‘Orphan Black’ Season 5, Episodes 5-7: The Eye of the Beholder

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In the latest run of episodes of “Orphan Black,” the show finally began to consolidate many of its convoluted storylines into something more linear and tangible, and it was all the better for it. I’m not sure about you, but for me, the complex why of it all has always been the least of the series for me. I don’t mind it, but I’m not really a hardline sci-fi kind of fan. No, for me, the big draw has always been that of the clones and especially actress Tatiana Maslany’s go-for-broke performance- or should I say performances?

I mean, don’t get me wrong. Some of that stuff is interesting and intriguing. The whole notion of scientists doing what they do in order to achieve some greater truth, even if it harms others, has always been fascinating, and the stuff of all sorts of things I do love in a sci-fi vein, from Cronenberg’s “The Fly” and Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” to TV’s “Lost” and “Westworld” and plenty more where that came from.

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Of course, the obvious counterpart to this season is “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” so much so that the show name-checked it just to make sure viewers got the point, which I think most of us did even before it was brought up on the show itself. (For the record, I brought it up before the show did in one of my reviews.) Thankfully, that part of the show has already come to a head, all the better to focus in on what’s going on with most of the core group elsewhere.

Yes, there are still some loose ends to tie up there, but for the most part, that portion of the story is done. Basically, we found out that P.T. Westmorland (Stephen McHattie, in fine, suitably sinister form) was not who he claimed to be, but rather, had adopted that name in order to better fool people into thinking he’d found some fictitious fountain of youth capable of curing the sick and prolonging life.

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In actuality, the only life he was looking to prolong was his own, as he was ailing and hadn’t long to go. To do so, he was willing to send for and perform tests and experiments on kids, one instance of which went horribly awry, resulting in the “bear,” aka the poor unfortunate soul named Yannis (Andrew Musselman), who Mud (Janessa Grant) sought to protect from harm from the other villagers. In the end, she failed, as Westmorland himself ended up killing the deformed creature.

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In addition, another younger character, Aisha (Sirena Gulamgaus), died, after seeming to be recovering through a “miracle cure” that merely postponed the inevitable so that Westmorland could continue his experiments. Rightfully repulsed by all of this, Cosima informed all of the people living there outside of Westmorland’s digs that the man was a fraud and not who he claimed to be, much less the savior they were hoping for to heal their sick.

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As Cosima fled, with Charlotte (Cynthia Galant) in tow, via boat from the island, the rest of the villagers proceeded to burn the village down and riot, with Westmorland no doubt in their sights for their next assault. Will he escape in time, or be brought down by all the people he duped? Hard to say, but what isn’t is that his plan has likely failed.

In addition to the rebellion caused by Cosima, back on dry land, his nefarious plans to harvest the eggs of a child, Kira (Skyler Wexler) seems to have also hit a snag when Rachel realized she was being used as a means to an end and set the girl free, returning her to her mother, Sarah, just in the nick of time, and before said eggs could be harvested.

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I would almost have felt sorry for Rachel, who only wanted to be respected as an integral part of the team, if she hadn’t done so many awful things over the years. Still, between the sad revelation that she remained just a “number” to Neolution and Westmorland- who made a big show of “setting her free,” via her signing a presumingly meaningless contract- to that icky gynecological exam with Dr. Coady, which left her alone, fragile and powerless, it was nonetheless good enough to rally to her defense when she opted to go Team Clone Club and defy her “superiors.”

This ultimately lead to one of the gorier scenes in the show’s history, as Rachel, after realizing that Westmorland had been spying on her every move via her ocular implant, opted to tear it out. As the saying goes, “If thine eye offend thee…pluck it out.” Guess he won’t be spying on her anymore. Then again, she’s probably going to be arrested, or more likely, locked up, by her Neolutionist overlords, at Westmorland’s request.

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Also on the island, we lost two major characters in the ill-fated Susan (Rosemary Dunsmore), who tried to stage a coup, with Mud’s help, before the child betrayed her and Cosima’s pleas, eventually admitting to her part in things, which led to Westmorland killing her the way she planned to kill him, via poisoning her blood. Or technically, Dr. Coady (Kyra Harper) did the honors.

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Meanwhile, an increasingly glitching Ira (Ari Millen) also died, after helping Cosima and Charlotte to escape. Weep not for actor Millen, however, as “brother” Mark resurfaced as well, along with his significant other, Gracie (Zoé de Grand ‘Maison), who went to the convent where Helena is hiding out, while Mark goes to the island, hoping to trade info on the whereabouts of Helena for a cure to what’s ailing him, and essentially took down most of his “brothers.” He finds himself treated as much as a “lab rat” by his surrogate “mother” Dr. Coady as Rachel was.

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On the plus side, I don’t think that Mark is actually trying to “sell out” Helena, even though it appears that way. I think he actually sent Gracie there to warn Helena to clear out, as Neolution would be descending on the convent sooner than later. Also, given that I was wrong about Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) being the source of info from Siobhan (Maria Doyle Kennedy), it’s entirely possible that Mark might actually be the real source, who led Mrs. S. to Dr. Coady in the first place.

