A Look at Orphan Black- Season 4, Episode 4: “From Instinct to Rational Control”

You know that line from Clerks about life being a series of down endings?  Well, “From Instinct to Rational Control” had a number of downer endings.  That didn’t make it a bad episode, mind you, and by episode’s end, we learn even more about the larger plan to create a more perfect human being.

From Instinct to Rational Control- M.K. at work

The episode begins with M.K.’s morning routine of looking into DYAD employees and cross-referencing them with Topside’s Board of Directors.  She’s stumped on Ferdinand, though.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Ferdinand makes breakfast at the safe location

Following this, Ferdinand is brought to a safe location, as S and Sarah don’t completely trust him.  However, he knows that Susan Duncan can remove the device from Sarah’s mouth.  In exchange, Ferdinand wants Rachel, whose message he can’t unscramble, but figures that Sarah’s mystery friend can.  Especially if she found her all the way in Iceland.

So Ferdinand whips up a kick-ass breakfast while talking up his love for Rachel.  Sarah says she’ll reach out to her source, but Ferdinand won’t get access.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Cosima and Scott examine Leekie's skull

With Leekie’s body at their disposal, Scott and Cosima get to work examining his skull.  They manage to find the bot inside a piece of flesh.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Trina tells Alison to stay away

At a café, after Alison’s brief chat with a friend, she receives a surprise visit from Trina, who mistakes her for Beth.  Trina is upset that Beth returned to Club Neolution and wants her to both drop this while mess and keep away from her.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Felix offers to help Alison

Felix stops by the safe house, now wondering why Sarah didn’t tell him about her Neolution implant.  S advises Felix to keep Adele free of all this business.  Easy enough.  Alison then calls Sarah and fills her in on her encounter with Trina and a fertility clinic she visited.

She’s apparently a carrier.  Though Alison is busy, Sarah asks her to pull her weight for once and visit the clinic.  With that in mind, Felix offers to lend her a hand.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Helena learns that Alison is jealous of her

At House Hendrix, Helena makes a collage of babies.  Donnie tells Helena about his and Alison’s unsuccessful attempts to conceive.  It was a difficult time, but more so for Alison.  Helena guesses that Alison is jealous, but Donnie tells Helena to avoid setting off Alison.  As if on cue, Donnie then gets a call from Alison, who needs to meet him.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Sarah shows M.K. the thumb drive with information she needs to access

Sarah goes to Dizzy, who confirms that M.K. got back to her regarding the implant.  Sarah heads in and speaks to M.K., via monitor, who again gives her three minutes.  She asks about the implants, but Beth told M.K. nothing about her investigations.  M.K. is surprised to learn that Susan Duncan is still alive.

Without mentioning Ferdinand, Sarah presents Rachel’s message.  Sarah will show M.K. the flash drive, but only if they meet in person.  M.K. relents and agrees to meet in one hour.  After some encryption, M.K. learns from the message that Susan Duncan is indeed alive.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Alison briefs Donnie and Felix on the clinic

Outside the fertility clinic, Alison briefs Donnie and Felix on just about everything, as they’ll be posing as parents to see if this clinic is a Neolution front.  And Since Beth has already been inside, Alison can’t go.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Felix and Donnie at the clinic

That leaves Felix and Donnie to enter the clinic, but Donnie lays it on a bit too thick.  Felix tells Donnie that if he can’t tell who is gay, don’t act gay.  Donnie is first to enter an office to deliver a sperm sample.

He spots a mutual friend, Portia Grossman, played by Lindsey Connell, who is pregnant and he relays the surprising news to Alison.  When it’s time for Donnie to provide a sperm sample, he calls Alison to help get his motor running on the phone.  It’s as over the top as you’d expect and even has a swelling musical score to accompany the moment.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Scott and Cosima find the worm

Well, that was pleasant.  Scott and Cosima who finally extract and examine the worm from Leekie’s skull.  It has a synthetic cord, but there’s no way to tell if it’s alive.  But the bigger question is why Leekie had one in the first place.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Rachel talks with Ira about Charlotte

Ira tells Rachel that Charlotte is the youngest subject to develop symptoms, but Charlotte is unaware of her condition.  Susan suggested immunosuppressive therapy for her- the one that inducted rapid onset in one Jennifer Fitzsimmons.  But since Charlotte is just a child, her auto-immune response might be easier to control.  Ira promises to bring Rachel’s concerns to Susan.

Hacker M.K. works on encrypting the file when she lands on information regarding Ferdinand.  At the same time, Ferdinand talks with S about becoming a family man with Rachel at his side.  His dreams rest with Sarah now, though.

