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Review: ‘Orphan Black’ Season 4, Episode 5, ‘Human Raw Material’: Playing With Science

Review: 'Orphan Black' Season 4, Episode 5, 'Human Raw Material': Playing With Science

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: ‘Orphan Black’ Season 4, Episode 4, ‘From Instinct to Natural Control’: Science Babies

Cloning Around

With Sarah finally realizing that her parenting skills have been a little subpar lately, it was time for her to deal with family matters while Cosima finally ventured out into the world. The science-y clone covered for an (as always) overscheduled Alison at the fertility clinic, giving Donnie a chance to play off yet another new character this week. Unfortunately, their tango was cut short when Krystal — ready to seek some answers of her own — resurfaced ready to take down Dyad and anyone else she believes to be involved in this conspiracy, adding some much-needed humor to the heavier subjects of germline editing and fertility testing.

Science Class

There was a lot to cover in this go-around, and thankfully it had nothing to do with cheek worms. As Cosima questioned Susan about the science behind Brightborn babies and the ethical implications behind the testing they’re doing, there was a sense of return to the ethical questions regarding fertility that this show was known for in the past. Nothing could have prepared viewers for the deformed baby that was born as a result of the testing, but that scene also hit home in terms of the ramifications of what the testing can bring about. You don’t have to understand all of the science to know that it’s bad. Very, very bad. Not to mention unethical.

Susan vs. Cosima

Given Cosima’s limited, sickly role this season it was great to see her out and about geeking out to the science of it all—no matter how ethically questionable the actual science is. Once Susan discovered that Cosima was in the Brightborn building it was only a matter of time before the two of them connected, and now it looks as though Cosima might be ready to make a deal of her own in order to save herself. Considering the clone’s days appear to be numbered, and no one really knows Kendall at this point, it seems as though the clones may go ahead with that testing in order to save them all. Whether Susan has any genuine interest in helping them or is still focused her own causes remains to be seen, but given the fact that Scott and Cosima are working out of a bat cave with limited resources right now, they may have no other choice that to team up with the mad scientist.   

Arsehole Alison

Once again Alison is proving to be self-centered and in denial about the things going on around her; Donnie seems more interested in helping the clone cause than she is at this point. In previous seasons this served as a form of comedic relief, but now it’s working against the character and alienating her into someone less likeable. The fact that she seemed unconcerned about Helena’s disappearance and couldn’t even pinpoint when she left was sad but predictable. Meanwhile, Donnie continues to grow more likeable by the episode as he’s paired with more and more characters. His oafish qualities remain, but he’s infinitely softer and well-meaning. It all seems intentional mind you, as the police continue to circle around the couple and build their case for the triple murder. It’s only a matter of time before an arrest and Alison comes crawling back to her sestras for help. If they’re still around to give it, that is.

READ MORE: Watch: ‘Orphan Black’ Season 3 Blooper Reel is Full of Giggles

Donnie and Krystal

Just a quick shout-out to the most awkward massage ever. Also, now that Krystal has opened up to Donnie about Delphine saving her, how much longer until Cosima finds out that her ex could potentially still be around and in trouble?

A Quick Dip

Ira and Susan Duncan are a thing, huh? Well, good for her… Who says May to December romances have to always feature an older dude anyhow? Yet, somehow even that relationship seems a little… scientific, no?

Family Feud

It would have been too easy if Adele had been connected to the whole Brightborn group and the gene-testing thing; it’s infinitely more interesting to axe that coincidence and have Sarah actually be wrong for once—especially when it comes to Felix. Sure, Felix probably shouldn’t have brought his new cokehead sister to the safe house or filled her in on the cheek worm thing, but at least now it’s confirmed that they’re related.

If this show has taught us anything though, it’s that being related doesn’t necessarily mean being on the same side (um, hi there, Rachel Duncan). While we want to see Sarah grapple with the emotional consequences of Felix bonding with his new, less complicated sister, we also can’t rule out her involvement as a potential spy just yet.

Directorial Debut

With “Rookie Blue” officially done, renowned Canadian director David Wellington (who has worked with “Orphan Black” co-creator John Fawcett in the past) was finally able to step behind the camera with this week’s episode. It was a mini behind-the-scenes victory for Fawcett, who has been trying to get Wellington on his set since the beginning. “We could just never get him,” Fawcett told us during filming of the season.

Tatiana Who?

Has it been mentioned that Donnie needs his own web series spinoff? Because that truly needs to happen—these past few episodes have solidified that.

Lab Results

This episode had the right mix of intrigue, science and character development to keep the show on track for the halfway point. The lighter moments served to keep viewers entertained with some of their favorite characters, which in turn made the heavy moments that much weightier. Whereas last season contained too much of that heavy stuff, this year “Orphan Black” continues to revel in that balance while integrating real ethical concerns from the scientific community. Add in the fact that the episode was less Sarah-centric than usual and it was a great opportunity to delve into some of the side stories and give others a chance to be useful to the plot. In the end that made the storylines seem less coincidental and a little more concrete, all while actually giving Tatiana Maslany more to do. 

Grade: A

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

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