‘Orphan Black’ Season 5: Running to Stand Still

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The latest few episodes of “Orphan Black” saw the show get back on track with some clone intrigue, a flashback-laden and funny Alison-focused episode, various island shenanigans and the untimely- if not entirely unexpected (it is the final season, after all)- death of one of the clones. Needless to say, spoilers from here on out.

The second episode of the season, “Clutch of Greed” was a solid, action-heavy episode, which found Sarah back home and faced with a Sophie’s Choice of a decision to make: either she let the nefarious, now somewhat eerily serene Rachel regularly perform some “routine tests” on Kira (Skyler Wexler) to find out what makes her so special, or pull a fast one and go back on the run with her daughter. Guess which one Sarah went with?

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Alas, her elaborate plans, which included the always-welcome one-clone-posing-as-another gambit, went seriously south, not in the least because Kira decided that she’d had it up to here with being on the lam. However, the real cog in the works was the sexually-frustrated Ferdinand (James Frain), who wasn’t too thrilled with the new-state-of-mind that Rachel was in, post-her visit to Revival and meeting P.T. Westmoreland.

After staking out the school where Kira was going to be picked up by Rachel, he figures out something is awry and ends up following a faux-Rachel elsewhere, only to discover that it’s actually MK. Given that their last encounter didn’t go so well- you’ll recall she left him strapped to a chair rigged with a bomb to explode in Beth’s old flat- this one didn’t end well, either, with Ferdinand brutally killing MK.

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While admittedly a sad development- not in the least because if Sarah had let MK have her revenge, this probably wouldn’t have happened in the first place- unfortunately, the end result was a bit muffled by the fact that MK was one of the least-developed, character-wise, of the clones, and one that we had only just begun to get to know, really.

It was still sad, especially since the character was dying anyway, and this wasn’t an ideal way to go out, but made even more so by the fact that, not only could it have been avoided, but it was all for naught, as Kira opted to not want to run away in the first place, and wanted to stay put with “Auntie Rachel”- words which surely felt like a dagger in Sarah’s heart.

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Of course, any avid watcher of the show knows better than to trust Rachel, who undeniably has more of a hidden motive than she’s letting on, but you’d think that Kira, who has shown a decent level of maturity in the past, would also know better. Hasn’t Sarah told Kira at least some of the nasty things Rachel has done over the years? Or has she kept her completely in the dark? If so, time to rectify that, because I wouldn’t trust Rachel as far as I could throw her.

Speaking of hidden motives, we also meet P.T. Westmoreland finally, as played by perennial Lance Henriksen stand-in Stephen McHattie. As to be expected, there’s plenty off about this would-be Dr. Moreau, and I don’t buy his attempt to lure Cosima in to “follow the science” one bit.

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If he needs her, it’s only because there’s something he’s after science-wise that he hasn’t been able to crack himself, and needs her for her smarts, not because he’s planning on doing her and her sisters any solids in the future. As we will later see, she’s not the only one he’s using to such a degree, either.

We also discover that Helena’s babies are A-Okay- better than that, actually. It seems they have self-healing abilities, so that stick in the gut in the premiere didn’t do any lasting damage. However, Helena was none too keen on getting any further treatment from the hospital in question, leading her to stab the nurse treating her with a needle through the cheek into the bed and get the F out of Dodge, Donnie (Kristian Bruun) in tow. Meanwhile, Alison remains mum on their whereabouts, much to Neolution’s chagrin.

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Finally, there’s also a short scene in which Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) meets on the sly with Siobhan (Maria Doyle Kennedy), which both keep on the downlow. But why? As of the fourth episode, we have yet to find out, so I’ll just have to assume it’s something involving Cosima and Mrs. S. possibly helping her out somehow. Perhaps it was her that fed Mrs. S. the info about the mystery patient in episode four as well to help them along in whatever it is these two have brewing.

In episode three, “Beneath Her Heart,” we get a retro-style episode of the show that harkens back to the early days of “Orphan Black” and a more light-hearted time, complete with flashbacks. Accordingly, we get appearances from several former regular cast members, including the late Aynsley (Natalie Lisinska) and her husband Chad (Eric Johnson), with whom Alison once had an affair, and former dealer Ramone (Alex Ozerov).

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In one recurring flashback, we see Alison, Donnie, Chad and Aynsley take magic mushrooms together, which leads to some amusing situations, as well as some soul-searching, as to be expected, from both Alison and Chad in the present. Also recurring is the fact that Donnie can’t handle his drugs, as evidenced by his getting sick in both the past and the present, at one-point Riverdancing himself into passing out while he flashes the audience at the church’s fall festival!

While all this is going on, Donnie finds himself in a bind when Neolution’s thugs, by way of Maddy (Elyse Levesque) and still-clearly under-duress Art (Kevin Hanchard) comes to his house to search it for clues to Helena’s whereabouts. The problem, of course, isn’t that they’ll find anything about that, but that they will find you know what in the basement. Which they do.

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Just when it looks like Art is going to have to ice this new dirty cop himself, Alison pulls a gangster move by presenting Rachel with the head of the late Dr. Leekie (Matt Frewer) and pointing out that if she exposes Alison, she’ll also be exposing herself and what Neolution is up to, to a certain degree, which would be bad for her, given that the group is attempting to fly under the radar as of late, after the events of last season. Not sure why Rachel had Dr. Leekie’s head in a bag in the first place- or did I forget something? – but it sure came in handy here.

