Orphan Black Season Finale Recap: Betrayal

Orphan Black

From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths
Season 4 Episode 10
Editor’s Rating *****
Tatiana Maslany as Sarah. Photo: Orphan Black IV Productions Limited

Rachel’s gonna Rachel. We knew all along, even if we tried to believe otherwise. Many a villain’s megalomaniacal scramble to the top has been fueled by a compulsive thirst to supersede her origins, but Rachel’s genesis is singularly twisted: Not only does she stab her own negligent mother in the gut with a kitchen knife, completing what she believes to be an inevitable series of dramatic events in her own story, but she doesn’t actually give a damn about Neolution’s ideology, beyond what is necessary to elevate her to its highest rungs. If Neolution follows the science, then by God, she will be the science they follow.

With all the deranged resolve of a dictator, Rachel proclaims to the BrightBorn board that she will combine and accelerate human trials of cloning and bot therapy. Even worse, she plans to keep them both in-house — no more illusions of autonomy for clones, just the excruciating agony of life as a lab rat. At last, she literally reclaims her own biology — and the biology of those clones whom she deems subpar. Susan is probably right that by turning on her sestras, she is effectively signing her own death warrant — not least of all considering she kills her mother because she saw a metaphorical version of it in a vision programmed by Zombie Westmoreland himself. (Oh, by the way, that Victorian billionaire is still alive.)

Let’s take stock in the wake of this finale’s extremely stressful cliffhanger.

  • At the very least, Alison and Donnie are safely hidden away with Helena, eatin’ intestine stew in Helena’s DIYurt. And MK, our wild card, remains in the wind.
  • Ferdinand, after showing up at Rachel’s hotel room to beg yet again for sex and professional partnership (yep, still the worst!), is now back at the safehouse, holding Siobhan and Kira at gunpoint. Sarah only finds out when, lying on the beach with a major stab wound to her thigh after having been nearly beaten to death by Rachel’s pimp cane, she calls S for help. So that’s a fun dilemma that won’t be solved for another year.
  • Krystal is safely detained at the comics shop, despite being the most brilliant idiot on this green Earth. The only reason this girl is still alive is because she’s got another self-defense system besides krav maga: a complete void of critical-thinking skills. Her intellect has always been a treat in the midst of this struggle for the future of humanity, but her moment this season is a stroke of genius. Even after (somehow) putting 99 percent of the puzzle together and (somehow) gaining the power to compel Felix and Art to tell her the truth, she still rejects the idea that she’s a clone because Sarah, her genetic identical, is “a seven at best, and I’ve been told I’m a 10.” So they let her go on believing her frankencosmetics conspiracy theory, and she offers all her intel practically for free. What a bargain! Of course, this idiot savant must be protected at all costs, especially since her information brings them to Dr. Ian Van Lier, whose coerced cooperation leads them back to the island and to Delphine. Speaking of Van Lier, he became a thing pretty quickly, didn’t he? Now that he’s killed his protegé/patient Evie Cho, it’s clear he answers to the board that just watches it all happen, if not to Westmoreland himself.
  • Evie is … dead? For her arc to end with such dramatic irony, a ruthless Icarus of a scientist who flies too close to the sun and is destroyed by the very technology and people she created, would be fitting. But given that Orphan Black has long subscribed to the timeless Dune rule of storytelling (“never count a human as dead until you see his body”), and given that the camera pulls out just far enough to mask positive death signs … well, pardon my skepticism.
  • The murder-by-bot implication: These bots essentially give Neolution control over every human who purchases one. A villainous plan for world domination via secretly mind-controlling consumer technology is a few steps too far down Technophobic Cliché Lane for my taste, not to mention how it’s significantly out of line with the rest of this show’s painstaking attention to contemporary scientific detail, but whatever.
  • Cho was the one who ordered the hit on Delphine, since her Leda loyalty was a threat in the “bots vs. clones” war. (Seriously, Siobhan? Is this a ‘90s toy commercial?) Duko stops short of killing her, though, thanks to Krystal’s blessedly obnoxious ringtone (a knockoff of Kesha?) and the suspiciously timely arrival of Van Lier, who whisks her away on behalf of his shadowy overlords to the Island of Dr. P.T. Westmore(au)land, where she’s nursed back to health by Gruff Dude from Rachel’s visions. He is now “the Messenger,” though his real identity remains to be seen — he might actually be Westmoreland himself. Either that, or he really is a messenger and Westmoreland is actually a Head in Jar plopped on Rachel’s doorstep.
  • Delphine’s kidnapping is quite felicitous, since it puts her in the right place at the right time to save Cosima’s life, just as she’s about to collapse from hypothermia after wandering in the woods with Charlotte, attempting to find the boat in which Susan has so magnanimously urged them to escape Rachel’s bloodlust. Delphine also has a secret stash of Cosima’s cure (“our homework,” she adorably calls it), presumably obtained by the Messenger from Susan, with which Cosima (and Charlotte) will finally be saved.
  • Can we stop and appreciate for a second that Cosima just cured her own completely unique genetic disease? Teetering on the brink of death for like a year, in the face of countless devastating setbacks, Cosima Niehaus just cured her own damn disease. If anyone has won at natural selection, it’s her. It makes Susan’s betrayal that much grosser by comparison — she offers the cure to Rachel within seconds of Cosima announcing she’s found it, locking her out of her own data and salvation — especially considering how scandalized she is that Rachel would turn around and betray her.
  • Susan Duncan is truly a piece of work. She’s a classic emotional abuser: Dependent on whomever she’s manipulating at a given point, she plays either the benevolent creator (to Rachel, claiming Sarah and Cosima have brought her “so much joy”) or the dutiful scientist (to Cosima, insisting the theft of her research is “the cost of progress”). Which one are you, woman? Are you a righteous defender of the Ledas’ humanity, or a ruthless traitor like your daughter, the terrible monster to your Frankenstein? Anyway, this might all be moot — Susan may not survive being tied to a chair, bleeding out in the bedroom she so reveres. Still, she sure seems to talk a lot for a person who’s been severely bleeding for a good 45 minutes.

Remaining Questions:

  • What does a 200-year-old crazy rich guy look like?
  • Sarah will find the boat, right?
  • Where was Alison? Was she just outside pooping this whole episode?
  • Will anyone ever just bleed out or die like a regular person on this show?
  • What else can Cosima cure?
  • Luckily, we have one last season to find out.

Orphan Black Season Finale Recap: Betrayal