Orphan Black Season 4 Episode 6 Review: The Scandal of Altruism

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Whoa. Talk about a game-changer.

With the shocking twist at the end of Orphan Black Season 4 Episode 6, we're catapulted into the final four installments of the season with absolutely no idea where it can go from here. That's the best (and most exciting) situation to be in when watching a show like this.

Krystal Needs Protecting - Orphan Black

The killing of Kendall Malone was a season finale-tier event, which is why it came across as even more surprising. With Kendall's death, any hope of harvesting the original's genetic material (to create more clones or to find a cure for the Leda and Castor genetic illnesses) appears to be gone.

That is unless, of course, there happens to be some spare Kendall DNA left lying around somewhere.

"The Scandal of Altruism" opens shortly after we left off with Orphan Black Season 4 Episode 5. Cosima, after a chat with Susan Duncan, had been persuaded that it was a solid plan to give Kendall over to Susan and Evie, forfeiting the original's genetic material and giving Susan the means to keep on attempting to create more perfect human clones, in exchange for a collaboration on finding a Leda cure. 

Ira: Are you ready to meet our original?
Susan: After all these years? I feel electric.

Cosima's motivation was quite simple: she didn't want to die. On top of that, she didn't want those of her Leda sisters (who aren't immune like Sarah) to die either. Sarah agreed both because she didn't want her sisters to die and because she was desperate to have that maggot bot out of her mouth.

Knowing Siobhan would refuse to even entertain the idea of this plan, Sarah gave Cosima the go-ahead to arrange the deal with Susan. That'll have serious consequences for Sarah and Mrs. S's relationship.

The plan was straightforward except for one caveat: Castor, whose genetic ailment could be weaponized, couldn't be allowed to be cured. Too dangerous for humanity. That's where Kendall's cancer diagnosis came in.

When Kendall revealed her illness to Scott earlier in the season, it hadn't occurred to me at all that the fact that she had cancer (specifically, of all illnesses) would become so significant. It shouldn't be such a shock that nearly everything in this series has a greater significance – it's incredibly well plotted.

Because of the nature of cancer cells replicating (I'm not super clear on the science, or any science in general, so forgive any inaccuracies), Scott and Cosima would be able to separate the cancer-having cells from the non-cancer cells. Because of science reasons (seriously, I'm totally lost and watched the scene where Cosima explained it 4 or 5 times), only one clone groups' cells (the Leda material) were cancerous, and they were able to then give only those cells to Susan, keeping back the Castor material.

Sarah: Christ, a Castor.
Ira: Actually, I'm a Libra.

It was entirely unsurprising that Susan would just give up the chance to cure Ira like that.

Susan, very much Rachel's mother, is ruthless. She knew what she wanted and needed and would be willing to sacrifice anyone (even her long term lover) to get it. Much like Rachel's decision to abandon any attempt to treat young Charlotte in hope of using her untreated genetic illness to find a cure for herself, Susan was willing to essentially give up on curing Ira.

She may have claimed that she would "find a way" to save him regardless, but who did she think she was kidding – even Ira didn't have faith in that promise, given that he later tried to kill himself, ending it all before he could start "glitching" as the other Castors had.

Once Susan and Sarah agreed on the plan, everything at first went quite smoothly. Scott extracted the Leda genetic material from Kendall at Felix's apartment while Cosima and Sarah went (with the hard drive containing the cure research) to Brightborn so Sarah could have the maggot bot implant removed.

Aside from a near miss with the implant nearly "detonating" and leaking biotoxin into Sarah's bloodstream, the extraction went smoothly (although, it was a good thing Cosima was there to assist, given that she was the one that plugged the toxin leak and saved Sarah's life).

Of course, this show being what it is, everything rapidly went to hell in a handbasket after that.

Kendall was ushered away, back to the safe house, as soon as Scott had finished the extraction. Unfortunately, she never made it there, being intercepted by an unseen kidnapper – later revealed to be Detective Duko.

The reveal that Duko was working with Evie, "the Engineer," was not terribly surprising. The most interesting aspect of his character is the fact that he appears to be deeply conflicted.

Earlier this season, he'd mentioned doing what he has to do to protect the people he cares about, likening his situation to Beth's. In this installment, he was practically apologetic to Kendall for his role in her death, explaining that it "needs to play out this way."

Duko is very mysterious, and I'm curious to know more of his backstory – how he wound up a reluctant cog in the Dyad/Brightborn/Neolution machine and why he's doing these things when his heart clearly isn't in it.

Evie's motives, on the other hand, were made explicitly clear. Right before she gave Duko the order and he executed Kendall, burning her remains to nothing, Evie told Cosima exactly why she was doing this, turning a deaf ear to Cosima's pleas: clones are obsolete. Evie believes that her way – the "implant and fetal experimentation" way – is the future.

Da Vinci robbed graves to study anatomy. In a hundred years, they'll call me a pioneer.

Evie

What I didn't quite understand was Evie's decision to also wipe out all of the Leda cure research by unleashing a virus into Scott's computer system. If her only goal was to prevent the creation of more clones ("competing technology" at odds with her Brightborn tech), she could have stopped after destroying Kendall, carrier of the unique genetic material that made cloning possible. Destroying all of the progress they'd made towards a cure seemed unnecessarily cruel.

