Orphan Black breaks my heart and I want to thank it for doing so, with this episode. It rips it out, stomps on it and hands it back to me with a reminder that there are still two more episodes to go — and that’s a sign of an exceptional hour of television, the best of the season so far. As the series nears the end, it’s delivering some of its best work.
There are moments of hope as “Guillotines Decide” begins — Sarah has Kira back (and sends her daughter to stay with Art’s daughter with Charlotte), Felix returns and Cosima has the cure and plans to inoculate Ledas with it — but they’re eclipsed by the tragic, heartbreaking consequence to a move made to protect the sestrahood.
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It’s especially fitting that Cosima quotes Jane Austen in this episode: “There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my friend. I have no notion of doing things by halves. It’s not my nature.” The women in the clones’ lives (Mrs. S and Delphine) are willing to do what they have to, even if it means working with people who make them sick, while their “best” guys (Felix, Donnie, Scott and Art) remain by their sides in support.
The signs are there for the episode’s heartbreaking ending from the first scene. But even having that sinking feeling and knowing what is likely coming doesn’t make any scene less poignant, nor does it make it easy to say goodbye to a beloved character.
The bloodbath begins at the convent where Helena’s hiding, but (surprise!) she’s not the one spilling the blood. Gracie tells the clone that Mark died, but she also lies to Mark when she checks in and tells him she couldn’t find Helena. It seems those miracle babies and a reminder that she still has family, has won Gracie over.
Helena knows that the phone can be traced, but before they can leave, Enger (whose absence is noted twice in the episode to warn you that she’s out there and likely up to no good) shows up and turns her gun on Gracie as Helena is held down by a couple of Neos and can only watch.
Can They Really Just Stand Down?
After a night of waiting (in Mrs. S’ case, with a gun in hand and another weapon at her side, as is to be expected) for the Neos to break down their door to take Kira back, it looks like they may be in the clear. Or, at least, that’s what Siobhan wants Sarah to think because the look on S’ face suggests she knows exactly what’s coming. It can’t be as simple as the Board scrambling to protect themselves and Rachel now their target, can it?
It’s time for a break, Mrs. S insists, even with Neolution trying to require millions to submit their DNA in a dozen European countries, so why doesn’t everyone help Felix with his art opening? Yes, Felix is finally back, and his return proves that his recent separation from the sestras was a mistake for the final season. However, in order to truly “take the day off from crazy” and avoid “sestra shenanigans,” he doesn’t think that all the sestras should attend the art opening where he’s hoping to impress a gallerist from Geneva, Ezra Lue.
Not taking a day off are Mrs. S and Delphine. Thanks to Siobhan calling in Ferdinand, Rachel is still alive and recovering in a motel. It makes Delphine sick to work with MK’s murderer, but this is where they are. Their interests are firmly aligned, so Neolution goes down for good or they all do. But while they have the evidence of what Neolution is up to, they need Rachel to provide proof of the bribes. If she does, she’ll have the chance to be truly free, Mrs. S tells her.
Alison is sort of still her new self (though she can’t help but comment on what Donnie’s wearing as she continues to try to not micromanage him) as the Hendrixes help Felix set up. Though Felix wants to avoid “something clone-y” happening, Alison suggests that he use the sisters to impress Ezra Lue during the art opening. What better way to do that than with a clone swap of sorts?
And so, Felix makes the clones part of the show, bringing Alison over to her painting and introducing her as Hestia, the goddess of hearth and home. She tells Ezra she lives in the suburbs, is married to Donnie and drives the soccer bus. Off a remark that she looks different from the painting, Felix explains, “identity is a social construct.” Following Alison’s exit, Felix introduces Cosima as Metis, the goddess of wisdom and deep thought.
But while the others may be embracing this breather, Sarah can’t, and instead, she uses her time with Adele to question her about what Delphine was doing in Geneva. She puts the pieces together when Adele mentions a meeting with a French guy. Ferdinand, Sarah realizes. “He killed my sister,” she tells Adele.
What Do They Want?
Ferdinand wants to use the record Rachel has of the bribes made for Neolution to blackmail the Board and get the fortune they dreamed of, but she’s thinking of the freedom it means for her. Why not make the information public and destroy PT and Neolution, she suggests, and then the two of them can take her nest egg and go someplace warm. No, Ferdinand wants the obscene wealth, and Rachel sends him off to the Board with the USB drive.
