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Orphan Black debates the science of it all

The video was disturbing, but Tatiana Maslany couldn't help but wonder if Tatiana Maslany was about to betray her again. / Ken Woroner, BBC America
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So, Delphine’s alive. While this was certainly a better kept secret than poor Jon Snow, the more recent episodes had definitely been telegraphing a return for the character. At this point, if she wasn’t alive, it would have been an awfully cruel bait and switch.

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Does it make that much dramatic sense? Ehhhh. The finale has a lot of ground to cover in terms of making sense of a situation wherein Krystal sees Delphine get shot (without anyone then trying to silence Krystal), the Neolution villains apparently don’t follow up to make sure Delphine is really dead, and then whoever rescued Delphine convinces her that it’s important not to contact Cosima, even though Cosima is dying and if she waits too long, she won’t see her again. That is going to be a lot to get through during a finale that also has to cover the Neolution recovery after Evie Cho’s downfall, the “tremendous pressure” Susan was under to continue Leda, some resolution to the mystery eyeball situation, Duko’s murder…In general, a typical Orphan Black finale. Whether Delphine’s absence and return works will depend a lot on where the character goes after this. Too often, everything with her and Cosima has boiled down to some variation on whether or not they can trust each other.

And as much as it’s nice to see Evelyne Brochu return, this season has given Cosima some interesting territory to cover, since there’s no focus on her romantic life. The ongoing ethical debate between her and Susan Duncan about the morality of Neolution science has become a way to flesh out the core debate surrounding the science of the show. The clones spend so much of their time just trying to survive and stay one step ahead of the various people after them that the conversation about what the Neolutionists did has been on the back burner. There have been hints as far back as Season 1 that Cosima is intrigued and repulsed by the movement in equal measure, but spending time with a scientist as brilliant as Susan has brought the issue to the forefront. Watching the two square off has been an interesting enough thread that it’s too bad it took the show this long to have Cosima stand up for the humanist side of science. On the other hand, Susan is a relatively new character, and she’s the only one it makes sense for Cosima to spar with. It’s not like she and Rachel are going to have productive conversations.

Rachel, for once, gets a win. As soon as she lists her terms to Evie Cho, it becomes clear it’s a ruse. For one thing, our Orphan Black overlords love switcheroos (this is a technical term in screenwriting). For another, Rachel does not forgive and forget, and Evie humiliated her far too much for her not to get revenge. Does she need the added element of double-crossing Sarah and intimidating Kendra? Not really. There’s not a strong reason not to bring Sarah in on the plan, other than the storytelling tactic of reminding us all that Rachel is duplicitous and Machiavellian, neither of which are traits anyone thought she lost with that eye. It’s always only a matter of time before she becomes the person we know she is yet again. There has yet to be any motivating factor that can make her change her ways—not her father, not Charlotte, and certainly not sympathy for Sarah and her crew. But maybe all those charming swan snuff films will humanize her.

Speaking of characters who could learn a little human empathy, has any villain on this show been less equipped to face off against the clones than Evie Cho? Timelines on this show are always a little vague, but she maybe got to enjoy her big coup for a week? Two weeks? Rachel sometimes seems like the only bad guy who adequately appreciates the threat the clones pose, and Evie has underestimated them from the start. Even given her disdain for Susan and the Leda program, she has a distinct tendency not to plan for what they might come up with. But who knows? Maybe she’s down but not out. People have a habit of bouncing back in this universe.

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Stray observations

  • A welcome return for Helena, who we will now be calling the “deus ex Helena” for her ability to show up in a timely fashion to rescue the Hendrixes.
  • The Donnie Hendrix special: saying something romantic to his wife, then following it up immediately with, “Here, hold my undies. They’re dirty.”
  • “Ira, you fertilized my sister’s eggs for science. You don’t get to speak, too.”
  • Also, it’s nice that even when Delphine is roughing it in the middle of nowhere (but possibly on the same island as Cosima?), she can still find some sexy French music to listen to.
  • For anyone who enjoys real-life Tatiana Maslany, a cute interview wherein we learn that she rollerbladed to her Orphan Black audition. In Canada it’s still the ‘90s?
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