Orphan Black SEASON FINALE Recap: “From Dancing Mice To Psychopaths”
aka, "That F@#!ing B!$ch Rachel"
This is it, Clone Club. The end of the penultimate season of Orphan Black. Not only did the Season Four finale not disappoint, but it did not skimp on WTF-ness. Delphine is back, Cosima’s scientific labors finally bear fruit, Krystal puts Sarah in her place as the Big Clone on Campus, Alison and Donnie hang out with Helena in the woods, and we see Rachel’s true colors (or, rather, re-see her true colors, as we were right for thinking her an irredeemable b#@ch in the first place). Welcome to Episode 10 of the season, “From Dancing Mice To Psychopaths.”
**THIS IS A RECAP—SPOILERS ARE PART OF THE TERRITORY.**
- FLASHBACK: The night of Delphine’s shooting. Krystal witnesses Delphine being taken away alive in a black van…by Dr. Van Lier of BrightBorn!
- On the Island of Doctor Duncan, Cosima’s implantation of the Leda egg with Castor sperm worked! She’s thrilled! Susan is thrilled! But then Susan acts super-shady and very not-subtly-at-all leaves Cosima in the lab to go do…something. (This is where she’d twirl a mustache, if she had one.) Cosima calls Sarah and Mrs. S to tell them the good news about having found a cure for herself when suddenly, she’s not only locked out of the data she just supplied, but her communication with Sarah is cut off. Shit.
- Krystal is having lunch with a friend and filling her in on the latest conspiracies when she sees Dr. Van Lier on the news doing damage control after the Evie/euthanization of babies scandal. Krystal identifies him as the guy who took Delphine and calls Felix. But this time, she wants answers! She’s not giving away information for nothing. Felix agrees to meet with her.
- Ira is worried about Susan, but Rachel seems remarkably (almost too) cool-headed. Sarah calls her, because she also sees Dr. Van Lier on the news. Sarah’s wondering why Van Lier’s doing the talking when Susan is supposed to “be on top.” She’s also wondering what’s going on with Cosima on the island. Rachel is shady about both. Meanwhile, Felix tells Sarah and Mrs. S about Krystal’s call, and Sarah agrees that they should meet her and find out what she knows.
- Meanwhile, Cosima is getting sicker. As she talks with Charlotte and tries to convince her that they’re both going to get better, her nose starts bleeding (the Universal TV Symbol for every disease) and she gets woozy.
- Ferdinand finally gets to Rachel, his dearest love. Eeew.
- Evie Cho is asked to step down from the BrightBorn board and turn over her technology, because her image cannot recover after this scandal. When she refuses, Dr. Van Lier shuts off her bot implant by remote control, allowing her to die.
- Mrs.S talks with Helena on the phone. Alison and Donnie are hiding out with her in her woodland fort. Helena wants to “help her sestras” (aka kill anyone who needs killing), but Mrs. S tells her to stand down for now and stay hidden and safe.
- Ferdinand tries to convince Rachel to have sex with him (Eeew) and she reveals that she can’t feel things the way she used to due to her infirmities. However, when he pushes her buttons, she orders him on his knees and resumes their domme/sub relationship. (OMG, EEEW, THESE TWO! EEEW!)
- Krystal arrives at the comic shop, where Felix told her to meet him. He tries to get her to tell what she knows without letting her in on Clone Club, but when she refuses to back down, he relents and takes her down to the secret hideout where Sarah is waiting. Aaaaand….nothing. Sarah introduces herself as Krystal’s clone and Krystal is like “Yeah, whatever.” I can’t even do the hilarity of this scene justice, so just watch it:
- More Rachel/Ferdinand sex play as Rachel tries to convince him to embrace Neolution (*vomits in mouth*). Ira walks in on them to tell her that Susan’s is going to call to tell her about something she’s excited about. When Susan does call, it’s to tell her that they’ve found a cure….for Rachel and Ira. Oh, and that THEY CAN START HUMAN CLONING AGAIN. Cosima overhears the conversation and confronts Susan, who dismisses Cosima’s human rights concerns as “the cost of what we do, for progress.” Susan locks Cosima in the bedroom so that she can’t interfere in the lab.
