Orphan Black season 4 finale recap: From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths
A touching reunion, a new Big Bad, and a mysterious man behind the curtain
And just like that, we’re at the end of another season of Orphan Black — the penultimate one, as BBC America announced just hours before this episode aired. So we’re getting one more, Clone Club-ers, and after tonight I can’t wait to see where things go next.
Season 4’s capper gave us the moment we’ve been waiting for all year — Cosima and Delphine, together again! — plus the fitting dispatch of Evie Cho and Rachel firmly back to the Villain column. It also left a number of questions for us to ponder as we wait for the fifth and final season, and I welcome any and all theories about P.T. Westmorland, the messenger, and just how Sarah is gonna get off that island.
With those thoughts in mind, let’s put the clones through the Orphan Black Clone Status Hyper-Sequence Generator Calcutron for the final time this year, and export them based on which sestras are left in the most danger heading into season 5.
Rachel isn’t the only Duncan skilled in the art of the double-cross (though she is plenty good at it, and we’ll get to that shortly) — Susan also pulled a big con over on Cosima and the rest of the Leda clones. As soon as it’s clear their plan to create a viable cell line has worked, the happy-tears celebrating is cut short. Susan never cared about finding a cure, or at least not as much as she needed the cells to restart her human cloning initiative. Cosima is blocked from accessing the database and her contact with the outside world is cut off mid-video chat with Sarah, Mrs. S, and Kira.
Cosima confronts Susan after discovering her true motives, pointing out that people like her will suffer if there are more clone experiments. Susan justifies it with typical Neolutionist rationale about the consequences that come along with progress and how she can’t have Cosima interfering in the lab, so she shuts our favorite scientist in the same room that was previously Rachel’s prison. While there, she finds some of Charlotte’s paintings and is struck by one in particular — the island, with a series of huts near the shore and a swan floating in the water. After Charlotte breaks her out so they can escape to that boat, Cosima asks if there are other people on the island. “Sometimes,” the young girl replies, “but we mustn’t go there.”
But go there they do. After leaving the Duncan home and wandering the island in the dark and cold, they’re discovered by the man with the glasses from Rachel’s visions and brought to their camp. It’s there that Cosima sees Delphine again for the first time — their embrace is perfect but all too brief, because Cosima is quickly taken inside for medical help. She’s weak and hypothermic and thinks she’s dying, but does have one bit of good news: She stole some of the samples from Susan’s lab before leaving the house, which means she has a gene therapy that can hopefully cure her terminal clone illness. Delphine stresses she mustn’t tell anyone she has it, and warns they have to be very careful where they are because it isn’t safe.
One of my favorite things on this show is when one clone impersonates another clone, and Sarah delivered with her pitch-perfect posing as Krystal.
Sarah-as-Krystal cornered Dr. Ian Van Lier — the new head of Brightborn after Evie Cho’s practices were exposed — by asking about Neolution and Delphine as he was speaking to reporters. Holding him at gunpoint in a nearby car, she realizes the same thing Cosima has: that Susan never wanted to find a cure and only wanted to restart human cloning.
Sarah decides the best course of action is go to the island and save Cosima, and that she needs to do it alone. “I’m immune,” she explains to Siobhan. “If I don’t fix this, it’s my curse to watch my sisters die.” She says a goodbye to Kira, who worries for all the sisters and the many other Leda clones out there they haven’t even met. Sarah assures her they’re doing this for all of them.
She gets there after Cosima has already escaped and finds herself in some serious trouble of her own — a bloody trail through the house leads her to the injured Susan Duncan and Rachel herself, who attacks Sarah with an ax and then stabs her in the leg with a kitchen knife. Sarah calls her a crazy bitch, and Rachel likens her to a cockroach in way over her head. “You didn’t even know what you were until Beth Childs walked off that train platform,” she says, taking delight in pushing the knife further into Sarah’s leg. She manages to escape after Susan gets hold of a gun and threatens Rachel with it, not going through with her threat to shoot but distracting her long enough for Sarah to make a run for it.
