The bloodshed continues in this, the penultimate episode of Orphan Black. We’ve had episodes centering around Alison, Cosima, Rachel, S and Felix, and now it’s Helena’s turn.
A young Helena, true to brand even as a child, is rustling through a drawer, stealing chocolates. Sneaking candy, she catches a nun masturbating. The nun turns her internal guilt into anger and calls little Helena the devil, forcing her hair into a bleach bucket to mark her as having the devil inside her so that no one would believe her even if she did tell. The nun shoves little Helena into the chokey as a final punishment.
Helena, hair bleached and frayed, eyes red, shoves the last of her stolen chocolate in her mouth, and thus begins her origin story.
When we get back to present day, Sarah is speaking at Mrs. S’s funeral while someone sings the Parting Glass, which feels a little like my soul is walking on glass. Though I do have to say, I’m grateful for the small favor this show did in not showing us Sarah and Felix finding S’s body. I don’t know if my heart could have taken it. It was hard enough to watch Sarah start to read the letter S left them, but having to stop because Kira broke down crying.
It was hard enough to watch Felix take over reading the letter, and hear his voice shaking. S writes to them that death is not the end, that she’s just in the next room, and that they’ll be together again, laughing about this very moment.
It’s very upsetting. Also upsetting is that Cosima and Alison can’t go to the funeral, what with having the same face as Sarah, so they’re video chatting and crying with each other.
Felix had told them Sarah hadn’t even cried yet – at the funeral, Sarah was stone-faced and looked a little detached. Cosima says Delphine will be back from France soon, and then they can join Alison in supporting their sestra, together.
And I think their sestra could use them, because Sarah is at the post-funeral reception at her house, but she’s not talking to anyone, she’s just watching news of the Neolution exposition on her phone.
The only thing that gets her attention is when Felix tells her someone is here to see her and it’s Sister Irena. She’s holding Helena’s journal, and Sarah knows immediately that something is wrong.
And what’s wrong, specifically, is that Coady is whisking Helena away in an ambulance, talking about getting the babies out of Helena as quickly as possible, before the people who would be looking for her find her.
Cosima assumes they want the babies for their cord blood, and that Rachel would probably know more about where they would take her.
Sarah doesn’t love this plan, and also wants to stay with Kira, so Art and Felix say they’ll go instead. They’re kind of (understandably) hostile to Rachel until she turns around and her eye is sewn shut; I think then they realize she’s not exactly on the winning side of this, either. They ask her if Coady would have taken Helena back to the island, but she explains that the island is in chaos now, so that wouldn’t be the smartest plan.
And Rachel is right, because Coady has taken Helena to what looks like an old airplane hangar turned makeshift med tent. PT is there and he’s looking a little tough. He’s running out of time and he only has a few loyal supporters left. So he rips off his wig to get to work, a wild look in his eyes.
Meanwhile, back at the house, Sarah is walking round like a zombie, looking at the height markings on the doorframe that S kept for Sarah, Felix, and Kira. She smells an old jacket of S’s, but she still doesn’t cry. Honestly it probably hasn’t hit her yet, that the woman who was always there for her, one of the only constants in her life, even when Sarah didn’t want her to be, is gone.
Rachel, Felix and Art are talking more about the Revival Revolution and the timeframe of Helena’s disappearance when Art realizes it coincides with Detective Enger being MIA. So they recruit Scott to babysit Rachel (again), while Art and Felix go to the station.
Felix waits in the car while Art goes inside, and Enger is there with a wink and a smug smile. Art’s boss finds him and says Interpol wants to talk, which can’t be good for ol’ Art, but he’s more concerned with exactly how deep this police corruption goes. He determines his boss is on his side, and that it’s mostly just Enger who is decidedly The Worst.
We flash back again to see the moment Thomas comes to get little Helena from the closet, saying he’s been looking for her for a long time, saying she’s special. Which was surely confusing for the little girl being raised by nuns and shoved in a closet to hear, though not unwelcome.
