A Look at Orphan Black- Season 4, Episode 5: “Human Raw Material”

Time to bring Krystal back into the fold in “Human Raw Material”: a very good episode with equal parts funny and dramatic as the clones and their allies infiltrate Brightborn to learn more about what’s going on to get a sense of the bigger picture.  Less so with Sarah, who just can’t seem to catch a break.  But to be fair, she brought some of that on herself.

Human Raw Material- Krystal trains

The episode begins with Krystal taking out her aggression while kickboxing.  Being kidnapped has that effect on you.  She’s been doing research on DYAD and has found connections.  Her training has put her on a mission to be ready when it’s time.  If the background music wasn’t enough of an indication, Krystal is a warrior.  Expect these skills to come up later.  Otherwise, why show them?

Human Raw Material- Kira and Sarah paint a mural

We then cut to Kira and Sarah painting a mural on the bedroom wall when Sarah gets a text from Helena, who tells Sarah to not worry about her.  Kira is upset that her mother might leave, but Sarah does no such thing.

Human Raw Material- Sarah looks at Cosima and Alison's findings

Mrs. S. asks Sarah if she looked at the research that Cosima and Alison have on Brightborn, especially Evie Cho’s connection, but then Sarah finds that GeneConexion, owned by Brightborn, is the company Felix used to find his sister.

Human Raw Material- Alison talks with Cosima about entering Brightborn

Cosima and Alison discuss an upcoming Brightborn orientation.  Sarah is busy with family and Alison is busy, so Cosima offers to infiltrate Brightborn.  Great.  Donnie will pick her up.  In fact, he’s already dressed and ready to go.  Donnie thinks the baby is important for the role, but Alison disagrees.

Human Raw Material- Sarah invites Felix to dinner

Sarah and Kira pop by Felix’s place to invite him to dinner.  She brings up GeneConexion and its connection to Neolution.  On cue, Adele enters.  Kira finds it odd that Felix now has a father when he previously did not.

Human Raw Material- Cosima and Donnie enter Brightborn for an appointment

Time for Cosima and Donnie to put their plan into play.  Donnie is a chill, gay dude named Douglas that doesn’t want Cosima to play the lesbian angle too hard.  The two enter the Brightborn clinic for their appointment.  Cosima is now the surrogate parent.  She asks for a copy.  Turns out that the two could not have picked a better time to arrive: Evie Cho will be in the area.

Sarah, meanwhile, calls and asks asks Scott if he can do some DNA testing to learn if Adele is the real deal.  This is not going to go over well.

Human Raw Material- Evie Cho tells the visitors her story

Cosima and Donnie talk with some other parents just before Evie arrives and addresses the group.  She talks about her parents rolling the genetic dice.  Her immune system was compromised and she went through several different procedures, but the Cho family is stubborn.  In 1994, she entered a gene therapy trial and was in full remission by the time she graduated.

Human Raw Material- Adele teaches Kira how to dance

As Adele teaches Kira how to dance, Sarah swipes Kira’s hairbrush and drinking glass.  All of a sudden, it’s time for Sarah and Kira to leave so they can visit Scott.

Human Raw Material- Krystal arrives at Brightborn for her appointment

If Cosima and Donnie weren’t enough, Krystal soon arrives at Brightborn for her appointment.

Cho talks more about Brightborn babies and the fees that fund research and technology.  When Evie is finished, Dr. Bosch tells the parents to check their wristbands for their respective appointments and tours.

Human Raw Material- Susan and Ira arrive to speak with Evie

As Cosima heads off to snoop, Evie meets Susan Duncan and Ira, who are here to talk Sarah Manning and the incident at the dental clinic.  Susan doesn’t want Evie going after the clone that’s entered the clinic before she has a chance to see her first.

Human Raw Material- Donnie has to go shit

Donnie sits with a group of parents and holds a baby that takes a shining to him.  But once Krystal appears, so Donnie suddenly leaves to go…shit.  Okay, that was funny.  Cosima tries to slip into an elevator, but is caught by an employee.

Human Raw Material- Duko warns Art to let go of Beth

Detective Duko shows Art one of Alison’s election fliers.  Duko finds it uncanny how much Alison looks like Beth, though Art doesn’t see it.  Duko warns Art to not stick his neck out for the Hendrixes because of their involvement with the Pouchy triple homicide and drug pushing through their store.  He also advises Art to let Beth go right now.

Human Raw Material- Scott updates Sarah

Scott gives a temporary update when Sarah gets a call from Art, who asks about the Hendrix business and them dealing drugs out of Bubbles.  Sarah promises to deal with it, but Art tells her that she’s on her own for this.