Sarah returns to Beth and Paul’s studio, where M.K. calls to tell her that Ferdinand is Topside. Sarah isn’t concerned with that, though M.K. doesn’t want to work with Ferdinand and her trust of Sarah is now in question.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Portia Grossman, played by Lindsey Connell, tells Alison to ask for the Britghtborn treatments

Alison sort-of runs into Portia to talk about fertility.  She asks if Portia and her husband tried something new, as Alison would do or pay anything to conceive.  She’s not exactly getting any younger- she just wants to have her own baby.  Portia encourages Alison to go back inside and ask for the Brightborn Treatments.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Dr. Bosch, played by Dmitry Chepovetsky, talks with Donnie and Felix

At the same time, Donnie and Felix speak with Dr. Bosch, played by Dmitry Chepovetsky.  The two are thrilled to work with the clinic and open to any new technology.  Donnie asks Bosch about the Brightborn treatments, and that gets Bosch’s attention.  The doctor makes a phone call to have Brightborn packages brought to his office.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Dizzy gives Sarah some information about M.K.

Sarah returns to Dizzy, as she’s out of options for help.  Dizzy, though, wants to know what’s going on with Sarah and M.K.  After all, he’s got friends wrapped up in this mess, too.  When it seems like Sarah won’t talk, she soon admits that she’s one in a long line of about 22 clones.  Dizzy accepts this.

He met with M.K. three times in person, but each time, she had different license plates on her car.  After looking through the DMV, Dizzy found that the plates are all default.  And she works at three scrapyards in the city.  Spotting one close to Beth, Sarah heads off and Dizzy decides to join, as he figures that M.K. could be dangerous.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Helena buries the liquid nitrogen

Helena speaks to and then buries liquid nitrogen in the garden because she has babies inside of her now.  She then bids farewell to the Hendrix family and heads off.  Well, that was somber.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Sarah and Dizzy inside of M.K.'s trailer

Dizzy and Sarah arrive at a junkyard and enter the trailer.  An impatient Sarah throws a brick through one of the windows so she can enter the trailer with ease, but Dizzy spots some wiring attached to a pressure plate bomb.  The two step around it and begin looking for any information about Susan Duncan.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Susan, Charlotte. and Rachel

Susan, meanwhile, examines Rachel, who asks about Charlotte’s condition.  She gives the young girl another message- Susan conveniently didn’t turn around during this moment- before sending the girl off to play.  Susan has one option for Charlotte, though Rachel knows that if Charlotte went untreated, her data set could be useful for the others, including Ira.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Sarah finds one of M.K.'s computers

As Dizzy works on cracking M.K.’s computer, Sarah finds a computer that has a photo of M.K. with a friend.  Dizzy cracks the computer and the two learn that M.K. most recently tracked and tapped Sarah’s every move.  Meanwhile, Ferdinand questions S’s tactics when she gets a text from Sarah, who wants Ferdinand to meet her.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Scott and Cosima find green fluorescent proteins on the flesh

Scott calls Cosima over to see that there’s green fluorescent proteins on the flesh, which means someone is using them as markers to track gene expression.  It’s a gene therapy system that could be changing Sarah’s DNA.

From Instinct to Rational Control- M.K. shows Ferdinand her slide show

So Ferdinand heads to Beth’s flat and finds not Sarah, but a woman wearing a sheep mask while on a computer screen.  M.K. tells Ferdinand that she has information about Rachel and Sarah Duncan.  Once Ferdinand sits down, though, a device activates.  M.K. steps out and tells him to remain seated so she can play her slide show.

And then Ferdinand realizes that M.K., or as he calls her, Veera Suominen, is the one clone that escaped the purge.  M.K.’s friend, Niki, though, was not so lucky.  She was burned alive and her family gassed.  More than that, six of M.K.’s sisters and 32 of her friends were killed.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Sarah asks Dizzy for his car

As this happens, Dizzy figures that if M.K. anything on Susan, it’s been wiped by now.  Sarah then finds an article on Helsinki and calls S, only to learn that Ferdinand is with M.K. As Sarah rushes off, she gets a call from Cosima in regards to the bots.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Sarah pleads with M.K. to spare Ferdinand's life

Now there’s nothing stopping Ferdinand from just standing up and taking M.K. to Hell with him, but M.K.’s slide show finally ends on Rachel.  She douses him on gasoline just as Sarah enters.  M.K. tells Sarah that Ferdinand needs to pay.  Sarah might think Ferdinand is scum, but he did save her life and is key to helping out with the bots.

You know how, in these scenarios, the captured target offers to negotiate with money?  Well, Ferdinand does just that and M.K. immediately accepts his wire transfer of 3.7 million.  Okay, done.  When the transfer ends, M.K. leaves.  Sarah is livid that M.K. used her.  Beth and Nicki are dead, but what about the remaining clones?  For that, M.K. offers a weak sorry before leaving.