Fast forward a while, long enough for little Helena to learn English and create a cardboard dollhouse where she spits on little lesbian Barbies and curses the “copies” she is being taught are sins of science, with the exception of The Original, a mysterious woman she must protect from the evil scientists.
Grown-up Helena is being induced into labor by Coady, at PT’s command, and she wakes up now, furious at Coady, spitting at her.
Helena knows she’s just doing PT’s bidding, so she calls Coady a coward, but Coady responds by having her assistant put a muzzle on her. And just like that the assassin clone who learned to love her sestras is alone, tied down, and muzzled. And super pregnant.
Art comes back the car and he and Felix call Cosima to tell Team Science about how the board members are dying, and there are only three left, including Rachel.
And one of them is that one guy who said the word debt and is about as nice as one so I have been considering him a Lannister, Al-Khatib. Felix flounces into the boardroom, where Frontenac is about to kill Al-Khatib, but Frontenac doesn’t seem particularly surprised, even when Art busts in. Frontenac threatens them, so Art shoots him dead, leaving Al-Khatib looking a bit shaken.
Art calls Sarah to tell her what went down, and she hates that he’s so tangled up in this now.
But his heart’s tangled up in it already, so a little gunshot between enemies didn’t really make it any better or worse.
Meanwhile in the chaos cave, PT is telling Coady to put Mark down like he’s a dog that bit a kid while out for a walk; he says Mark only wanted the cure so he could grow old with Gracie, and Gracie is dead now, so what’s the point in letting him live? Coady is a little horrified; she didn’t even want Gracie down in the first place, and she surely doesn’t want to kill the last of her Castor boys. Even monsters have their limits. But PT doesn’t care about Castor anymore, only LEDA and their offspring. He leaves shouting, “the future is female” even though has no right to considering he sees these women as merely pawns and objects.
But, Coady is under his thumb, and whether she truly believes in the science or what is anyone’s guess at this point, but regardless she tells Mark she’s giving him his cure and lets him talk about his future with Gracie. He tells her he’s happy, calls her mom, then dies in her arms. And man, I didn’t even LIKE Mark or the entire season we spent on the Castor clones, but Ari Millen is so great in this scene, and it actually made me really sad??? Then again it’s the second-to-last episode of one of my top-five-ever favorite shows so everything has been making me sad. “Is this their last Skype call?” “Is this our last flashback?” etc. I’m a mess.
Speaking of flashbacks, we go back now to a fully grown Helena, being given her fish knife for the first time, ready to start her mission of “cleansing” the copies. Why they had her wait ’til adulthood is anyone’s guess; I suppose it stands to reason it took them that long to start finding them.
So off Helena goes, ready to kill her first mark, having presumably practiced on puppies, and follows the copy into a church of all places, her very first scree-scraw leading the way. The woman kneels down, and Helena stabs her from behind, quick, clean, hesitation-free. But then the woman falls back and Helena realizes the woman she killed looks just like her.
Helena goes home (if you can call it that) and sits on her bed having an existential crisis; for almost two decades, she has been raised and trained to hate these “copies,” told they were abominations, that they needed to be eliminated. And now she finds out she IS one. Thomas tells her then that she is the original, she is the one they copied, she is the special one. She needs to believe this to keep some grip on the reality she’s been forced to build, so she does. It’s unclear to me whether this was his plan all along, or if it was a panic switch when he realizes how upset she was. If she was always meant to believe she was the original, or if he truly believed there was an original out there that needed to be protected. Something tells me it’s the first thing.
And then, possibly as a way to help alleviate her guilt, Helena cuts herself for the first time, the first feather in what will someday be an angry angel’s wings.
