Orphan Black S04E05 “Human Raw Material” REVIEW

Orphan Black S04E05 “Human Raw Material” REVIEW

0 comments 📅14 May 2016, 21:00

Orphan Black S40E05 “Human Raw Material” REVIEW

Orphan_black_4.05.human_raw_material_Kira and Sarah

stars 4
Airing in the UK on Netflix, Fridays

Written by: Kate Melville

Director: David Wellington

Essential Plot Points:

  • Sarah and Kira have a day of fun together, although this also involves introducing Kira to Felix’s sister, Adele, which is unbearably awkward. Sarah discovers that the company Adele used to track down Felix, Gene Connection, has ties to Brightborn – and suspects she’s not really his sister and is Up To No Good.
  • She swipes DNA from both Felix and Adele and gets Scott to test it – much to her surprise, however, it turns out they really are brother and sister. Rather rudely, Sarah doesn’t apologise for being such a bitch to Adele – but at least Mrs S says: “Welcome to the family.” Gotta feel for Adele here, really…
  • Meanwhile, Cosima and Donnie have gone undercover at Brightborn to find out more about the work they’re doing there. Cosima has a chat to Susan Duncan – without realising who she is – and then swipes her keycard.
  • Unfortunately, fellow clone Krystal Goderitch has decided to visit Brightborn on an undercover mission, too, which means that Donnie has to try to get her out of there. He pretends to be a masseur and chats to her, and Krystal rather gormlessly spills the news that she’s investigating the place because she thinks they’re sneaking DNA-altering stuff into cosmetics. Talk about barking up the wrong tree!
  • Krystal is briefly imprisoned by security once she’s left Donnie, but Susan realises who she is and that she’s harmless. On her way out of the building, however, Krystal sees and recognises Ira.
  • Cosima explores the bowels of the company and finds there are women there being used in trials who aren’t allowed to leave. As she’s wearing a nurse’s scrubs, she’s accidentally roped in to helping when one of these women gives birth… and the baby is hideously malformed.
  • Susan takes a horrified Cosima prisoner and tells her that the research she’s doing is “bigger picture” stuff (yep, tell that to the poor baby). She wants to help Cosima cure the disease that’s killing her and the other Leda clones. Cosima seems torn.
  • However, later we see Susan snogging Ira: does this mean she wants to cure the disease just to save him? Where does that leave the Leda clones?
  • And in creepy kid news: Kira tells her mum that she can sense what the seestras are feeling.

Orphan_black_4.05.human_raw_material_Donnie and Krystal meet


A solid episode, this, with Sarah, Cosima and Krystal all getting a chance to shine – and it’s fair to say that we’re already in love with the latter lady. Since her debut in season three’s “The Weight Of This Combination”, Krystal has been a breath of fresh air, and here she’s used for excellent comic relief – whether besting her instructor in hand-to-hand fighting (although failing miserably in the real world) or trusting Donnie… sorry, Ronnie… within a mere two seconds of meeting him. When we discover she’s still just as clueless as ever about what’s going on with Neolution and the clones, it’s a huge relief, because she’s far funnier as a random conspiracy theorist (a woman with teeth on her eyelids, really?) than as yet another soldier in the war against Neolution.

Although, that said, what exactly is going on with Cosima now? Will she be leaving that war, switching sides to join with Susan Duncan in order to wangle a cure for herself and all the other Leda clones? It must be tough to be her, knowing that she’s clever enough (and invested enough) to figure out how to save their lives, if only she has the right resources behind her, and hands over Kendall.

And yet… Neolution is evil, as evidenced this week when we see the fruit of its labours (or another woman’s labour, anyway). The tiny, deformed baby and the doctor’s matter-of-fact, “Shit” when he sees it – as though he’s seen umpteen of these sad little creations already – is a powerful gutpunch. Neolution might have humanity’s best interests at heart, but there’s a reason gene-altering work like this is banned in the real world. Ouch.

Orphan_black_4.05.human_raw_material_Donnie and Krystal massage

The horror at the end of the episode is, thankfully, in stark contrast to the humour in the middle of it, when Krystal and Donnie – both on a secret mission and both really bad at it – end up ad-libbing their way into a massage room. As always, Kristian Bruun is a scream as he fumbles along hopelessly; what this man would have done with his life without a strong woman to look after him can only be imagined. (Just check out the way Alison dismissed him earlier with a brusque, “Pitter patter!” It’s like he’s a trained dog!)

Meanwhile, Sarah and Kira have a lovely day of bonding – and given Sarah’s hectic life, you can only imagine how rarely this happens to the poor little tyke. Skyler Wexler is always just astonishing as Kira; the show really lucked out when it picked her, and she’s only getting better as she gets older. There’s something heartbreaking about watching her take her mum into the next room after Sarah finds out that Felix and Adele really are brother and sister: for a moment, Kira plays mommy, and you get a sense of just how traumatic her childhood is. She’s going to be one screwed-up adult at this rate, and that’s without those enticing psychic powers she keeps mentioning (who are the other sisters she can sense? Oooh…).

The Good:

Orphan_black_4.05.human_raw_material_Adele and Felix

  • Adele and Felix are so much fun as a double act – and even when Sarah’s doubting her loyalty, it’s hard to dislike Adele. We really hope she is a good guy after all this!
  • Sarah and Alison each hanging up the phone and calling each other “Bitch” is priceless.
  • Scott refuses to run the DNA test for Sarah until she tells him what’s going on – good on him! Scott, stuck in the basement of The Always Empty Comic Shop, comes through for the sisters again and again. He’s the unsung hero of this show as far as we’re concerned.
  • …Although Art is too, at least here – warning Sarah that the cops are onto Alison’s drug-in-soap ring.

Orphan_black_4.05.human_raw_material_Rocket Ship

  • “Is that a rocket ship?” asks Kira, pointing to a phallus painted on Felix’s wall. “You can call it that. I’ve met men who do,” he replies.

The Bad:

  • Given that they’re a dodgy organisation with top-secret labs, the security at Brightborn is utterly dreadful – Cosima, Krystal and Donnie all wander off without any supervision at various points. Tsk!
  • Susan Duncan and her creation, Ira, are lovers? Wow, that’s icky.
  • Why doesn’t Krystal recognise Donnie as the same guy who was cooing over a baby just a few minutes beforehand? All he did was take his hoodie off! She’s clearly not the brightest of the seestras. Also, broody Donnie is so sweet – one day, when Orphan Black ends, we hope it’s with the news that Alison is pregnant.

The Random:

Orphan_black_4.05.human_raw_material_Scary baby

  • That’s a horrifically believable baby in the final scene – although it does remind us of Arseface from Preacher...


  • Best Quote: Donnie, desperate to find an excuse to leave: “I have to go shit.”

Reviewed by Jayne Nelson

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