[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Thursday’s “The Scandal of Altruism” episode of Orphan Black.]
Episode 6 is a dangerous one in the Orphan Black universe. It was in last season’s sixth episode that Paul met his maker after a selfless sacrifice. Season 4’s sixth entry proved just as bloody as another character’s life was extinguished.
Kendall Malone — mother to Siobhan, and possessor of the original DNA from which all the clones are derived — was kidnapped, shot, killed, and then had her DNA blown to bits as part of a power play by newly unmasked villain Evie Cho. So why kill of this key character now?
“Whenever we do something like this, it’s never an easy decision to make,” says Orphan Black co-creator John Fawcett. “Obviously this was a big emotional decision, but also it’s a decision that puts everybody in a very difficult place. Where we thought we had a sure fire answer, now suddenly we don’t. In fact, we’ve got nothing. In fact, we’ve got less than what we began with. Not only is Kendall dead and her biology incinerated, but we’ve lost all of our research as well. And we are really now at the mercy of a very big new villain, which is Evie Cho, who has now presented herself.”
Making Kendall’s death even more difficult for the clone sestras is the fact that Sarah and Cosima went behind Siobhan’s back to involve Kendall in their plan, thereby putting her at risk. And then Sarah — mistakenly believing that Susan Duncan had abducted Kendall — destroyed all the last available DNA samples in Felix’s apartment. So Sarah must accept her portion of the blame for losing both her grandmother and her vital biology. And according to co-creator Graeme Manson, she is not the only one to blame.
“Cosima as well,” says Manson. “They can both take some heat for that. We know that Sarah is rash and makes mistakes. And so does Cosima in this instance. They’re the ones that decide to go ahead with this. They’re the ones that decide not to tell Siobhan. They own it.”
But again, why kill off Kendall now? “When we looked at this episode, we were looking at the shape of the whole season,” says Manson. “And we knew we wanted to do something really big in the middle. We really liked the same feel last season with episode 6 then and we wanted to make this a really big one. It’s an excellent episode written by Chris Roberts, who came up with a lot of the science around Kendall Malone’s cancer.”
Not only did Kendall die, but did we also finally learn the fate of someone else who was shot in last season’s finale, Delphine Cormier? Evie told Cosima that Dephine was indeed dead. But can we believe her? “I don’t know,’ says Manson. “Would you trust Evie Cho, your new villain?” Of course, Krystal the clone says she saw Delphine get shot, so she may have some more to say on the subject, and as Manson notes, “if you want to hear secrets, you go to a beautician.”
According to the creators, this roller coaster ride is not slowing down anytime soon, continuing through next week’s episode which Fawcett teases is “a strong departure. It’s a very atypical episode of Orphan Black. It’s something we’re really excited to show. It focuses a lot more on characters than plot.”
Adds Manson: “It’s probably not too much of a spoiler to say it was known in the writer’s room as the ‘Dark Night of the Soul,’ so this is the Dark Night of Orphan Black’s Soul, with four seasons coming to a head next week.”