Neolution’s secrets are exposed, but the Clone Club suffers a devastating loss

By Jessica Derschowitz
July 29, 2017 at 11:00 PM EDT
Ken Woroner/BBC AMERICA
S5 E8
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Leave it to Orphan Black to throw us a Clone Club party and then break our hearts.

Felix’s party was a much-needed excuse for Sarah, Cosima, and Alison to enjoy themselves a bit after so many episodes of scheming, daughter rescuing, and escaping islands ruled over by an evolution-obsessed snake-oil salesman (you know, the usual). But, of course, that joy — aside from the fact that it excluded Helena, who is in her own share of danger — was marred by what might be the show’s most devastating death yet. M.K.’s demise earlier this season was brutal, to be sure, but Mrs. S has been with us since the very beginning — as has the incredible Maria Doyle Kennedy, who brought her to life.

Shocking and sad as it was, it was no surprise to see S go out the way she did (taking a certain bespectacled sadist out with her). And before Ferdinand killed her, she helped orchestrate a major blow against Neolution… with help from Rachel herself.

So, without further ado, let’s run the clones through the Orphan Black Clone Status Hyper-Sequence Generator Calcutron and lay out where everyone stands as we prepare for the series’ penultimate episode.

Rachel
We have to pick up with Rachel because of where we left her — I’m STILL shuddering from that DIY eye surgery she performed on herself last week. Now free of that creepy cyber eye and P.T. Westmoreland’s surveillance, she’s found at Dyad HQ by none other than Ferdinand, who takes her to someone for a little under-the-radar, outside-a-hospital surgery. (Did anyone else get flashbacks to Minority Report, when Tom Cruise has that shady eye surgery?) When she comes ‘round, we find out he was the secret source S has been working with all this time. (And she’s also the one who called Ferdinand in to save Rachel.)

When S and Delphine pay a visit to their hotel hideout, S points out that now, considering Rachel is on the outs with Neolution, their interests are all aligned — basically, either those guys go down, or we do. But they need Rachel for the final piece of the take-down-Neolution puzzle: They’ve uncovered that Neolution is bribing foreign governments to introduce legislation requiring citizens to submit their DNA, but they don’t have the documentation to prove it. The Neos, S explains, want to market customized, curated evolution to the super-rich so they can live however they please forever and ever, and everyone else will fall under Coady’s umbrella for sterilization. She’s hoping that Rachel, “like any good CEO,” took a so-called “shadow file” before she left that lays out all of Neolution’s dirty dealings. “I’m willing to take a gamble on nature over nurture,” S says to Rachel, hoping she’ll rebel against her proclone ways and help the Ledas.

She does indeed have a smoking gun — records of names, dates, years of shady payments — and the files are on a tiny flash drive hidden in her necklace. Ferdinand is positively giddy (or as giddy as he gets when he’s not murdering people), thinking of the fortune he and Rachel can extort from the Neolution board by threatening to expose their secrets. Rachel, however, is thinking of her own freedom. After they set a meeting with the board, Rachel suggests a different plan — instead of extortion, they just make all that information public and then go off the grid together. For someone who’s essentially grown up as a lab experiment, that has to be the ultimate goal, right? Total autonomy? But Ferdinand is thinking bigger/greedier — he wants them to amass “obscene” wealth from this and build a dynasty together.

Rachel gives him a flash drive (not the tiny one from her necklace, which is important to note) and he goes to meet the board — or what’s left of them after Rachel’s emailed bombshell about P.T. Westmoreland. Dr. Van Lier (remember him, from our Brightborn days?) asks him to share what they know and then hear their demands. But when he puts the flash drive in the computer, it’s empty. Rachel double-crossed him! She’s giving everything to S, and she sent Ferdinand into what she assumes is a death trap. He does manage to get away, but Van Lier vows they’re not finished with him.

Ferdinand then goes back to confront Rachel, who tells him, “I told you what I wanted; you chose not to listen.” She just wanted to pull an Olivia Pope and find a beach somewhere, guys! Ferdinand goes to strangle her, but just when I think we’re about to be down another clone, he lets go of her neck and leaves — and Rachel calls S to let her know Ferdinand’s still alive and knows she has the files.

Helena
Gracie’s appearance at the convent was obviously not a coincidence — she was sent by Mark and Coady to track down Helena. But once she’s there, Helena reminds Gracie of her link to her unborn babies, who are Gracie’s half-siblings (Gracie’s father, for those who might not remember everything that happened on the Prolethean farm back in season 2, impregnated Helena with embryos made of her eggs and his sperm). Gracie has a change of heart. When she calls Mark, she tells him she hasn’t found Helena yet, but Coady suspects she’s lying.

