Monday, August 7, 2017

Orphan Black, Season Five, Episode Nine: One Fettered Slave

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One Unfettered Slave, is the penultimate episode of Orphan Black. As the series finale draws near, I find myself nowhere close to being ready to give up my sestras.  The writers are finishing up the story line, hopefully leading to freedom for the sestras but it's come at a cost. This episode opens up with Siobahn's funeral and it's gut wrenching.  The sestras and Felix are all orphans now and so the question quickly becomes who is going to pick up the mantle left behind by S. Sarah and Felix don't have long to contemplate their lost because at S's funeral, they are informed that Helena has been taken. 


Helena is the clone I hated when she was introduced and has quickly moved to my favourite.  All of the clones have had an episode which featured their backstory and One Fettered Slave is Helena's turn. Given that Helena was raised by religious zealots who twisted her to kill sestras, there's no way that it was going to be anything but abusive. Helena is hazy from the drugs and so she flashes back to her time at a Catholic school. Helena sneaks into a nun's office to help herself to some hidden chocolate. When the nun enters the office, Helena is forced to hide. Thinking herself alone, the nun starts furiously masturbating. A fascinated Helena approaches the nun and is punished for her sinful spying. Helena's head is dunked into a bucket containing bleach and hydrogen peroxide, turning her from a brunette into the familiar blonde that we all know. It also explains why the skin under Helena's eyes is always red. Even though Helena protests that she hasn't seen anything, she's locked in a closet and told to spy in there.  A defiant Helena stuffs her stolen chocolate in her mouth. 

Helena finds what she thinks is reprieve from the closet when Tomas shows up. Tomas assures Helena that she is a very special girl and that he's looked for her for a long time. Tomas, being a Prolethean zealot, teaches Helena during her formative years about copies and originals, as well as the evils of science. 

When Helena awakens, she's in the back of a van being examined by Virginia, on her way to a lab. Mark asks about Gracie and Virginia lies, claiming that they'll be reunited after the twins are born. Helena is taken to what appears to be an operating room to start the produce of inducing labour. 

P.T. is looking a little worse for wear given all of the trials he's had recently. PT's given a shot to give him a bit of a boost so that he will have the energy to make it through Helena's labour. A re-invigorated PT pulls off his nasty wig, now past the point of pretending that he is long lived. Rachel may have exposed PT for the fraud that he is but he's not down and out yet.  PT orders Frontenac to find Hashem Al-Khatib and neutralize him. As part of cleaning up after Rachel's defection, PT is having people murdered. In full control of his facilities, PT heads to the delivery room and orders Virginia to put a rush on Helena's delivery so that he can harvest the twins fetal stem cells in order to create a treatment. PT is so impatient, he wants the babies cut right out of Helena but Virginia argues that a vaginal birth would be a better alternative. 

With the plans for the twins well under way, the next order of business as far as PT is concerned is the elimination of Mark. PT reminds Virginia that it's always been the two of them against the world.  Virginia points out that Mark is the last Castor clone left alive. PT however is not to be dissuaded and he leaves Virginia yelling, "the future is female!"  If there's was any hope of Virginia being even somewhat redeemed, it ends here. Tricking Mark into believing that he's getting an injection of the cure, Virginia actually poisons him to death.  A tired Mark lies down, takes Virginia hand and his dying words are, "good night mother."  

The petocin has done it's work and Helena is starting to have contractions. The pain causes Helena to have another flashback and this time it's to Tomas declaring that Helena is ready to go out into the world and begin her mission. Helena follows a clone into a church and stabs her viciously in the back, only to be surprised when she sees that her victim has the same face as hers.  Back with Tomas, a very upset Helena takes to her bed and bemoans her belief that she to is a copy.  Tomas then informs Helena that the others are the copies and that she is the original, reminding Helena of her uniqueness. In a bid to create some difference between herself and the clones, Helena carves wings into her back. 