S arrives to diffuse the bomb.  Though Ferdinand is now short of funds, S is confident that he’ll find a way to make due.  Ferdinand stands up.  Well, at least this isn’t the end of James Frain.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Susan needs to go away again

Susan visits Rachel to talk.  The Immunosuppressive therapy probably won’t treat Charlotte.  However, Charlotte’s data has more value than her life.  For that, Rachel agrees to not intervene.  Susan, though, needs to go away again.  She gives Rachel the message that she gave Charlotte, indicating that she knows about her communication with Ferdinand.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Felix and Cosima watch video on Birthright

Felix brings a CD to Cosima and the two watch the video on Brightborn Technologies.  CEO Evie Cho talks about how Brightborn can help with provide families with the best chance at a fast conception, smooth pregnancy, and healthy and thriving newborn.  All of Brightborn’s children are born stronger and healthier.  Brightborn is making the world a better place, one baby at a time.

Well, this was kind of a downer episode.  Not that it was bad, but a lot of disappointment for the characters in this week’s Orphan Black.  That’s out of the ordinary since it becomes harder and harder for them to trust people, even allies, but in this situation, “From Instinct to Rational Control” spent a lot of time devoted to frustration.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Alison wants to have children

While Donnie and Alison are often used as the comic relief, and still are in this episode, we spend more time learning about their frustration of being unable to produce a child.  It’s one thing when Helena turned out to be pregnant with twins, but it’s another when Alison learns about Portia.  When Alison talks about not getting any younger and wanting to have a kid, you can tell that she’s wanted this opportunity long denied to her.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Donnie talks to Alison about Donnie

And Donnie shares her disappointment, but he’s not going to let that cloud the excitement over Helena’s pregnancy.  When he tells Helena to avoid setting off Alison, I see it more as cautionary than admonishing.  Donnie clearly cares for Helena, but if the past is any indication, he knows that Alison is quick to brash decisions and judgment calls.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Helena and Donnie talk

So even though Helena will soon have two children to call her own, she’s not allowed to make that much of a fuss over it.  Which makes it all the sadder when she buries the liquid nitrogen and leaves the Hendrix home.  This scene makes Helena a lot more sympathetic, in my opinion.  She was a loner and assassin that found family.  And once more, she’s able to do what many clones cannot: bear children.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Helena leaves the Hendrix home

And now she can’t fully embrace that happiness because of how it will affect Alison.  I think that’s unfair to Helena because Alison at least has a family of her own.  All Helena had was a scorpion.  I’m sure she’ll be back, but I’m curious where she’s even going.  Plus, it would suck if she went into labor and had no one on hand to help her.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Felix and Donnie pretend to be a couple

But back to the Hendrix family for a second: it’s nice to see them a bit more involved, even though they’re once again used to further Sarah’s storyline by finding out about the clinic.  It kept Alison involved instead of making her the constant fusspot   It also gave Donnie and Felix some funny moments when they pretended to be a gay couple.  Not to mention Donnie’s explosive orgasm.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Sarah pleads with M.K. to stay

Sarah finds herself in M.K.’s situation with Beth back in the premiere: her confidant is about to walk out on her and doesn’t want to look back.  Sarah knows that Ferdinand is scum, but she also knows that he saved her life and he’s key to helping learn more about Susan and Rachel.  As far as we can tell, his only motivation right not is reuniting with Rachel, not be a nuisance to the clones.

From Instinct to Rational Control- M.K. about to walk out on Sarah

However, M.K. already had problems trusting people, and it hurts even more when we learn about Ferdinand’s involvement with the death of M.K.’s friend, Niki.  If M.K. needed any more of a reason to keep her distance from Sarah, she found it upon learning that she and Ferdinand worked together.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Ferdinand and M.K.

That said, even though she has a right to be angry, she doesn’t give Sarah much of a chance to explain the situation.  Because this revelation about Niki comes at the tail end of the episode, it feels a bit out of left field and seems like a way to give M.K. a longstanding grudge against Ferdinand.  But Ferdinand isn’t saying things like Niki deserved it.  I don’t even think he knew about M.K. still being alive until now.

What I’m saying is that M.K. appears to be an unhinged clone, given how many security precautions she has and bombs she can fashion.  It’d be asking too much of her to calm down and talk out the situation with Sarah and Ferdinand and I get the sense that it will take a lot for her to trust Sarah or come to her for help.

From Instinct to Rational Control- Rachel and Susan talk about Charlotte's life

Rachel’s bond with Charlotte also takes a disappointing turn when she appears to accept that letting the girl die will be vital for the survival of the others.  I like the combative nature of the relationship between Rachel and Susan.  Rachel clearly despises her mother, but Susan always appears to be one step ahead and looking at a bigger picture.  Such a picture, I imagine, will involve Brightborn.

With all that said, this was still a very good episode, particularly for Helena, M.K., and Alison.  With the introduction of Brightborn, we have some follow-up on Susan’s words about creating the perfect human being.  And Evie Cho being the CEO of Brightborn shows that Leekie’s legacy lives on in her.  But what to do now that M.K. is in the wind again, even more questioning of Sarah?

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