Orphan Black series finale recap: 'To Right the Wrongs of Many'
The Ledas prove they're stronger than everything that's tried to tear them apart
How did we get here already? Doesn’t it feel like the last 10 weeks went by so quickly?
After five seasons, countless clones, clones impersonating other clones, a twerking scene none of us will soon forget, a dance party to end all dance parties, lots of science drama and crazy conspiracies, and one of the best sisterhoods on television, Orphan Black has finally come to a close.
As far as finales go, this one did a pretty good job of toeing the line between closing up everyone’s stories but not spending the entire hour checking boxes for each and every character. Helena’s twins finally arrived in unorthodox, incredibly emotional fashion, P.T. Westmoreland was finally taken down, and then, we flashed ahead for what almost felt like another mini-episode — seeing what life was like for each of our sestras without Neolution encroaching on their lives.
Because this is the end and we love all the clones equally (yes, even Rachel), I won’t engage the Orphan Black Clone Status Hyper-Sequence Generator Calcutron. Instead, I want to take inspiration from this finale and discuss the episode in two parts — the big finale, and then the epilogue.
Are you ready, Clone Club? Great. Let’s get going.
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The Final Chapter
We open this week in a flashback, as a younger Sarah waits outside a local Planned Parenthood, sitting in the car next to Mrs. S. Obviously, since Kira is alive and full of special clone-kid powers in the present day, we know she doesn’t terminate the pregnancy. But at this point in time, she’s considering keeping the baby and is looking to S for help making that choice. Is Sarah too “messed up,” in her words, to have a child? Her foster mother says this is a decision only she can make (while calling her “chicken,” which is a nickname I’ll miss — second only to Sarah lovingly calling Helena “meathead”).
In the present, there’s another impending birth to attend to — Helena is now fully in labor as alarms are sounding everywhere and security searches the place for her and Sarah. That search team includes Enger, until Art takes her down (“you’re a s—ty partner,” he says, dropping the understatement of the episode) and handcuffs her to a stairwell before continuing his own search for the pair.
Sarah brings her sister into a boiler room, and Helena pretty much has to stay put, even though it’s not the safest (or, let’s be honest, the most sanitary) place to be — especially because P.T. Westmoreland has now found out they’re on the run and flipped his bald, not-170-year-old lid. A very bloody but still living Coady tries to reassure him things can still go as planned but says they can extract the mutation from the babies’ cord blood now that their hideout has been compromised. The man is seriously agitated, shooting doctors who don’t agree with his orders. He’s thinking it’s about time to head back to a certain island.
Helena doesn’t want to have the babies here, for a million obvious reasons, but it doesn’t seem like she’ll have much of a choice, so Sarah sets out to get some clean sheets and supplies — but leaves Helena with a screwdriver so she can protect herself.
She runs into Art, who gives Sarah a gun and heads back to join Helena — but Coady finds her first, and is now looking to do a little childbirth-by-gunpoint. Yikes.
And when Art comes in, Coady makes him drop his weapon and “enlists” him to assist. “I learned my lesson getting too close to this one. You’re the midwife,” she orders. While she stays back, Helena manages to show Art she has a weapon. Faking a medical crisis, they convince Coady to come closer, and Helena jams the screwdriver into the other woman’s throat, finally taking her out for good.
As Helena battles Coady, Sarah takes on the true head of the Neolution snake. While searching for medical supplies, she’s cornered by P.T. Westmoreland lurking outside the plastic curtains of that makeshift operating suite. “How fitting you return to your cage. All lab rats do in the end,” he gloats.
But Sarah is not having any of it. “You never caged us — not me and Helena,” she points out. “You’ve got nothing to do with who we really are.” After P.T. reveals they found Helena, Sarah fires through the curtains, hits him, and escapes his attempt to tackle and suffocate her with the plastic sheeting. “I survived you — we survived you. Me and my sisters, together. This is evolution,” she declares, before delivering a final blow to the head with an oxygen tank that seals his fate and takes them even closer to freedom.
She gets back to Helena just in time, and she and Art coach her through pushing as Sarah remembers S doing the same for her with Kira — it’s an incredibly emotional moment, overlapping instances of loved ones helping bring new family members into the world. With their help and encouragement, Helena gives birth to twin boys. Sarah’s in tears, Helena’s in tears, the babies are crying, we all might be crying. It’s a lot!
(Recap continues on page 2)
I think of that first part as the end of Orphan Black, the action. Now we see the conclusion of Orphan Black, the clones. It’s three months later, and Helena is living with her babies in what I’m 99.9 percent sure is Alison and Donnie Hendrix’s garage. (Is the headless Dr. Leekie still under there? I don’t even wanna think about it.)
