Orphan Black, S4 Ep 5, Human Raw Material

Susan and Ira

Just last week I was talking about how the stakes on Orphan Black needed to be higher, and now – halfway through the season – I’m finally feeling them.

So, Cosima and Donnie head out to a Brightborn orientation to try to uncover more about the organization, but they’re not the only ones going undercover – Kystral is there too. She’s been doing her own research and training, and discovered that Dyad, her ex Hector, and the “twins” that kidnapped her are all connected, and somehow she’s figured out that Brightborn is in on it too. As if having two clones at orientation isn’t complicated enough, Evie Cho is there as well.

Cosima and Susan DuncanEvie spots Krystal first, who arrived late, and reports the sighting to Susan Duncan, believing her to be Sarah undercover. Susan wants to see her for herself, but ends up coming across Cosima instead. Although she doesn’t realize who she’s speaking to, Cosima is able to learn a little bit more about the Brightborn process through her pointed questions, such as the fact that they don’t simply screen DNA but directly change it, a process that’s illegal in most countries. She also swipes Susan’s badge, and uses it to sneak into other areas to continue her snooping.

Cosima winds up in a delivery room with a “carrier” in labor who’s ready to give birth, and is horrified to see the baby born disfigured with its face pretty much caved in. I feel like this season has been light on the shock factor as well, so as much as I cringed at seeing that baby, I appreciated the WHAT IS GOING ON?! nature of the moment. The baby is taken away and Cosima is once again face to face with Susan, this time with full knowledge of who she is.

They argue over the ethics of the Brightborn experiments, and Susan tries to convince Cosima to hand over Kendall so they can make a cure. Susan says she created the Leda clones as “a beautiful baseline to unlock the mysteries of the human genome,” and the alternative options – such as the carriers and the robot maggots – are “brutish techniques.” So if a downside to Brightborn is the disfigured babies, I wonder what the downsides to the robot maggots are? (Other than the fact they’ll kill you if you try to remove them, of course.)

Meanwhile, through Donnie’s attempts to keep Krystal out of the way, we find out more of what she’s uncovered – or believes she’s uncovered, at least: She thinks that Dyad and Brightborn are putting stem cell treatments in cosmetics. I’m honestly still a little torn on whether or not I want her to find out the truth – is ignorance bliss? Or since she already knows that something is up, would it be better for her to know? Plus  I really want to see Krystal interact with her sestras!

Kira and AdeleSarah took a step back this week to spend some much needed bonding time with Kira, but ends up distracted when she finds out that Gene Connection, the company Felix used to find his sister, has ties to Neolution. As she’d already been suspicious of Adele, this further convinces her she’s right. One secret DNA test and a very uncomfortable family dinner later, Sarah’s forced to accept that Felix and Adele really are related. And the ever growing chasm between Sarah and Felix makes me sad.

Given everything that’s happened through the course of the show, I can’t fault Sarah for being suspicious. A secret DNA test wasn’t the best move, and both she and Felix are handling the situation poorly, but I thought Felix especially came off looking immature at the dinner (with the asshole line, and throwing food). I still understand why he went looking for his family, but his actions and shutting Sarah out make it hard to try to empathize with him.

Oh, and Kira can apparently sometimes feel how the different sestras are feeling, when their emotions are strong? I guess that’ll come up and be important somehow later this season, but for now it just seems like another random what’s-up-with-Kira thing.

Art was approached at work by Duko, who showed him one of Alison’s campaign postcards, pointing out the similarity to Beth. When Art realizes that the detectives are hot on the Hendrix’s trail for murder, he calls Sarah to tell her she’s on her own for this one. Sarah’s confrontation with Alison over the issue then leads to the reveal that Helena is gone – she took some camping equipment and took off. I’d been hoping that Helena would at least turn to Sarah first before retreating on her own, but it looks like it’s anyone’s guess where she is now. (Also, text to Sarah earlier in the episode, “Don’t worry about me sestra,” gave me the feels.)


  • “Like you know you can be a victim? Or you can totally get to the bottom of it.”
  • “So what were you gonna do in there, exactly?” “I dunno. Sarah things. Skulk around, look miserable, con people.”
  • “Enhances your embryos how?” “I have no idea, I’m very lost.”

What’d you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments!