‘Orphan Black’ Season 5 Premiere: You Say You Want a Neolution

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On the premiere of the fifth and final season of “Orphan Black,” we picked up right where we left off, as the various clones were scattered all over the place- some in decidedly better shape than others- attempting to band together to bring down the enemy once and for all, which is definitely easier said than done. In “The Few Who Dare,” it was clear that they weren’t going to be reunited anytime soon, though at least a few were able to find one another in the clutch.

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When we last left the Clone Club, Sarah had flown out to the mysterious island where Cosima was working to find a cure for the affliction that has affected or will affect most of the clones, save the immune Sarah. Cosima is, of course, the sickest of the bunch, and as such, had the most invested in finding said cure.

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No sooner had she finally had a breakthrough than “mother” Susan Duncan (Rosemary Dunsmore) tried to use her findings to pivot herself back into a position of power, locking Cosima up behind closed doors and blocking her access to her own work, much to her chagrin, being as how she was still dying and all.

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But little did she know that Rachel was staging a coup of her own, attempting to wriggle herself back into Neolution’s good graces, after playing a major part in bringing down Evie Cho (Jessalyn Wanlim), the former leader, who was taken out in the finale by her right-hand man Dr. Van Lier (Scott Wentworth), who has temporarily assumed leadership in the interim.

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Upon meeting with the board at Neolution and reasserting herself as a key player, she promptly flew back out to the island and stabbed “mother” Susan- a bit ungrateful, that- and then proceeded to attack an arriving Sarah, bashing her with her cane and stabbing her in the leg with a knife. Revenge accomplished.

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Meanwhile, Cosima was let out of the room she was trapped in by the also-sick little girl Charlotte (Cynthia Galant), who was another Project Leda clone that was directly cloned from Rachel. She quite correctly suggested they get the hell out of dodge, which they did, but in the process, got lost looking for the boat they planned to use to escape.

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The two were stranded in the freezing cold, looking worse for the wear, before the mysterious man (Géza Kovács) that Rachel kept having visions of- known as “The Messenger,” according to imdb.com- found them and took them back to his village on the island. There, a stunned Cosima, who had managed to stash some of the cure before escaping, found herself face-to-face with the elusive Delphine (Evelyne Brochu), who had been gunned down by the wily Detective Duko (Gord Rand) before he was likewise shot by a vengeful Mrs. S.

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Unlike Duko, though, Delphine survived, as we found out from Crystal, who said that none other than Dr. Lier took off with her in a black van before she mysteriously vanished. Now, we see that she has been saved and is fully recovered and living in the village, though she might not be there entirely voluntarily. Regardless, Delphine and Cosima have a tearful reunion before the latter promptly passes out, probably wondering if she’s delirious.

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Likewise, Sarah met a similar fate, only she was seriously injured by Rachel’s attack and left to fend for herself in the woods after escaping Rachel’s clutches, with no rescuer in sight. When we open this episode, she is still on the run from Rachel… and someone else. Or is it something else?

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Back home, Alison and Donnie (Kristian Bruun) went into hiding, after Donnie was let out of prison and both were attacked by one of those creepy ambulance people with the worm implants. Thankfully, Alison was saved in the nick of time by Helena, who subsequently took them to where she was laying low, in a campsite in a nearby national park.

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Last but not least, there was Siobhan (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and Kira (Skyler Wexler), who stayed behind in Sarah’s wake and found themselves being held hostage by the wacked Ferdinand (James Frain), who demanded to know where Rachel had gone after she disappeared on him. As of this episode, that has not been addressed, though Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and Detective Bell (Kevin Hanchard) at least know they are missing and that Siobhan did not go quietly, as one would expect.

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When we pick things back up on the island, Sarah manages to get in touch with Felix and alert him to Mrs. S. and Kira being in danger, but the battery on her phone dies before she can communicate much more. She builds a fire and uses a tampon to plug the knife wound in her leg and rests, but is rudely awakened by one of the cast members of “The Hills Have Eyes” or “Wrong Turn”– and not the normal human being kind, either. We’re talking full genetic mutation.

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This is never explained, though one of the denizens of the island tasked with finding Sarah clearly knows something about it. He lies and attributes the creature’s actions to a “bear” to one of his fellow hunters, but that was definitely no bear. A genetic experiment gone wrong, perhaps? Is this the “Island of Dr. Moreau”? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Either way, though Sarah makes her way to the village and makes contact with Cosima, who opts to stay and investigate what the hell is going on there, she is eventually caught and captured by the hunter, who finds her trying to escape the island via the aforementioned boat. When we last see her, the nefarious Rachel has arrived and ominously tells her: “It’s a new day, Sarah,” before Sarah passes out from a tranq dart fired by said hunter.

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Meanwhile, Cosima discovers that the village is known as “Revival” and that it is populated by people from all over the world working together for… something. It’s kind of like a cross between the Dharma Initiative (“Lost”) and the Meyerist Compound (“The Path”), which is to say, a cross between a scientist collective and a cult, for those unfamiliar. Whatever it is, it clearly involves genetics, but that was sort of a no-brainer before it was even stated.

