Orphan Black: The Scandal of Altruism Review

A truly gut-wrenching episode proves that Orphan Black is one of the finest genre shows on TV.

This Orphan Black review contains spoilers.

Orphan Black: Season 4, Episode 6

So far this season, Orphan Black has been a load of intense fun with some good laughs and some good scares, but this week’s installment went right for the emotional jugular in a truly gut-wrenching episode that proves that Orphan Black is one of the finest genre shows on TV.

A great deal happened this week on Orphan Black but most of it centered on Cosima. Dear Cosima has been getting sicker and sicker as the weeks progress, and Tatiana Maslany has played the role of the deteriorating scientist with quiet dignity. When Maslany steps into the skins of Sara, Alison, Helena, and even Crystal, there is a tremendous mental and physical strength to each of these seestras. But with Cosima, there is a clear mental strength to the bespectacled scientist, and the way Maslany holds her body as Cosima speaks to a physical vulnerability that wracks the character. When a viewer sees Cosima’s weakness that viewer will desperately want a cure for her. And this week that cure was in sight. Sadly, the cure was being offered by the demonic Susan Duncan who will exchange the cure for a DNA sample of the Castor original Kendall Malone

Now, let’s talk about Malone for a minute. We know Malone is suffering from leukemia, we know that Malone is played with this typical old world Irish prickly toughness that makes her a perfect foil to many of the heroic characters of the series, and we know that Malone carries herself with the same type of quiet, resigned dignity as Cosima. I guess that’s why Malone and Cosima are forming a bond and that’s also why Malone agrees to trade her genetic material in order to help Cos. Of course, Susan wants a cure found because her own boy toy clone, the Leda model Ira, is also dying. So it seems like a reluctant win-win for everyone. Even better, as part of the agreement, Duncan will extract Sara’s mouth maggot.

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Susan Duncan cannot be trusted. We know that. We’ve seen her convince Rachel that a young clone should be sacrificed in the name of science and we think that Duncan has something to do with the murder of Delphine. But, Duncan has something to lose – Ira – so maybe this trade is on the up and up. Maybe Malone’s sacrifice will be worth it and Cosima might be cured.

There were the hopes Clone Club had entering the devil’s agreement with Duncan, but sadly, and here is the gut punch, brothers and seestras, no one gets what they want. There is no cure for Cosima and there is no Castor DNA for Duncan. Sara does get her maggot removed, but the procedure is performed by one Evie Cho. Cho successfully completes the very dangerous maggot extraction, but considering what happened next, even this could mean ominous tidings for Sara and the rest of the clones.

We’ve seen some pretty memorable villains on Orphan Black from Dr. Leakee to Rachel Duncan to the Leda Clones to that creepy clone cult that Helena destroyed a few seasons back. But this week, Evie Choo becomes perhaps the most hated villain in the history of Orphan Black.

You see, Orphan Black pulled a bait and switch this week. The episode wanted viewers to think that Duncan was going to pull one over on Clone Club as the hope against hope that Malone’s DNA would lead to Cosima’s cure. Duncan wants to cure Ira, but Cho has other plans. Cho puts her plan into action, kidnaps Kendall Malone and Cosima and murders the Castor original. It is a moment of pure heartbreak as Malone holds her dignity in place and defies her killers. She tells Cosima to be brave, but now Cosima has lost a woman who is basically her grandmother and she also loses her chance at life. Then, as Cosima weeps on the ground, Evie tells her that Delphine has been murdered. In the span of a brief moment, Cosima truly loses everything. But so does Duncan because when Malone is kidnapped, Sara destroys the Castor samples taken from the soon to be dead woman.

If that’s not enough to completely make you hate Cho, the evil creator of Brightborn essentially confessed that she was responsible for Beth Child’s suicide as well. Yup, after four seasons, we now know the secret of Beth’s train jump. It wasn’t guilt or drugs that forced Beth to step of that fateful train platform, it was the threat of Evie Cho. When Beth Cho was getting too close to Cho in her investigation, it is revealed that Cho threatens Mika, Alison, and Cosima, forcing Beth to take her own life or see her seestras suffer.

This shines such a new light of nobility on Beth, a woman who would rather end her life instead of watching her clones suffer. It also makes Cho seem like a heartless master manipulator. So now we know that Cho was responsible for the deaths of Beth and Malone, and perhaps, even Delphine. It is clear that Cho must be stopped and only the Clone Club can pull it off.  I think someone is going to have to call in Helena from her pregnancy exile. And oh man, let me just say, the look on Mrs. S’s face when she discovers her mother is dead is freakin’ heartbreaking.

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The episode isn’t totally without laughs as Krystal pops up again, trying to force the police to put her into protective custody because she honestly for real believes that the cosmetics industry is trying to kill her. To protect Krystal from the truth, good ‘ol Art Bell calls on Felix to convince Krystal that the cosmetic industry is indeed after her, but she should just let it go and let the police protect her. Felix dresses like the most fabulous version of Sherlock Holmes you’ve ever seen and tries to throw Krystal off the truth of the clone conspiracy. Felix gets maced for his trouble, but eventual cons Krystal away from the truth. Funny stuff and a nice counter balance to the heavy death of Kendall Malone.

So, there is no Donnie, Alison, or Helena this week, but the episode still manages a level of heartbreaking poignancy that sends the season off into a whole new and very tragic direction.

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4.5 out of 5