I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed Orphan Black Season 5 Episode 8. What a phenomenally masterful hour of television.
To think that all of this plot development took place within 60 minutes (minus commercial breaks) is amazing. The fact that "Guillotines Decide" was chock-full of great character moments as well makes it even more impressive.
I'll start with Felix's art opening party, where the majority of the action was centered.
This installment picked up shortly after Orphan Black Season 5 Episode 7 left off, with Kira safely at home after her last-minute rescue thanks to Rachel.
Kira and Charlotte were safely shipped off to Art's ex-wife's house for safety reasons and to hang out with Art's daughter. It's a bit odd that a woman who had never met these kids would so willingly agree to harbor them under mysterious circumstances, but take that as you will.
After that, the hour was set up to be a fairly lighthearted one at the outset. S insisted on Clone Club taking a night off, rewarding themselves for Kira's rescue by celebrating Felix's art opening with a fun party.
Of course, nothing is that easy on Orphan Black. Felix's art opening was marred by unspeakable tragedy – even if, by the hour's end, the main characters weren't aware of it yet.
A whopping three major characters died during the hour. But personally, I'm only going to miss one – the indomitable, badass Mrs. S.
Intertwined with the lighthearted fun of Alison and Donnie helping Felix at the art party were the much more serious sequences of S and Delphine making a deal with the devil (aka Rachel and Ferdinand) to make a bid at taking down Neolution once and for all.
As it turned out, the awful Ferdinand had been another of S's contacts. That's how he knew Rachel was at Dyad and needed help getting out after Rachel handed over Kira – S called and told him, proving that she has some manner of a soft spot for poor, motherless Rachel.
S understandably kept this news from Sarah, who she knew wouldn't understand the greater purpose behind working with the monster who had brutally murdered MK in cold blood.
The near-culmination of Rachel's arc continues to impress me. At first, it seemed like the complicated clone would once again choose her own self-interests over the greater good of ending Neolution once and for all.
When S came to her and explained that they needed the last few pieces of the puzzle (proof of their government bribery) to have a strong case against Neolution, Rachel initially lied and said she had nothing.
But as it turned out, Rachel had had enough of being Neolution's (and Westmoreland's) puppet after all. In a heartbreaking but small moment, Rachel tried to convince Ferdinand that they could escape and live modestly.
But Ferdinand literally laughed her off – he was much more interested in taking Neolution for all they were worth, bribing them and allowing them to continue their unethical and cruel operations in exchange for a hefty sum.
You could really see Rachel make her decision in that small moment. Hats off to Tatiana Maslany for conveying what a huge letdown that was for Rachel without having Rachel betray her true intentions to Ferdinand.
When Ferdinand went to blackmail the remaining Neolution board members, he (and they) discovered that Rachel had double-crossed him, swiping the memory card with her smoking-gun evidence against the Neos.
She (and S) didn't expect Ferdinand to survive his encounter with the board, but Ferdinand is (very unfortunately) made of sterner and craftier stuff than all that.
Meanwhile, the scenes at the art opening brought Clone Club perfectly full circle, as Felix paid tribute to his sisters and his mother.
I absolutely loved Felix's clever introductions of Cosima, Sarah, and Alison as various goddesses as depicted in his artwork.
Alison reverting to her peppy housewife self, Cosima getting groovy on the dance floor, and Sarah being her awkward, uncomfortable self were all perfect.
Felix ushering out one clone as another ran in immediately after was a great gag that perfectly highlighted the multifarious talents of Tatiana Maslany. To switch so quickly and effortlessly from each character, blending them all together seamlessly, was incredible.
Felix's heartfelt speech to Sarah, Adele, and Mrs. S was also one of the most incredible moments the series has had to date.
My sister and I are orphans, you see, and we could've ended up anywhere. We could've ended up in any family. And if we had, we would've ended up being entirely different people. But my mom, Siobhan, this woman — she chose us as her own. We are who we are because she carried two little London urchins on her wings to Canada. Watching her raise my sister, watching my sister raise her own daughter, finding my biological sister, it's quite mad. It's taught me that we are all mysterious works of chance. Of choice. Of nature vs. nurture. So to my galaxy of women — thank you for the nurture.Felix
It was the ultimate appreciation of the power and strength of women, intertwined with Orphan Black's overarching theme about how experiences can shape people (even genetically identical people) so very differently.
Sadly, the hour ended in a massive tragedy, after S got the call from Rachel warning her that Ferdinand was alive and had just tried to kill her.
I'm not sure why S decided to go back to her house all alone. Knowing Ferdinand was there, I'd think she would call in some backup. But perhaps she was blinded by her intense need to protect her family at all costs – which ended up being her downfall.
S and Ferdinand's stand-off was marvelously tense. Maria Doyle Kennedy was positively sublime in Siobhan's final moments. I loved that she didn't go down without a fight.
This wasn't a sacrifice. S wanted to survive. She wanted to take down Ferdinand and walk out of the house. Unfortunately, Ferdinand was smart enough to scope the place out for hidden weaponry.
Well, all except for one well-placed chair gun that took the slimy Brit out for good. Thank god that S at least managed to take Ferdinand out before she died.
How heartbreaking was it for S to sit there looking at a photo of her two kids as she slowly died? And the one last reference to her favorite term of endearment...
Oh, chickens.Mrs. S
My heart is absolutely broken after this devastating development.
Less devastating: Gracie's death.
That's not to say that I wanted her to die. I just truly never cared about her character or Mark's plight, so I wasn't invested in either of them.
That said, the convent scenes just gave me a whole new appreciation for Helena, who repeatedly showed Gracie mercy in honor of her being family to Helena's twin babies.
I always forget that the creepy cult leader/Gracie's dad was the one who impregnated Helena. God, that guy was awful.
Helena's newfound appreciation for family shows how far she's truly come.
Unfortunately, her trust in Gracie was (mostly) misplaced.
Though Gracie was won over by Helena's appeals to family in the end and lied to Mark about having found Helena, Coady and Mark knew she had lied. Neo came in swinging to kidnap Helena. But shocking, Detective Enger used a silencer to execute Gracie.
I can't imagine Mark will take that news too well. What an absolutely brutal moment.
Finally, now that Neolution is (apparently) taken down on a larger level, it seems that the final two episodes will be a race against time to save Helena and her babies from the remaining Neolutionists.
And, ideally, killing Westmoreland and Coady once and for all.
- Felix's art opening party had so many great, small character moments.
- Hell Wizard the rapping DJ!!! Amazing.
- Scott dancing with Cosima was also amazing.
- Art has been woefully underused all season long, but I did appreciate his small moment with Sarah, noticing and admiring Felix's "Beth" painting. Art's love for Beth was so tragic.
- I did so very much love Adele calling Sarah out on always making everything about herself and not allowing Felix to have his moment. Go, Adele!
- Felix and Colin forever, y'all. How cute were they? (That was a rhetorical question. The answer is "So damn cute.")
- Also adorable: All of Cophine's moments. Just seeing them being an in-love couple is great, but the fact that the two send the incriminating Neolution files together was an incredibly powerful moment.
What did you think of "Guillotines Decide"? Share your thoughts by commenting below, and don't forget that you can watch Orphan Black online here at TV Fanatic anytime!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.