Maria Doyle Kennedy / Ken Woroner, BBC America

The small but scrappy team fighting against Neolution has always been in tremendous physical danger. The people they’re opposing are wealthy, powerful, and violent. The fact that they haven’t suffered that many casualties before now is more a product of luck than anything else. And if anyone understood the risks they were taking, it was Mrs. S. She was the character who came from a background of resistance, who understood all too well that in a fight like this, there will be times when you try to minimize casualties rather than stop them.

So she sets up her final showdown with Ferdinand to be solo. It’s easy to argue that she should have brought someone along with her for this fight, but it wouldn’t be very in character for her. She does not bring her children along to fights. And it’s hard to imagine Art being able to sneak off to help without Sarah noticing. She’s the consummate mother on the show, striving to look after her varied flock until the very end. In this episode alone, she works to protect Rachel and Delphine in the midst of Felix’s big night—it’s clear she’s been keeping Delphine as far on the outside as possible to keep her out of trouble. And then, despite everything Rachel has done, she takes the time to tell her she’s done the right thing. Has anyone ever in Rachel’s life told her she’s done the right thing?

Felix, meanwhile, gets more attention in this episode than he has in ages. His big clone art project is a huge hit, thanks, in part, to Alison’s idea to have the clones step in and out as a trippy piece of performance art. Also, cute morgue guy comes back! They probably haven’t seen each other in like a year, but hey, if the show wants to indulge in a little classic finale bow-tying, this is not the most objectionable way to do it. Felix deserves a bit of love after spending the entirety of this show helping out his sister. Plus, Cosima and Delphine get to briefly act like a normal couple, which is something of a rarity on a show that’s spent five seasons pushing them together only to break them up again.

The constantly circulating clones provide something of a distraction for Sarah, who’s not an idiot and has figured out that Mrs. S is up to something. But S, ever savvy about Sarah’s tendency to charge into things, keeps her out of the entirety of the Ferdinand/Rachel deal.

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And her sacrifice is ultimately quite effective—she knows working with Ferdinand is likely to lead to a very specific conclusion, but also recognizes that he’s the only way to strike the killing blow at Neolution, which may or may not have been accomplished here. None of it is going to be possible without some inside information, and Mrs. S makes a very careful assessment of the figures she needs to exploit to get it.

It’s easy to believe, for a brief moment, that Rachel is hungry to return to her old ways, and that she’d be tempted by Ferdinand’s plan to rule over Neolution together. But Ferdinand doesn’t understand the degree to which she wants to destroy the organization that has destroyed her. Or how much she has been broken by what’s happened with them. He loved her enough to save her, but not enough to learn who she is now.

We’re left with saying goodbye to Mrs. S, the clones’ greatest protector, who willingly faces death on her own to keep her kids safe. And the show gives her quite a sendoff, having Felix articulate what has often been Orphan Black’s deepest message, that we are so much more than genetics, and that family is about more than just blood. Is her death telegraphed throughout the episode, including that heavy-handed tearful letter-writing scene? Well, maybe. But the show has always had far too much affection for that character to send her off with any less.

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Unfortunately, we’re one chicken short at the end here. If someone had asked you in Season 1 if you thought the show would end with a heroic effort to save Helena, would you have believed them?

Stray observations

  • Today in meaningful t-shirt slogans, we have Kira in a “follow your own path” shirt and Hell Wizard with a “the future is female” shirt.
  • Cosima somewhat misquotes that Jane Austen line. It’s from Northanger Abbey, and the full line is “There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is not my nature.”
  • “I’m not going to micromanage you, Donnie. Is that what you’re wearing?”
  • Going to assume that there is a subset of the fandom very annoyed right now because Felix interrupted Delphine right as she was about to tell Cosima what she wants.
  • Sarah hustling Adele is funny for both the execution and for the ease with which she does it.
  • One of the press photos available right now for the show is Rachel holding up the glass stem to her eye. I chose not to use that one last week. You’re welcome.
  • Is everyone else trying to figure out who is going to survive the show at this point? Maddy Enger’s prospects do not look good at present.

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