Orphan Black Season 3 Finale Recap: All I Had Left of My Foul Life to Give

Photo: BBC America
Orphan Black
Episode Title
History Yet to Be Written
Editor’s Rating

After a season’s worth of rough waters, the clones, both Leda and Castor alike, deserve some peace. We do, too, frankly — for a few pre-grenade weeks there, it was starting to look like our ragtag crew might let us down. I mean, at one point I was so worried I named an imaginary scorpion after an imaginary fruit to deflect anxiety. (RIP, Mango, I did love you.)

But thanks to some quick mid-season wizardry — almost as though John Fawcett and Graeme Manson predicted we would start feeling disappointed as the Castors began commanding more and more screen time and changed their minds mid shoot schedule — the past few episodes bore some impressive feats of slightly insane brilliance that all folded together beautifully during tonight’s coda. The glaring loose ends that couldn’t be tied were mercifully put to pasture with a touch of Machiavellian flair, leaving most of the familial dysfunction that has bubbled over the past few weeks to be peacefully resolved. While our Ledas aren’t totally out of the woods, at least they can stop and enjoy the tranquil clearing they’ve found by collectively outsmarting both military and free market (if not yet religion) in their quest for the dignity of personhood.

Fresh off a few deeply Freudian dreams, Rachel wakes up all alone in a weird room with vaulted wooden ceilings. There’s a hand mirror and a note for her on the side table, both meant, presumably, to accompany the gift she’s received: a true prosthetic Neolution eye, Beats the Freekie Leekies’ crummy white contact lenses. She seems to be trapped, and will continue sporadically yelling, “Where am I? Who’s keeping me here?” throughout the episode until she gets an answer (though not one she will expect).

Art Bell has now given up all pretense and accepted his fate as a full-on accessory to the Ledas’ mission: He’s found them a nice abandoned warehouse/loft where they’ll be able to safely conduct their Kendall Malone–shaped business. As the lady of the hour sits there in a clean suit looking like a sea turtle slowly suffocating in a discarded plastic bag, Scott clears up the science that the Vulture Clone Club so graciously obliged me in explaining in the comments last week: She’s a chimera, a rare genetic anomaly whose DNA makeup includes two separate genomes — in her case, male and female. Her clones look like Tatiana Maslany and not Kendall Malone because they were created from just one of her genomes, the female set. Totally whackadoodle, but solid science yet again. I’m sorry I ever doubted you, real-life Cosima.

On their way to destroy the Ledas and snatch the original, Rudy and Coady stop by the headquarters of whichever clandestine agency employs them. There’s a micro-moment where David (who, it turns out, answers to, but is not, “the director”) tells Rudy that the director thanks him for his service; his stony, unfeeling tone tells Rudy exactly where he stands with the people who literally created him for this. The guy might be a misogynist psychopath (more on this in a minute) but his arc is a striking symbol of the government-military-soldier-veteran-poverty-suicide power structure that breeds men as killers with strict codes and expectations of masculine behavior, only to completely abandon them once their political value is spent.

Meanwhile, before meeting Alison at the school, Donnie has arranged for THE CUTEST SCENE TO EVER EXIST. He leads Helena into the garage and opens its door to reveal the best present ever: Jesse. “You found my boyfriend,” she says, gaping at her tow-truck knight in shining, corn-fed armor.

At this point, I was gaping, too — this is the international lone-ranger weirdo couple of our dreams. A better 'ship was never 'shipped. Later, as they sit in Jesse’s tow truck (a.k.a. Helena’s new chapel), she recounts her adventures and he just listens in awe — as he should — of his badass monster lady. They make out and are about to do the nasty right there in the cab (“I have science baby inside me, but you are my first,” she says. “Gosh, sweetheart, you had me at soap-making,” he responds. AND THEN I PASSED OUT), when the Hendrixes taketh away what they gaveth by texting that they need her help. “I have waited long time for this,” she tells her disappointed beau. “I can wait longer.” “So can I,” he replies. Yeah, there is no better TV character than Helena, period.

Cosima’s post-razor-interrogation chat with Shay doesn’t go too well. Shay is understandably shaken, and pissed; she doesn’t know who Cosima really is, and Cos can’t tell her. Her excuse about not telling her about her military past — because they met on a dating app — sounds pretty weak sauce, but whatever. Their relationship is doomed if Cosima can’t come clean about being a clone. Honestly, Shay is boring as sin, so I wouldn’t get too broken up about it.