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that we’re getting so much time with Alison for a reason, which is likely because she won’t play as big a part moving forward on the show. Whether this means she isn’t long for the series, or simply that the show wanted to get a lighter-hearted episode out of the way before moving into more serious territory as the show barrels towards its inevitable conclusion is hard to say- perhaps both, but hopefully not the former, as Alison is admittedly one of my fave characters.

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In the most recent episode, “Let the Children and the Childbearers Toil,” things turned more serious again, as we mostly focused on Sarah and Cosima’s respective missions. In the case of Sarah, it involved a short con with Mrs. S., in which the two first hoodwinked Dr. Perkins (Sarah Orenstein) out of her ID by posing as an at-odds mother-and-daughter (no big stretch there), then posing as Dr. Perkins herself and her assistant, in order to sneak into an institutional facility to speak to someone Mrs. S. was oddly covert about.

I’m assuming it was Delphine that fed Mrs. S. this info, as it turned out that the person of interest in question was none other than Dr. Virginia Coady (Kyra Harper), another blast from the past. Not sure why Siobhan felt the need to spring this on poor Sarah, who eventually decked Dr. Coady for her troubles, which could well have blown the op right then and there.

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For those who don’t recall, Dr. Coady was the creator of the Castor clones, who also weaponized them and, at one point, held both Sarah and Helena captive, so you can see where not revealing this to Sarah might have been a dubious move that ended up biting them in the ass. Fortunately, the two were able to cover Sarah’s reaction up, and move past it, eventually agreeing to help Dr. Coady, who had been drugged into submission, escape in exchange for information.

We don’t get a lot of it yet, which means that Dr. Coady will definitely be back, but it’s obvious she was scared for her life and knew exactly who put her there. She was especially afraid of the mention of Westmoreland, so it’s also obvious that, if need be, the Clone Club can use that info to force Dr. Coady into revealing what she knows- assuming they can catch up to her after her impending escape. (Sarah, Siobhan and Dr. Coady stage a fight in order for the latter to steal Sarah’s visitor’s pass to help aid Dr. Coady in getting out of the institution.)

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Meanwhile, Cosima begins to investigate what is really going on at Revival, part of which involves trailing the suspicious Mud (Jenessa Grant), who is constantly sneaking off to the woods for one reason or another. Of course, it turns out that what she’s doing is meeting up with one of Westmoreland’s experiments-gone-rogue, who, I’m assuming, is related to Mud in some form or fashion, as well as that older hunter on the island that seemed in the know on the premiere.

If you didn’t see the whole “Island of Dr. Moreau” gambit coming a mile away, then, naturally, the show itself brings it up in the dialogue to drive it home. So, now Cosima knows that Westmoreland isn’t above playing God, even if it has consequences and messes up someone’s life in a pretty awful way, by turning them into a freaky genetic mutated creature. Not that I’m sure she wasn’t well aware something off was up on the island already, but this just proves it, beyond the shadow of a doubt.

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That was about it, save Ira (Ari Millen) being reunited with his beloved Susan Duncan (Rosemary Dunsmore), who is healing nicely from her attack by Rachel and has even agreed to help Westmoreland out in his research, even though she knows full well that it was him that told Rachel to go after her in the first place. Beyond that, Sarah visited Helena back at the convent where she used to live and is now hiding out from Neolution, and Adele (Lauren Hammersley) returned to go off on some super-secret mission to Switzerland with Felix (Jordan Gavaris).

So, obviously this season is moving along at quite a nice clip at this point, while at the same time, not above taking a slight breather for some choice character-driven moments, particularly in the Alison-centric “Beneath Her Heart.” We’re getting information at a relatively steady pace, and, in keeping with the fact that it’s the final season, seeing lots of old, familiar faces.

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Yes, some of it is predictable, notably the whole genetic experimentation angle, which I, and probably over half the viewers saw coming from the jump, even before they dropped the “M”-word. (Moreau or mutation, take your pick.) It also probably goes without saying that Rachel clearly has a hidden agenda when it comes to Kira and working with Sarah, and that it’s no doubt connected to Westmoreland’s genetic experimentation.

Aside from that, there’s still a lot we don’t know and still six episodes left to get through it all. Don’t be the least bit surprised if there are some more casualties along the way, and this time around, amongst more prominent characters than MK. I didn’t mind the character at all, and there were germs of something interesting there, but she was gone before we really got a chance to know her. Hell, even Beth was more filled-out as a character and she died in the first episode of the series.

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But there are any number of characters that could go that would leave a mark on longtime viewers, no doubt about that. As much as one would like to see certain characters still standing in the end, the likelihood that it will be the case with all of them is decidedly dubious. Count on at least one major character dying before all is said and done, if not more.

While certain characters’ motivations remain sketchy at times, as does their behavior- see Mrs. S. and her not telling Sarah the true nature of their mission, or everyone deciding to let Adele know exactly what was going on without even telling Felix they were going to, for instance, as obvious examples- the show is nonetheless off to a good start, and keeping things moving at a decent pace overall.

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What did you think of the last few episodes of “Orphan Black”? Are you liking the final season thus far? Any predictions on what will happen next? Who will be the next to die? Who will definitely be left standing? Place your bets down in the comments section, and see you for another review in a few weeks!