This Orphan Black review contains spoilers.
Orphan Black Season 5 Episode 2
Now that’s what I’m talking about. “Clutch of Greed” has all the elaborate cloak and dagger techniques, moments of levity, and the final dagger to the heart that we’ve come to expect and love from Orphan Black. Last week felt like a bit of a slog, but this week we had both the thriller and character-driven moments in perfect sync.
This is a show that originated with a similar vibe as the Bourne movies. Orphan Black‘s first few seasons always put the audience and the protagonists back on their heels, in a race to resolve questions like what is Sarah Manning, are there more, and who is after them. That makes this episode feel like not only a return to form, but a reunion, going home. Little touches like Clone Phones (5.0, natch) and seeing the alley by Felix’s place only adds to that.
Cosima meets PT Westmoreland
Cosima wisely advises her charge not to eat the Soylent Green–er, vitamin seaweed, and gets to meet the mysterious PT Westmoreland, who was apparently friends with Darwin and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I know Darwin himself wasn’t into social Darwinism, but is anyone else getting vague eugenics vibes from old PT? I feel like this guy has a century’s worth of skeletons in his creepy closet.
I’m glad Cosima isn’t taken in, even when he uses her favorite, “I follow the science,” line, which is so spot on, perhaps someone fed it to him? Someone should tell this man he’s not the first guy to offer Cosima a lab and the chance to study herself, her sisters, and all the coolest genetics in the world.
Helena goes on the lam
Helena and Donnie will always be an excellent pairing, and Donnie doing Helena’s voice is an absolute gem. In a bit of foreshadowing, one of Helena’s self-healing babies (because of course they are) has a sternum puncture. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Helena’s more feral side, especially directed at innocent bystanders. Lately, it has been at known enemies, or her suspicions are later vindicated. Will that doctor turn out to be someone who actually wanted information about (Helena voice) her babies? Or is she just a very unfortunate woman doing her job?
I love any time we get to see the Leda sisters doing actual normal activities that stay normal, so the idea of the word “neonatal” freaking out Helena and Donnie trying to soothe her is a joy. Pregnancy is already fertile ground for discussion of women’s bodily autonomy, from the way strangers touch pregnant women and state attempts at control to religious dogma and medical interventions (or lack thereof). I would love to see the show dive into these a bit more, and Helena’s fish out of water naiveté could be an excellent vehicle for it.
MK makes the ultimate sacrifice and Kira chooses Rachel
Finally, the best part of this episode from both a story and craft perspective. The first act has the audience in the same position as Sarah: not believing what we were seeing, and thinking everyone has gone mad for suddenly trusting the Neos. And yet, the gambit played out for just long enough, and the trade-off (Kira, some element of peace and freedom) is just convincing enough that it had me going for a minute. Could S really agree to this? Of course not. Siobhan has a hit list and PT Westmoreland is on it, but that opening is excellent, and sets up a fantastic, tightly paced episode of everything that makes Orphan Black great.
After so many years, I’m glad someone on this show is finally directly acknowledging that Kira is special, and not just because she colors inside the lines. Watching Kira choose Rachel (which is unfair, but ultimately how Sarah experiences it) is the second-most brutal part of the episode.
MK’s death is brutal, like all of Ferdinand’s kills, made all the worse by how little we knew her, and how removed she felt from the world after surviving Helsinki and living on the run. It is a little weird how in denial Sarah was, and how easily she accepts that MK would stay behind. She has to know that the swap would end that way. Maybe she just wants to escape with Kira at any price? If that’s the case, I hope we see her grapple with that choice.
A big part of the success of this episode is keeping other storylines – like Cosima’s, Alison’s, and to a lesser extent, Helena’s – lean so this episode could play out like a very tightly plotted heist movie, but with Kira as the goods. For next week, we can look forward to a bit more out of the hooks that are dropped in this episode. Ira is headed off to the island in service to Clone Club, to avenge his beloved Susan. Meanwhile, Delphine makes an unexpected (and secret from everyone – including the Leda Sisters) visit to Siobhan. Allison, of course, is still stuck in her craft closet, and Helena is headed to her secret hideaway.
I’m also looking forward to see how long Rachel manages to keep Ferdinand away, since that cockroach will probably outlive and outthink PT Westmoreland at this point. The only thing worse than Ferdinand is a disenfranchised Ferdinand, as we saw this week, so buckle up and hold to your babies, sestras.