When Sarah arrives at Felix’s event, she fills him in on what she’s figured out: Ferdinand was Mrs. S’ source that led them to Coady, and Mrs. S and Delphine are cutting a deal with Rachel. That’s brutal, Felix agrees before shoving Sarah out in front of the crowd as Athena, the goddess of war. By this point, Felix has clearly won over Ezra.
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Ferdinand’s still dreaming of his future when he joins the Board, or rather, what’s left of it. Suicides, he’s told as an explanation for those missing. He has his list of demands, and all that’s left is to show them the evidence of the bribes … or so he thinks. There are no files on the USB Rachel gave him.
Even though it means doing the right thing to the wrong man, the only one who ever loved her, Rachel is giving everything to Mrs. S. “We do what we can, each of us in our own way, and we do it for each other,” Siobhan says.
But while Rachel didn’t expect Ferdinand to return, he does make it out of the death trap of that Board meeting, even as Van Lier warns him they’re not finished.
Entering a Death Trap
When Siobhan finally makes it to Felix’s, she has to explain her actions to Sarah. Ferdinand was the key to Rachel, and thanks to her, they have full financial records of Neolution’s bribes. They have everything they need to prove decades of illegal human experiments and Coady’s sterilization plan, and they’re ready to expose them (which is exactly what Cosima and Delphine do). They did it.
But isn’t that too easy? Doesn’t this feel too much like the calm before the storm?
Still, let’s let them have this moment of celebration and relief. Let’s let Felix have his moment in the spotlight, as he thanks everyone for coming (and buying) and introduces Sarah as his muse in her true form.
They could have ended up anywhere, with any family, and been entirely different people, but Mrs. S “chose us as her own,” Felix explains, pulling her up in front of everyone as well. Watching her raise Sarah and Sarah raise Kira and finding Adele taught him “that we are all mysterious works of chance, of choice, of nature verses nurture,” he continues, concluding his speech with, “To my galaxy of women, thank you for the nurture.”
But it’s impossible to deny what has to be coming any longer. The writing is on the wall, as Mrs. S tells Felix how proud of him she is, meets Colin and watches how Sarah is able to relax.
Once Ferdinand returns to Rachel and realizes what she’s done, he turns on her. He lived out his revenge fantasy with MK earlier this season, but will this be when he kills the real Rachel? “I gave everything to be under your heel!” He reminds her, raging and pinning her to the bed, hands around her throat. But he doesn’t do it, leaving her alive.
Mrs. S isn’t surprised when Rachel informs her Ferdinand made it out and knows she has the files. And with one last look to Sarah, Siobhan leaves.
It can only end one way. Mrs. S enters her house through the back door; Ferdinand was waiting by the front door to greet her with a bullet in the leg. He wants to put holes in her that are bigger than the ones she could put in him with the gun she has. As she points out, the size of the bullet doesn’t matter if the shot is to the throat.
After both put their guns down, Ferdinand demands to know what she did with his future. “She just wasn’t that into you,” she informs him. Oh, not Rachel? The files? They’re going public as they speak. When she reaches for one of her stashed weapons, he shows that he’s already gotten to it — and then uses his own stashed gun to shoot her.
At the art opening, Sarah stops, looking around for Siobhan.
“Left ventricle, won’t take long,” Ferdinand remarks like he’s not talking about the wound that will kill Mrs. S. She asks him for the photograph of her kids on the mantle, the same photograph that was the first thing we saw at the beginning of the episode and foreshadowed this moment was coming. When he turns to pick up the frame, she grabs another stashed weapon and shoots him in the throat. She was right.
But just because she’s more likely to survive a gunshot wound as a woman than he is (especially where she shot him) sadly doesn’t mean she can survive this one. Her last actions are to pick up the framed picture of her kids and watch Ferdinand choke to death on his own blood before she dies. And then she’s just so … still.
I find that stillness so fitting because it reflects how I felt when the episode ended. Even having a good idea of what was coming from the first scene didn’t prepare me for those last moments. There has never been a question of how far Siobhan would go for her family and what she’d be willing to do and sacrifice (including her own life), and that’s what makes this so devastating.
Alright, Clone Club, how are you doing after that episode? Did the ending surprise you, or did you see it coming? Either way, are you still in shock that it happened? How worried are you for Helena and her babies? But on a happier note, wasn’t it so good to see Felix back with the rest of his family?
Orphan Black season 5 airs Saturdays at 10/9c on BBC America. Want more news? Like our Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of BBC America)