Sarah’s studying for a high-school equivalency test, Cosima is trying to locate and vaccinate all the remaining Leda clones (and has helped six so far, including Krystal and Tony), and Alison, who’s prepping for a belated baby shower for Helena, still seems clear headed and content. Donnie has a spiffy new suit to go with a spiffy new job, and our favorite brother sestra, Felix, just had a successful art opening in New York. It all seems so…normal? Except that, well, Helena hasn’t named the babies yet — they’re just “orange” and “purple,” distinguished by bracelets and socks. (Then again, this is Helena we’re talking about, so maybe this actually is pretty normal.)
But now without the danger of Neolution lurking around every corner, Sarah is getting restless again as she finally begins grieving S’ death. She’s planning to sell the house she and Felix and now Kira grew up in, telling her brother that finding a new place to live will be an “adventure,” despite Felix’s reservations about whether that’s what Kira would want. When she calls Alison to say she’ll be at the baby shower, we find out Sarah hasn’t been around a lot, and then she also bails on her GED test at the very last second.
At the baby shower, Helena’s opening presents (Cosima got the kiddos a stuffed “science monkey,” which is adorable) and eating cheeseburgers with jam on them, because of course she is. Art brought Charlotte and his daughter to the party, and Cosima and Delphine also arrive together. But when Sarah arrives, she doesn’t go outside to greet the gang. Instead, she hangs back in the kitchen, brushing off Delphine’s condolences for S and then sidestepping the others’ questions about her GED test. This is Old Sarah all over again, isolating herself from those who love her most, and everyone else has noticed. “She’s not mended,” Helena says separately to Art.
Alison strongly hints that now that her test is over, it’d be nice to see Sarah around more often (if only so she could help discourage Helena from letting the twins play with rocks), and argues with her about selling the house. “This is what we fought for, to be sisters — it’s a good thing!” she tells Sarah.
“Freedom looks different to everyone,” Sarah replies — Kira has her cousins and friends here, but they’re living in the home where S was killed. Sarah tells Alison to back off and goes outside to sulk alone. Cosima comes out to join her, followed by Alison and Helena, and when the whole crew is sitting together, Sarah admits she bailed on the test and has no clue what she’s doing. “I carry around all these mistakes; I don’t know how to be happy,” she says tearfully. “There’s no one left to fight, and I’m still a s— mum.”
But no one lets a sestra stay down for long — Alison and Helena admit their own parental shortcomings so she feels less alone (Alison: “I was a drug dealer, for Pete’s sake!”), and Cosima admits to freaking out when Felix handed her one of the babies earlier, and it made her question why she doesn’t want children of her own. Their words reassure her, as they should. What are sestras for?
This crew doesn’t know it yet, but there’s another Leda in their midst. Felix greets none other than Rachel, who was waiting for him in a car outside Alison’s home. (No manservants tending to her this time — just an Uber driver.) The once-mighty Rachel Duncan has fallen: She has to lie low in order to stay hidden. She doesn’t go inside, but she gives Felix an envelope, and — despite everything she’s done, all her efforts to control and exploit and endanger the rest of them, before her life came crashing down — Felix wishes her well before they part.
And what’s inside that mysterious package? A list of all the Leda clones around the world — 274, to be exact, with all the information Cosima would need to find and treat them. “They’re never going to have to go through everything we did,” Cosima marvels.
Helena says that’s good and fine, but she’s got something else for them — her completed memoirs, titled Orphan Black. (“Boy, that’s weird. What is that?” Sarah laughs, a nice little nod to the audience/anyone who said, “Huh?” after hearing what the show was called.) Helena shushes them and starts reading the story of their lives, beginning where we began the show itself: “My story is an embroidery — many beginnings and no ends, but I will start with the thread of my sestra Sarah, who stepped off a train one day and met herself…”
And it’s here where we get the real end to this end, the final glimpses of the clones living their lives without the threat or control of Neolution — Alison and Donnie together and content (with one last dose of Donnie Hendrix dance moves), Cosima and Delphine traveling to Colombia (and around the world) to cure the Ledas, Helena with her babies — whom she names Arthur and Donnie (awwwwww), and, finally, Sarah, who stayed put in S’ house — with Felix’s artwork and Kira’s chalk drawings on the walls. As the three of them set out for a day at the beach, Sarah lingers behind and takes one last look at their home before closing the door on the series.
One last dose of Additional Genetic Material:
– Helena begging Sarah, “Don’t go” when she left her alone in the boiler room KILLED me.
– Art: “You all right?” Helena: “Most excellent.” Great deadpan delivery, H.
– S’ portrait on the mantle at the house. Perfect.
– …Can someone please tell Helena her babies shouldn’t be eating sand?
– Donnie’s shirtless dancing/striptease!
– When Camilla, one of the clones Cosima and Delphine tracked down in Colombia, thanks Delphine for giving her the vaccine, Delphine responds, “You can thank some very determined women.” Amen to that.
And there we have it. It’s been such a joy watching this show and then, for the past two years, getting to recap it here, and I want to thank each and every one of you who read and commented and added all of your awesome thoughts and commentary. The show may be over, guys, but Clone Club is forever.