For its final episode, Orphan Black finally takes down the Dyad Institute, and Clone Club tries to make sense of the aftermath and move on with their lives.
Dyad goes down and birth in a basement
Orphan Black has always felt like the Jason Bourne movies but with women, laughter, and queer people. The first act of this finale was our Jason Bourne material, and it delivered some nice fight scenes, a suspenseful cat and mouse pursuit, a few satisfying deaths, and one last rendition of the Helena psycho killer theme music. There was a lot that was great, but ultimately it is dwarfed by everything that came after it, and the enormity of a series finale.
But once it came time to get serious about giving birth, the show refocused on its theme of family being the people who are there for you, no matter what the science says. All season there have been deft uses of flashback, and bringing Siobhan Sadler into the room when Helena starts pushing was a heart-wrenching way to close that out and simultaneously bring the story back around to where we started with Sarah. It has always seemed odd to the characters of Orphan Black as well as many viewers that Sarah had a daughter – she should have been infertile, and calling her a hot mess when we met her would be putting it kindly. Now we know for certain that Kira was Sarah’s choice, not an accident or Siobhan’s religious imposition, though of course they were fighting from minute one.
The birth itself is one of the more revealing depictions I’ve seen on television, which naturally follows how the show has portrayed gynecological exams and other realities of female biology.
After the war
With Dyad gone, everyone moves on…everyone except Sarah, the Goddess of War. She’s living the house where her mother was killed, under the watchful eye of a glorious painting of Siobhan with a shotgun and a cuppa tea. Sarah has never been comfortable in her own skin, and it stands to reason that she would be unsettled and go for some self-sabotage now.
In the end, it seems all of our sestras are headed off on the exact right course in the world. Alison and Donnie are reunited with their children and just as goofily in love as ever. Bless this show for giving us one last shot of Kristian Bruun vamping it up in his underwear. Alison and Donnie may still be a married suburban couple in Bailey Downes, but now there are no secrets between them, Alison has her sobriety, and their newfound creativity has brought them closer together. Not to mention, Donnie seems to have put all that concrete-pouring to good use with his new career. Nothing about Alison’s life seems small – it’s full of life.
I wonder if Cosima and her sestras will ever choose to widen the sestrahood, to let some of these new Ledas see their faces and know about their origins? I’d like to think that someday they will, once the muddy ethics of the inoculation are out of the way. In the meantime, Cosima and Scott’s friendship and scientific pursuits continue, and Cophine are traveling the world, saving Ledas with science. Could there possibly be a better life for them? I’m sure we’re meant to read something into their brief scene holding one of Helena’s miracle babies, but not all women require children, and I’d like to think that Cosima and Delphine could live very satisfying lives as lovers, scientists, and aunts.
In one of the loveliest decisions, Helena and her babies lives in the Hendrixes’s garage. Aside from allowing their strange sister-wives-esue dynamic to flourish, this also means that what was once a place of death is now a place of life. Helena is also the most grounded she has ever been, and it turns out those angel figures we caught a glimpse of in the last episode aren’t a flashback to her serial killer days, but rather a mobile. Lest you think Meathead has gone mainstream, she still eats delicacies like “jamburgers” and refers to her babies as orange and purple until she decides to name them after two “real men”: Arthur and Donnie. If you had stopped crying, now’s your cue to start again.
Let’s talk about Art. I’m so glad he made it to the end, and even came back into the center of events. He was such a big part of the first season but drifted out of the action at various times. He and Helena have bonded many times, usually when Sarah made him watch over her for some reason, but helping serve as midwife bonded them in a new way. I can’t recall ever hearing Art say the word sestra before, and it sounds good coming from him. When Alison refers to Kira’s cousins, it sounds like she means Charlotte and Art’s daughter, as well as her own and Helena’s children.
Our brother-sestra Felix is jetting around showing his art and canoodling with Colin the medical examiner who declared Beth/Sarah dead in season 1. He’s also still plotting for Sarah’s own good, as always, and taking care of Kira. I’d like to think that someday, Rachel inches into the fold. I think Siobhan would’ve wanted it that way, especially since Rachel’s list helped them save the rest of the Ledas.
I don’t know about you, but I had become so used to not having an answer for why this show is called Orphan Black that I sort of stopped wondering. Still, it was nice to have the answer come in at the very end, and Alison’s bewildered, “but we’re not black?” interjection was peak suburban white mom, purple hair be damned.
The final scenes in S’s house were just the right touch. Things aren’t perfect – S is still dead, Sarah isn’t riding off into the sunset with any number of the men who have come and gone, and Sarah still doesn’t have that high school diploma. But they’ve made the house their own, and they’re living a normal life, the kind of life Siobhan always wanted for her three chickens.
Orphan Black started as a mystery: who and what is Sarah Manning? Who are these women who look like her? Who are all these people coming after her, and why? Who can Sarah trust? But it quickly evolved into something more. Who gets to make decisions about someone else’s life? What does it mean to be family? How do you protect your people? What will it take to be free? In the end I think the sestras found their answers, or at least they realized that the only way to find them is to keep on living their lives and taking care of each other.
It’s been a helluva trip.
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