Human Raw Material- Alison can't help out right now

Alison confirms that yes, she’s dealing in pharmaceutical drugs, which is no different from Sarah offloading a kilo of cocaine, even though Sarah claims that was for Kira’s sake.  Alison worries if Helena was mentioned, due to her having disappeared.  What’s more, Alison isn’t in the mood to deal with this since Helena was just dumped on her.  That part is at least true.

Human Raw Material- Susan speaks with Cosima

Susan, meanwhile, takes a seat next to Cosima.  Cosima notices that if parents don’t notify, their embryos become Brightborn’s property.  She manages to get Susan’s badge during a paper slip before turning the conversation back to babies and embryonic enhancements.

Susan says that the embryos are donated for technical research.  Brightborn has been successful with direct techniques like germline editing, which Cosima finds concerning.

Human Raw Material- Family dinner Part One

Sarah still wants Kira to talk about her dream, but Kira is saying nothing.  Felix and Adele have popped by for dinner- per Sarah’s invitation- and before Sarah can turn this family affair into an argument, S brings Sarah and Felix aside.

Human Raw Material- Cosima tells Donnie to stop Krystal

Donnie catches up with Cosima to tell her that there’s another clone at Brightborn that’s trying to have a baby.  Cosima tells Donnie to stop Krystal from screwing this up since she doesn’t know that she’s a clone.

Felix tells Sarah and S that they have no right to be suspicious.  Sarah spills that she poached Adele and Felix’s DNA to find out if Adele is the real deal.

Human Raw Material- Donnie sets up a quick appointment for Krystal

Speaking of poaching, Krystal does her own poaching when Donnie walks in on her.  She apparently needs a massage because she’s very tight, so Donnie schedules an appointment for her, right now.

Human Raw Material- Susan discusses the clones

Susan is disappointed to learn that the clone is not Sarah Manning, but Cosima, who is driven to learn the truth.  The last time a perceptive clone came by Brightborn, things did not go well.  Seems that things have gone too far.  Evie sends an employee to bring in the clone.

Human Raw Material- Donnie gives Krystal a massage

So Donnie gets to work on massaging Krystal, who talks about her life as a beautician.  The hardest people are pregnant women because they’re very self-centered.  Donnie confides that he finds Brightborn creepy, so Krystal, ready to trust this random masseuse, admits that she’s on an investigation.  She believes that Brightborn and the DYAD Institite are conducting human experiments in stem cells and cosmetics.

One woman, for example, got treatment in her face.  Every time she blinked, it clicked because she was growing teeth out of her eyelids.  Huh.  Krystal feels that she’s being targeted because she’s a whistleblower, like that guy who moved to Russia.  And then Krystal mentions a visit from a French doctor named Cormier.  And Donnie talks too much, says Krystal’s name without her telling him, and ends up on the floor.

Human Raw Material- Susan doesn't find Krystal to be a threat

Before Krystal can leave, she’s accosted by the employee sent by Evie and is escorted out.  Cosima, meanwhile, slips into scrubs and passes a woman in painful labor.  Susan, watching via surveillance camera, confirms that Krystal is a special subject who has some suspicions, but is harmless otherwise.

Human Raw Material- Family dinner Part Two

So yeah, that family dinner is tense.  Adele tries to apologize and shares her story when Sarah asks about Gene Connection.  Adele says that it’s cheap, though Sarah finds it odd that someone would just send off their genetic profile.  The dinner remains tense.  Sarah asks again why Adele chose GeneConexion, but Felix turns it and asks if Sarah is an asshole, or if it’s that thing in her face.

Felix’s attempt at a food fight is interrupted when Sarah gets a call.  Looks like the results stand: Adele is Felix’s sister.  Well, now I think it would be appropriate to call Sarah an asshole.

Human Raw Material- Krystal recognizes Ira

Back at Brightborn, Krystal spots and flips out when she recognizes Ira.

Human Raw Material- Cosima helps with a birth

Because Brightborn has lax security, Cosima slips into a room where she observes women being held.  She even snaps a few photos when a doctor walks by and asks her for help with a carrier.  She’s brought to a woman in excruciating pain and currently dilating.

Human Raw Material- Odd looking baby

As the woman pushes, she begs God for forgiveness and soon pushes out…well, an odd looking baby.  This confusing moment is cut short when Susan confronts Cosima.

Human Raw Material- Susan and Cosima talk human experiments

Evie and Susan talk with Cosima, who is livid that humans are being experimented on as they are- it’s trial and error without consent.  She’s horrified by the baby she saw.  Evie leaves so Susan can speak privately with Cosima: she apologizes for what’s happening.