Kendall's death scene was heartbreaking, though Kendall herself never fully "clicked" as a character, for me. Her heartfelt "goodbye and chin up" speech to Cosima was very moving, and Tatiana Maslany gave a shattering performance as Cosima – typically one of the more "chill" and reserved clones, seeing her become so distraught and emotional was all the more unsettling.

No tears, Cosima. These shites aren't worth the salt. Tell Siobhan she's done right. Always. And tell your sisters I'm proud to have been part of them all. Turn around, luv. Turn around. Good girl.

Kendall

A tragic situation was made even worse when Evie callously revealed Delphine's date to Cosima, only moments after Kendall's murder. Cosima's wail of despair sent a chill up my spine.

Delphine and Cosima's love story was cut short, and Cosima's pain in that moment was tangible.

Delphine Cormier was shot dead at the Dyad parkade. Tell Susan the original is dead. Tell Sarah it's over. Or Beth died for nothing.

Evie

I still don't fully believe that Delphine is gone. Yes, we saw her shot on screen, but we didn't see her actual death. Evie is cruel, and I wouldn't put it past her to lie about Delphine's fate in order to smack down Cosima even more, forcing her to give up her fight to survive. That, or Evie might actually believe Delphine is dead, only for Delphine to have somehow escaped alive.

I also can't wait to see the fallout of Kendall's death between Sarah and Siobhan. We only caught a brief glimpse of Siobhan's and Sarah's reaction to the news that Kendall had been killed by Evie, but both were clearly broken. On top of that, Mrs. S repeatedly warned Sarah against going forward with this risky plan and told Sarah to get her mother out of the mess Sarah had put her in.

It's hard to imagine that Mrs. S won't harbor some resentment towards Sarah over her mother's death or that Sarah won't feel tremendous guilt over it.

On a purely aesthetic level, everything about that closing sequence was gorgeous. The musical score, the intercut scenes with the flashback to Beth's last hours, the cinematography – all of it, perfect. Thematically, mirroring Beth's suicide with Kendall's death was genius.

This flashback sequence was most likely the last we'll see, and it was a powerful one. It filled in the gaps that Art and Sarah weren't able to see on the apartment surveillance video, the time in between Beth leaving wearing a wig and returning with blood on her hands.

It turned out that in that time, Beth, egged on by Evie, had confronted Susan Duncan, intending to kill her and "end it all." Beth was talked down by Susan and left her alive but confronted Evie, only for Evie to threaten her loved ones, essentially forcing Beth to take her own life and die with the secrets she'd uncovered in order to save everyone Beth cared about.

Neolution will cauterize your life. Allison, Cosima, your parents, Paul. You wanna save the people you love? Use that gun on yourself.

Evie [to Beth]

Horribly tragic. It was at least slightly cathartic to see Beth beat the crap out of Evie, though Duko's interference stopped Beth short of killing her and none of it saved Beth in the end.

In a separate subplot that filled the remainder of this installment, Art found Krystal filing a report and seeking police protection at his precinct. Krystal interacting with Donnie in Orphan Black Season 4 Episode 5 was hilarious, but her interactions with Art were also amazing. Art is so straight-laced and serious.

Art: Hi, Detective Bell, homicide.
Krystal: Krystal Goderitch, manicurist.

Watching him struggle to maintain his composure with ditzy Krystal was comedic gold.

Calling in Felix for assistance, they were able to easily convince Krystal to stop poking around in the Dyad/Brightborn/Neolution mess and that, yes, it all had to do with human testing via cosmetics. She totally bought it and seemed set to be on her merry way, out of the clone drama.

Until she revealed that she'd witnessed Delphine's shooting. Somehow, given that big news, I sincerely doubt Krystal will be able to go on living her life as a naive clone.

Stray thoughts:

  • Greatest Krystal moment: not knowing what Scotland Yard is. I love all of Tatiana's Krystal mannerisms, from her hair twirling to her outfits to her way of walking. She has amazing comedic intuition and timing.
  • Felix mentioned to Mrs. S that Adele had gone home, back to America, further adding to my suspicions that perhaps Adele isn't quite what she seems.
  • Where was Kira throughout all of this? Did they, like, lock her in a closet or something? More likely she was hanging with the Hendrixes, who we also didn't see at all.
  • Ironically, Sarah destroying those genetic samples that Scott collected with bleach wound up screwing everyone over even more than they already were. Sorry, Sarah.

What did you think of "The Scandal of Altruism"? Chime in by leaving your thoughts in a comment below and be sure to watch Orphan Black online right here at TV Fanatic to catch up on anything you've missed!

The Scandal of Altruism Review

Editor Rating: 4.75 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (66 Votes)

Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Orphan Black Season 4 Episode 6 Quotes

Art: Hi, Detective Bell, homicide.
Krystal: Krystal Goderitch, manicurist.

Ira: Are you ready to meet our original?
Susan: After all these years? I feel electric.