HOLY SHITBALLS YOU GUYS.
I mean… whaaaaaaaaaat… and howwwwwww… and WHAAAAAAT?
That was an insane finale. After such an action-packed penultimate episode (Helena impaled Henrik and burned down the fish people’s ranch for god sakes!) and a rather jam-packed finale, I wasn’t expecting a last minute handsome boy clone reveal. Nor a big Dyad mole. Nor a baby clone. NOR… ugh fuck you Orphan Black. Fuck you for setting our expectations for TV shows so high and fuck you for going away for nine months and leaving us alone in our padded cell to shout off various conspiracy theories. I hope you’re happy.
So now that we’ve gotten some of our frustrations out of the way, let’s recap this last fantastic episode, “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried.”
As we all remember from episode nine, Rachel had a little “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane” moment wherein she cackled hysterically and then impersonated Sarah in order to steal Kira. With Kira abducted, Sarah uses her last remaining asset to bargain for access to her daughter; in a chilling scene, Sarah surrenders herself to the Dyad Institute for study. While I’ve joked about Mark’s Hitler youth appearance, I shuddered at the comparisons between Sarah’s examination and the real human experiments that went on during World War 2. The detachment with which the handlers poked and prodded Sarah both physically and emotionally reinforced the notion that despite Dr. Leekie’s nuttery and Delphine’s compassion, Dyad is a dangerous organization you don’t want to mess with. Additionally, the horrifying implications of the scene remind us that despite her impulsivity and bouts of absence, Sarah is a fiercely devoted mother when it counts.
After her induction into lab rat-hood, Sarah is introduced to Dr. Nealon, a reverse Easter bunny who coerces his subject into signing over some of her eggs for a chance to see Kira. Sadly, Sarah is only allowed to gaze through a two-way mirror at her daughter as Rachel speaks with her. During the interaction, Rachel circles Kira like a vulture, taunting her sister with the damage that could be inflicted if she doesn’t do as she’s told.
Not content with fucking with just one clone, Dr. Nealon is also assigned as Cosima’s new physician. With Rachel’s dastardly kidnapping plan a success, Delphine is shipped off (or fired?) without the chance to say goodbye to her lover and patient. Rachel assures Delphine that Cosima will be well cared for, which of course just translates to “dance my puppets, DANCE!” Delphine doesn’t buy one ounce of her boss’s shit, and immediately sends Rachel’s schedule to Cosima. Side note: why does Delphine still have company blackberry privileges? Dyad, that is a lesson straight from “firing bitches 101”. Come on!
Meanwhile, Cosima’s lab is invaded with Dyad cronies who take away Kira’s precious bone marrow. In a brilliant move, Cosima feigns cooperation with Dyad in order to contact her niece.
Kira, being a golden child, stealthily steals a nurse’s cell phone and calls poppa hot lumberjack. Cal then rushes over to Mrs. S. and Felix’s place in order to divulge the fancy secrets he learned from his adventures in hacking.
In a counter-hacking attack on the Dyad, Cal dives into the darknet and other COOL SOUNDING INTERNET WORDS and discovers a Dyad insider who wants to help Sarah’s cause. Upon informing the Dyad contact of Cal’s association with Siobhan Sadler, the insider brings up project “Castor”.
While Mrs. S. ventures with Cal down the rabbit hole, Felix is tasked with once again babysitting Helena, who’s arrived on the scene seemingly pregnant with Henrik’s bay-bays and doused in the sweet smell of revenge.
Somewhere in Ontario, Helena’s new pal Gracie and her betrothed Mark ride off and marry into the sunset.
Back at Dyad, Rachel invites her prisoner father for tea in order to find out the cipher he used to encode the clones’ synthetic sequences. Although shrouded in science-babble, we’re to understand that the presence of the sequences means that no further clones can be created. While Rachel thinks she has complete control of the situation, Dr. Duncan insists that there is no shred of the cipher beyond what he’s memorized. As his final defiant act, Duncan takes his own life via poison teabag. How was he able to stash poison tea bags on his person when Sarah was basically cavity searched? Eh, let’s chalk that one up to the charm of an elderly British man (would you cavity search Ian McKellen? No, you would not).
