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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Orphan Black: Guillotines Decide

Late again, but it's been a busy week! Last week's preview of Orphan Black refused to show anything of this episode, which was a dead giveaway (no pun intended) that one of our regulars was not long for this world. The moment Sarah kissed Siobhan on her cheek and called her mum, I knew it would be Mrs S. C'mon, that's not even a spoiler, they were telegraphing it in neon lights throughout the entire episode!
So although I'm sad, I can't say I was upset. It didn't come as a huge surprise, and as death scenes go, it was a dignified one. Killing off minority characters is always a risk, but for every ten female characters that get fridged to make a male character sad (I've already seen two this year on Versailles and Into the Badlands) there's one that goes out on her own terms, looking fantastic and taking her killer down with her.

As I'm sure you're well aware, the deaths of female characters are not inherently sexist (hey, we're a mortal as any dude!) It's all in the way it happens.
But we'll start at the beginning: the aftermath of Rachel's eye extraction, in which she's discovered by Ferdinand and whisked off for surgery. It's really gross, and I have no idea why they're depicting all this in such detail. She's got no eye; our imaginations are more than capable of filling in the gaps.
Once she's recovered she asks Ferdinand: "how did you know?" and in one of my favourite tricks, the cut to the next scene answers the question: Siobhan. Unsurprisingly, he was her source inside Dyad (or Neolution, or whatever we're calling it) and she's not done with him left.
It's clear at this stage that it's the calm before the storm, a Hope Spot before everything goes to shit. For the most part the focus is on Felix's art exhibition, where Alison comes up with the brilliant idea to really impress the critics by utilizing the clone as part of the performance. What can be fairly be called "the big three" (Alison, Cosima, Sarah) each get a chance to put themselves of display: but though this might sound a little exploitative in writing, it plays out beautifully.
For the first time they're celebrated instead of studied, their similarities and differences made a thing of beauty on their own terms, and though they're still hiding the fact there's three of them, it's clear that the time for life-preserving secrecy is coming to an end: when Colin (remember him from the morgue in season one?) turns up, it's turned into a joke that he recognizes Sarah ... from identifying her dead body. It's hilarious, but it's also an indication that the conspiracy is crumbling down.
Speaking of which, I loved that they brought Neolution to its knees in the most low-key way possible. It was barely a blip on this episode, represented only through Rachel's choice and Cosima's emotional reaction to the release of information.
I haven't really cared about the underlying mystery since season one, and I doubt anyone really cares at this stage. As it happens, the grand plan was for Neolution to provide self-directed evolution to the one percent and sterilization to everyone else: a dastardly deed, but it was a smart move to get its resolution out of the way and chose to focus on the more personal task of rescuing Helena in the final two episodes (as well as bringing things full circle considering she was the one trying to kill them all to start with).
Though Delphine and Siobhan (mostly the latter) try to convince Rachel to double-cross Ferdinand, Rachel's decision is clearly solidified by her desire to be free. When Ferdinand talks excitedly about taking over Neolution and making millions – as opposed to taking what money they have and escaping – you know it's all over. 
And I believe Ferdinand did care for Rachel in his own twisted way, and she for him – but obviously her weariness at the life she had been living surmounted those feelings. Ferdinand spares her, but then heads for Mrs S's house...
It's at this point I stopped taking notes, since I was too nervous and riveted to do anything else. The fact I knew Mrs S. would be the one to go didn't make things any easier, but it was a dignified, poignant death – and surely there are few things more satisfying than seeing Ferdinand get shot in the throat and have to watch his victim watching him bleed out.
Farewell Siobhan Sadler, the Mama Bear of the show. She was tough, uncompromising, intelligent, loving, and went out in way that was in keeping for her character, taking her own killer with her while she was at it.
Miscellaneous Observations:
Charlotte and Kira met! It's a shame we'll never get a good fix on their relationship with only two episodes to go, as their interactions could have been fascinating. How does Kira feel about hanging out with a little girl who's the clone of her mother?
On a stranger note though, both little girls are being shipped off to Art's ex's house. Buh? Was that really the best place they could find for them? Imagine your ex-husband turning up out of nowhere with two little white girls and asking you to look after them for an indefinite amount of time. Weird. (I've given up hope of ever seeing or hearing from Cal again, as this would have been a perfect role for him to play, even if it was just Sarah calling him for a favour over the phone).
Felix was on fire this episode, and I suppose we have to forgive the writers for his absence in the last few episodes for the material they gave him here: namely, his complete lack of fucks to give over the entire clone conspiracy meltdown. Other highlights include: "no seestra shenanigans", "flowers, well I'm over it", and "you're not gonna like this either" before pushing Sarah out into the open.
Best parts of the party: Felix's speech, Siobhan encouraging Sarah to smile, Delphine buying Cosima's portrait, Art and Sarah looking at Beth's portrait together, Cosima dancing with Scott all over Rachel's face, Krystal and Tony being represented in the artwork, Hell Wizard's t-shirt, Donnie trying to be arty-farty by speaking German – argh, so good.
I love that there's no hard feelings between Sarah and Adele – though they'll never be besties – considering the animosity Sarah threw her way when they first met.
Gracie – poor Gracie. I'm almost annoyed that they went to all the trouble of bringing her back if they were just going to immediately kill her off. What a shitty life she led. This doubtless means that Mark will die too as these characters were very much a double-act – and I would have been satisfied with the closure they got in season two.
I'm sure that Delphine/Cosima sending out the information on a laptop was a deliberate echo of the scene at the end of season one, back when they discovered Cosima was the legal property of Dyad. Come to think of it, that's probably the reason they reminded us of it halfway through this season with that flashback.
Two episodes left. There's no other way to end this review but with a quote from Mrs S: that all our lives involve "chipping out the devil until he's done."

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