Present-day Helena is mid-contraction and crying out that she’s not special, that she’s been just a copy all this time, just like her sestras, even the ones she killed. She sees Coady standing there and begs her not to take her babies, woman to woman, mother to mother; they took Coady’s babies, don’t let PT do this to her. But Coady just had to kill her last baby so she’s not feeling very much like bonding right now. She tells Helena she’s committed sestracide and she stinks and would be a horrible mother. Helena loves these unborn babies so much, it never occurred to her that she might not be cut out for motherhood, so she cries.
Back in Rachel’s hotel room, something truly shocking happens. They’re trying to figure out where Coady and PT are, and Al-Khatib keeps calling Helena “the science,” but Rachel — Rachel fucking Duncan — interrupts him and says, “Her name is Helena.” It might be the kindest thing Rachel has ever said.
Sarah is on the phone and says that they’re running out of time, because Kira can sense that the babies are coming.
Al-Khatib swears he doesn’t know where they took Helena, all he knows is that Rachel is next. So Sarah says they should try to get ahead of the game by giving them exactly what they want. So Al-Khatib calls PT and offers Rachel up and Enger checks the trunk, is pleased as pie to have the ProClone in her grasp, and brings her back to Westmoreland.
Cosima. Is. Stressed.
She hates this plan so much and not because she feels so deeply for all her sestras, but because the person in the trunk is actually Sarah, cloneswapped.
Over in the med tent from hell, Helena pretends to be drugged, but as soon as she’s left alone, she gets down to business, swiping some scissors from a tray by her bed and working on releasing her wrists from their cuffs. When she can’t get them off, she speaks to her babies in Russian, saying they deserve better than a life with her, better than a life of being a science experiment. So she decides to set them all free, slitting her wrists with the scissors.
One thing Orphan Black has always had going for it is that no clone ever truly felt safe; when one actress plays every character, all of those characters are expendable. So I truly thought we were losing Helena in this moment, and boy was my heart broken. To have just watched her journey, from angry and tortured child to angry and tortured adult, to sweet and goofy woman who loved snacks and her sestras and her babies more than she ever loved murder…and then to have that all end? When her evolution was only truly beginning? It hurt. My only solace was knowing that truly the only acceptable way for Helena to go out is by her own hand, no one else’s.
But worry not, because her family is on the way. Art is tracing Sarah and follows Enger to the DYAD building where Cosima’s lab used to be. Have I mentioned the Cosima is worried, because she’s still super worried.
But between WizardFace and Rachel, they have enough intel that they have hope they can pull this off. Sarah just has to stall.
When Sarah gets to PT, he starts to tell her things about Rachel he learned through watching her through her robot eye; deeply personal things that Rachel would hate that Sarah now knows, but that give Sarah an insight into her most serious sestra’s humanity. For example, the most upsetting piece of news: Rachel writes letters to the biological mother she never met.
Punch me in the heart, why don’t ya?
Eventually Sarah yells at PT to stop telling her these things and pretends to cry, calling him “father.” He’s suspicious now, and soon rips off her wig to reveal Sarah, who drops the act instantly, jumping up and slashing PT’s face with her knife.
Enger comes in and pins her down so PT can point a gun at her, ready to rid himself of the nuisance clone once and for all.
But Coady runs in then, expecting to have to borrow Rachel, but instead snatching Sarah. Helena needs blood and she needs it NOW.
Meanwhile, Scott and the Wizard sneak into DYAD and get Art in through a back door, letting the alarms go off to alert the masses. Art whips out his nightstick and heads toward Sarah, because he’ll always have her back.
In the med tent, Coady hooks Sarah up to Helena to give her more blood, right from the source.
Coady is going to give Helena a C-section, but after some loving “meathead”s, Helena wakes up.
Helena gives her twin the eye, and Sarah hangs tight while Helena does her thing.
She asks Coady for water, and while she’s giving it to her, Helena SMASHES Coady’s head into the utensil tray. It’s pretty brutal but man I hope she stays dead this time. Helena calls Coady a shit mother and has Sarah help her up so they can escape. But as soon as they’re both free and standing, Helena’s water breaks. The babies are coming.