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ORPHAN BLACK Recap: Everything is Krystal Clear

Hello, sestras, and welcome back to our weekly recaps of BBC America’s Orphan Black. If you’ve not seen the episode, “Human Raw Material,” note that there will be spoilers below. You’ve been warned! 

It’s always personal, isn’t it? It’s like Beth said in the dream sequence at the end of last season, you have to ask the right questions to get the answers you really need. And digging into the Brightborn treatments at Lifespring Fertility has done just that: we finally know the who, where, and why about the clones’ existence. It also shed some light on Kira’s abilities and what may or may not be making all of the clones sick! This one’s a twisted, tangled web with a ton of actionable information in it. So let’s get started, shall we?

First thing’s first: the science. This episode was chockablock with major details about the how and why of the clone experiment itself. With the introduction of Evie Cho—outside of those five seconds in the premiere when she was with Dr. Leekie—we finally have the impetus: her childhood illness. SCID — aka severe combined immunodeficiency, which sounded a heck of a lot like what Cosima and some of the other clones have — was what drove the Cho family to dig deeper into gene splicing and genetic technology. And guess what? She’s cured! And the germline editing that went down with her is clearly at the heart of the Brightborn biologic tech for babies.


Tech that’s making babies smarter, more evolved, and seemingly extra-sensory, as it “identifies and modifies your best embryos.” The babies don’t cry or misbehave and they’re created out of the best possible eggs and sperm the two parents have, which sounds like they’re building tiny, cherubic, Stepford robokids. Is Evie Cho the ladyHilter of human evolution, or is she merely a pawn of Susan Duncan’s? Hard to say which at this point but both feel like very valid options!

These science babies, though, also link back to Kira and her increasingly odd behavior throughout this season. We’ve always known that she was special (and different), but now this proves it: the maggotbot is at the heart of the Brightborn technology. Now, stay with me: remember back in episode two when the EMT/Neo cleaners said Sarah was not the one they wanted, and that she had no scar? And how Sarah was always considered the clone that was off-the-grid? Well, take into consideration the moment when Susan Duncan told Cosima they were “beautiful baselines.”

Well, in order to do a truly double-blind study, some of those baselines would have to also had Brightborn implanted in them since birth. And they’d have to not know about it in order to keep the data pure. Sure sounds like Helena and Sarah would fit that bill. Besides, it would explain so much, including why Kira is connected to, and able to feel the emotions of, all of the clones. “I know how they feel sometimes,” she mused in the episode. “Like Cosima when she’s sad, Cosima when she’s lonely, Rachel is the angriest. There are even some I don’t know … I feel you, too, mommy.” It was just too heartbreaking to hear, wasn’t it? Poor Kira, running around with not only her own developing emotions, but also the emotions of the clones around her. Oh, and that whole dimple coincidence; surely there’s something more to that and the maggotbots/Kira, too.


Also: there’s no way Allison and Donnie aren’t going to try and have a Brightborn baby now. MARK ME!

Back to the science, though, because we have to discuss ol’ Susan Duncan. Susan Duncan, who, revealed herself to be quite the creep on several fronts tonight. First of all: did you see the ladyboner she had when Cosima was talking about the nitty-gritty scientific details of the Brightborn treatments? It was almost comical how much of a hard-on she had for Cosima’s level of scientific understanding. (Poor Rachel.) But nothing—truly nothing—was creepier than the reveal that she and Ira, the Castor clone she raised, are having an affair. (Again, poor Rachel.)

Because honestly WHAT IN THE WHAT?! It was just too much, you guys. Too much. No wonder she had no qualms with deciding to let Charlotte slowly die, or the human genetic experiments happening with those poor, genetically deformed babies down in the secret labs beneath Lifespring. She has literally no moral code beyond “do whatever it takes to control human evolution.” Yeesh. It’s going to suck when the clones ultimately have to join forces with them (I’ll get to what I mean about that in a second).

Ari Millen as Ira and Rosemary Dunsmore as Susan Duncan share a kiss

For now, let’s talk about arguably the best part of the whole night: Krystal! You guys! Ugh, I just love Krystal so damn much. She’s feisty and fiery and while, sure, she may or may not be a naïve clone, she’s still determined as fuck and has the gumption of an entire detective agency. I would really love to see Krystal and Helena together, wouldn’t you?

And the way she showed up—face-to-face with Donnie at the Brightborn orientation—was so perfect I cackled aloud for a full two minutes straight (it was very annoying). Because, really: no one bumbles through first-time clone interactions better than Donnie Hendrix. Their massage session was hilarious (and a really clutch move on his part)—healer to healer—and gave us a few dialogue gems like, “I’m being personally targeted because I’m a whistleblower,” and “Momma has a mustache; momma needs bleach!”

The show painted a picture of a Krystal—stronger and more powerful than even her crossfit coach—hellbent on figuring out if Brightborn’s cosmetics have stem cells in them because of an article she read in the newspaper about a woman using their products and growing teeth out of her eyelids (yikes). However, my theories on this front do not jive with what the show is presenting us.

If you’re afraid of potentially spoilerific speculation, turn away now!


Because, if you’ll remember, Krystal has a bright pink notebook with the Castor logo on the front. Which, um, HELLO: clearly that means that either a.) she’s being observed by Castor (aka the government) for some nefarious purposes, or b.) she’s working with them, either playing up the “naïve clone” thing or, and this is my most crazy theory of all: she’s actually Beth who’s faked her own death and is working for the government to try and bring Brightborn down (which will make things pretty tricky if/when Cosima comes around to the fact that the only way she’ll really find a cure is by working with Susan Duncan and Evie Cho and giving them Kendall the Original).

OK, potentially spoilerific speculation over.

Elsewhere in the episode, we saw Helena text about her own disappearance, Kira paint a bunch, saw a “rocketship,” and feel a whole ton, and Felix and Sarah go at it over Adele. Which: can we talk about this? Because even though Scott said that Adele and Felix are a match, they found each other through a Neolutionist-fronted database. So, naturally, I’m afraid that Scott—with all his curiosity on the subject and general doofery and whatnot—is either working for Castor or Neolution and possibly/maybe faked the DNA test Sarah had him do to connect Felix and Adele as actual siblings. It just feels like there’s something else there we need to be wary of. This is Orphan Black, after all.

What did you think of the episode? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below

And for even more details on this season from Donnie Hendrix himself, watch below!

But what did you think of the episode? As confused and/or excited as we are? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: BBC America

Alicia Lutes is the Managing Editor of Nerdis, co-host of Fangirling, and president of our in-office Clone Club chapter. Find her on Twitter @alicialutes!

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