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But where does she run to? Bloodied and limping across the island’s shore with no idea of where to go, she calls Mrs. S to say she needs help, but Ferdinand takes it — because he has her and Kira hostage at the no-longer-safe safe house.
NEXT: Rachel is officially Evil Rachel (again)
Look who’s gone full-on Breaking Bad. After working with Sarah to take down Evie Cho — who met what looked like a very painful death after Dr. Van Lier set her bot to self-destruct — Rachel decided she wanted all the Neolution power for herself, stabbing her mother in the stomach and attacking Sarah to clear the way for her own ambitions.
Her plan: combine the two competing technologies into one. Human cloning, but with implanted gene therapy (aka the bots) in multiple generations, to introduce genetic change into the human population. And the way she spins it to the Neolution board, these clones wouldn’t have any semblance of freedom — they’re experiments, pure and simple. “If we want to know if our lab rats’ tails will grow back, we damn well will cut them off and see,” she declares.
After laying out her game plan (and engaging in some sex games with Ferdinand, as these two do), Rachel goes back to the island, where she finds the man from her visions inside the house. “Do not waver,” he tells her. Susan calls him a “messenger” but doesn’t elaborate on what that means.
She warns Rachel the Neolution board doesn’t have the final say and that she’s betrayed her, her sisters, and herself. She even says she regrets making her. As she’s speaking, Rachel gets another vision — the severed swan’s head, ominously near a block of kitchen knives. Rachel takes one and stabs her mother with it.
After Sarah’s escape, Rachel tells her mother about the visions and Susan, bloodied but still alive and sitting in her daughter’s old wheelchair, says “he” is losing his patience for national selection. Who made her eye? “It’s the man behind the curtain,” Susan says. “The man who wrote the book over a century ago.” Yup, that means P.T. Westmorland is still alive…somehow…more than 100 years after literally writing the book on Neolution.
Rachel locks Susan in the basement room, pours herself a glass of wine, and sits down for a video chat with the Neolution board. It’s done, she tells them; the science is secure. Van Lier says Mr. Westmorland will see her now and the screen goes dark. Then, the doorbell rings.
(Side note: What was that illustration she opened to in Westmorland’s book? I thought it was Leda and the swan — the Greek myth that gave Project Leda its name — but I could be wrong.)
Krystal finally gets to share what she saw the night Delphine got shot — namely, that Detective Duko was the one who shot her and Dr. Van Lier is the one who took her away to save her. (Note: Delphine’s visions of her recovery are hazy, but she’s definitely not at a hospital, and the messenger/man in the glasses is there.)
After seeing the Evie Cho press conference play out in the news, she calls Felix to offer him what she knows about Van Lier and Delphine, but demands to know what’s really going on in return. Is Krystal finally going to be let into Clone Club? Yes, but because this is Krystal we’re talking about here, also no.
She meets Felix at the comics shop — he’s wearing a suit, still pretending to be a man of detective mystery — and he brings her downstairs, where she’s surprisingly not, well, surprised to see Sarah. When Sarah explains they’re clones, Krystal doesn’t see it. “She’s like, a seven on a good day and I’ve been told I’m a 10,” she tells Felix. She also tells the group they know nothing about what’s really going on here and she can explain it to them. It’s about human experiments and two factions trying to control them — so far, she’s not wrong — but she thinks those factions are Estee Lauder and a “Swedish company” called Neolution (and there’s the Krystal we know and love). Never change, Krystal. I only hope we see more of her next year.
After getting Helena back in town last week, she’s gone back to the wilderness again — and has brought the Hendrixes with her. She wants to help the sestras, but Sarah tells her to stay put until they know who they’re up against, and that’s as much as we see of them this week. Perhaps not surprisingly, life on the frontier doesn’t agree with Alison. But that might also just be Helena’s cooking.
And there we have it! I’m so glad we all went on this clone-filled journey together through this fantastic season. Leave all your final thoughts below — I’d really love to hear what you all thought of the season and what will come next — and we’ll be back for more come season 5.