Orphan Black: 109-110 Review
Reviewed by Adam James Cuthbert.
Orphan Black delivers a resounding finale, with moments of genuine poignancy and stirring emotion. Following Kira’s miraculous recovery in hospital (of which I am thankful; as I said last week, I couldn’t bear the idea of a child dying), Sarah’s target becomes Helena, described by Doctor Leekie as the “lost clone”, his “white whale” (drawing a parallel between himself and Captain Ahab from Moby Dick), who was found in the Ukrainian convent by Tomas, and trained to murder the other clones. Arranging to meet Leekie, Sarah demands answers to her questions. Leekie informs Sarah he only plays his part, like Paul and Olivier; that of overseeing data collection, and quantifying the clones’ wellbeing. Tomas – who is seen to abuse Helena, locking her in a cage, like an animal – opposes science generally. He is a member of the Proletheans, the name of the religious extremists that conditioned Helena. Saying of Helena that he and Sarah have a common enemy, he asks her to deliver Helena to them, so she can be deprogrammed and medically treated. In exchange, Sarah and her clones will be free to live their lives unmonitored.
After Helena is found, captive, and freed by Sarah, Mrs S suddenly alerts Sarah, before she can hand Helena to Leekie. Mrs S has encountered Sarah’s birth mother, Amelia, a black woman who acted as an in-vitro carrier for Sarah. Initially led to believe she was the surrogate for an affluent couple, Amelia learnt the couple were scientists. She ran and hid, giving birth to Sarah in secret. Sarah is revealed as a twin; her twin is Helena. The twins were separated by Amelia to protect them, and raised in divergent environments: Sarah given to the state, Helena to the church. In a compelling twist, Amelia, later meeting with Sarah, is murdered by Sarah, in fact Helena incognito, who blames Amelia for how she turned out. It’s heart-breaking that Sarah’s dream of meeting her birth mother should be so brutally lost to her in so short a time. Sarah kills Helena with a bullet. Before dying, Amelia attempts to indicate to Sarah a dreadful truth about Mrs S. A photograph in Amelia’s possession, dated 22nd July 1977, “Project LEDA”, shows a male and female scientist: it’s implied the woman is a younger Mrs S. It’s a little hard to swallow, admittedly, if this is true, but it would develop an idea the series has touched upon with Alison’s story: that those closest to you are impostors, liars, with dreadful secrets.
Speaking of Alison, she finds an intervention waiting for her when she returns to her home, consisting of her neighbours, a local priest, and Donnie, concerning her recent behaviour. Feeling emotionally uncomfortable, Felix gives Alison the courage to stand up for herself, particularly against Aynsley. Feeling like a new woman, Alison is later met by Leekie, with Leekie also appearing to Cosima. In both cases, Leekie offers a proposition, allowing the clones to fulfil their desires: Alison for a normal life, unmonitored, and Cosima a research opportunity at the Dyad Institute, studying her own biology. Sarah, on the other hand, is introduced to Rachel Duncan, the “proclone”, a child raised by Neolution, working within the organisation, who claims Sarah has her daughter’s best interests at heart. When Alison finds Aynsley packing, as she prepares to move home, she insists on Aynsley confessing the truth. Aynsley terms her insane. The hostility between the two results in Aynsley accidentally asphyxiating herself, with Alison opting to let her die. It’s a dark turn; even though she might have been convinced Aynsley was her monitor, watching a person die casts Alison’s moral compass into question, as well as her readiness to move on from the death when a chance arises. Unsurprisingly, Donnie is revealed to have been her monitor all along (explaining his earlier actions).
With her discovery that the clones can be identified by a synthetic sequence in their DNA, like a barcode, Cosima eventually decodes the sequence. The clones were patented by the organisation: they’re property – their bodies, their biology. One feels deeply sorry for Cosima: she becomes an endearing character. Not only does she become infected with the same respiratory disorder as Kajta, but her feelings for Delphine are complicated.
Overall, Orphan Black has been an immensely enjoyable series. The three main clones were perfectly realised by Maslany, with their distinct mannerisms and personalities, such was the extent of the actress’ talent.