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ORPHAN BLACK 4×10 Review ‘From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths’

Dear readers, I have emerged at last from the depths of university finals, overseas travel and the flu to bring you the recap and review for the final episode of Orphan Black Season 4. I’m especially glad to say that this is not the last episode of Orphan Black ever — the show has indeed been renewed for a fifth and final season. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, because the Season 4 finale has a lot going on. Let’s get into it!

EPISODE RECAP:
‘From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths’

Finally, after an entire season of tested patience we arrive at the moment we’ve been waiting for. Only now, the twist in the mystery of Who Shot Delphine? is not actually who shot her, but who stopped the shooter from finishing her off. Detective Duko is, unsurprisingly, the man with the gun — the only enemy who’s really caused trouble with weapons this season. The real surprise is that Krystal managed to chance upon Delphine during her investigative adventures in time to witness the shooting. An incoming call from her flashy phone is enough to distract Duko from administering the kill shot to the French doctor. He’s instead forced to escape when Evie Cho’s doc, Van Lier, shows up in a mysterious black van and pulls Delphine to safety.

Back in the present timeline, Cosima and Susan have successfully created the stem cell sequence that will cure the clones. Cosima calls Sarah to celebrate the news, but in the middle of their conversation Cosima’s computer freezes and Sarah loses contact with her.

Cosima: “We have a functioning therapy for all of us, for all the sestras.”

Sarah immediately suspects something sinister and hounds Rachel for an explanation, but our cool and calculating clone denies any suspicious activity. After hanging up, who should appear at Rachel’s hotel room door but a feisty Ferdinand looking for some fun.

In last week’s episode the newborn euthanasia taking place behind Brightborn’s closed doors were exposed on live television, and now Evie Cho is busy trying to recover. In a meeting with the Neolution board she insists she can repackage their image, but the company is adamant that Evie must step down in order for them to move forward with her technology. Attempting to fight their decision proves fatal for Evie when Dr Van Lier triggers her face bot, killing her instantly.

After spotting Dr Van Lier on TV, Krystal contacts Felix to tell him what she knows. They meet in the comic book shop so she can discreetly pass on the info, but whip-smart Krystal sees right through Felix’s guise and insists that he let her in on the big picture before she gives him the scoop. Felix agrees and buzzes her down to the lab where Art and Sarah are waiting.

Krystal: “Right. This is what you think I look like? Okay, are you blind? ‘Cause this girl looks nothing like me. First of all, my tits are way bigger. And secondly, even if you could drag a comb through that hair, she’s like a 7. And I’ve been told I’m a 10.”

The clone story falls stunningly flat for Krystal. She sits down to school the rest of the group on the situation, coming strikingly close to the real story except for the part where she thinks Estée Lauder is somehow involved. With her info on Van Lier, Sarah comes up with a plan to corner him and find out where Delphine is.

Back in the hotel, Ferdinand and Rachel are busy in bed with some darkly threatening foreplay, but thankfully we’re spared further details when Ira interrupts to announce that Susan is calling.

Susan explains to Rachel that she wants to use the cell line to restart human cloning and get back on top with Neolution. When Cosima overhears and confronts her, Susan locks Cosima out of the lab to stop her interfering and prevent her from getting the cure.

Disguised as Krystal, Sarah lures Dr Van Lier into a car where Siobhan holds him at gunpoint as they question him over Delphine’s whereabouts and who he’s working for. He’s decidedly ambiguous about his answers, but insists that Delphine is alive and was cared for.

However the major problem isn’t Susan … it’s Rachel. One step ahead of the game as always, Rachel is quietly using the information everyone’s been feeding her to reconvene the Neolution board without Susan and take her place as the head. She proposes that they marry Susan’s baseline with Evie’s implanted tech to create generation after generation of Neolution lab rats.

Rachel: “I am not my mother, and if our goal is genetic change in the genetic population, I want to see it within my lifetime. Evie had no baseline. And Susan has no balls. So lets talk clones, shall we?”

Realizing that Rachel plans to cut Susan out of the picture, Felix and Art try to track her down before she can leave for the island. Instead they can only get their hands on Ira, and bring him back to Felix’s place in order to hook Sarah up with transport to the island so she can save Susan, Cosima and the cure.

Arriving at the island mansion, Rachel finds herself face to face with the mysterious old man she’s been seeing in her eye alongside the swan. Susan won’t explain who he is and only calls him a ‘messenger’. She confronts Rachel on the betrayal but Rachel is done with sympathy and takes a kitchen knife straight to Susan’s gut.

An unaware Cosima is sought out by Charlotte, who explains that Susan has instructed them to run and find the boat that will get them off the island. They bundle up together and hurry out into the darkness, but Cosima’s illness is peaking and she grows fainter by the minute until she can’t walk anymore. The two take refuge under a tree and try not to fall asleep in the bitter cold.