The gang now has two enemies — Castor and Topside, or the military-industrial complex and late-stage capitalism, respectively — so they’ve decided to use one to get rid of the other, which is kind of brilliantly punk of them. Our buddy Ferdinand shows up to DYAD to “visit” with Delphine; he monologues for a minute about enjoying being dominated by women, but not for real — “haha, patriarchy in a nutshell” is what I wrote in my notes — then tells her he plans on taking the original to Topside so he’ll have a “seat at the table” ...

... And then wha-bam, there’s Sarah, letting him know it was she, disguised as Rachel, who got him caught last season. He’s visibly turned on, so she offers a deal: He and Topside can have the Kendall Malone samples they need (not Malone herself), but in exchange, he has to stop Coady. If he tries anything, they will murder and incinerate Kendall in a heartbeat. “You wouldn’t kill Leda’s only chance of survival,” Ferdy scoffs. “I’m immune,” Sarah replies sweetly, blowing his mind (and his gross boner) for the millionth time.

We knew Cosima was good at her job, but who could have guessed she also has an impeccable bedside manner? She goes to the warehouse to meet and get samples from Kendall, who is still mean and rude as ever, calling Cos a “pikey” (which sounds way more racist than it is, thankfully) and refusing to help. Cosima, however, is the Malone Whisperer and gets her to stop whining and even willingly donate her blood to save her “sister,” just by being nice and respectful. Remember, Kendall might be a felon, but she’s a victim, too, having been doubly punished, first by prison and then by Duncan & Co.’s blatant human-rights violations.

Sarah and Felix show up at Gracie and Mark’s motel room, courtesy of Art the Accessory’s intel. Fe kicks in the door like the badass he is, and they confront the lovebirds. Sarah guilts Mark, who dramatically announces they want to spend what little time they have left together, into helping them lure Coady for Ferdinand.

Alone at the warehouse, Siobhan and Kendall have a totally normal conversation in which S makes it clear she’s perfectly okay with dumping her own mother’s body into a bath full of sulphuric acid. They argue about John Sadler again — Kendall claims she only killed him with garden shears after he attacked her, and anyway he was trying to take her child from her. Not the best way to deal with your problems, obviously, but if that version of events is true, wouldn’t it change things a little?

Back at DYAD, a sudden miracle: After Nealon has left the room and Delphine notices her impeccable manicure — the maintenance of which would have been unlikely considering how long Rachel’s been hospital-bound — Crystal jolts awake. Her eye hasn’t been scooped out, thank God, but she’s still way freaked ... and Nealon has some explaining to do.

Sarah and Felix return to HQ with Mark as Siobhan is filling the acid bath. Mark lets Sarah beat his face into ground beef so he can pretend to be a post-battle Rudy on a video chat (again with the video chat) with Coady to lure her with Kendall promises to the warehouse. She takes the bait, and Ferdinand is waiting outside to kill her driver and grab her. Easy!

The real Rudy, meanwhile, is doing exactly what the Ledas predicted: following Alison home.

He’s gone after “the soccer mom,” since she’s the only Leda still above ground. She’s pretty much impossible to miss, too: It’s finally Election Day, which means bullhorns, free soap, and overdecorated school buses aplenty. Rudy shows up at the school first, looking not at all like a creepy pedophile, and follows Alison and Donnie and their cabal of supporters. Blame it on the late stage of his disease, but after trailing the bus, he doesn’t even hesitate before marching into the Hendrixes’ backyard ...

... and right into the THUNDERDOME (garage) where THE OTHER MONSTER (Helena) is waiting for him with duct tape. “Prison rules. Only one of us leaves alive,” she says. I can’t decide whether I like the Jesse reveal scene or this fight scene better. He may have a knife, but she’s got one hell of an advantage: his brain is breaking down. With a screwdriver and a knife taped to her hands, she easily breaks his nose in an instant by drop-kicking the roll of duct tape into his face. By the time she jams the screwdriver not into, but STRAIGHT THROUGH his bicep, he’s pretty much done; after a few more hits, he just falls face-down on the garage floor. She gets down on her own belly for a gentle talk as he dies.

He weakly tries to get her to see how similar the Castors and Ledas are with childhood stories about the Castors sleeping on top of one another “like puppies,” but she tells him she was forced to shoot a puppy as a kid. “You poison women,” she says. “We had a purpose, just like you,” he protests. “No,” she says, gently stroking his brow. “You are rapist.” The subtle realization in Rudy’s face as it dawns on him lasts for just a second before his eyes go blank.

Inside, Siobhan, Kendall, and Sarah convene for a family chat. S tells Kendall about Kira, which prompts Kendall to reveal the rest of the story: Five years after his first visit, Duncan came back to the prison, riddled with guilt and paranoia. He told her Neolution had taken over the program, killed his wife, and “poisoned the science,” and he wanted to escape, so Kendall sent him in Siobhan’s direction; she hid him, and in exchange, Duncan agreed to send the last clone, the one in the foster care system, to Kendall’s childless daughter. “I couldn’t expect forgiveness, but I wanted you to have her — she’s your blood, too,” Kendall says, as I try not to sob my whole face off over here. “A little piece of me. All I had left of my foul life to give.”

