The Final Trip: Orphan Black 5.08: “Guillotines Decide”

Two episodes left.

Oh dear god, how are we supposed to deal with all that’s come before? How are we supposed to deal with the end? At this point, what will the end even be? In “Gag or Throttle,” I’d gotten my wish for a Rachel-centric episode. In “Guillotines Decide,” I got my wish for Felix’s Art Show featuring all the clones, though it didn’t happen the way I expected. That’s okay.

Two episodes left. Whew.

Let’s take a breath, brace ourselves, and talk about episode 5.08, “Guillotines Decide.” As always, spoilers. Oh, the spoilers.

Let me be frank. The trouble with final seasons is that when the going gets tough, you expect characters to die. Now, don’t get me wrong: shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones kill so many main characters so often that death is rarely effective; however, when you KNOW it’s the final season, your brain starts doing the character calculus and you ask yourself: whose death will hurt the most?

Or maybe that’s just me and my particular writer brain. M.K.’s death was shocking in “Clutch of Greed” because it was 1) the second episode, and 2) it was SO freaking violent. Yet, in my writer’s brain, it made so much sense. Final season + clone who’d finally come into the fold + clone who wasn’t part of the main group = easy character kill. Maybe that’s callous, but that’s how writerly-wired brains work. Always thinking of ways to torture and kill their characters.

But yet when it came to Mrs. S, I daresay we saw her death coming for a long time, haven’t we? At least for the most of this final season? Ever since Mrs. S had her conversation with Elizabeth Perkins in “Let the Children and Childbearers Toil,” and Perkins told her, regarding Sarah,

“Your daughter is on the threshold of what it means to become you. Remember that.”

I’ve been watching Sarah and Mrs. S get closer and come to a better understanding of each other. This, after four previous seasons of them at each other’s throats. Remember how the series started? Before we met and lost Beth, we saw Sarah on a payphone, wanting to see Kira, and Mrs. S hanging up on her. What a long road these two have had.

So of course, in that character calculus of the final season, it makes sense that Mrs. S would bite the bullet. Unlike other reviews I’ve read, I didn’t get emotional over her death scene, and that has nothing to do with how well it was filmed or how badass it was or how well it was acted. Kudos to all of those things, and extra kudos to Maria Doyle Kennedy for the fantastic job she’s done on this show. Because seriously, she’s amazing.

But the reason I didn’t get emotional was because at first viewing, I kept waiting for the moment, because my writer’s brain KNEW it was going to happen, and I was just waiting for it to be over.

Make no mistake: when I see this again on a rewatch, I’ll probably bawl my eyes out.

But here’s to Mrs. S: a fantastically kickass woman who defended her loved ones with tooth and claw (and shotgun!), and stopped at nothing to keep them safe and happy. Everything she did this season, and in this episode, was to protect Sarah, her sisters, and Kira. And I love her for it.

And she took Ferdinand out in the process.

In hindsight, of course her contact was Ferdinand. All my pie-in-the-sky theorizing was just that: pie-in-the-sky. Because right before the post went live for “Manacled Slim Wrists,” I realized who her contact must logistically be, because there’s no way Ferdinand would disappear after murdering M.K. and that not get resolved. So the story circled back around, with Ferdinand rescuing Rachel after she took out her robotic eye, and he nursed her back to health. And can I just say how freaking TENSE those scenes were with those two together? Because in the back of my mind, I remembered his rage while he killed M.K., because he wasn’t just killing M.K. for stealing his money. No, she was dressed as Rachel, and he was playing out a revenge fantasy against Rachel too.

So it’s sad when Rachel tells Mrs. S that he’s the only man who ever really loved her. And yet I’m so proud of her betrayal of him, and when he demands to know why, she says, “I told you what I wanted. You chose not to listen.” Oh, what a feminist quote for the ages, right there.

And he didn’t kill her. I admit, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was terrified we were going to see Rachel die in that hotel.

And continuing her journey as the prodigal clone — and what a journey she’s had since season one, where she was considered pro-clone — Rachel actually calls and WARNS Mrs. S that Ferdinand is coming. While Mrs. S still doesn’t make it, the warning was better than none, and Mrs. S was prepared. And the bonding between Mrs. S and Rachel this episode was awesome.

Now, before I actually write myself into tears, I want to talk about the joy of Felix’s art show. Because remember how, before Mrs. S sent him and Adele off to Sweden, he grumbled about having to take care of Kira and he had an art show to assemble? So we didn’t get this glorious art show in the series finale as I predicted. Part of me wishes we did, in a scenario where all the clones could’ve attended at once (including those alive and featured in the paintings, like Tony and Krystal), but that’s okay. Alison’s idea to turn a clone swap into a meta performance art was amazing, and I particularly loved that when he introduced Sarah, she was the Goddess of War. Oh, how fitting.

I loved Delphine and Cosima getting to act as a normal couple, and Delphine buying the Cosima painting, and Felix’s humble thank you.

I loved Sarah and Art stopping and admiring Felix’s GORGEOUS artwork of Beth.

I loved Colin, the morgue boy, coming back into the picture and Felix introducing him to Mrs. S. Please make this work, boys!

I loved that after Sarah plied Adele with whiskey, Adele told her off (rightfully so) but could still be humbled when she slipped and spilled the beans about Mrs. S’s contact and learned the man killed one of Sarah’s sisters. I also love that by the end of the episode, Sarah has clearly accepted Adele as part of the family.

Felix’s speech. HOLY. TILDA. SWINTON. That was a thing of beauty, and that, my friends, is where I nearly cried. I can’t even with that speech, though while watching, I hastily scribbled down the line so I wouldn’t forget, “To my galaxy of women, thank you for the nurture.” Oh, Felix, I love you. Thank you for coming back, and thank you, Orphan Black, for making up for Felix’s lost time this season.

Other notes of awesome:

  • The real-life artist behind Felix’s paintings is Fabrizio Scolocco. You can see “Felix’s” art up close and personal here, here, and here.
  • Kira and Charlotte meeting for the first time. YAS!
  • Delphine and Cosima sending the documents that blows apart Neolution’s and Westmorland’s horrifying master plans (something about the 1% buying all the perfect genetic shit and longevity they want and everyone else getting sterilized with Coady’s Castor disease? No, thank you!), and Cosima just breaking down into sobs after it’s done. Oh, sister, we feel you.
  • And now, for the final push of the season: Helena and her babies. I’ve got to say, kudos to Gracie for lying to Mark. Boo to Mark for betraying Gracie, and I wonder if he knew he was signing her death warrant. I wonder what will happen when he finds out Detective Engers shot the one reason Mark had to stay alive? And at this point, knowing the end game for Coady’s sterilization project, does she even intend to cure him, or is this all a ruse to get Helena and her babies?
  • HELENA. We’re going to get a flashback episode for her, aren’t we? Whatever happens next week, it’s going to be intense: the Clone Club will be mourning Mrs. S, and now they’ll have to rescue Helena.
  • Two episodes left. And I’m still sniffling over, well, chickens. God, that was an awesome photo of Felix and Sarah. Just saying.

That it from me this week, everyone. Tomorrow night, August 5th at 10:00 pm EST, episode 5.09 “One Fettered Slave,” premieres. Watch and rewatch all week to your heart’s content, and then join me next Friday for my reactions.


All images courtesy of BBC America and Twitter.


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