Tatiana Maslany tries to comfort Tatiana Maslany

It’s strange to think that after the global conspiracy that took up the earlier part of the season, things are going to come to an end on Orphan Black in a dingy basement battle between a raging, heavily drugged man and a woman giving birth. And yet, somehow, that feels par for the course for this show.

This week finds many things unsettled amongst our various remaining players, whether it’s PT (or John? Let’s just call him John now, I guess) losing it over the destruction of his movement or the clones scrambling to move on after what happened to Mrs. S. No one has had time to breathe since the release of all the secret Neolution information, and when Sarah and Felix receive the news that Helena has been captured, there’s a palpable sense of exhaustion as they struggle to face this latest battle.

But after the season-long near-absence of Helena stories, we finally spend some time with her. None of it is exactly revolutionary—we’ve known since Season 1 that she had a nasty childhood, and the religious figures around her did their best to convince her of some truly awful things. The specifics are a nice piece of added context, though. One of the best things this season has done has been filling in some more background on everyone. The show has always been centered on Sarah, but the episodes focused on Alison, Cosima, and Rachel have been the strongest of this season. This one doesn’t quite measure up to those earlier outings, given how much other plot we need to get through at this point to prepare for the finale, but it does give some much-needed spotlight time to the most mysterious clone.

Besides which, origin stories are almost always fascinating. And the details we get about Helena provide some extra weight to the person we’ve seen her become. If you thought the bleached hair and redness under her eyes were some vague signs of her unhealthy lifestyle, you were wrong. But the show is careful to balance out the darkness with some light—she’s always been food-focused, and with a fierce sense of her own self. Even her love of oldies music is tied to the first time in her life someone made her feel good about herself. The fact that this person was saved by the love of a real family does not seem out of character.

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Given the way the scene is filmed, it also seems more or less like Sarah’s presence rescues her more than a timely blood infusion. If Neolution really wanted to harvest useful genetic code from their clones, they should figure out how Helena’s resilience works. No big deal, just using the arm she nearly bled out to attack Coady. That scene is also the second time this season we’ve watched a pre-attack moment through another character’s eyes. This time, it’s Sarah catching a hint of a smirk before the big moment, but there’s a certain parallel to Donnie encountering her and a Neo goon in the forest earlier in the season. It’s the same queasy mix of gratitude that she’s dealing with the situation and horror at her methods.

The rest of the episode suffers from occasional pacing issues. Mark is dispatched so quickly it seems odd to have brought him back, and, since we haven’t revisited the island since things started going sideways, we missed John’s transition from condescending smart guy to bald screaming dude who’s hopped up on goofballs.

There’s also some odd clone business going on here. Even if we accept that Alison and Cosima couldn’t disguise their appearances enough to attend the funeral without causing trouble, it’s just weird that they’re meeting over Skype. Why aren’t they at least spending that time together? And Sarah’s disguise as Rachel is utterly transparent. It’s very noticeable that she shows up wearing her normal Sarah clothes, but John doesn’t even seem to notice the leather jacket. Was that a shortcut so she could be in her traditional costume for the finale? And the scene at the police station seems to exist just so we know Art is getting randomly framed for Neolution craziness, a problem immediately exacerbated by his killing of Frontenac.

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Still, that seems less of a concern than the fact that he’s apparently planning to face down whatever John throws at him while Sarah helps her sister give birth. Who’s driving the getaway car at this point?

Random observations

  • The letter Felix reads from is a partial excerpt of the poem “Death Is Nothing At All” by Henry-Scott Holland.
  • OK, I get that Evelyne Brochu’s schedule has been wonky this year, but Delphine literally left the country in the days after her girlfriend found out a loved one died? Couldn’t they have come up with a better excuse for her absence?
  • Didn’t want to go too heavily into this, but Rachel’s full conversion to Clone Club has been interesting. Her correction that “the science” is named Helena was unexpected.
  • “You are shit mother.” Thanks, Helena, that about sums it up for Coady.
  • Did they decide Cynthia Galant had aged out of playing the clones as young children?
  • Hope you all listened to the credits.

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