The end is near, and Orphan Black is clearly going to go out with a bang.
Orphan Black Season 5 Episode 9 was a near-perfect penultimate hour, ramping up the lingering plots as we head into the series finale. It was exciting, tense, unpredictable, and deeply emotional – basically, everything I could have hoped for.
"One Fettered Slave" intertwined flashbacks to Helena's tortured and horrifying upbringing with Sarah and Clone Club attempting to save their kidnapped sestra in the present.
The scenes depicting key moments from Helena's past were well-chosen. I'm already invested in Helena's story, but seeing how she was broken down and abused over the years first-hand is truly horrifying.
If I wasn't already rooting for Helena, I would be after this installment.
She went from being abandoned by her birth mother as a child, to an equally horrible situation in the convent, where she caught a nun masturbating and was tortured and locked up for it.
That initial flashback also finally gave us the backstory for Helena's distinctive bleached hair look – though I have to wonder why, exactly, she kept bleaching it for so long after the initial bleaching against her will?
It's not like getting your hair bleached once makes it look like that forever. That's not how hair works!
From being locked up in a convent, young Helena then wound up in Tomas' creepy arms. We already knew that he manipulated her, turning her against the other clones and making her believe that she was "special" as the original. Now, we see firsthand how this came to pass – and more importantly, how horrified and disturbed Helena was when she killed her first clone.
Helena: I am a copy.
Tomas: No, child. You are the original. You are so special, don’t you see? They copied your body, but not your soul.
Helena: I am the original?
Tomas: You are the light.
Helena: I am the original. I am the light.
Also, did we already know that Tomas sexually abused Helena? I don't recall that, but the flashback to Tomas and an older Helena right after she killed her first clone certainly suggested that an inappropriate sexual relationship was happening.
Why else would she be in a slip the first time she started self-mutilating her back? Poor Helena.
In the present, things were not much better for the pregnant clone. Kidnapped by Enger and delivered directly to Coady and Westmorland, Helena and her babies were in mortal danger.
Props to Sister Irina for tracking down Sarah and delivering the news that Helena was in trouble! For a mute nun, she's pretty crafty.
Westmorland is quickly unraveling. He's pretty much stark raving mad at this point, feeling that his time is running out and he will die soon if he doesn't get his hands on the cord blood of Helena's babies.
He was even willing to risk their lives, forcing Coady to induce Helena early.
The reveal of Westmorland's – aka John's – wig also underscored just how much of a sham this man has been the entire time. Even Coady is beginning to see the cracks – although that doesn't stop her from killing her own surrogate son, Mark.
Watching Virginia "put down" the young man she'd helped raise alongside his brothers was incredbly brutal. I've mentioned before that I was never truly invested in any Castor clone (or their associated characters, like Gracie).
But damn was it hard to watch Mark, totally oblivious that Gracie had already been killed, chattering about their life plans and his happiness over being cured – when in reality, his "mother" was killing him.
Mark: I’m so happy.
Coady: I know.
Mark: Goodnight, mom.
Coady: Goodbye, Mark.
So very dark, especially since Coady showed little to no hesitation in doing the awful deed.
Also dark: the fact that Westmorland used "euthanize" to describe Coady killing Mark. It made it so apparent that he thinks of the clones as nothing more than animals to experiment on. They have no value to him outside of that.
Helena's actual rescue was perfectly done. It was exciting and tense. I loved seeing every member of Clone Club working together to save Helena. It really shows how far they've all come, and how much they are a found family.
Even Rachel was willing to help save Helena. Sort of.
Rachel: Felix. I’m sorry for your loss.
Felix: Save your breath, you heartless bitch, and turn around.
I especially enjoyed Art and Felix, an atypical pair, working together at the forefront of everything.
Felix strolling into the Frontenac/Al-Khatib meeting to distract them was an awesome moment – even if it ended with Art accidentally murdering Frontenac in cold blood. Oops.
But in either case, procuring Al-Khatib got them the intel they needed – that Westmorland wanted Rachel.
I knew as soon as Sarah suggested turning Rachel over that there would be a clone impersonation coming up.
There was no way Sarah would ever trust Rachel not to tip off Westmorland, which was smart – despite all she's done recently, Rachel is still fair too unpredictable to ever be considered a true ally.
Sarah did a good job impersonating Rachel, but took it too far when she addressed Westmorland as "daddy." It was immediately clear that Westmorland saw right through her.
The only thing that kept Sarah alive after she slashed Westmorland's face was the coincidental timing that Helena had just slashed her own wrists to prevent Coady and Westmorland from getting their hands on her babies.
My babies. You deserve better than me. You will not be an experiment too. I set you free… My babies.Helena [to her twins, in Russian]
That was yet another brutal, painful moment. For a second, I really did think that Helena would die that way. Thankfully, that didn't happen – Sarah's transfusion revived her.
Leave it to Helena to go from bleeding out on the floor to brutally bashing Coady's head in, in order to escape. Even Sarah looked uncomfortable with the shocking violence, even though it was a necessity in this case.
Unfortunately, Helena was already delivering her babies, thanks to the induction – and she's set to deliver in the series finale.
Finally, amidst all of the madness of the rescue mission, Siobhan's recent death still weighed heavily upon everyone – particularly Sarah.
There were a few great moments, like when Sarah found the wall marked with her and Felix's childhood heights and when she sniffed Siobhan's clothes. And, of course, the funeral and the reading of Siobhan's letter.
"Just remember, my loves — death is nothing at all. I’ve only slipped into the next room. You can call me by my old familiar name with no sorrow in your tone. I promise we will laugh at this difficult parting when we meet again. All my love, S."Felix [reading Siobhan’s letter]
Excuse me, I'll just be over here in a corner, crying my damn eyes out.
- At this point, we're probably never going to see Krystal again. She really has no purpose in these last few hours, but I wish she'd had a better send-off!
- Man, I'm going to be really happy when Art takes out Enger.
- Speaking of Art – I've been concerned about his likelihood of survival all season. Heading into what's sure to be a place crawling with guards all alone certainly doesn't make me feel any more confident he'll make it out alive.
- Helena singing along with the closing credits song was an excellent touch. Hats off to Tatiana Maslany for the picture perfect rendition!
- Alison mentions in passing that Sarah found Siobhan dead. I'm actually really glad that was kept off-screen, because I don't think I could have emotionally handed that.
- Scott and Hell Wizard sneaking into the facility to let Art in was great! I love that those two have also become such legit members of the team.
What did you think of "One Fettered Slave"? 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.