Warning: This recap contains spoilers for the “Clutch of Greed” episode of Orphan Black.
“Clutch of Greed” was an ordinary episode of Orphan Black… until it wasn’t. Once again, Rachel had Sarah at a disadvantage, and used it to get to Kira. Once again, the dynamic trio of Sarah, Felix, and Mrs. S figured out an ingenious way to spirit Kira out of Rachel’s clutches. Once again, one of Rachel’s minions — in this case her human attack dog, Ferdinand — was the butt of a clone switcheroo, with M.K. impersonating Sarah impersonating Rachel. And finally, once again, a narrow victory seemed assured, with the characters running and hiding to fight another day.
But this isn’t just an ordinary episode, let alone season, of Orphan Black; it’s the second episode of the final season, which means the regular rules have to go out the window. So, rather than be fooled by the clone impersonator, Ferdinand instantly sees through M.K.’s disguise and responds with deadly force. And sensing her “aunt’s” brutal end, Kira refuses to go along with her mother’s usual “run and hide” plan, instead volunteering to become Rachel’s lab rat. She doesn’t even turn around to look at Sarah as she marches toward Rachel’s waiting car, a victory that the Dyad leader registers with a pointed grin.
Between a major clone death and Kira’s self-sacrifice, we’re in new territory for Orphan Black — territory where the heroes aren’t guaranteed victory. Unless that hero is Helena, of course, who manages to extricate herself from a potentially dangerous situation through typically ingenious (and gross) methods. In the hospital for observation since a sharp stick found its way into her abdomen last week, Helena’s “behbies” demonstrate magical healing properties that arouse her attending doctor’s attention. Suspecting her to be Neolution-affiliated (and honestly, who isn’t these days?), the mother-to-be plunges a syringe needle through the doctor’s cheeks and tongue, pinning her to the gurney. Score one for the good guys!
Otherwise, though, the villains had their day in “Clutch of Greed.” Almost lost amidst the Empire Strikes Back-ness of the episode’s closing scenes is one of the show’s most momentous developments: we’ve finally glimpsed the true face of Neolution. The movement’s 170 years young founder, P.T. Westmoreland (played by Canadian character actor Stephen McHattie), enters the frame midway through the episode to meet with one of his creations, Cosima. And you know that he’s not lying about his age, because the acquaintances he chooses to name drop are 19th century celebrities like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fact that Westmoreland is now a physical presence in the show’s universe, rather than just a theory spoken of in reverent tones, is just one more indication that the writers aren’t holding any cards back for this final year. The finish line is in sight, and we’re going to have to get accustomed to the idea that not everyone is going to cross it. Except, again, Helena. Because she’s freakin’ Helena.
Here’s how the clone power rankings stand after Season 5’s second hour.
She’s holding all the clone cards at the moment, with Alison, Cosima, and now Sarah acquiescing to her plans instead of plotting against her. Rachel also put Ferdinand firmly in his place for his lethal act of insubordination. When she’s this close to her goal, she’s not about to let anyone step out of line.
Run, Helena, run! As the only clone, and clone companion, free of Dyad’s grasp, she and Donnie have the best chance of chalking up a much-needed victory for the remaining Ledas. And bonus points for that needle-to-the-face attack. It was as awesome as it was disgusting.
The Clone Club’s resident genius meets the big brain behind Neolution, and he seems genuinely tickled by her mind. If anyone can outsmart a 170-year-old gene-splicer, it’s Cosima.
Counting last season’s finale, this is the third episode in a row where Sarah emerges the loser in her ongoing battle with Rachel. She’s overdue for a victory, but at this point it’s unclear when or how that’s going to be possible.
There was a time when Alison Hendrix was a prisoner of suburbia by choice. Now, though, Rachel is sentencing her to serve hard suburban time solo, and her wardens are an eager Maddie and a reluctant Art.
Non-Clone MVP: Kira
No longer a piece of baggage to be dragged around from hiding place to hiding place, Sarah’s daughter takes a stand in “Clutch of Greed,” and makes it clear she wants to learn about her origins, rather than continue to run from them. That’s Kira for you: she’s wiser, and bolder, beyond her years.
Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. on BBC America.
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