The Final Trip: Orphan Black 5.09: “One Fettered Slave”

One episode left.

There was barely a preview for tomorrow’s episode (don’t worry, no spoilers), and all I have to say is wow. Just wow. There’s been a part of me that thought this penultimate episode would be a kind of final showdown, with the final episode being a kind of slower denouement, but who am I kidding? This is Orphan Black. “One Fettered Slave” ended on a cliffhanger, and if the show ends on any kind of breather (and it will. It has to, right?), it’s going to last maybe ten minutes. Okay, fifteen? Can we see the survivors breathing and calm and happy for like fifteen minutes?

That’s really all I want at this point.

Y’all know the drill by now. Spoilers for the entire show up to episode 5.09 “One Fettered Slave” below the poster.

Over the course of the final season, it’s been getting harder and harder to write these reactions. Is it because with each passing episode, the series is almost over? Perhaps. There’s far less room for theorizing, after all, because how much can you theorize now with only one episode left?

Yes, I still have some questions. I was visiting the Clone Club fan page on Facebook and one thread was asking about Cal, and while I was perusing the comments in the thread (and adding my own two cents), other people brought up other forgotten characters, like Tony (who was at least acknowledged in Felix’s paintings). I then thought of Shay, who was basically scared off by Delphine at the end of season three, but it still felt like she had story to tell, if there had been time.

I’m sure there are more questions that will linger, even after the series is over. If I’d finished my rewatch on time, I might be more aware of them. But I didn’t, and when I get back to the rewatch, I’ll just tack season five on and address those questions then. In the meantime, I can’t believe this is the penultimate episode. I can’t believe the show is almost over.

But the show IS almost over. What did we get?

We got Mrs. S’s funeral, which was such a lovely and beautiful thing I wanted to cry. The song sung is an old traditional piece called “The Parting Glass” sung by Madison Violet, and it was gorgeous. I hope one day it’s somehow for our listening pleasure. And the letter Felix read from was a partial excerpt from Henry Scott-Holland’s poem, “Death is Nothing At All.”

We got to see Rachel well and truly side with Clone Club. Of course she did that last week, but only Mrs. S knew that, and her actions this week continued down that path. She didn’t resist, she helped, and even though no one was watching (except maybe Scott), she corrected the squirmy board member when he referred to Helena as “the science.”

We got to see how batshit Westmorland really is. He really went bonkers this episode, didn’t he? I’m still trying to figure out why he shouted out, “THE FUTURE IS FEMALE!” after telling Coady to kill off Mark.

But we also got to see how cruel the man is. Before he realized he was talking to Sarah, he taunted Rachel-as-Sarah, telling her about all the intimately private moments of her life, the things only she should know about and it was just creepy. Kudos to Sarah for keeping it together, and I loved how when the jig was up, she was at least able to slash the bastard’s throat (shame she wasn’t able to kill the man, but maybe that will be Helena’s job?).

Coady rushing in to stop Westmorland from killing Sarah: I’ve heard it called a deus ex machina, and I hesitate to agree. The story was set up carefully: Helena was trying to escape and decided to cut her wrist to bleed out, which forced her captors to free her hand. They had to get a blood transfusion. In the meantime, Sarah and Co were breaking into Dyad, so Sarah was there. Coady rushed in the exact moment Westmorland wanted to get rid of Sarah “once and for all,” exclaiming she needed blood from an exact genetic match, so leave her alone, dammit! Yes, it was convenient. There’s no way Helena would’ve known her twin sestra would be there to give blood (or any of the clones, for that matter). Helena MAY have figured they’d have clone blood on hand though (if she knew she was at Dyad), but it was still a huge gamble. I’m less concerned about the convenience of it all (I read that this episode was retooled at the last minute to take place at Dyad instead of the island, and thank god for that), and I was more concerned by the fact that it didn’t occur to Helena that Coady and Company might just cut the babies out of her to save them (though The Mary Sue’s Science Recap explains why).

We saw the end of Castor. While I admit that Season Three was weakest in terms of story, as it’s the one season of the show where it felt like the story was more focused on the guys (Castor) than the women (Leda), I did like that male clones existed. It made sense. Why would cloning only be limited to women? Why wouldn’t they clone men too? I hated that Coady actually went through with killing Mark, but I loved the emotion of that scene. The absolute trust Mark gave Coady, and the tenderness she showed him as she gave him the killing shot. He never knew what hit him, and she said he’d see Gracie when he woke. So true, so sad.

I loved that Felix and Art teamed up to take Neolution/Dyad down. I’m glad that the police chief actually LISTENED and believed Art when he said whatever Engers is up to, she’s not to be trusted. I don’t believe that Art was acting out of line when he killed Frontenac in the board room. Sure, Art had a gun on him the whole time, so you could probably argue murder in the second degree, but when it’s all said and done, I don’t think the show is going to throw Art under the bus. If Art actually survives what’s about to happen (dear God, what’s about to happen?!?!?!), then I think he’ll be clear of all charges.

And now we get into the meat of the episode: Helena’s flashback. I loved that she was always a food junkie, but the scenes that followed were a special kind of heartbreaking. I’d always assumed she’d dyed her hair and that the pink under her eyes was a result of malnutrition. And maybe the hair did become something Helena did to herself, because her roots would’ve grown out dark, yes? But the eyes… holy crap. Then again, now that we saw what triggered her first self-mutilation, maybe part of Helena’s regiment of self-harm involved the regular use of bleach? How horrible. Yet the moment when Helena killed her first dirty copy and her triumph turned to horror when she realized the copy wore her own face? What a fantastic moment of acting for Tatiana Maslany. And to think this was the moment that triggered Helena’s first cutting session? Heavy stuff indeed.

I did wonder why the actress was changed to play young Helena. Normally we get Cynthia Galant, but for Helena, we got Habree Larratt. Don’t get be wrong: she was WONDERFUL. I wondered if it had to do with the language or accent? The age Helena was supposed to be at the time she was adopted by Tomas? Or maybe, because Sarah and Helena are the only two clones who can conceive and give birth, there’s enough difference that they looked different growing up than the other clones? Nah…. that can’t be it, because otherwise they’d look different as adult women too.

Which brings me to the end of the episode. Sarah sitting by Helena’s bedside, willingly donating blood, begging her sister to pull through. What a long way those two have come. Of course, Helena revives and bashes Coady’s head in with her free hand (“You’re a shit mother!” Thank you, Helena. Coady deserved that if for no other reason than for making you feel bad about your own prospects), but now in the middle of the escape, Helena’s water breaks. The twins are about to be born.

Guys, I’m not ready for this show to be over. I don’t know what to expect of the ending, except our remaining clones to be healthy and happy. In some ways, I want Leda to be public, so the sestras can gather in public and not have to hide anymore. I’ve given up on seeing Cal Morrison (Kira’s father) come back, so I hope there’s at least a mention: that much is at least deserved.

Beyond that? I look forward to just absorbing it all. The finale, episode 5.10, “To Right the Wrongs of Many,” airs tomorrow, Saturday August 12th on BBC America at 10:00 pm est. Watch it, watch it again, watch it over and over until you can’t see through the tears streaming down your face, and join me next Friday for my final reaction.

It’s almost over.

All images courtesy of BBC America and Twitter.

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