In the present, Helena begs Virginia to spare her and her babies believing that Virginia might have some sympathy for her because PT took away Virginia's babies. Helena says that her babies need their mother. Virginia being the cold fish that she is, reminds Helena that she was abandoned at birth and that she killed her fellow clones, thus in Virginia's opinion, making Helena unfit to be a mother. 

Proving that Virginia and PT have no idea who they are dealing with, they stupidly leave Helena alone in the operating room in reach of the tools. At first, Helena tries to free herself but when that fails, Helena tells her twins that they deserve more than her and that she is going to set them free.  Helena's main objective is that the twins avoid the abuse she suffered and that they not end up being experimented on like herself and the sestras. Helena then jams the scissors into her wrists causing her blood to spurt wildly. If you weren't screaming no at the television at this point, you need to turn in your clone club membership.

Cosima and Allison

Cosima and Allison don't get a lot of screen time this episode.  Essentially, the two skype regarding Siobahn's death and the way Sarah is handling it. It's Cosima who suggests that Sarah hasn't even cried about her loss yet because Sarah wants to be strong for Kira.  Allison however is adamant that this isn't right because Sarah always has to be the strong one.  It's another reminder that the sestras are without a maternal figure and that the absence is sorely being felt. 


At Siobahn's funeral, both Felix and Sarah speak. Sarah tells the gathered crowd, "you all know S didn’t go anywhere without a fight, and that fight was for all of us — her people, her network, her family." Felix reads a letter which Siobhan wrote before she died. "Some of you know what we’ve been through more than others. But Just remember my loves, death is nothing at all,” she wrote. “I’ve only slipped into the next room, you can call me by my old familiar name, put no sorrow in your tone. I promise we will laugh at this difficult parting when we meet again. All my love, S." Damn you Orphan Black for getting me all up in my feelings. 

At least Siobahn didn't sacrifice her life for nothing.  It turns out that Neolutions dirty dealings are all over the news and Dyad's assets have been frozen.  It's a victory which Sarah and Felix don't get to savor because Sister Irinia hands Sarah Helena's journal at Siobahn's wake.

Sarah has to take care of Kira and so it's Felix and Art who pay a visit to Rachel. Felix and Art are shocked to see that Rachel is no longer composed thanks to the missing eye, which has now been sewn shut. Felix is certain that Helena has been taken back to the island but Rachel isn't so sure given that the residents of the Island staged their own rebellion against PT, thus making it unsafe for him there. It's Rachel who points the finger at Art's new partner Detective Angler. 

Determined to follow the lead, Art and Felix head to the police station. Things are about to get hairy for Art becuase Interpol is now investigating the two murders and Art's sergeant wants to know exactly what is going on with him. Art tells his superior at this point, the tentacles of Neolution reach so far, he's not certain that his superior isn't involved. 

With trouble brewing, Art and Felix's next step is to track down Al-Khatib. When they find Al-Khatib, he is with Frontenac. As we know, PT ordered Frontenac to clean up the loose endings and so things don't look good for Al-Khatib. Art and Felix confront Frontenac, who stupidly pulls out his gun and points it Art and like the cop that he is, Art kills Frontenac on the spot. Given that Detective Angler is clearly trying to tie Art's hands and make him complicit in the murders, this may not end well for Art. 

Al-Khatib is taken back to Rachel's where Rachel tries her hand at interrogation to try and learn where Helena is.  Art is forced to move from one crises to another when Sarah calls to say that according to Kira, Helena is in deep trouble and the babies are coming. A frustrated Art puts his gun to Al-Khatib's head pointing out that he can always pulls the trigger one more time.  A scared Al-Khatib reveals that the person Neolution wants more than him is Rachel. Yes, folks it's that time - a clone plays a clone. The plan is for Sarah to keep PT busy while the others rescue Helena. Sarah is handed a GPS tracking device so that the others can locate just where Helena is being kept. 