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The leader is apparently none other than P.T. Westmoreland, who would be around 170 years old at this point! He’s the one that wrote the book that Rachel and Cosima were so fascinated by, and the founder of Neolution, or at least a nascent, more grass roots form of it. Obviously, the new-fangled version is much more advanced than the slap-dash village we see in Revival.

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Westmoreland summons Rachel after she stabs Susan, and the two have a long talk, which we aren’t privy to. Afterwards, Rachel gives a big rallying speech on the stairs of what looks like a temple, where the still-unseen P.T. presumably resides. She promises new important things for the islanders, which is never a bad sign in scenarios like this, right? I don’t think any of this will end well.

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Whatever the case, after Cosima escapes her hut to go and retrieve the cure stashed away by Delphine- who sadly, had to leave almost immediately after Cosima started to recover- she is rudely interrupted by Rachel, who catches her trying to inject herself with it. She offers to do the deed herself, warning Cosima that it’s harder to do these things yourself than it looks.

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Remarkably, Rachel does just what she says, and seems to have a sunnier outlook on things all around, which can’t be good, either. She informs Cosima that things have changed and that they should be working together, not apart, and invites her to do just that. Cosima is understandably a bit taken aback, but doesn’t disagree.

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To add to the mystery, there is some business about a “fountain” that a recently-arrived Afghan child is keen on getting to visit. Is it a literal “Fountain of Youth”? P.T.’s advanced age would seem to indicate that could be the case, but who knows? Maybe that’s just what they tell people to get them there. Especially sick kids.

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Needless to say, this is all super-shady, but then we probably knew that from the moment one of the children (Jenessa Grant) introduced themselves as Mud! (You know you were a child/teen of the 90’s if you heard that introduction and hummed this in your head, lol.) Be that as it may, Delphine says the science is on the up-and-up and it will change the world, though with Rachel and Neolution involved, no way it won’t be used for wicked means.

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Meanwhile, back on dry land, Detective Bell is feeling the repercussions of letting Mrs. S. have her way with the late Detective Duko, when the department assigns him a new partner, the statuesque Maddy Enger (the exotically-named Elyse Levesque, of “The Originals”). This being the final season of the show and all, we don’t have to wait long to find out she’s dirty, as she threatens Bell’s family to find out where Alison and Helena are hiding out.

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He blows the whistle on Alison, who is captured, but Donnie and Helena escape. However, in doing so, Helena’s very pregnant stomach is injured by a stick after a battle with some Neolution thugs, so the two have to rush to the hospital to take care of that, rather than go after Alison. We don’t get a resolution to any of this, though surely they wouldn’t take out both of Helena’s babies, right?

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That said, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if going to a hospital sends up a red flag to Neolution and they then descend upon it to capture both Helena and her babies, assuming they’re all alright. I do think Donnie made the right choice in not intervening on the capture of his wife, though. He knew enough to go to Helena for help instead of tackling it himself, which probably would have only resulted in him getting himself captured- or worse.

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That was about it, save the news that Susan apparently survived Rachel’s attack and is recovering somewhere on the island. Oh, and the fact that, as per usual Ira (Ari Millen) can’t seem to pick a damn side, as Felix points out. It looks as if a side might have been chosen for him, as we leave the character being, you guessed it, taken by a shadowy figure.

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All in all, a solid premiere that sets up what should be a colorful final season. Yes, some of the ideas floating around here are quite similar to other sources, like the aforementioned “Lost,” “The Path” and “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” but if you’re going to steal… steal from the best, as they say. (In the case of “Moreau,” I do mean the book, and not that laughable movie with Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando.)

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As usual, newly-minted Emmy winner for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Drama Series Tatiana Maslany knocks all of this out of the park. It’s still remarkable to me how soon I forget I’m watching the same actress seamlessly play all these markedly different roles with seeming ease, like it was no big thing. In interviews, she couldn’t be more humble and sweet, and I’m glad to see that she’s finally being recognized for her work, which couldn’t be stronger.

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Here’s hoping the show goes out strong as well, but the fact that it’s retiring after five seasons is actually a good thing, as it implies that creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett knew better than to overstay their welcome and have an endgame fully in place. That’s more than I can say for some shows, that’s for sure.

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While the whole island/mad scientists thing can’t help but recall other sources, my hope is that they’ll take it somewhere unique instead of retreading old ground already covered previously. So far, they certainly have done that in the past, so I don’t think it’s asking too much to give them the benefit of the doubt for this new twist. Besides, with Maslany going for them, they’ve already got a winning “team” behind them to help ensure that, at the very least, it’s going to be well-acted.

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What did you think of the “Orphan Black” premiere? Are you sad that it’s the final season for the Clone Club? What would you like to see happen this season? Any “wish list” clone antics you’d love to see go down? (I love it when Maslany plays one of her characters acting like another of her characters, for instance.) Who will be left standing? Will Helena’s babies be okay? What is Ferdinand up to? Will Neolution be defeated? Should they be?

Sound off down below and join me in a few weeks for an update on the show!