Orphan Black: 4x08 The Redesign of Natural Objects.
Science has constructed nature as a category facilitating redesign of natural objects, including society.
Donna Haraway: Simians, Cyborgs, and Women.
The Redesign of Natural Objects is about uneasy alliances that have become necessary. Cosima, after Mika reveals to her and Sarah that she has traced that call between the island and Evie Cho, reaches out to Susan Duncan to share whatever is left of their research to find a cure. Rachel tries to find her own place in the configuration but is increasingly left on the outskirts. Scott refuses to work with her because of her past betrayals and we’ve seen before how quick Susan is to throw anyone under the bus if it suits her. More than that, and more painful for Rachel, it becomes even clearer how much Susan admires Cosima as a scientist, as a clone who has taken control of her fate in a way that she as a fellow scientist comprehends. To make up for being ostracised, she tries to form an alliance with Ira (one that is transparently suiting her, but Ira is desperate for connection), but even that is taken from her when Ira becomes a vital part of Cosima’s new plan for survival.
These are the two movements in the episode: Cosima finally figures out a way to replace the lost genetic material after Kendall’s death, in an uneasy decision to bring Castor and Leda back together, embryonic stem cells that will combine Sarah’s eggs with Ira’s sperm (as Sarah and Helena, who is still missing, are the only fertile Leda clones, that’s the only option). She physically flies out to the “mad scientists’ Island” to pursue the research with her creator.
At the same time, Rachel is increasingly haunted by the glitches in her visual implant, she sees a swan, first whole than butchered, and an odd man, staring back at her. She insists that she isn’t losing her mind, and manages to overcome both her aphasia and her physical impairment temporarily when she delivers her speech to Ira, but in the end, things don’t come together for her the way she has planned. It is clear from the way she says that she is looking forward to working with Sarah – through gritted teeth – that she has come to some kind of conclusion of other sorts, one that will certainly be revealed in the coming episodes. It’s never a good idea to underestimate Rachel.
The centre of the episode is Alison though, finally after weeks of being left to the sidelines or only used as a comic relief. Donnie is struggling in prison and Neolution is threatening him, so Duko things that she is an easy target, one that will readily trade her sister in for the freedom of her husband. The pastor says as much – that the marriage vows are sacred – but interestingly enough, Alison doesn’t reveal who she loves and who she cares for when she lays out her dilemma to him. Believing that the clones could still turn against each other feels like a remnant from previous seasons, and for a moment, it seems as if Alison has made her choice – until the pieces fall together and Siobhan’s plan of revenge against Duko for murdering her mother falls in line with Alison’s to save Donnie.
It’s a glorious moment for Alison, finally, orchestrating Donnie’s safety, Duko’s demise (Siobhan was never going to allow him to leave), singing that duet with Sarah Sparks.
Perhaps some necessary plot holes here, like why Duko didn’t immediately contact his superiors when he found out Sarah’s location (to have bargaining chips?), very similar to the frustrating “oh by the way, Delphine…” ridiculousness of last episode.
Brilliant title, with the literal redesign of the toothbrush into a shiv in prison.
I was thinking that Mika might be hacking Rachel’s implant but now it looks like someone else might be, and perhaps someone is in fact communicating with her. She seemed to have a plan at the end of the episode at least.
Duko doesn’t know what Evie Cho’s ultimate goal is (remaking humankind, perhaps), but she is going to spread her tech through the guise of affordable gene therapy.
Mika is sick.