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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Orphan Black: The Mitigation of Competition

I have to say, watching and reviewing three shows at the same time has been exhausting. I'm glad there's just one more week of this before I'm down to only two shows, and just three weeks before I'm left with only The Musketeers. Perhaps then we'll start seeing some more variety on this blog!
It's the penultimate episode of Orphan Black, and though I've been loving this season, it still feels as though there's a lot of ground to cover in the finale – even given the fact that Evie is more or less defeated.

Though they left her for the final shot, the confirmation that Delphine is 100% alive and kicking is the development on everyone's mind, so what have we gleaned from it all? It was heavily hinted that she's on the very same island as Cosima, for why else would they have Charlotte point out a map of the island in the Neolution book? Which begs the immediate question: does Susan know she's there? And what is Delphine's game plan?
I think it's likely she's the one sending the mysterious visions into Rachel's cyber-eye, though to what purpose is unclear. To give her a message? Or just to freak her out? There were plenty of symbols in that encampment which looked a lot like the ones in Rachel's book:
But the sight of a swan being beheaded is downright freaky, especially if it's meant to represent the Leda clones. Perhaps Delphine is warning her, or perhaps she's just trolling her – which frankly, would make me laugh.
And of course, we still have to learn who shot Delphine in the first place and who took her away directly afterwards. I spotted Krystal in the "next time" clips, so it looks like answers are forthcoming! But ooh, a new thought just emerged: if Delphine knew Krystal was following her, perhaps the whole shooting was a setup to fake her own death. I'll probably be eating these words this time next week, but I'll regret not posting it if it turns out to be true.
Evie is enjoying her victory and is busy selling herself as a hometown hero (it's actually a nice way of humanizing her a little: that she actually seems to care about creating jobs in her hometown) but a complication has arisen: two carriers have just escaped the facility, complete with incriminating footage of a dying baby. And if I know anything, it's that sex and babies rile up the public like nobody's business.
Along with illegal human trials, Rachel also believes that Evie's worm-bots will change the DNA of clients without their consent – not that Rachel really cares, but she needs dirt to use against her, especially when teaming up with Sarah. And yes, the Rachel/Sarah alliance goes pretty much as I expected it: they hate each other utterly ("she put a pencil in my eye"), but the combination of their very different intelligences makes for an effective team.
The escape of the two women from Brightborn with damning video evidence is so convenient as to be a flat-out asspull, but whatever – I'll let it slide because it gets the story cracking (though surely they could have integrated it into the season better; perhaps Cosima could have helped them escape while she was at the clinic?) In any case, Sarah and Art track the women to a shelter where the cops have already gathered in the wake of a suicide.
Art/Sarah is one of my favourite dynamics, and it's reminiscent of season one to see them working together on a case. It's pretty obvious from the defensive wounds on the woman's hands that it wasn't a suicide, and Sarah spots Trina (another Contrived Coincidence that I'm just gonna quietly overlook) and gets some clues as to where Kendra might have run.
As it happens, this involves Sarah pulling a Beth impersonation, and I realize that there hasn't been a lot of that this season, even though switcharoos are usually a staple element of the show. Perhaps there was just too much on the writerly plate to do too much of it this time around (after all, they introduced a new clone this season, as well as bumping up the roles of Beth and Krystal) though I'm still holding out for a three-level impersonation: i.e. Helena pretending to be Alison pretending to be Sarah (or some variation thereof) OR three clones in the same room, all pretending to be another one.
In any case, Art/Sarah track down Kendra and manage to win her trust before the Brightborn goons and Ira turn up. These guys really know how to create a tense sequence: the baby crying, Kendra and the gun, the lights outside, the phone call in the dark – nicely done. Suffice to say that Rachel threatens the safety of Kendra's other son, convincing her to get into a car with Ira, thereby collecting all the evidence she needs to incriminate Evie.
There is some tension raised over whether or not Rachel will throw Ira and Sarah under the bus, but it turns out she comes through – though not necessary for them. Choosing vengeance over power, she tricks Evie into confessing that her science involves euthanizing babies, and uploads the whole thing into the phones of the assembled press. (Which is ironic, since I don't think Rachel gives a shit about dead babies).
So Evie is down and out, though I suspect we haven't quite seen the last of her yet. If nothing else, she'll be back for revenge at some point. It's a bit of a risk to deal with your seasonal Big Bad before the final episode, but it's a testament to the writers' faith in the Delphine reveal that they would tease her return as the hook for the season finale.
Over on the island of Doctor Moreau, Cosima fertilizes Sarah's eggs with Ira's sperm, and continues her ethics debate with Susan. She also meets Charlotte and they seem to hit it off straight away, bonding over hair and discussing Percy Westmoreland, the founder of Neolution. To be honest I'm not sure where they're going with all this.
Adele also catches onto the sheer weirdness that's going on around her, not only finding it strange that Donnie is getting the book thrown at him and that Alison seems to know so much, but getting genuinely sucker-punched when Helena walks through Felix's door.
It's with that she takes her leave, telling Felix he needs to be with his real family. I'm not entirely sure what the overall point of her was – she brought Felix his own subplot and her capabilities as a lawyer were touched upon, but if that's it for her, I suppose she was all part and parcel of the family theme. As she puts it, it's not all about genes.
Which brings me to – Helena returning! I've really missed her this season, but damn she knows how to make an entrance. The parallel subplots of Alison's difficulties with her faith and the inevitable arrival of Helena as her avenging angel was seen coming a mile away, but who could possibly complain about Alison's prayers being answered by a bow-and-arrow-toting Helena?
should be more disapproving of the fact that the show has been trying to pass off Helena's murder sprees as whacky hijinks instead of – y'know, actual murder, but since her victim was trying to force a glitchy worm-bot into Alison's mouth, this time I'll just enjoy the scene in the spirit with which it was presented.
(But really, have they lost track of all the carnage she's left in her wake? Amelia? The German clone? I like the fact that Alison and Donnie looked just as terrified of Helena as they did the Brightborn thug, but I'm losing hope that the show will at some point address Helena's tendency to resort to extreme violence as a first resort with something more than just quiet comments to Sarah about how she doesn't want her children to grow up like her).
Miscellaneous Observations:
I was mightily impressed at the house Helena built for herself out in the wilderness, though there's a deleted scene in which a family spots her out hunting in the forest. Why would you cut this??
"Hold my undies, they're dirty." Oh Donnie, you're such a charmer.
"I'm meant to be bringing us together and we're falling apart." So says Sarah, who has apparently taken Beth's words to heart, whether or not what she saw was a drug/alcohol fuelled hallucination.
Susan says: "I was under tremendous pressure to continue with Leda" – what pressure? That feels like something that will be picked up again soon, especially since Cosima herself questioned it.

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