Orphan Black S04E04 “From Indistinct To Rational Control” REVIEW

Orphan Black S04E04 “From Indistinct To Rational Control” REVIEW

0 comments 📅08 May 2016, 18:44

Orphan Black S40E04 “From Indistinct To Rational Control” REVIEW

Sad Alison


stars 3

Airing in the UK on Netflix, Fridays

Written by: Alex Levine
Director: Peter Stebbings


Essential Plot Points:

  • Ferdinand is taken to the safe house and tells them he wants to rescue Rachel (“What can I say? She pierced this armoured heart”). He also wants to know who tipped off Sarah in Iceland, but Sarah is determined to keep MK’s identity secret.
  • Cosima and Scott work on Leekie’s recently exhumed head, extracting the maggot-bot. They determine that it has been designed to change genes – which means it’s doing that to Sarah!
  • Donnie has a little word with Helena about how her being pregnant is making Alison feel sad – after all, she wanted children so much she ended up adopting them. Helena takes this to mean that she should leave to make Alison feel better, and so she goes.
  • Trina – the pregnant girl Beth knew from Club Neolution – approaches Alison, thinking she’s Beth, and tells her to leave her alone. She mentions an IVF clinic, and so Alison teams up with Donnie and Felix to investigate it.


  • Sarah goes to see Dizzy to find MK, and tells her Susan Duncan is still alive. Shocked, MK says she will meet Sarah, but this actually leads the hacker to discover that Ferdinand is helping Sarah… and she is not happy about it.
  • Rachel and Susan discuss little Charlotte and whether they can cure her. Susan sets Rachel a test: review the medical notes and see if she thinks it can be done. Rachel unwillingly comes to the conclusion that it would be better to let Charlotte die, because then her young DNA may yield answers to cure everybody else. Susan seems pleased. What a nice lady she is.
  • Alison bumps into an old friend at the IVF clinic and manipulates her into finding out how she got pregnant after so many years of trying. The woman reveals it’s something called “Bright Born”. So Alison gets Donnie and Felix to ask their doctor, Dr Bosch, about it.
  • With MK refusing to speak to Sarah, she asks Dizzy for help again. He reveals that he thinks MK works at a scrap metal plant, and lo and behold they find her caravan there – booby trapped. Inside, Sarah discovers photos of MK and a clone named Niki who died in a car accident.
  • Ferdinand is lured to Beth’s house, where MK tricks him into sitting on a chair with a bomb on it. She confronts him about the fact that he is the one who killed Niki, before Sarah arrives to try to calm her down. MK doesn’t listen to reason and leaves Ferdinand there to blow up… only Mrs S defuses the bomb and saves him. So that’s the end of MK helping them, then.
  • Cosima and Scott discover that the gene-altering maggot-bots are probably being used at the IVF clinic to alter the genes of babies – therefore changing evolution.



A rogue clone out for blood after the death of her clone sister sounds as though it should be a thrilling episode, but for some reason MK’s roaring rampage of revenge feels like a bit of a limp effort. Which is weird, because there are bombs and she threatens to burn Ferdinand alive – why isn’t this edge-of-your seat exciting?

It’s hard to put our finger on it, but perhaps it’s simply because we don’t care about Ferdinand; if that had been, say, Rachel, we would have been more engaged. And MK is so small and twitchy: she doesn’t have the menace that Helena can so delightfully exude. She just does what she does here and then wanders off, leaving us wondering why she bothered (and if she really had wanted to burn Ferdinand alive, why didn’t she just throw a match across the room as she walked out, rather than leaving him with a rescuer already there?). It’s amusing to see that Mrs S can defuse a bomb like MacGyver, though, so we’ll let MK off for giving Siobhan a chance to shine.

Felix and Donnie

There’s much joy to be had elsewhere from Alison’s mission at the IVF clinic: sending Donnie and Felix in as a couple, which means that Felix has to teach Donnie how to act gay (or to be exact, to act less gay). Felix always looks as though he wants to be somewhere else, and never more so than here – which makes it all the funnier, of course. And wow, Donnie asking Alison for to help him through giving a sperm donation is priceless… Air Italia, indeed! Thus, Tatiana Maslany adds another accent to her CV, as well as her once-heard-never-forgotten phrase: “…I’m arriving! …I’m landing!”

While Maslany is always good at the comedy, there’s also a genuinely sad moment in this episode as Alison – in the process of deceiving her friend – says how much she would love to have her own baby. It’s very affecting, particularly coming so soon after Donnie’s little chat with Helena. The fact that the clones can’t have children has often been a huge plot point on this show, but it’s sometimes easy to forget the very real impact it would have on some of them. Nice touch.

Elsewhere, Rachel’s ruthlessness in sacrificing Charlotte doesn’t really come as much of a surprise, even from this new, slightly softer Rachel – unless she has something up her sleeve and actually wants to save Charlotte somehow (good luck).

And why does Dizzy let Sarah walk all over him like that? We barely know the guy, and he barely knows her, and yet he even gives her his car keys at one point. Does he fancy her? Is he more involved than we know? One thing’s for sure: he’s mysterious…


The Good:

Red Eyes

  • Ferdinand’s red eyes when he’s covered in gasoline seem to imply that either James Frain really was doused in something stinky and gross (probably not gasoline, mind), or he put drops in them beforehand to make it look as though they were irritated. Either way, we commend his commitment!
  • Alison singing “Jesus Christ Superstar” with her friend in a cafe is so lovely; it’s amazing, really, that she can lead any kind of happy, normal life when surrounded by all the clone carnage. But then, as she says, “Sarah, I have budgets to review. I’m really more of an ideas person.”

Niki or Mariah Carey_

  • We get to meet another seestra this week, albeit a long-dead one. And weirdly, doesn’t Niki look like Mariah Carey?

Wonky shelves

  • Every single time we go to Beth’s place, we can’t help but wonder about why those wonky shelves are like that. Talk about impractical. And distracting.


The Bad:

Leekie's gross head

  • Given the number of close-ups we get of Leekie’s decomposing head, the team who built it were massively proud of their work – or at least anxious to show it off because it cost a lot to make. All we can say is: “Ewwww.”
  • Okay, so we’re not experts on these matters, but it does seem to us that flinging gasoline around lighted candles is a stupid thing to do – because even if the liquid doesn’t hit a flame, the fumes themselves would ignite, no?
  • The cut from Donnie having an orgasm to Cosima extracting the maggot-bot from its pound of flesh is really quite upsetting…


The Random:

Bad Puppy

  • Most shows tend to mock up pornographic magazines when they’re called for in a script, but Bad Puppy is a real magazine. The issue used on the show was their October 2015 one which, as we’ve just discovered, has a 100% five-star rating on Amazon, should you wish to purchase it…
  • Best Quote: Scott (staring at Leekie’s head): “He never gave me a raise. Not once.”
    Cosima: “Who’s the science now, bitch?”

Reviewed by Jayne Nelson

Read our other reviews of Orphan Black



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