Warning: This recap of the “Guillotines Decide” episode of Orphan Black contains spoilers.
Hold your own chickens close, Clone Clubbers. We’ve lost our beloved Mother Hen. With two episodes left, Siobhan Sadler becomes the latest, and saddest, addition to Orphan Black‘s ultra-high final season body count, shot through the left ventricle of her giant heart by Ferdinand. Not that Mrs. S goes gentle into her good night; distracting her assassin with a request for a photo of her children, Sarah and Felix, before he fires a “mercy tap,” she loosens the gun she’s hidden up her sleeve and shoots him right through the throat. While he dies choking and sputtering, she gracefully slips away, staring at the smiling visages of the beloved chicks she raised to full chickenhood.
As any dramatist will tell you, inevitability is at the core of most tragedies, and the Orphan Black writers weren’t exactly shy about telegraphing Mrs. S’s death from early in the episode. It’s Sibohan, after all, who overrules Sarah when her daughter insists that the Clone Club press their temporary advantage against the surviving agents of Neolution — Virginia Coady, Mark Rollins and John Patrick Mathieson — rather than take their feet off the proverbial gas pedal. “You’re a warrior and I’ve taught you everything I know,” the older woman says, before telling Sarah to take a rare night off to attend Felix’s art world shindig. And if you’ve ever seen a movie or TV show before, you know the moment the characters allow themselves to relax is also the exact moment where things are about to go pear-shaped.
To be fair to Siobhan, she’s not exactly advocating for a total cease-fire. In fact, while Sarah is off partying, she’s headed out to command the next stage in the Clone Club offensive, one that she specifically doesn’t want her daughter around for. That’s because it involves brokering a deal with Ferdinand, the man who brutally murdered Sarah’s clone sister, M.K., in the beginning of the season. MIA since then, he re-entered the frame to whisk Rachel out of Dyad in the wake of her eye-popping rebellion against Mathieson, in which she also exposed his fraudulent impersonation of P.T. Westmoreland.
What happens next is a double-cross that gives way to a triple-cross, as Ferdinand and Rachel conspire to extort money from the Dyad’s wealthy corporate shareholders, while Rachel and Siobhan conspire to have Ferdinand’s extortion attempt become an execution attempt. While he may have blinders on when it comes to Rachel, he’s not blind when it comes to his personal safety. Ferdinand quickly clues into the fact that he’s facing a firing squad, and fires first, stalking out of the boardroom with a bloodlust that won’t be satiated until he kills one — or both — of the women who sent him there to die. Rachel’s first on his list, but their tortured romantic history prevents him from delivering that killing blow. On the other hand, there’s little love lost between him and Mrs. S, making it all too easy for him to shoot her in cold blood.
While we’re on the subject of tragically inevitable deaths, the clock started ticking on Gracie’s life the moment she lied to Mark about not finding Helena. That’s why his parting “I love you” to her on the phone doubles as a farewell; there are no Castor clone babies in their future. And if John and Virginia have their way, Helena’s behbies will never know their mother; in Neolution’s clutches at last, those two unborn infants hold the genetic keys to Mathieson’s endgame. Heading into what creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson have already said will be a two-part final battle; the stakes are clear and the opposing armies are mobilized. And you can bet neither side will be taking another night off until the fight is done.
And we’re not taking an episode off from our clone power ranking! Here’s where everyone stands among the people left standing.
Even amidst tragedy, there are also opportunities for joy. And nothing in this episode was more joyful than the sight of Cosima boogying down on the dance floor (and canoodling with Delphine) during Felix’s party. Having survived the dangers of Neolution Island, and no longer under the death sentence of the clone disease, the resident Clone Club introvert finally feels comfortable in unshackling her inner extrovert. It’s an example of how power doesn’t have to just be a show of force — it can also be a demonstration of self-worth.
While the cracks in Alison’s new New Age persona are starting to show — look at how she had to catch herself from evaluating Donnie’s wardrobe — she’s still the clone least encumbered by Neolution-related drama at the present time. She’s also more willing to be part of Clone Club shenanigans than she has been in years past. Let’s see how her sense of teamwork holds up when the danger starts getting real.
Rachel has now divested herself of the two men who had any sort of hold over her: Mathieson and Ferdinand. The former was her longtime father figure, while the latter, as she describes him, is “the only one who ever really loved me.” In the end, neither was truly worthy of her, and while she may be unmoored in the moment, her liberation will be her greatest asset (and, likely, her sisters’ greatest headache) in the homestretch.
Definitely not today, and certainly not tomorrow, but sometime in the not-too-distant future, Sarah will stop blaming herself for her mother’s death. In the short term, though, she’s going to regret taking Siobhan’s advice to blow off some steam, and losing sight of her at the party. Let’s not forget that revenge is amongst the most effective motivators.
In the past, a captive Helena has proven to be a dangerous Helena. Now, though, her lethal self-defense abilities are stymied by her pregnancy, putting her in the rare position of needing rescuing instead of being her own rescuer. Although knowing her, she’ll quickly assume an active role in any jailbreak.
Non-Clone MVP: Siobhan Sadler
This week’s MVP was going to go to Felix for his welcome return after a too-long absence, not to mention his beautiful speech dedicated to his “galaxy of women.” But there’s no way we can pass up the opportunity to honor Mrs. S one last time. Goodbye, sweet Siobhan: Your chickens, and all of their fine-feathered friends, salute you.
Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. on BBC America.
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