Helena revisits her past, while her babies are in more danger than ever before

By Jessica Derschowitz
August 05, 2017 at 11:00 PM EDT
Ken Woroner/BBC AMERICA
S5 E9
B+
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  • TV Show
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So much of Orphan Black is about sisterhood — the Leda clones banding together in the face of weird science and crazy conspiracy, bonded by love and their shared DNA. Sestras, just like Helena always says. But Orphan Black is also about motherhood — Sarah with Kira, Mrs. S, Kendall Malone (RIP x 2, sigh), and the fact that the very people who created the clones robbed the others of the choice to get pregnant at all.

So it’s fitting that both of those themes have come to the forefront in the series’ penultimate episode. (Side note: How did we get here so quickly?!) The glimpses into Helena’s past gave more insight into this troubled but loving soul than we’ve ever had before, all as she’s about to bring her own babies into the world…though certainly under less-than-desirable circumstances.

It’s nice to think the series will end with Helena’s twins being born, but beyond that I can’t even begin to imagine what’s to come. Can all the core clones survive to the very end? Will P.T. Westmoreland finally be stopped? Will Alison regret getting that tattoo? I have so many questions, and there’s just one episode left to try to answer them. (And I welcome your theories in the comments below — chime in, Clone Club!)

With all that in mind, let’s run our sestras through the Orphan Black Clone Status Hyper-Sequence Generator Calcutron and lay out where everyone stands before the show’s swan song.

Helena

So much of this episode was dedicated to Helena, both her past and her present. I suppose when you’re kidnapped by literal evil scientists and restrained while they force you to give birth, you have a lot of time to think about how you got here.

After being kidnapped from the convent, Helena first flashes back to being a young girl in a Catholic school. While hiding in an office (sneaking food — so you know it’s Helena), she overhears a nun sneak in there to masturbate, and when the woman realizes she’s there, she calls Helena a devil for spying and punishes her severely — dousing her head and dark hair in bleach, giving us the blond Ukrainian we all know — before locking her in a confessional booth. When she’s let out again, it’s because someone’s come looking for her: Tomas, the Prolethean extremist who indoctrinated season 1 Helena to believe her fellow clones were evil. “You don’t know how special you are,” he tells her. She goes with him, and later we see that as she’s grown older, he’s already begun teaching her about “copies” and “the original” and “science devils.”

When Helena comes to, she’s restrained in the back of a van and is being examined by Coady, who’s eager to deliver the babies quickly. When Mark asks about Gracie, Coady lies that after the twins are born, she’ll join them. Helena is taken into a makeshift operating room in what looks like an empty warehouse. Nearby, P.T. Westmoreland seems less composed than he was when the entire would thought he was a 170-year-old miracle man — and when he puts his hands through his hair, it’s revealed to be a wig. He’s completely bald underneath.

He tells Mr. Frontenac to find the Neolution bribe-man, Hashem Al-Khatib, and continue their “cleanup job” (disposing of people), then goes into Helena’s “room” and declares it’s time to have some clone babies, stat, so Coady can harvest their fetal stem cells and make a treatment for P.T. He’s so impatient he wants Coady to simply “cut them out,” but she stresses it needs to be a natural birth — so they induce Helena instead.

While they wait for Helena to go into labor, P.T. tells Coady it’s time to cut ties with old liabilities, a.k.a. get rid of Mark. When Coady argues that he’s the sole remaining Castor, P.T. is less than sympathetic to the fate of her male clone progeny. “The future is female!” he cries. If this is when you thought Coady might finally turn against the man she knows as John, you were mistaken. She had Gracie killed on his orders, and she gives Mark an injection that immediately makes him sleepy — and, I think we can assume, kills him — while watching over him the way you’d tuck a child in at night.

When Helena’s contractions start, she flashes back to Tomas deeming her “ready” to go out into the world, hunt the clones, and “cleanse them from this earth.” This brings us to the scene in the church that was released ahead of the season premiere, where Helena bursts into a church and stabs a fellow clone in the back. Once she does it and sees the woman’s face, she’s shaken. “They look like me — I am a copy,” she frets, and Tomas soothes her by telling her she’s the original. Thus begins Helena carving wings into her back.

Present-day Helena begs Coady to spare her and her babies, knowing P.T. took Coady’s away. But Coady replies by noting that Helena was abandoned at birth and murdered her fellow clones. “What kind of mother could you possibly be?” she asks her, quietly and cruelly.

As Westmoreland and Coady wait, Helena is somehow left alone in her makeshift hospital room and, being Helena, uses her IV line to pull over a supply tray and grab a pair of scissors. First, she uses them to try to cut through her restraints. When that doesn’t work and it seems escape is futile, she tells her unborn children they deserve better than her, and she won’t let them become science experiments like she was. With that, she takes the pilfered scissors and jams them into her wrist. (I once again revive my battle cry: SAVE HELENA/SAVE HER BABIES.)

