the truth about why she was abducted by identical twins. She has gotten all MMA and is ready to kick some ass as this bleached blonde won’t be a victim again.

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Sadly, this week, the ass in question belongs to Donnie. Really, season four of Orphan Black is getting a ton of mileage out of Donnie’s comedic styling. He has almost taken over for Alison as the comic relief and this week is no exception. From his excuse to get out of Dodge in the clinic (“I have to shit”) to his prat falls, Donnie is a modern day Dom DeLuise as he provides a heartfelt escape from the intensity of this series.

As for Krystal, it would be so easy to go down that blonde road and leave it there, but Orphan Black always does the unexpected and while Krystal is still all big haired and vacant, she still kicks ass as she takes steps to prevent herself from becoming a victim once again. I think Helena and Krystal need some face time.

But this was Cosima’s episode as she goes undercover to find Evie Choo’s secrets. She even witnesses a birth at the clinic and discovers that the purpose of the operation is to weed out certain genetic anomalies. With all the laughs with Donnie, the episode still gets under the bone when it does not flinch away from showing a baby born with hideous deformities, something Cosima must bear witness to.

Cosima’s plight grows even greater when she is spotted by Susan Duncan. Now, Cos confronts her creator and it might as well be the devil because Duncan offers Cosima a cure from the genetic disorder that is killing the gentle science clone. All Cosima has to do is hand over the genetic original used to create the clone, Sara’s grandma, in order to save her own life. But how can Cosima trust an organization that allows horribly deformed babies to be born in the name of science?

This episode isn’t as Sara-centic as the rest of the season has been. But there are important developments within her extended family. These past few weeks, Sara has grown convinced that Felix’s newly discovered sister is a Dyad spy. This week, Sara betrays Felix and goes behind everyone’s back to conduct a DNA test of sister Adele. Adele is unlikable and crass, a woman who enters a room with cocaine on her nose and a constant drink in her hand. But Felix deserves his family, and the test risks taking that away from him.

This all underscores the complex bond between Felix and Sara. Felix wants his own connections. He is tired of playing the Robin to Sara’s Batman and he wants his own life. Adele represents a path to individuality for Felix, and Sara can’t get over her own drama enough to see that. The test comes back and it turns out Adele is indeed Felix’s sister, now the question is — will Felix and Sara’s bond survive this betrayal? And is Adele good for Felix, because to be honest, blood or no, she is a train wreck.

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We also are privy to new revelations about Kira. We know Sara’s daughter is a very empathic soul, but we didn’t know that she also shares an empathic psychic bond with the other clones. So when, for instance, Rachel is angry, Kira gets angry. When Cosima is scarred, Kira gets scared. This creates a whole new story role for Kira as she is now the thread that ties all the seestras together.

And Kira might get very scared imminently, because now that Cosima is being influenced by Susan Duncan, things can get very horrific very soon for all of Clone Club.

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For more discussion of Orphan Black, listen to the May edition of Sci Fi Fidelity on the Den of Geek Podcast Network, or simply listen below.


3.5 out of 5