And now, the big reveal. Nealon, like Duncan before him, is locked up and cuffed at DYAD; Delphine demands to know where the real Rachel is. He does some monologuing of his own, then tells her to turn on the screen behind him, which reveals the live feed we were tipped off about earlier, of Rachel in her plush prison.

“We were there from the very beginning,” he brags, almost drooling with excitement. “Topside pursues its profits, the military pursues its weapons ... and we steer it all from within.” Ta-da! Neolution is behind all of it. Leekie was just the face of the organization, as was made clear last season, while Castor and Leda “were our Adam and Eve.”

He gives her a “onetime offer” ... but when she scoffs and turns her back, he cracks open something like a cyanide tooth, only instead, it contains ... a freaky worm that looks a lot like Rachel’s Neolution eye. Still handcuffed, he jumps her, but before he can drop the worm into her mouth (wait, what was that, some sort of Animorphs mind-control play?), Delphine shoots him with her itty-bitty pocket gun. As he dies, he gurgles, “You won’t live till morning.” God, do the Neolutionists know how embarrassingly cliché they sound?

Delphine calls Sarah and tells her everything. Just in time, too, as Ferdy has returned for Kendall’s blood. His Lurch is taking the samples when she calls. Sarah tells the whole room that whatever genetic material is taken will end up in Neolution’s hands, courtesy of a double agent. Ferdinand just so happens to hate Neolutionists; as he tells the room this, he calmly grabs Siobhan’s baseball bat and beats Lurch’s head in. The man is truly a psychopath in every possible respect, but he was right — Lurch gurgles something Illuminati-esque about Neolutionists being everywhere. Now Ferdinand is officially in league with the Ledas (thanks, capitalism!). He tells them to hide Kendall, doesn’t matter if he knows where, as he drags his man’s huge, still-groaning body to the acid tub and tells everyone else to clear out.

Somehow, during all of this (not to mention, you know, all the duties of Election Day), Alison has found time to make a roast. And set up a dinner party for the sisters and their family. In the middle of her soap shop. (Helena is wearing Jesse’s hat, but where is Jesse? Is Jesse not invited to Clone Club? Sad face.) Alison wins the election by 56 votes and makes a corny speech, and they all toast to Beth and each other.

Clearly Delphine has a good idea of her own fate now, so she shows up outside to say good-bye to Cosima. Earlier, she dropped by Shay’s place to officially apologize and back off; she gives Shay her card with “324B21” printed on the back and tells her to tell Cosima to tell her everything if she wants. Outside the shop, Cosima apologizes for “making [her] make hard choices and then blaming [her] for them,” and they kiss for the last time. Delphine heads to a parking structure (at DYAD, perhaps?), where someone awaits her. Turning around to face her attacker, whom it seems she was expecting, she asks, “What will happen to her?” The unseen person says nothing and shoots her in the stomach, leaving her to bleed out against a car. Honestly, this breaks my heart, but I also can’t think of a more appropriate outcome than for Delphine to die for Cosima.

Speaking of sweet vindication: My suspicion from two recaps ago has been confirmed, that Susan Duncan’s death by fire was faked, and she’s actually the queen of the Neolutionists. Baby Leda sister Charlotte waltzes into Rachel’s room and announces that she’s her new mommy. Rachel is totally bewildered at finally getting what she would have tortured and murdered many people to get, until Susan Duncan comes in behind her and says, “Welcome home.” Family reunions are really cute, y’all, even when they’re (about to be) evil as hell.

Our last moments with Clone Club this year are cold ones: three snowmobiles out on the frozen, Icelandic plains, racing toward a lone house ... and Kira, in her adorable little red coat. Sarah, Siobhan, and Kendall have all come for the family reunion. Kira jumps into Sarah’s arms, and the two of them lie in the snow like two pieces of a friendship necklace, gazing into each other’s eyes.

Did it feel to anyone else like this was a just-in-case-the-show-gets-canceled ending to you? The show’s ratings must be climbing, so it’s very unlikely to happen, but that did seem quite nice and neat ... I mean, I appreciated the bone being thrown, to be honest. They all deserve a little normalcy — the ones who lived, anyway. A peaceful ending — or a peaceful pause, anyway. (Because seriously, what was up with that Neo-worm? And who murdered Delphine? And why hasn’t anyone told Crystal about Clone Club? Is she still at DYAD?)

Until next season, Clone Club.