So why did Duncan kill himself? One possible reason might be that he wanted to avoid having the cipher tortured out of him. While the suicide might have been in reaction to seeing his daughter and life’s work corrupted by the Dyad’s cause, it’s important to note that he sipped his tea before Rachel revealed her demands. This means that the death was premeditated.
With Duncan now dead, Rachel further unhinges. Not only is the Proclone denied the information she so desperately wants, but she’s also robbed of her father yet again. Oh Rachel, your loyalty to the Dyad over your own family may be your final undoing.
In another part of town, we learn that the Dyad insider was bad bitch Marian all along! Turns out she wore fabulous coats of good, rather than fabulous coats of evil. In exchange for Sarah and Kira’s release, Marian demands information on the military Project Castor. Luckily for the good guys, Mrs. S. totally has a contact who has just the kind of access they need: Dull Paul! Remember Dull Paul? As was hinted at a few episodes ago, the blandest piece of white bread that ever was is totally a double agent, and now a major in the military. Dull Paul and Marian then meet in the back of a limo, because it’s way cooler to hash out important shit in a car than in an office.
Back at the Dyad, it’s ovary-snatchin’ time! What’s that, Sarah? You didn’t agree to have your ovary removed? Well, that’s too bad, because Dr. Nealon’s decided that’s a way better method of removing a lady’s eggs. Just before the surgery, Rachel strolls into the operating room and irately demands Duncan’s cipher from her sister. When Sarah offers no leads, Rachel destroys Kira’s bone marrow samples as punishment for her insubordination.
Did anyone else’s life slow down during this scene while screaming “noooooooooo?” at their television? Just me?
With some help from Kira’s drawing of a fire extinguisher, Sarah activates a weapon planted by Scott and Cosima just in the nick of time, giving Rachel a parting gift of a pencil to da face. It’s gross.
Upon escaping, Sarah reaches her daughter just as Marian is bundling her up. This means that oop, pretty much all of that running around and science-ing was… completely unnecessary.
I mean sure, Cosima should be the Canadian version of Miss Frizzle, but viewers could have done without that unnecessary detour.
Just before taking off, Marian tells Sarah that if she ever wants to find out what this whole clone business is about, she should stop over at her house the next morning.
As a thank you for his part in the great escape, Cal is rewarded with a steamy make out which could have gone on for longer, thank you very much.
In possibly the most tender moment of the series, Helena finally gets to meet her seestras and hug her adorable little baby niece! The clones then take a time out to dance break with their brother seestra with the help of some special effects magic from Intelligent Creatures, the visual effects company behind Orphan Black.
It was especially fun to see each of the clones’ dance styles, with Cosima grooving with fluidity, while Sarah adopted heavier, grungier movements and Helena was… well… Helena. Props to Alison for embodying how every suburban gal acts upon visiting a gay club for the first time (“Ooh! Oh that man’s butt is right… right there… oh is this ‘grinding’?”).
In the morning, Sarah professes to Cosima how much her sisters mean to her and how much she needs her geek monkey.
While the love fest goes on, Helena sneaks out and leaves behind what appears to be a canister of frozen, fertilized eggs. Helena’s sunny demeanour is short-lived, however, as the clone is quickly tazed and snatched by the military. As it turns out, Dull Paul wasn’t helping Sarah out of the goodness of his heart and groin. In exchange for giving Marian information about Project Castor, Mrs. S. had to agree to hand over Helena to the military. As Helena is transported onto an aircraft, Mrs. S. tearfully wonders how Sarah will ever forgive her for what she agreed to. Honestly, though? I doubt Sarah cares that much seeing as she allowed Helena to rot in jail and only just recently remembered she existed.
As Sarah heads into Marian’s lair, Kira wakes up Cosima in an ambiguous sequence. Was Cosima simply dreaming of Delphine before Kira woke her? Or did Kira somehow transmit a memory to Cosima through some type of magical power similar like her possible healing ability? Sure the latter seems insane, but what if it’s so crazy it’s right on the mark? Crazier things have happened, y’all! Crazier things. I am still holding out for secret witch/mutant powers.
