The Fault in Our Clones: a few thoughts on Orphan Black’s penultimate season

First thing’s first: that season finale is probably going to stop me from sleeping for the next month or so. I can’t cope with all those cliffhangers. I’m half mad at Manson and Fawcett for doing this to us, but also half impressed that they and their team of (super) writers have been able to pull off another fantastic season for this brilliant, brilliant show. By now I’d somewhat expect some sort of falter in the quality of the writing (being the pessimistic little shit I am), but still the story has stayed fluent and beautifully paced, and taken us right back to the tale’s origins, and have thankfully not left Beth’s character in a dusty box in the attic – she’s brought back into the limelight, and with her she’s brought another addition to the clone club (M.K.), who I’m (almost) starting to love. Additionally, we’ve got another tasty slice of character development on Felix’s side of things, and Rachel’s back at her antagonistic ways once again. Any major criticisms? They really need to cut Cosima some slack. (Warning: major spoilers ahead.)

 

beth

The backtrack to pre-Sarah clone club and into the eyes of Beth was really interesting to see; we finally got to learn about the more ambiguous clone, and how the truth behind her existence became too much for her to handle, leading to her suicide. It cleared up uncertainty about her relationships with Paul, Art and the other sestras, what caused her to shoot Maggie Chen, and what her investigations revealed about Neolution and its conflicting factions. This was undoubtedly an extremely clever move on the writers’ part, and from how strategically this episode was placed, I’m pretty sure they’ve been planning this for a very long time, which gives me the warm fuzzies – there’s nothing like a good, carefully thought-out story line. Another big advantage to Beth’s character development is that we get to see the parallels between her and Sarah, and how that pans out in the rest of the series; we know the two are greatly alike, particularly with the both of them struggling with drug addiction, so our emotions are toyed with, and we’re concerned for a while that Sarah will end up the same way as Beth. Fortunately, Sarah has something that Beth hasn’t – Felix.

It’s always great to see sidekick get a little more backstory. For Felix, this backstory came in the form of Adele, a Southern belle with a permanently sunny disposition and lack of sobriety. I’m glad we got to see a little more to Felix this season than his typical role of being ‘the faithful friend’. Seeing him stand up for himself against Sarah gave him a little more depth and intrigue as a character, as did learning about how he ended up in Mrs S’ household in the first place. Adele is certainly a fascinating addition too – not my favourite person, I must admit, and I’m still sceptical over whether or not she’s secretly a complete snake. Part of me doesn’t want that though, because I do feel as though Felix does need a life outside of clone club, despite how big a role he plays in it – it’s pretty heavy stuff, and there’s no crime in him having an escape from that. It looks as though Adele’s ship has sailed, though, when she struggled to accept the fact that Felix has to keep this secret from her. Arguably, this has limited his character back to trusty sidekick again, but I’m not going to say that for sure just yet; I’m pretty sure this isn’t the last we’ll see of Adele.

But, to be entirely honest, Sarah wouldn’t quite be the same without her foster brother keeping her from tipping over the edge, and it would be tedious to see him to stay angry at her for longer than he was. We saw what this fight did to the both of them, particularly Sarah – coping with a maggot bot in her face without her brother wasn’t having the greatest effect on her (example: had a coked-up three-way in a public toilet and almost had sex with Dizzy. Also, she nearly jumped off a bridge), and once they reconciled, she was back to being the “glue” that keeps the clone club together. So, whilst I do think Felix needs an little more to his life than LEDA, cutting himself off from it really isn’t the best idea. If anything, he’s the glue that keeps Sarah together.

Weirdly enough, it was actually nice to see evil power-hungry Rachel again –  seeing her in rehabilitation was a side to her that was intriguing to explore, but vulnerability just doesn’t suit Rachel; blackmail and boardrooms do, and seeing her back in her comfort zone felt a lot more comfortable for us, too. Watching her and Sarah being forced to work together, too? That was enjoyable. Their conflicting morals were strained when made to cooperate with each other, and that was an interesting dynamic to explore, looking at whose methods worked more effectively than the other’s in this situation. This then leads to a reverse scenario of the season 2 finale – a pencil in the eye for a, well, general bludgeoning and stabbing. Does this put them on equal ground now, or does another eye need to get taken out? Whatever happens next season between them, it’s probably going to be violent and bloody.

helena

My sweet little cupcake Helena went on a little getaway to a National Park longer than I expected her too; in fact, I kept waiting for her to come back, and when she did, it was a slightly short-lived return. I can’t help but feel as though she’s been pushed to the side this season – I suppose this is hardly surprising, though, considering how much she’s contributed to the previous seasons, and with the new clones around. I suppose one of them getting forgotten was probably inevitable, but when you’re favourite clone’s MIA, you do tend to get concerned about them. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that big of an issue, I just… really love Helena. And, for someone who hates children, I’m actually quite concerned about how her pregnancy is going.

It was also nice to see her reunited with the Hendrixes after her little venture elsewhere, too, and really great to see her shoot an arrow through creepy Frank’s neck. Alison and Donnie have really grown on me as characters now; before, compared to the others, I found them quite bland and uninteresting. Was I wrong? Yep. The story focusing on their little ‘pharmacy’ really caused them to grow on me, especially with a pregnant Helena hanging around their house, eating all their food, spending time with their kids, and killing their drug lord. The continuation of that fun suburban tale in this season was nicely choreographed into the main plot line, with Donnie getting trapped in a prison with some radical Neolutionists. Poor Mr Chubbs. He always seem to draw the short straw.

As for the newer additions to the clone club, I’d love to see M.K. come out of the dark for season 5, and it would actually be nice to see Krystal be fully informed of project LEDA, and for her to actually believe it. M.K.’s link to Helsinki  was a brilliant way of filling in the missing pieces of the puzzle, as was having Krystal be an eyewitness to Delphine’s shooting.

And now, for the most important part of the entire season: the Cosima and Delphine reunion. I am so so so so so so so so so so so so so super elated to see these two back together again, and I swear to God, if the cure doesn’t find its way to Cosima and she dies before she and Delphine can live a long and happy life together with two cats and a dog then I will be having very strong words with Manson and Fawcett, and I may have to carry out a couple of murders. To see Cosima die after all of the full-on truckload of shit she has been through to get better, from watching Kendall get murdered to getting all her research deleted, the very least the writers can do for her is let her have a happy ending. Just, please.

Once again, I am immensely impressed with Orphan Black’s attention to detail. But, in all honesty, as someone who isn’t so scientifically gifted, I do struggle with the huge attention to detail in the biological aspects of the story at times; of course it’s expected to have complex science-y jargon in this programme – it is sci-fi after all – but it is quite hard to follow and remember amongst all the other drama in the show. This is probably me not listening properly (I wouldn’t be surprised if it is), but I’m still not 100% sure what the Neolution bots do, and what was causing the Brightborn babies to come out deformed. If anyone could explain that to me, it would be greatly appreciated.

My confusion doesn’t change the fact that this was another truly remarkable season of Orphan Black. Whilst I am sad to hear its next season will be the last, it’s the right time for the show to come to an end, and, like many fans, I don’t want to see this story drawn out for longer than it’s worth – I want it to end naturally, and with Cosima and Delphine’s wedding.

 

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