Susan reminds Cosima, as sick as she is, that she created her, but did so to unlock the secrets of the human genome.  Susan is her Oncomice.  The alternative, the implants, is more brutish.  Susan tells Cosima that she is dying and doesn’t have the resources to save herself.  But share Kendall Malone’s genome and a cure can be made for everyone.

Human Raw Material- Sarah apologizes to Kira

Sarah apologizes for ruining Kira’s day.  No kidding, Sarah.  There’s suspicion and then there’s being a dick.  Kira tells Sarah that she knows how the other clones feel.  For example, when Cosima is sad, Helena is lonely, or Rachel is angry.  Some she can’t feel, though.  But those aren’t dreams.  Sarah doesn’t know what they are, though.

Human Raw Material- Susan and Ira

In a pool, Susan tells Ira that it’s up to them.  They are as close to the original as they ever have been to a cure.  The two kiss as the episode comes to a close.  Okay, that’s enough.

A lot of discoveries in this episode.  And “Human Raw Material” is more than just an aptly titled episode, given what Cosima discovers towards the end, but now that we’re at the halfway point of the season, the bigger story is taking more shape.

Human Raw Material- Donnie pleads for a calm Krystal

First off, it goes without saying that Krystal, Donnie, and Cosima aren’t the best when it comes to snooping.  I’m glad to see Krystal drawn back into the fold and though we haven’t spent much time with her this season up until this point, I instantly like where the show has taken her.  Last time, she was just concerned about a potential bigger picture.

Human Raw Material- Krystal hands Donnie an article

But now, she’s being proactive and doing her own investigation without even being aware of the other clones.  She refuses to just be a part of this larger story without getting to the bottom of what’s happening with Brightborn.  And given her reaction to Ira, she’s putting the piece together, bit by bit, but still isn’t fully in the loop.

Human Raw Material- Krystal kicks Donnie

However, for all her smarts and kickboxing work, she’s still not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  She just met Donnie and in the span of a few minutes, she was willing to talk about her work.  What if he really was a Brightborn employee?  Though Susan may find Krystal harmless, her intrusion and constant investigations can still make her a target.

Human Raw Material- Cosima disgusted with the Brightborn experimentation

Cosima might have the heaviest discovery when she sees that the women are kept like lab rats and experimented on as such.  This goes against everything she stands for as a scientist.  Even though she might want a cure, she’s unwilling to compromise her beliefs or accept Brightborn’s methods if they might help her.

Human Raw Material- Cosima confronted by Susan

Since Cosima has mostly been relegated to doing research and being in the lab this season, I’m glad she gets something important to do.  And her snooping around isn’t just to further Sarah’s story.  She gets to speak and argue with Susan about their different ideologies, but also gets put in a perplexing situation when Susan offers a cure in exchange for Kendall Malone.

Human Raw Material- Susan offers Cosima a way out

Now obviously, I don’t expect Cosima to turn over Kendall, but it would be interesting to see her grapple with the decision.  Plus, if Sarah isn’t above swiping DNA for a test, who is to say the other clones are saints?

Human Raw Material- Sarah tells Felix about the DNA test

That brings me to Sarah, who can’t catch a break because she’s not around to help infiltrate Brightborn, she doesn’t get to spend the time with Kira that she wants, Art reams her out over Alison’s drug pushing, and now she’s pretty much wrecked her friendship and relationship with Felix over a hunch.

Human Raw Material- Sarah admits that Felix and Adele are related

Sarah has every reason to be suspicious, yes, but that doesn’t give her the right to be an outright asshole and swipe Adele’s DNA.  She ends up with egg on her face in an already tense, but well-acted, dinner scene.  I don’t expect Sarah’s suspicions to go away altogether, but for right now, she cocked up and, in Felix’s eyes, stood in the way of a familial bond.

Human Raw Material- Felix pissed at Sarah

And though Sarah has a reason to suspect Adele, Felix has every reason to trust Sarah even less now.  His anger felt restrained just because he didn’t want to make a scene, but the look on his face when Sarah learns that he’s related to Adele just spells that he’s appalled at what she’s done.  A very uncomfortable moment.

Human Raw Material- Susan and Ira kiss

But not as uncomfortable as Susan and Ira kissing.  Awkward as that moment was, I love how the music sort of started sounding distorted and off-key, as if to illustrate the oddness of the moment.

“Human Raw Material” delivered both with comedy in the Brightborn infiltration and the dramatic with Cosima’s discovery, Sarah dealing with her many screw-ups in an attempt to have a calm moment this episode, and Susan revealing more about Brightborn’s intentions.  We’re at the halfway point of the season, so here’s hoping the momentum keeps building as we learn more and more about the bigger picture.

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