- Rachel calls Dr. Van Lier after having Ferdinand, um, restrain Ira to keep him from coming back with her to the island to see Susan. GEE, I WONDER WHY.
- As Dr. Van Lier leaves BrightBorn after killing Evie, the press is outside asking questions about what’s next. Krystal is there bringing up things like “Neolution” and “Dr. Delphine Cormier,” piquing the press’ interest. Dr. Van Lier pulls her aside and asks if they can speak privately, and Krystal orders him to follow her…right into a trap. Mrs. S is waiting to escort Dr. Van Lier into a van at gunpoint with Krystal, who turns out to be Sarah in a wig. (I guess they do look alike after all!) Dr. Van Lier reveals that his orders never came from Evie in the first place and that Rachel is convening the BrightBorn board without Susan. Shit.
- Rachel wants to “marry the best of both worlds” in clones: Susan’s baseline with Evie Cho’s bot tech. She reasons that since BrightBorn and Neolution already operate in countries where clones aren’t illegal and their corporation supercedes clone personhood, why bother with the illusion of freedom? “If we want to know if our lab rats’ tails will grow back, we’ll damn well cut them off and see!” (PS – this is where I HOWLED WITH RAGE AT MY SCREEN)
- Sarah convinces Ira that Rachel is going after Susan and that he should get the helicopter to come pick them up and bring them to the island. Meanwhile, Rachel has already flown to the island and is looking for Susan…
- A trapped Cosima is looking for a way out when she stumbles upon one of Charlotte’s paintings of the island. She notices a boat drawn past the helicopter landing pad, and beyond that, what looks like huts in a clearing. Back at the safehouse, Ira is told to stay as “collateral” as Sarah goes off to find Rachel and Susan.
- Rachel finds Susan in the house with the help of Mysterious Bearded Dude from her eye-visions who’s in the house! She approaches Susan in the kitchen, and Susan attempts to help her realize that despite the control that Rachel thinks she has, that she’s still a clone and still “owned.” Rachel, however, sees things differently, thinking it just a matter of fancy legal footwork to change that. Susan tells Rachel that she’s betraying her, her clone sisters, and herself by going down this path, but Rachel is beyond giving a fuck.
- While Rachel and Susan have mother-daughter drama, Charlotte breaks Cosima out and tells her that Susan warned them to escape Rachel and go to the boat in the drawing. Before they do, though, Cosima runs to get something (like, I dunno, the cure?)
- Rachel finally lets rip on her mommy issues, berating Susan for “giving her to this.” For raising her to be Neolution only to be a hypocrite about it now (she’s got a point there). Then, brilliant Susan Duncan, a scientist who’s trying to recreate freaking evolution, IS A MORON WHO STANDS REALLY CLOSE TO RACHEL NEAR THE KNIVES! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, SUSAN?! HAVE YOU MET RACHEL? Rachel stabs Susan, which is a surprise to NO ONE.
- Cosima and Charlotte head toward the boat, but Cosima is getting weaker and weaker. Sarah is on her way to the island on the helicopter…
- When Sarah arrives, she follows a trail of blood to Susan, who is trying to tend to her own wounds. As Sarah tries to help her, Rachel appears and gets the drop on Sarah, bashing her with her cane. She ends up stabbing Sarah in the leg with the same knife she used to stab Susan. She claims Neolution as “hers,” because she was “born to this.” Susan threatens to shoot her with Sarah’s dropped gun, but she can’t do it. Rachel takes the gun and tries to shoot Sarah, but Sarah escapes.
- Meanwhile, it’s dark, and Cosima and Charlotte are cold and huddled for warmth against a tree in the woods when they’re discovered by Mysterious Bearded Dude. He leads them to his camp where COSIMA IS FINALLY REUNITED WITH DELPHINE! Delphine takes her into a tent to tend to her, and in a private moment, Cosima tells her that she has the cure. Delphine is thrilled, but she’s also skittish. She tells Cosima that she’ll administer the cure, but that Cosima cannot tell anyone. Delphine seems to be in danger with these people. We leave them without seeing whether Delphine is able to administer the cure or not.