Although that did admittedly backfire somewhat, in that it led to Susan’s death, which wouldn’t have happened if Mrs. S. and Sarah hadn’t help her escape. Granted, it’s not as if Professor Duncan was without blame in her actions in the past, either- just ask Rachel- but I do think she was much more sympathetic to the clones than Dr. Coady ever will be. However, she willingly worked with Westmorland, so she kind of made her bed there.

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Given that Dr. Coady asked Mark for a sperm sample, I presume this has something to do with Westmorland’s nefarious plan. From what I can gather, they plan to fertilize Kira’s eggs with Mark’s sperm, in order to spawn a whole new crop of clones, this time hopefully immune from the ailments that have tormented a lot of the other clones. Though, by making it essentially sort of incestual, you have to wonder if it will work, if “normal” incest is any indication, which often leads to deformities and the like. (Think “The Hills Have Eyes” or the infamous “Home” episode of “The X-Files.”)

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Other stuff: Loved Cosima’s tuxedo get-up for her dinner from Hell with Delphine- Alison’s bad wig and tat (see pic), not so much. Did enjoy her telling a disbelieving Donnie (Kristian Bruun) she was relinquishing control more while she went through her artsy/Earth Mother phase, though.

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Always great to see Krystal fall ass-backwards into some legitimate truths, even while her approach to it is uniquely and horrifically flawed in the most hilarious of ways. BTW, that guy she was sparring with is Maslany’s IRL BF, which makes their scenes together even funnier if you know this. Also great to see Scott (Josh Vokey) get an amusing, if unlikely, love interest in Brie (Cara Ricketts), and I loved Krystal and Brie’s interactions with everyone, including one another, especially in those online videos. I would so watch those two in a spin-off!

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Oh, and I liked that we finally learned a bit about Cosima’s past, particularly her upbringing, and that she actually had a nice life growing up- and those boat skills the show not-so-subtly dropped obviously came in handy, too. We also got some choice flashbacks from her past, including one in which she first found out about her illness, and her then-unknown handler Delphine comforted her about it, which was likely the beginning of their romantic involvement.

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Finally, I dug the way the show revolved around the fact that a lot of what has happened to the Clone Club involved men (and the occasional woman, i.e. Dr. Coady) taking control over women against their will and the repercussions of doing that one time too many, as we saw with Rachel. After treating her as a second-class citizen for so long, she finally got her revenge, just when it seemed victory was in hand. That’s what they get for trusting her with so much private information, yet not trusting her to fully lead.

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When it all comes down to it, all Rachel wanted was to be made partner for all her hard work and effort. Instead, they disrespected her nearly every step of the way, as we saw with Dr. Leekie (Matt Frewer) in flashbacks, and Westmorland and Dr. Coady in present day. She might have had to rip out her own eyeball to get there, but Rachel finally did right by both herself and others, at long last. All of this could easily be read as a parable for the danger of men overstepping their bounds when it comes to telling women what they think is “best” for their own bodies.

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Are you listening, current administration? Probably not. Of course, it’s precisely that sort of hubris and self-serving behavior that brought down the baddies here, and it may well be what brings down the ones currently in office as well. Not that the Big Bad on “Orphan Black” is completely done, or we wouldn’t still have three episodes to go, but Rachel certainly threw a wrench into their plans, that’s for sure.

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All in all, a solid run of episodes. Yes, the show can get a bit exposition-heavy at times, but that’s almost to be expected in a show as densely packed with information as this one. The good news is that they seem to be getting a lot of that sort of thing out of the way, so that they can concentrate on the action and great character moments for each of the main characters, as we’ve seen in these three episodes with Cosima, Crystal and Rachel, respectively, and with Alison earlier in the season.

One thing I would like to see: whatever it is that Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and Adele (Lauren Hammersley) are up to in Switzerland. This season has been sorely lacking in the Felix department and given how key he has been to the proceedings in the past, that’s too bad. Hopefully, that will be rectified when he returns to the show next week, as seen in the preview.

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I also imagine we’ll be getting a Sarah-centric episode soon enough as well, as she’s the only one of the main clones that hasn’t gotten one, her adventures on the island in the premiere notwithstanding. Oh, and Helena, if you don’t count her adventures with Donnie in the woods and at the hospital. After that, I imagine it will be an all-for-one, one-for-all type of situation with all the Clone Club working together to take down Neolution and the rest once and for all. I think Rachel’s move to expose Westmorland to the rest of the board was the first step in that.

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What did you think of the last few episodes of “Orphan Black”? Are you enjoying the season so far? Anything you’d like to see before the show closes up shop for good? Which character is your favorite? How about your least favorite? How do you think it all will end? Sound off on this and more down below and see you in a few weeks for another look at the show!