Sarah’s helicopter gets her to the island, and she immediately spots a trail of blood inside the house. Following it down into the lab she finds Susan on the floor desperately trying to stitch up her own stab wound. Rachel has taken the whole cell line, and the cure along with it.

Sarah turns just in time to get struck in the face with Rachel’s cane. Rachel manages to knock Sarah’s gun out of her hand and stab her in the leg with the knife. Susan grabs the gun and tries to bring herself to shoot Rachel but she can’t do it. The distraction gives Sarah enough time to stagger out and escape.

Mysterious messenger dude shows up to save Cosima and Charlotte, bringing them to a small colony of people on the island where Delphine has been this entire time. Cosima and Delphine are reunited, and Delphine quickly gets to work saving Cosima from hypothermia.

Cosima: “I finished our homework.”

Rachel enters Lawful Evil mode and patches Susan just enough to stop the bleeding. She finally asks about who built her eye, and Susan explains, “The man behind the curtain, who wrote the book over a century ago.” Rachel can hardly believe what she’s hearing.

The mysterious man manages to retrieve the cure and Delphine administers it to Cosima, saving her life.

The only one still in immediate danger is Sarah, out in the cold bleeding and alone. She calls Siobhan to ask for help, only to realize that Ferdinand has ambushed her family and holds Siobhan and Kira hostage.

In the closing scene of season 4, Rachel sits down at her computer with the history book and a glass of wine to discuss the security of the science with the Neolution board. Impressed with her achievements, Dr Van Lier says that Mr Westmorland will see her now.

 

EPISODE REVIEW

An solid finish to a relatively strong season overall, although I could see this final episode struggling under the weight of so many character plots to uphold. Helena, Alison and Donnie were unfortunately sidelined this episode, and since all three are major fan-favorites that was disappointing.

I like that we got our big-bad Rachel back front and centre. Her whole Never Let Me Go-esque clone plan is terrifying. The unforeseen twist in creating the cell line was that Neolution is now able to essentially regenerate a new generation of clones after the old ones stop working, which is insane considering that the cell line also cures the clones of degenerative illnesses. But rather than fix what’s broken Rachel plans to experiment to her heart’s content before wiping the board clean and starting over with a new set of lab rats. Creepy and extremely concerning indeed. Not only that but implanting all the clones with Evie’s face bots opens the doors to all kinds of experimental possibility. Here’s hoping we aren’t subject to too many horrors in the final season.

Speaking of Evie Cho, I was actually disappointed to see her wiped out so quick and cleanly in the finale. I feel like the show had just started to develop her character and I would have liked to see more of her. Logically it makes sense; she was so against a clone (Rachel) running the show that to have the two as rivals seems a little unrealistic, as Evie would just never allow Rachel into a leading position at Neolution. But had there been a way to make it work, it would have been an interesting development. And of course, despite her status as a major enemy I’m also sad to see an Asian woman erased from a show that lacks significant representation for POC. At least with Evie gone there won’t be anymore experimental pregnancies, so we can breath a sigh of relief on that front.

However we’re left holding our breath in regards to Sarah, who was left at the end of the episode in a state of serious danger — not to mention the danger her family is in. We all know Ferdinand can be a scary guy, and with him on Rachel’s side things could quickly take a turn for the worse. I found it a little unrealistic that the family let Sarah go to the island alone — surely it doesn’t take Siobhan, Felix and Art to look after Kira, Ira and Krystal … but then again, maybe it does. It doesn’t matter now; knowing they can all stick together through whatever hell Ferdinand puts them through makes me a feel a little better. But that doesn’t help Sarah in the slightest. Hopefully mysterious messenger man, Delphine and Cosima find her before it’s too late.

And yes, of course, I could hardly leave this review without discussing the cophine reunion. Y’all, OUR LESBIANS ARE ALIVE. Orphan Black hardly deserves congratulations given the hell it’s put both these ladies through, but I’m willing to hand out a pat on the back if it can keep both of them alive through one last season. By the looks of it Cosima has been cured, and with their beloved science about to be sabotaged once more by Rachel’s hideous plans of misuse, it’s unlikely the two will separate anytime soon. I’m looking forward to seeing these two do some crazy science together next season. Props to Evelyne Brochu and Tatiana Maslany for filling the brief reunion scene with sweet and subtle joy.

The Neolution web continued to untangle right up until the last few minutes of the episode, and it looks like we’ll be heading into Season 5 to find out who this man behind the curtain is, hopefully revealing the last tier in the totem. Tune in next week as I bring you the Orphan Black wrap-up post!


Images courtesy of BBC America. 

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    Erin Latimer is writer whose specialties include film analysis, television and gaming reviews, and re-examining movies from her childhood through a lens of feminist fan practices and queer theory.

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