Orphan Black: Things heat up, get even more complicated in "From Instinct to Rational Control"

Sarah is reaching a breaking point, and MK is making crazy choices in Orphan Black's "From Instinct to Rational Control" (S0404). As per usual, spoilers ahead!


Ferdinand tells Sarah that he's got a message from Rachel, and he needs help figuring out where the message comes from. If they help him find Rachel, he'll make sure they also find Susan Duncan, who will know how to get the bot out of Sarah's cheek. She's not happy about it, but she goes along because what other choice does she have? 

She gets MK to trace the message, but MK doesn't just do things because Sarah tells her to. She's looking for the man responsible for killing her best friend and several other clones in Helsinki--an event that she was the only survivor of, and that Ferdinand is responsible for. So she tracks Rachel's message, but she also finds out that it came from Ferdinand, and she doesn't give Sarah the information because she can't be trusted if she's working with that killer. That leaves Sarah having to trust Dizzy, the bearded hacker-friend who wants Sarah's story in exchange for help, because she's "not the only one with people caught up in this". Does he love MK? Does he know her because he's trying to help someone else he loves? More Dizzy backstory, please!

While Sarah is then trying to find her--and finds out about Helsinki and Nikki--MK tricks Ferdinand and gets him to sit on a chair with a bomb under it. She then makes it clear that she knows exactly who and what he is, and that she's going to kill him in a fire the way he killed everyone MK cared about. Six clones and 33 people they cared about. Sarah gets there before she lights the fire, but MK won't listen; she takes all Ferdinand's 3.7 million dollars and flees, leaving Sarah and Mrs S to deal with the bomb. Sarah tells Ferdinand they've both saved each others' lives now, and they're even.

Ferdinand claims that he actually does love Rachel, though, so they're sure to meet up again. They're both looking for the same hidden location, and for similar reasons.

While this is going on, Trini, the pregnant girl they were looking for last week, spots Alison at a cafe with a friend, and accuses her of snooping around--because, apparently, Beth was snooping around. She says the name of a fertility clinic, and since Sarah is busy and Alison looks too much like Beth to infiltrate where Beth has already been, they recruit Donnie and Felix to pose as a couple looking for fertility help, to scope out the place.

The first trip inside is just filling out paperwork and giving "samples" which Alison helps Donnie with--those two have quite the love life. But while they're there, Donnie sees someone they knew from way back in the day when the two of them were trying to have a baby of their own before they adopted. She was just as infertile as Alison back then, but now she's pregnant. Alison gets her to talk about the new technique that did it: she tells them to ask for the Brightborn treatments. When Alison tells Donne to ask, the doctor gets super shifty and calls to the receptionist for the media--which turns out to be that woman that was with Leekie in the first episode of this season, who knows who the clones are, and who is a known neolutionist, promising perfect, stronger, better babies.

The neolutionists are using the people least likely to ask about the source of the tech to breed a new kind of person!

Also while this is going on, Scott and Cosima are checking out the worm that grew from the grub in Leekie's face. While it was trapped underground, it seemed to have been feeding on Leekie, creating a golfball-sized tumor that was alive despite the body being dead. Ew.

And then Scott discovers bioluminescent glowing--which tips them off that the purpose of the thing is to deliver altered DNA since scientists use that trick to track gene-therapy in even standard DNA-altering techniques. Which means the one Sarah has could be changing her--the way Kira said she saw in her dream!

In the secret base, Rachel is given a choice: should she try to save Charlotte, or should she let her get sick and die? She's the youngest clone to get the illness--and, really, the only clone-clone anyway--and her condition could really help them understand the illness and possibly save the older clones. But does she care about her more than that? Has she actually managed to bond? 

But Susan catches Charlotte before she can send another message for Rachel, and says she's disappearing again, cutting that discussion short. She knows Rachel has been talking to Ferdinand.

And last but not least, Donnie tells Helena that Alison is having a hard time because she wanted her own kid and couldn't do it, and Helena takes that to mean she's too much trouble. She buries the canister with her frozen eggs in it--"forgive me, I did not know I should feed you the liquid nitrogens"--and promises to tell her babies that she'll tell them about their lost siblings. And then she leaves. 

As episodes go, this one had a lot of filling in gaps and pauses to process. Sarah finally tells Felix what she's been going through, and he's mad she didn't sooner. Ferdinand takes a chance on trusting them because he wants Rachel back so badly. Rachel is coping with whether or not Charlotte means anything more to her than scientific curiosity. Alison's urge to have a baby of her own is creeping close to the surface again, and that part isn't as much of an act as they all pretend it is. It's nice that there's these emotional beats--the show is so full of plot and story that sometimes there's not a lot of space for the characters to make sense of it, and that means there's not much space for us to. Which is why it's so nice that there's an after show. Processing is everything in shows this complex and involved!

And between the quick cuts between food and gross worms, orgasms and more gross things, there's real heart in OB. That's what makes this more than just a pile of crazy-weird plot points. It makes the characters real and human, which is really needed when almost all your characters are technically biologically-created entities, rather than natural humans. Sarah's stress and uncertainty, Cosima's concerned curiosity, Alison's fragile yearning, Helena trying to do the best for everyone, to spare them more pain, MK's revenge. It's amazing how different they are, but how all their stories dovetail so nicely. And every time another dovetail slots into place, it gives context to all the rest and opens up new story options!

More notes on Orphan Black "From Instinct to Rational Control":

  • Are these Brightborn babies a new strain of clones? Or did they give up on cloning and switch straight to genetic engineering?
  • Where is Helena's boyfriend Jesse while she's living with Alison and Donnie? Where is Helena going?
  • Other where-are-they's: Detective Art, Kendall, Kira? Hell-Wizard? 
  • I'm worried about Dizzy and who he's gathering all this information for. So far, he's chill and useful; if he stays that way, it wouldn't hurt to have another hacker around, right?
  • It's nice that Alison still has friends outside the Clone Club and all their extreme drama.
  • It looks like next week is when everything starts hitting fans: Felix finds out the genetic testing that connected him with Adelle is from Neolution, more undercover work at the fertility clinic, more stuff with Rachel and Susan. Is that Krystal back again?
  • I wonder what happened to Trini's baby--why wasn't she pushing a stroller or something? Was her baby another "implant"? Is she so concerned about "Beth" poking around because they could come take her kid back? Have they already?
  • If babies born OF these experiments are weird, are the ones born in spite of it--like Kira and Helena's twins--the same sort of weird, or a new and different kind of weird?
  • You can watch Orphan Black live at 10pm on Thursday nights on BBCAmerica, or online at the BBCAmerica site, on Google Play, on iTunes, or on Amazon.

    By Samantha Holloway

    About the author

    Samantha is a freelance writer, editor and book and TV reviewer. She's currently in gradschool and working on her first novel, and one day she'll rule to world. Or marry her TV. Whichever comes first. Follow! twitter.com/pirategirljack.

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