Orphan Black Recap: The Man Behind the Curtain

Tatiana Maslany as Cosima. Photo: BBC
Orphan Black

Orphan Black

Clutch of Greed Season 5 Episode 2
Editor's Rating 4 stars

Until this week, I assumed that the “Kira has clone ESP” thing would’ve been completely abandoned by now. BOY, WAS I WRONG. It’s unclear at this point whether that’s a good or bad thing, but given the show’s sparkling track record, let’s just have fun with this one: Is Orphan Black an X-Men prequel?
Think about it: We have the first three offspring of cloned human beings ever, and two of them have now demonstrated low-grade superpowers as an empath (Kira) and a healer (the stabbed Helena bebe in utero, who miraculously recovers almost immediately). Doesn’t that mutant origin story make a lot more sense than a one-in-a-trillion possibility of a normally conceived human exhibiting superhuman abilities?
Anyway, hopefully we’ll learn more about this by season’s end, even if Sarah isn’t pleased with the means. In a déja vu nightmare, the unluckiest clone has once again been caged by the meanest — but this time, at least there’s decent internet. Cosima and Alison are both “safe,” two video chats assure Sarah, and Rachel has helped Siobhan reenroll Kira in school as part of a “truce,” where she’ll return to her mom’s custody, provided her “unique physiology” can also be studied by Dyad scientists periodically (with a sprinkling of, “BTW, we own any/all of her abnormal DNA”).
But Sarah once again smells a trap, and also, Rachel sucks. So Sarah and Siobhan (who has wavered a bit on her anti-Rachel stance but is still in Sarah’s corner), with the help of Felix and a deathly ill M.K. — who magically reappears from the depths of Minecraft to offer her stealth network to her sister and niece — conspire to spring Kira from school before Rachel and Co. have a chance to pick her up for her first scheduled diagnostic.

Unfortunately, Sarah’s “Auntie Rachel” disguise doesn’t fool Ferdinand, a.k.a. Misogyny Incarnate, who is already tender about the fact that his newly born-again domme Rachel no longer wishes to abuse him. He follows them back to Felix’s loft, where M.K. insists on donning the Rachel costume to stall him so Sarah and Kira have time to escape. For whatever heartbreaking reason, Sarah’s no-clone-left-alone code evaporates — on some level, she knows she’s agreeing to let M.K. die for her. But if there’s one thing we know about Sarah Manning, it’s that she’s a survivor. Even her fierce sense of loyalty is no match for her almost feral inability to sit still and “behave,” especially where Kira is concerned. So M.K. is left alone to die — she seemed to believe it was inevitable anyway, or at least preferable to her hellish life of terror and shadows — by the nauseatingly violent, spurned rage of an entitled babyman.

This episode knows its Greek tragedy, though: Just as they reach the getaway van, Kira (empath, remember) feels M.K. die and finally snaps. With everything that’s happened, it’s easy to forget that Sarah’s kid (“my daw-tah!”) is 11 or 12 by now, not to mention emotionally neglected and exhausted. Nobody seems to have thought to ask the girl what she wants — and right now, all she wants is “to know why [she’s] like this.” She flat-out refuses to leave, and Siobhan and Felix are powerless to her plea. Together, they box Sarah into a corner, emotionally and physically, and all of the stubbornness and adrenaline and inertia that propelled her wild five-year escape dissipate like helium from a punctured balloon.

Sarah’s twin, however, remains gloriously untameable. It’s hard to brand Helena’s suspicion of a neonatal doctor extracting DNA from her miracle science babies as paranoid, given what the Ledas have all been through. For all we know, the woman she stakes to the hospital bed via amniocentesis needle through the face (shudder) was a genuine threat. Remember the dental hygienist from last season? (And anyway, if a doctor doesn’t trust women, so why should women — especially women trying to escape scientists who claim to own their DNA — trust a doctor?) In all her terrifying magnificence, Helena escapes yet again to a location unknown by everyone except Donnie, who is sworn to secrecy on pain of his heart being devoured by Baba Yaga, and Sarah.

Meanwhile, Cosima is finally called — mid-introduction to Ayesha, the Afghan girl with cancer — to the Victorian man cave of the Great and Powerful Westmoreland. To my deep disappointment, he seems to be a regular, pervy old guy with a goatee who lives like a steampunk goth among skeletons, taxidermied birds, and an obsession with long-dead boyfriends like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Kind of a letdown, if we’re being honest. He tells Cosima that her cure appears to be effective and congratulates her, which is a little like your crappy absentee dad attempting to claim pride in your accomplishments — happy Father’s Day, everyone! — and then asks her if she’d like to “follow the science” at Revival when she’s done curing her sisters. Cosima is no fool, so she knows that what he’s really asking is, “Would you like to stay here and build a master race with me, your crappy, 170-year-old dad?” When she’s like, “Ha ha, nah,” he tells her about a weird poem his boyfriend bro Conan Doyle once wrote about cheese (relatable) and the inability of small minds to conceptualize God (not so relatable). Now we’re basically dealing with a gross steampunk cult leader who not only craves immortality with an unparalleled resolve, but also truly believes he can defeat God. Awesome!

Stray Thoughts

• What do we think is in those Revival vitamins (Revitamins?) that Cosima refuses to take? Do they have anything to do with the Fountain? This has to be some sort of organ-harvesting pyramid scheme, right?

• Do we think Ferdinand knew or cared which clone he stomped to death?

• Where is Helena going with her bare ass waggling in the breeze? What hiding spot would make Donnie say “ … Seriously?”

• All Westmoreland theories enthusiastically encouraged in the comments! This reveal seems too simple for such a crazy, seasons-long buildup.

Orphan Black Recap: The Man Behind the Curtain