Sarah, pretending to be Rachel is handed over to PT.  Sarah does a convincing job for a time, though she has forgotten to change into something Rachel might wear. Sarah's plans quickly go to shit when she mistakenly calls PT father, though she tries to cover by claiming that this is how she's always felt about him. PT however isn't feeling it and he quickly rips off Sarah's eye patch and bad wig. Realising that she's busted, Sarah pulls out a switchblade and manages to slash PT's neck before she is grabbed by security.  PT grabs a gun, preparing to shoot Sarah when Virginia bursts in and stops him. Virginia convinces PT not to kill Sarah because Helena is going to need a blood transfusion if she's going to survive. 

Art and Scott sneak into the building and when the alarm goes off, Art tells Scott to wait behind because this is all on him now.  Art moves through the stairway with a flashlight and his asp. 

Sarah is taken to Helena's bedside and instructed not to struggle so that Virginia can save Helena. Sarah is immediately panicked to see that her sestra is not responsive. Virginia makes it clear that with Helena unconscious that they are going to have to perform a c section because she won't be able to push. Sarah keeps trying to reach out to Helena and miraculously, Helena responds.  Helena then asks Virginia for some water. When Virginia leans in, Helena takes her now free hand and grabs Virginia's head before slamming it repeatedly into the table, yelling "you're a shit mother". Helena and Sarah start to attempt an escape and of course, this is when Helena's water breaks. 

Finally, a Helena centric episode and it seems as though Orphan Black is going to culminate with the birth of Helena's babies. Was I the only one wondering why exactly Charlotte didn't play young Helena?  Charlotte is the youngest clone and would therefore be an exact copy of all of the older sestras. It makes no sense to me that they hired another actress to play young Helena.  

I really wasn't pleased to see Helena's suicide scene. Yes, it was a reminder of Helena's desperation for her babies to avoid her fate but I think that this had already been established.  It's problematic to show such a graphic suicide attempt, even if the writers pulled back from it in the end and saved Helena's life. Depictions of graphic suicide is not a good practice, given that there are people living with suicidal ideation. 

Though he didn't have much screen time, Orphan Black had to work to make its audience believe in Art's now full blown commitment to clone club. Art has always been hyper aware of the law and done his best to stay on the right side of it during his involvement with clone club.  By killing Frontenac, kidnapping Al-Khatib and storming Dyad offices, Art has clearly crossed a line.  Art explains to Sarah that Siobahn's death has convinced him to go all in because he realises that Siobahn sacrificed for his family as well.  I'm not sure I'm buying full throttled Art and quite frankly, the writers are a day late and a dollar short on this score. 

Now that we're down to the end, all we have left is a manic PT and what seems like a submissive Virginia as antagonists.  Of course, the sestras are going to take down the final big bad to end the series.  I was particularly disturbed by PT's claim that the future is now female because that was stolen directly from feminist organising. This was done while Helena was strapped to bed, about to be forced into giving birth.  I'm not sure how aware the writers are that women find themselves in this situation all of the time.  Then there's the fact that all of the sestras bodies have been violated in some way and much of their lives were strictly regimented. Yeah, I see the irony of PT's announcement but the co-option of feminism in this way combined with the ongoing violation of the female characters bodies didn't sit well with me. 

As far as Virginia is concerned, I'm positive that the death of Mark was not only meant to wrap up the story line with the Castors but to prove to the audience that Virginia is irredeemable. I must admit to being really confused by Virginia. What incentive does she have to continue to follow PT's orders? Sure, there's the benefit of increased knowledge but it doesn't seem like she will benefit from her research in any tangible ways, particularly given that the research is illegal. With the little bit of time that the writers have left, they don't have enough time to properly flesh out Virginia, who unlike PT doesn't seem to have a motive for her behaviour.

At this point, I'm not sure how Orphan Black is going to wrap up but I highly suspect that Helena is the clone who won't survive given what a vulnerable position she is in.  If this is indeed the case, it will break my heart. I just don't see Orphan Black coming to conclusion with all of the sestras making it out safely.