The Final Trip: Orphan Black 5.07: “Gag or Throttle”

Three episodes left.

I know last week I complained that we didn’t have enough time left in the series. After “Gag or Throttle,” I can’t believe there’s still three episodes left, because now I don’t feel like there’s enough material to carry us through. I got my Rachel-centric episode, and what a damn fine episode it was. But rather than talk about it here, let’s go below the cut to discuss the particulars of episode 5.06, “Gag or Throttle.” As always, there will be spoilers below the poster.

Rachel did the right thing!!!!! Of course she did, right? But throughout this slow burn of an episode, the question of whether or not Rachel would do the right thing was really in doubt, because there ARE three episodes left, and I was mentally preparing myself for our favorite clones to have to go back to the island (UGH) and rescue poor Kira.

But “Gag or Throttle” really earned Kira’s rescue and Rachel’s…. well, I’m not going to call it redemption. I’m not even sure it’s a revelation, because I feel like “revelation” is a term that should be used for good and wonderful things, things that elevate you. Rachel thought she’d found revelation when she met P.T. Westmorland, and he officially granted her personhood, fully removing her serial number and abolishing her need for monitors. She thought she’d found the father she’d always wanted (and sorely missed) when he called her daughter (and here I hear echoes of Halia Meguid’s Hannibal fan song “Daughter” — beware them who call you daughter). No wonder Rachel was so frickin’ HAPPY at the beginning of this season.

Only to learn that no, she’s still a serial number in Neolution’s computers. She’s still an object to be studied at the hands of Dr. Virigina Coady (and god, that lingering shot of Rachel, post pelvic exam, reaching up to clean herself off — that was masterfully done). And then to learn that all this time, Westmorland — whom we now know is actually John Patrick Mathieson — has been using her robotic eye this whole time to spy on what’s happening, thereby making both himself AND Rachel her own monitor… that was chilling. Cutting these scenes with flashbacks to Rachel being raised in Dyad with Dr. Leekie, and Rachel trying earn approval and love and prove her worth by understanding her own body and the Leda disease…. it’s just fucking chilling, all of it. No wonder Rachel drank so much during the episode.

Because Rachel FINALLY realized that after a lifetime of believing she was BETTER than the rest of the clones, that really, she was just one of them and always would be. It wouldn’t matter what she did, how much she knew, or whom she betrayed: she would always be treated like an object, like an experiment, like a serial number. When Kira asks who hurt her, the barely contained drunken fury of, “ALL of them” is brilliant.

And what about that eye? We knew it had to be removed, right? It was just a matter of when. Rachel’s plan of busting Kira out was masterfully executed, because of course it was. She let the man formerly known as Westmorland (though I do wonder: did he really reveal that particular secret about himself to Rachel back on the island? Or was she bluffing Sarah?) see what he needed to see and hear what he needed to hear. Yet while doing so, she sent the right messages to the right people, and in some cases, not even looking at the phone while she did it. And then, for her coup de grace, after she’s wheeled Kira to safety and gotten a silent “thank you” from Mrs. S, and after she’s drunk enough alcohol to put down a baby elephant, does she break that martini glass and dig out that robotic eye.

Well done, Orphan Black. Well done.

Rachel has always been a fantastic and fascinating clone, a character you love to hate. She’s complex, she’s layered, and you’ve never know what she’ll do next, except to act in her best interest. That’s what made the tension in this episode so riveting, because the viewer wasn’t sure if Rachel knew what was in her best interests at this point. But she came through, and she came through in a big way. And after this episode, I feel like I understand her so much better, and I have so much more sympathy for her than I ever did before. The question was raised The Vulture’s recap, “If corporations are people, what kind of parents do they make?” and when you look at Rachel, the answer is obvious: they make REALLY SHITTY ONES.

Outside of Rachel’s story, we have just a few things to point out:

  • Alison is back, with shorter, more purple hair and a tattoo that could easily read “Liver Deep.” And can I just say I don’t trust this newer, freer, not-going-to-tell-Donnie-what-to-do Alison one bit? I loved the scene, but I’m not sure how long her serenity is going to last.

  • But I did love Donnie’s knee-jerk reaction to the glue gun when she was throwing her craft supplies in the garbage bag.
  • Gracie has come for Helena. Not sure how Gracie was able to find her though: the only people who knew of Helena’s whereabouts were Sarah and Mrs. S, so unless the silent nun betrayed Helena, I’m going to need an explanation.

  • Hey, Mark’s still alive! And Coady wants to use him to create a cure…. for just him! Cause apparently he’s the last Castor. We saw Ira’s grave, and I’m fine with assuming Ira bit the dust in “Manacled Slim Wrists,” as that was a touching scene, but there are people out there holding out hope that’s a ruse.

  • I loved how Sarah was the mature one this episode, stopping Mrs. S from going into full assault mode to rescue Kira from Dyad. Sarah’s plan for Kira to get information to her worked. I also loved Sarah working the smart angles to convince Rachel to do the right thing, and then her total heartbreak when she realized Rachel wasn’t going to help them and there was no other way to help her daughter. The level of maturity she displayed was a great note of growth.
  • Also, Kira’s out!!! What’s next then? What’s going to happen to Rachel? If she survived a pencil through the eye, she survived this, no doubt. Also, what’s Gracie going to do to Helena? AND WHEN IS FELIX COMING BACK?
  • Scott’s reaction to Cosima coming home was adorable.

That’s it for “Gag or Throttle.” Don’t forget to catch the next new episode, “Guillotines Decide” on BBC America Saturday, July 29th at 10:00 pm EST. You’ll then have a week to either watch and then rewatch to your heart’s content before I post my reaction the following Friday!

YOU GUYS!!! THREE EPISODES LEFT!!! What do you want to see happen?

All images courtesy of BBC America and Twitter.

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