Orphan Black Recap: All Roads Lead to Neolution

Orphan Black

Beneath Her Heart
Season 5 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating *****
Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris. Photo: Orphan Black/BBC America

A wise man once said, “When you oppress people, they rise up in a fiery anger.” It’s been an overarching theme of Orphan Black since the beginning: Human beings need at least a sliver (or even just the illusion) of control to stay sane. Sarah, for her part, has been working nonstop to prove this. Alison, too, has resorted to her share of desperate measures — her drug-soap empire, letting her best friend asphyxiate — but this week, our favorite type-A homemaker shows that being backed into a corner can also inspire some truly miraculous moments of genius and redemption, if you’re paying attention.

It’s timeline-jumping o’clock again — this time to properly document Alison’s long, hard-won escape from a suburban prison of her own making. We focus on two particular days: that of the church Fall Fun Fest, and one evening way back when, soon after Beth first dropped the “C-word” bomb on Alison. The Hendrixes are hosting Aynsley and Chad Norris for a double-date dinner party while Alison desperately attempts to ward off Beth’s insistent calls and texts.

Then, frickin’ Chad whips out the magic mushrooms.

At the time, Alison was still new to the whole making-decisions-in-a-crisis thing, which means she abruptly accepts and proceeds to get high as balls. It’s great timing for Cosima — who’s sent by Beth to prove that they’re indeed clones and not just extremely, uncannily identical doppelgängers — to show up on Alison’s porch with white-girl dreads and a nose ring and talking about Berkeley. (Frankly, I’m shocked it took Cos that long to realize Hendrix was totally gacked.) Alison’s trip takes a dark turn, and after running away from Cosima back into her house, she spends the rest of the night staring at her own reflection — suddenly so alien, yet also boring — then up at the stars (in what looks like the coziest backyard blanket pile ever) alongside a surprisingly sweet, wise Aynsley, who encourages her not to take their safe community for granted, but also, to follow her midlife crisis if she can’t shake it. Which suddenly made me feel like a monster for enjoying the garbage-disposal scene. The suburbs are one hell of a drug.

In the present, Orphan Black’s latest Mike Ehrmantraut, Mr. Frontenac — did we really just create this dude to replace Rachel’s other lackeys? — makes his own Hendrix house call. They still want Helena’s location, and Frontenac is good at finding pressure points. In Alison’s case, this means confirming just how useless she’s always feared she is to the cause: Sarah and Helena are both fertile (a double sucker-punch, if ever there was one), and a kinesiology degree is no match for Cosima’s evo-devo PhD. (Though, to be fair, she’s vastly more useful than Krystal.) On top of all this, her Fall Fun Fest throne has been usurped; there’s a memorial at the fair for Aynsley, whose family turns up to haunt her; she couldn’t help save MK; and God knows* where Helena is. “Why do I love my sisters so much when they’ve ruined my life?!” she asks.

What a perfect moment for her to stumble across a forgotten bottle of lorazepam in a crafting cabinet — and an even better time for Ramone, the slick teen dealer who now swears he didn’t screw them over with Pouchy, to suddenly return with a party-supply truck full of whiskey and dank!

Meanwhile, Kira’s behavior is growing more worrisome. Clearly distraught about MK, she’s now shutting out Sarah and even Siobhan from her growing relationship with Auntie Rachel, refusing to tell them anything about what they’re doing at Dyad together. However, the fact that she brings home a spiny mouse as a pet — and when Siobhan leaves her alone with the thing, whips out a massive pocket knife, ready to test what Rachel told her about its regenerative abilities — probably doesn’t bode well.

Thankfully, Alison only smokes and drinks with Ramone, opting to dissolve her pills into an iced-tea bottle to sabotage her festival-chair replacement. She gets cold feet at the last second, but that only leaves the Rx moonshine to be stumbled upon by poor, stressed-out Donnie. (He’s just left Neo cops searching their home, officially for evidence from Helena’s Pouchy and Co. massacre, but really to plant evidence as blackmail for Helena.) While Alison is busy coming to terms with the choices she’s made — including confessing complicity in Aynsley’s death to Chad, who thinks she’s speaking figuratively about their little minivan rodeo — Donnie guzzles the happy-pill sizzurp, to disastrous effect on his Highland Dance performance.

By the time Detective Just One of the Evil Guys discovers Leekie’s grave, everyone — including Sarah, who wriggled free of house arrest to try to stop the cops, and Art, who has also been rendered powerless and is gearing up to kill his partner if need be — seems to be out of ways to avoid divulging Helena’s location. That is, until Alison finally reaches her epiphany. Leaving Donnie violently barfing backstage with Felix, she storms over to Dyad and dumps a duffel bag containing Leekie’s rotting head onto Rachel’s desk.

See, they’ve all been terrified of being found out, when it’s actually Rachel who has the most to lose if any clone gets caught up in the justice system. All roads lead to Neolution. Spooked, Rachel acquiesces and calls off her dogs just in time to keep Art from sacrificing his soul by assassination. She glares into Alison’s identical eyes and tells her she’d like to strangle her, but Alison stares right back. “Then we’re not so different, you and I,” she says before strolling out the front door, back to Bailey Downs to tell Donnie she needs to go away for a while, to settle this identity crisis once and for all. Maybe her idyllic life needed to be ruined by her sisters. Maybe it wasn’t a life at all.

Stray Notes

• *God does know! Helena is safe in the convent of her childhood! Helena journals!

• The African spiny mouse’s ability to regrow skin, fur, and even cartilage was only discovered back in 2012, proving Orphan Black is still at peak-science game.

• How do you feel about Ramone? I trust nothing about him, personally. Plus, he’s a mom sweet-talker, which is just reverse Mrs. Robinson creepy.

• A commenter on last week’s recap reminded me of the car accident back in season one, which means Kira is both an empath and a healer. I regret the error, but am now doubly intrigued by the idea of multi-powered mutants.

Orphan Black Recap: All Roads Lead to Neolution