Thanks to a lucky and possibly too convenient turn of events we’ll get to shortly, Sarah ends up at Helena’s location just as Coady discovers her bleeding from that self-inflicted wound and in need of a blood transfusion. Oh look, another clone is here! That makes things easy. As Sarah gives blood to Helena, Coady preps a surgical tray because if Helena remains unconscious they’ll have to deliver the babies via C-section. But Helena comes ’round when Sarah calls to her and then executes a classic Helena move: She begs Coady for water, and when the woman comes over to her, she takes her now-unrestrained hand and slams Coady’s head repeatedly against the exam table. “You are s— mother,” she tells her. #micdrop.

But just as they go to make their escape, Helena’s water breaks. “Babies coming.” Great timing, kiddos! (Recap continues on page 2)

Sarah

Is there a worse time to find out your clone sister has been kidnapped than after your mother’s funeral? That’s exactly what happens after Sarah, Felix, Kira, and the crew pay tribute to Mrs. S at a beautiful service. Sarah remembers her foster mother’s loyalty and bravery in her eulogy: “Some of you know what we’ve been through more than others. But you all know S didn’t go anywhere without a fight, and that fight was for all of us — her people, her network, her family.”

She then pulls out the letter S wrote before she met her end, and Felix reads it aloud when she can’t. “Just remember my loves, death is nothing at all,” she wrote. “I’ve only slipped into the next room, you can call me by my old familiar name, put no sorrow in your tone. I promise we will laugh at this difficult parting when we meet again. All my love, S.”

And S’s final play was successful — Neolution’s dirty laundry has gone public. The bribery scandal surrounding the “fringe futurist movement” is all over the news, and Dyad’s research and funds are frozen while an investigation is underway. The post-funeral gathering is interrupted by the presence of Sister Irina, who offers more troubling news: She hands Sarah Helena’s journal, which means Helena is in trouble.

Art and Felix drop by Rachel’s hideout for a little visit, and when she turns around to face them, she’s sans eyepatch with messy hair, and her missing eye is sewn shut. How the mighty have fallen. Felix tells her Helena has been kidnapped to presumably be taken to the island, but Rachel isn’t so sure — now that the Revival villagers have rebelled, it’s not safe for P.T. there anymore.

After that little visit, Art and Felix head to the police station, where Art learns that his partner is still a Neolution diehard/the worst, and that a major Interpol investigation is happening over two Neo-linked murders (including the death of Dr. Van Lier). From there, they track down Al-Khatib just as Mr. Frontenac is about to make him part of the “cleanup job” at Dyad headquarters (seriously, could they not find a better meeting place?). Frontenac draws his gun on Art, who beats him to pulling the trigger and shoots him dead — not a great look when your partner is possibly trying to implicate you in an investigation into Neolution-linked murders. Sarah calls and warns Art that Kira senses Helena is in trouble and the babies are coming. Al-Khatib doesn’t know her whereabouts, but says the person Neolution is targeting the most right now is Rachel, so Sarah suggests giving them exactly what they want.

That leads to what Cosima calls an “insane” plan — Sarah-as-Rachel is handed over in the trunk of a car with a tracking device placed on it, which will lead them to where Helena is being kept. Sarah will then have to keep P.T. busy (and keep him from killing her) while the others storm in and stage a rescue. The GPS actually ends up bringing them back to Dyad — Helena is being held in the corporation’s old wing, right next to where the reporters and security are swarming the place. “He’s hiding her right next to Dyad as it self-destructs,” the real Rachel says, impressed by the gall of it. If Sarah can keep him ranting, she adds, they might have a chance to get in.

Sarah initially puts on a good show when she’s face to face with P.T., but she slips when she calls him “father.” He flips off the eyepatch and the blond wig. Busted. She pulls out a switchblade and manages to slash his neck before Enger pins her down and aims a gun to her head, but at that exact moment, Coady bursts in and says Helena needs a transfusion. Like I said before, convenient!

Cosima, Alison

Not much of either of these two this week, but both do grieve S’s death and worry for Sarah in the wake of it. According to Alison, Sarah is dealing with her grief as you imagine she might — per Felix, she hasn’t even cried yet. Cosima argues that she’s trying to be strong for Kira. “She always has to be strong,” says Alison. “It’s not right, it’s not right.”

Additional genetic material

– Does anyone else want Art’s turkey chili recipe?

– Rachel tries to offer Felix condolences for S, but he replies, “Save your bloody breath, you heartless bitch.”

– Sarah walking through the house in a daze and finding memories of S throughout just gutted me. Kira lost her grandmother and is understandably devastated, but Sarah lost her mum, too.

– “You’re sitting in my chair” — Sarah-as-Rachel, to P.T.

– “Goodnight, mom” — Mark’s last words, to Coady. He wasn’t my favorite character, but he deserved better than this. Another casualty of Coady and P.T.’s ambitions.

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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