When Helena later finds her hidden cell phone, Gracie comes clean, explaining that Mark is sick and Coady could help him, but when she saw Helena face to face, she couldn’t go through with giving her up. Still, Helena points out that the cell phone she used can be traced, so they try to make a getaway — but are caught by a group of Neos who take Helena captive (including Art’s partner, who kills Gracie on the spot). Let’s revisit my refrain from earlier this season: SAVE HELENA’S BABIES. (Recap continues on page 2)

Sarah, Cosima, Alison (and S)
Let’s group these four together this week, since their paths overlap so much. Sarah’s worried by just how quiet things are — they busted Kira out of Dyad right before P.T. Westmoreland was about to bring her to Evil Island, so why hasn’t Team Neolution busted in, guns blazing? But S seems less concerned, suggesting the target has shifted to Rachel after she dropped that Westmoreland bombshell to the Neolution board.

As S and Sarah wait for a Skype call from Cosima and Delphine, Felix and Adele walk in, fresh from their European fact-finding expedition and back in time for Felix’s big art opening — one at which he doesn’t want any kind of “sestra shenanigans.” (But sestra shenanigans are my favorite!) Sarah’s still skeptical as to whether now is the right time for a party, but S argues that after all the work they’ve done, and with Neolution on the ropes, they deserve to have a little fun and show their support for Felix.

At the event space, Alison and Donnie help Felix set up for his art show — the art being gorgeous portraits of all the clones that embody each of their distinct personalities. Alison is still taking her new, zen, purple-haired approach to life and doesn’t need to direct where Donnie hangs the portraits. (Donnie, by the way, seems to miss being micromanaged.) In the hopes of impressing some hotshot gallery owner in attendance, Felix takes Alison up on her suggestion to incorporate the clones into the show. He presents it as a performance art piece of sorts, introducing one clone before she leaves out a back door and the next comes through — which allows Cosima and Alison to help celebrate Felix, but the clone-ignorant masses can think it’s the same woman changing costumes. (I loved how he introduced each of them, too — Alison was “Hestia, goddess of hearth and home,” to correspond with her portrait, Cosima was “Metis, goddess of wisdom and deep thought,” and Sarah, also fittingly, was “Athena, goddess of war.”)

After visiting with Rachel, S appears at the party and tells Sarah they now have the final piece of the puzzle: records of all of Neolution’s shady dealings, decades of human experimentation, and Coady’s sterilization plan: everything they’d need to go public. And it’s Cosima, at home with Delphine at her side, who hits the submit button to send everything out into the world. The look of relief and joy on her face is so touching, you almost wish there weren’t two episodes left for things to still potentially go up in flames.

With those deeds done, S encourages Sarah to smile and have a good time at Felix’s party, and he gives a touching speech thanking Sarah, S, and Adele, raising a toast to his “galaxy of women” all now on the stage with him. “Thank you for the nurture,” he tells them.

But it’s not a happy time for long. As they celebrate, S goes home and finds herself face to face with Ferdinand, telling him the files are all going public as they speak. Not one to prolong pleasantries any longer than he has to, Ferdinand shoots her in the chest. But even as she’s bleeding out, S has one last good shot in her — and gets him right in the throat with her own gun. He dies, and she holds on a few moments longer, clutching a photograph of Sarah and Felix as she goes, calling them “chickens” for the last time. Siobhan, you had a good run. We’ll miss you.

Ken Woroner/BBC AMERICA

Additional Genetic Material
-Kira does a double take when she meets Charlotte for the first time: “You’re what my mum looked like!”

-“Do you want to spend the morning safeguarding the genetic future of humankind, or do you… want to have brunch?” — Cosima to Delphine. #Priorities

-Cosima also wants to take the doses of the cure she managed to steal away from the island and use them to inoculate her fellow Ledas. When Scott points out we still don’t know how many clones are out there, she says they’re going to try to find out.

-“We bought a s— mountain of cheese” — Adele, who is welcome to bring any of that cheese over to my apartment whenever she wants.

-“She’s just not that into you” — S to Ferdinand, about Rachel, before their deadly showdown.

-Cosima’s mini dance party at Felix’s art opening, of course, reminded me of this unforgettable Orphan Black dance party. Never gets old.

-Krystal’s portrait (next to Cosima’s at the art show) has a speech bubble that says, “I love me.” (We love you too, Krystal.)

-And, speaking of the portraits, it was so nice that Beth had one, too. There wouldn’t be a Clone Club without her.

Episode Recaps

Tatiana Maslany plays half the cast of BBC America’s paranoid clone thriller.
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  • 03/30/13-08/12/17
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