I was admittedly hesitant to get on board with Orphan Black receiving a second season, due to the seemingly limited story the creators were trying to tell. In just a few weeks’ time, the story has opened itself back up again, teasing larger mysteries and forcing viewers to rethink some of the things they’ve seen during the season. I’m not sure if some of these ideas were already being kicked around or if there was a plot overhaul to allow for story expansion, but let me say that the thrills and “oh shit” moments this show excels at were on display in full for the season finale. Waiting another 40 or so weeks for the second season to get here will be a depressing undertaking. Somebody start up an Orphan Black support group that I can monitor from afar.
Let’s navigate our way through this serpentine story in the most straightforward, spoiler-filled way possible. The big family reunion between Sarah, evil twin Helena, and surrogate birth mother Amelia is cut short by Art, Angie, and a shitload of cops who burst into Mrs. S.’s house to take Sarah to jail for her laundry list of possible wrongdoings. (Not sure why Amelia wanted to see Helena so bad, seeing as how she’s the bad guy.) High-powered Leekie lawyers use federal jurisdiction to get Sarah out, just as she was about to confess everything to Art. Dammit!
Side note: I feel terrible for Art and his constant string of troubles; I wish they would show the guy really enjoying an ice cream cone or a back massage or something. On the flip side, I hope that self-serving twat Angie meets a violent death next year, even if it means more heartache for Art. At least they now know that it isn’t a twin issue, thanks to a welcome return from Missing Finger Vic, who’s trying to turn his life around with Narcotics Anonymous.
The main thrust of the episode is the Dyad Institute trying to convince the living clones to sign a deal that would guarantee their safety and anonymity, free from monitors. Of course, none of it is actually legit, as Cosima and Delphine (who is now a good guy, maybe) use Cosima’s sequenced genome to discover the clones are all patented, licensed property, so they can’t possibly be set free. It’s worth noting that the deal was being offered by ANOTHER clone whose name is Rachel Duncan; given her sour attitude, it should have been obvious to everyone that sincerity is not at the heart of the Dyad Institute. It also appears Rachel was raised into neolution, though they don’t give a clue if or how she’s been bio-engineered.
The weakest of the three main clones, Alison takes the deal, driven into it by Donnie’s apologetic return and the promise of a monitor-free life again. Of course, we then find out that Donnie was her monitor all along. Grab the golf clubs! I’d started to think it was Aynesley’s husband.
Another side note: I was so uncomfortable during the scene where Alison just watches as Aynesley gets strangled to death by her scarf getting caught in the garbage disposal. It was all quite unrealistic, but still a powerful reminder that Alison is probably second to Helena in terms of mental damage. Props for wiping the doorknob clean, though.
Onto the episode’s biggest slam-bangs now. Amelia and Sarah meet away from Mrs. S.’ house so that Amelia can share information about the foster mother’s past. Only it isn’t Sarah at all; it’s a knife-wielding Helena in a wig. She stabs Amelia in the stomach, vengeful against the woman who gave her up to the church that ruined her life. When Sarah later discovers this, she and Helena get into a fight – well, Sarah gets her ass handed to her. But she gets the last word, and that word was “Bang.” She shoots Helena, and we have to assume she’s dead, though I’m assuming (and hoping) she gets “resurrected” next season. She’s far too fun an antagonist to lose like that.
The commercial break after Helena gets shot was the most stressful product-hocking I’ve sat through all year. Most of the secrets came out in the last 10 minutes, including the meaning behind a photograph Amelia had earlier. It appears Mrs. S. was one of the scientists working on Project LEDA in 1977, meaning she had a hand in the cloning process. I guess she had a change of heart when she took off, but what does that say about the stories she’s told Sarah over the last few episodes? It’s not like we can ask her, since the season ends with Sarah discovering that both Mrs. S. and Kira have been kidnapped, probably by Leekie’s goons. Leekie, you neo-lunkhead! It isn’t the most unpredictable cliffhanger to end a season on, but it was an effective way to stretch the storyline.
The final few tidbits this episode gave us will undoubtedly cause problems in the future. It turns out this whole time that Paul’s been getting blackmailed because he killed six marines in friendly fire in Afghanistan. It’s said extremely matter-of-factly, and it was less a confession than a line reading. And Cosima is sick, coughing up blood on occasion. It’s made clear that all of the clones have some sort of a physical defect that manifests, so maybe hers is blood coughing.
More so than the multiple deaths and plot spins that went on, I was most affected by Helen’s venomous disrespect for Amelia’s dead body. “I’m sorry. Mother isn’t feeling well,” she says, before spitting on her. How that’s more disrespectful than stabbing her in the stomach, I’m not sure, but it felt that way.
Until next year, Orphan Black fans. We’ll always have BBC America‘s reruns, which are really just clones of the original airings.