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Review: ‘Orphan Black’ Season 4, Episode 4, ‘From Instinct to Natural Control’: Science Babies

Review: 'Orphan Black' Season 4, Episode 4, 'From Instinct to Natural Control': Science Babies

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: ‘Orphan Black’ Season 4, Episode 3, ‘The Stigma of Process’: Going Fishing

Cloning Around

As the episodes progress, it’s obvious Sarah is willing to do anything to get the gross cheek worm removed, even if it means teaming up with Ferdinand in order to access Susan Duncan. And so the clone set out yet again to get answers from the mysterious M.K., who has learned to trust only herself over the years. While it’s true that Sarah can handle more than Beth ever could (including M.K.’s awful secret about her BFF being burned alive during a Helsinki mission), she appears to be reaching her breaking point a little early this season. Taking risks and teaming up with strangers like Dizzy has always been her style, but she seems to be doing an awful lot of it pretty early in season four. Perhaps there’s something to her changing DNA after all. Speaking of…

Science Class

Cosima, who has long been a fan favorite clone, has been mostly relegated to the science lab this season. Perhaps it’s the writers’ way of helping viewers forget that she’s so sick, or maybe that’s just where the story needs to go, until the Delphine reveal can finally be made. Either way she and Scott seem to be making an awful lot of progress with their limited funding and resources. Imagine what they could do if M.K. shared some of that $3.7 million… But for now, thanks to their research we know the worm is potentially changing Sarah’s DNA, which is a brutal thought, given Kira’s previous vision of her aunties burning her mom alive because she was changing.

Feisty Ferdinand

One thing “Orphan Black” is doing extremely well this season is integrating the comedy and lightening up the otherwise heavy subject matter. Having a villain like Ferdinand on the scene absolutely helps to achieve that tone. Although he’s done vile things and shouldn’t be trusted, he’s also got character idiosyncrasies that make him entertaining to watch. Between his frittatas and freakouts over being potentially burnt alive this week, there were plenty of moments that managed to balance that comedy with drama. It’s hard to make a bad guy of that nature sympathetic and not cartoonish, but his love for Rachel grounds him quite nicely.

Managing M.K.

Now that M.K.’s story has been exposed and viewers know the real reason why she was “helping” Sarah, it seems as though her use has run out. She obviously won’t be helping the sestras anytime soon, given the way she nearly executed her revenge plot with Ferdinand, but there’s hope for her yet. She could have easily set Ferdinand aflame; instead, she allowed Sarah the chance to save him — and therefore herself. It may be awhile before she pops up again, given her massive funds, but at least that tool is now out there for the clones to try and use, should the opportunity arise.

The Felix and Donnie Show

Speaking of comedic relief, there should be a web series dedicated to Donnie and Felix moonlighting as a gay couple. No matter who Donnie teams up with, it’s always guaranteed to be a great time for viewers, and given his newfound closeness with Alison it was only a matter of time before Fi and Donnie were in that kind of a situation. Too bad it seems like a one-off thing.

Family Feud

Helena has been mostly MIA this season, as she’s been focused on her science babies and pregnancy. Now that Donnie has had the Alison talk with her she did the predictable thing and packed up in order to move on and not hurt her sestra. Donnie’s first mistake was trying to speak to Helena as though she were an adult. While she can certainly seem like it when it comes to assassinations and murder, deep down Helena never really had a chance to grow up and still acts like a giant child with a heart of gold for those she loves. Of course she was going to pack up and go. The sad thing is everyone else is so busy that it will be a while before she’s missed. We’re not completely worried though; that’s one clone that always seems to show up in the knick of time.

Rallying Rachel

It’s been nice to have some alone time with Rachel this season while she’s removed from the evil that is Top Side. Although she’s obviously still a big bad, given everything else she’s done to her fellow clones over the seasons, she’s also become a much more sympathetic character thanks to the scenes with Susan. It’s easy to see why Rachel turned out the way she has, and her extra scenes with Charlotte only serve to soften her further. You never know — maybe one day she could pull a Helena and join the Clone Club after all.

Finding Fertility

At its core, this show has always been a series that relies on themes of identity and self; reproductive rights go hand-in-hand with that. So it was only a matter of time before the show turned to a fertility clinic to see some of the real-life results these Neolutionists have been achieving, and what that could mean for the clones going forward.

READ MORE: ‘Star Wars’ Day Celebrations: How ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Orphan Black’ and More Spread the Force

Tatiana Who?

This week, our favorite non-Maslany is a tie between Donnie and Ferdinand. Both gents managed to infuse that aforementioned comedic relief while helping the viewers hurdle through some complicated science, not to mention that big return to Helsinki – the name for the operation of killing self-aware clones.

Lab Results

So far the fourth season has done a terrific job of taking some of the focus from Sarah and the other clones and allowing the supporting characters to shine through. If that means more Felix, Donnie and fringe characters like Ferdinand, we can get behind that. It’s certainly a tall order for Tatiana Maslany to carry such a load every week, but it’s an equally heavy load for viewers to invest in a one-person show. Staying away from the Castor clones and allowing the show to return to this Neolutionist core has been a good thing for the creative, and even if things seem to fall into place a little too easily at times (Dizzy and Sarah suddenly teaming up on that level, Donnie running into a pregnant Portia), it opens up the story and keeps the world ground in as much reality as possible. That’s an important note to hit when you’re dealing with sci-fi at this level.

Grade: B+

“Orphan Black” airs Thursdays at 10pm on BBC America and co-producer Space in Canada.

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