Once her aunt is awoken, Kira asks Cosima to read from Dr. Duncan’s book, The Island of Dr. Moreau. Cosima is stunned to find that the book contains countless pieces of her creator’s work, and what may be the cipher Rachel was so desperately after.
At Marian’s, Sarah encounters another clone, but this time one who is only eight years old (the same age as Kira). The new clone, Charlotte, is Marian’s adopted daughter and the only successful specimen created after the aftermath of the war between Drs. Leekie and Duncan.
Endeared by Sarah’s fierce protection of Kira, Marian decides to trust her and reveal some deep organizational secrets. As a high level member of the corporation Topside, Marian apparently works together with other multinationals to steer the Dyad Group and secure monopolies that embrace genetic engineering, synthetic biology, and a future that they think is inevitable. While Topside may be fueled primarily by profit, other entities have murkier purposes.
Earlier this season, Dr. Duncan revealed that Dyad Group became involved with Project Leda once the military decided that proving cloning is possible had too many distasteful moral implications. Marian reveals that Duncan had been lied to. Instead of being shut down, the project was compartmentalized into two autonomous operations. While Dyad was in charge of carrying female clones to term, a military faction carried the males.
Marian then takes Sarah downstairs in order to reveal that she got more than just information in exchange for Sarah and Kira’s release (and Helena’s surrender):
SURPRISE!!! MARK WAS A CLONE ALL ALONG YOU GUYS!!!
Overall opinion: Thank GOD the male clone wasn’t Paul. Can you even imagine the horror of an army of sentient slices of white bread taking up valuable screen time from more worthy actors? Yikes. Sorry Dylan Bruce, you’re a hottie with a body, but you’re also the weakest link on the show. I’ve loved Ari Millen’s portrayal of Mark as a dangerous yet child-like religious mercenary this season, and can’t wait to see him try and match Maslany in the multiple personality department. DEM EYES, man. His gazes alone have been killing it.
As well, I know some fans are concerned about attention being drawn away from our queen, but let’s remember that 1) the female clones (Sarah in particular) are the heart of the series and 2) the creators have done nothing to make us think the focus will somehow shift to a male perspective willy nilly. Let’s trust first, then question later, yes?
While the show hobbled a bit too long in exposition-ville, I was elated at how well it picked back up at the end of the season when it counted. Despite the male clone reveal, we’re now left with even more questions, such as:
1) Is Mark aware of his status as a clone? His disdain towards his military past has me saying yes, but I can’t quite reconcile self-aware male clones with Project Leda’s “keep all clones in the dark” methodology.
2) Is the captured boy clone the one who went a little nutty in Afghanistan? Is that why the military was so willing to trade him for Helena?
3) Where is Helena being taken? Will she be experimented on? In light of the wealth of information Dull Paul gleaned from his time as double agent, I doubt the military needs more data on the female clones’ biology or behaviour. My money is on Helena being trained to be an even more badass assassin than she is now.
4) How much did Henrik know? This season we speculated that his interest in Helena was merely to create a child who had one clone parent. Such a child, a product of science and god-given biology, would be a fusion which aligns with Henrik’s ideology. But what if Henrik wanted to create a child whose parents were both clones? Since taking in Mark, it’s possible that Henrik was aware of Mark’s status as a clone. While Helena and Gracie could be having Henrik’s kids, they could also have been impregnated with eggs that were secretly fertilized with Mark’s sperm. Of course, Henrik could have just been religion-obsessed, but that seems a bit too easy for the show.
5) What’s happening with Rachel? While the penciling could have killed her, methinks the proclone will just show up next season with an eye patch, Nick Fury style.
6) Will Cosima be okay? Will Duncan’s sequences help her in time? Will Kira be able to donate some bone marrow in time? Will Delphine come back?
SO. MANY. QUESTIONS.
Thank you to Orphan Black for a fantastic ride! This was an absolutely stupendous season and I can’t wait for more.
Rachel: “Enjoy your oophorectomy.”
Helena: “I like your hairs.”