- Rachel has brought a wheelchair-using Susan into the secret, creepy bedroom and Susan reveals that “he is getting impatient.” When Rachel asks who “he” is, and who made her eye, Susan says it’s the same guy who wrote the book they’ve been following for over 100 years. P.T. Westmoreland! Whaaaaat? Rachel then locks Susan in, their roles now reversed.
- Sarah hobbles to the beach and calls Mrs. S for help, but Mrs. S and Kira are being held at gunpoint by Ferdinand. We leave Sarah bleeding on the beach, completely helpless.
- Rachel cleans up her crime scene of a house, pours herself a glass of wine, and calls Dr. Van Lier to tell him that the science is secure. (After all, “Follow the science,” is the Neoluton tagline.) Van Lier says that “Mr. Westmoreland will see you now.” Rachel’s doorbell rings, and the season ends on Rachel’s horrible, smug, smiling face.
I’m not dividing up the episode into “The Awesome” and “The Not-So-Awesome” this week. One, because it’s the finale. Two, because there was nothing that wasn’t awesome about this episode! This is probably the most simultaneously satisfying and excruciatingly suspenseful cliffhanger season ending I’ve seen in a long time.
- Let’s start with that petrie dish devil-spawn, Rachel. Her character was handled brilliantly this season. For a while there, I thought she was going full-fledged Clone Club, and yet the reveal that she was actually pursuing power at the expense of her clone sisters did not come out of left field. Rachel is exactly the kind of nuanced and complex female character we should be clamoring for on television. She is clearly wounded by her upbringing as a self-aware clone. Her desire for her mother’s love, coupled with her inability to have a child make her desperate for anything resembling family, and since she can’t have that, because there’s no one in her life who actually, genuinely loves her (even Ferdinand is only in it for his S&M jollies), she’ll take control of the clones instead in one of the most self-hating decisions I’ve ever seen. What amazed me most is that her smile at the end of the episode was the warmest smile we’ve ever seen her give. She’s actually at peace now. This was not a malicious smile, or a conniving smile. This was a smile of pure happiness…which is what makes it even more frightening.
- Now, let’s hear it for Cosima finally reuniting with Delphine, huh? Here’s an example of how you can endanger a lesbian character on television without killing her and/or not allowing her love being the defacto, go-to decision. We still haven’t seen Delphine give her the cure, and anything can happen in the final season, but Cosima will be there at the end, and I’m so glad for that.
- Despite everything that was going on in this episode, it all made sense, which isn’t always the case in an Orphan Black episode. There are still mysteries, of course (who is The Messenger? Is that P.T. Westmoreland? If not, who is? Why is Delphine afraid? Etc.), but there was nothing that happened in the episode that was unexplainable or difficult to follow. Even better, it all seemed inevitable, and that’s how you know the writing is strong. Nothing felt out of place. Not even Krystal’s hysterical reaction to Sarah, which I thought was such a brilliant choice. One would expect Krystal to be amazed by Sarah. To have her not only be unimpressed but downright skeptical was a brilliant choice. I loved that she thinks she and Sarah look nothing alike.
- Tatiana Maslany’s performance was flawless as always, particularly as Rachel and Krystal, who were clearly my favorites this episode for completely opposite reasons. However, I was also impressed with how the rest of the cast filled out the episode. Shout-out to Rosemary Dunsmore as Susan Duncan. I never know what to make of that character, and that’s because Dunsmore is so good at balancing concerned “clone mother” with detached “actual mother.” Meaning that she’s warm when thinking of her scientific babies, but clearly has no problem not treating Rachel like a daughter her whole life. And yet, you still feel like there’s a good person in there somewhere, even if it is deeeeeeply buried.
After a wonky third season, the fourth season of Orphan Black found the show in top form. It remained a rich, complex show while streamlining to focus on the characters we care about most: the Leda Clones. As we go into the last season, we know that with Rachel running things the show isn’t petering out. Season Five is set up to deliver one final amazing storyline before we have to say goodbye to our favorite clones, and that’s an amazing place in which to be.
If there’s any Orphan Black you missed, Seasons 1-4 are available for streaming in their entirety at the BBC America website. To catch up on my recaps, you can CLICK HERE. And you should definitely delve into the science of Orphan Black with our OB Science recaps!
See you next season, Clone Club!
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