'Orphan Black'

The Frenetic "The Clutch of Greed" Features Impersonations, Violence, and Loss

by J.M. Suarez

20 June 2017

There’s a lot to unpack, but the show deftly moves things toward a quickly approaching finalé with its signature fast pace.
Sarah formulates a plan to escape from Dyad. 
cover art

Orphan Black

Season 5, Episode 2 - "The Clutch of Greed"
Cast: Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, Maria Doyle Kennedy
Regular airtime: Saturdays, 10pm

(BBC America)
US: 17 Jun 2017

Cosima: No disrespect, but I know you created me. And I have no interest in being part of your collection. So, what the hell is the point of all of this?

Ferdinand: Who are you now, exactly? It was all for you, Rachel. All of this.

Things are starting to come together in the fast and furious way that Orphan Black does so well. The sisters (Tatiana Maslany) are forced back together, some working their own agendas; Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) are plotting a way to get Sarah and Kira (Skyler Wexler) away from Rachel; Helena escapes from a hospital; and MK makes her final appearance.  There’s a lot to unpack, but the show deftly moves things toward a quickly approaching finalé with its signature fast pace.

Rachel’s professed change of heart doesn’t fool Sarah, whose not interested in anything she has to offer. Ferdinand (James Frain) tries to convince her to cooperate by connecting her to Alison (and Art [Kevin Hanchard]) and Cosima, all seemingly on board Rachel’s plan. When Ferdinand asks, “Is Sarah Manning finally ready to behave?” the overwhelming answer is obvious: fat chance. Although she agrees to Rachel’s plan to study Kira—a plan she calls “low impact, non-invasive”—Sarah is quickly at the center of a plan involving Felix, Mrs. S, Scott (Josh Vokey), and MK.

The sequence in which they attempt to carry out the plan—involving Sarah impersonating Rachel and Mrs. S impersonating a teacher at Kira’s school, while Felix sneaks them out a back entrance—is genuinely exciting (even though its clear they won’t make it), and a testament to Maslany’s stellar acting. Whenever she plays one of the clones impersonating another, she shines in a way that makes it nearly impossible to remember that one actor is playing all these roles. The plan falls apart when MK doesn’t show and Sarah goes after her. Ferdinand follows and Sarah narrowly escapes (after switching clothes with MK), and the resulting scene in which he finds MK is one of the most horrific in the show’s history. In a fit of anger at Rachel and the discovery that he’s found MK and not Sarah, he brutally murders MK. It’s clearly the final season and Orphan Black isn’t shying away from casualties, but it’s still a shocking moment.

Kira’s the interesting wild card this episode. Her connection to the sisters and their emotional states has already been established, although with little additional information, and her willingness to trust Rachel (“I want to know why I’m like this”) is in direct opposition to Sarah’s plan. Kira’s outburst is especially meaningful because it happens as she realizes that MK is dead. Seeing her walking with Rachel to Dyad for the first of her regularly scheduled tests is Sarah’s greatest fear come true, particularly because MK had previously revealed that Rachel was planning to restart human cloning. Here again, Maslany deserves special mention, not only in communicating Sarah’s emotional devastation, but also in the subtlety of Rachel’s menace, shown chillingly in the slamming of a car door and a look.

The science at the heart of Orphan Black is complex and constantly evolving, and Cosima has consistently been a proponent of understanding what Sarah prefers to ignore. Cosima’s illness is a further incentive for her to pursue the science behind their existence, and PT Westmoreland (Stephen McHattie) entices her with potential answers. The long-awaited reveal includes references to his acquaintance with Arthur Conan Doyle (complete with photographic proof) and cryptic poetry, as well as an offer to give Cosima free rein in the lab. His motives remain unclear, but Cosima’s intrigued and she’s sure to take advantage of Revival’s resources—helping Charlotte is an immediate goal—even if she ultimately refuses any further offers.

Meanwhile, Helena and Donnie (Kristian Bruun) are in the hospital as Helena receives treatment for the piece of wood that punctured her stomach last episode. Helena’s natural distrust of most people is especially on high alert when the neonatal doctor’s title hits a little too close to Neolution for her liking. She escapes the hospital, stabbing the doctor with a needle from cheek to cheek, before the doctor can perform an amniocentesis. She then proceeds to stumble out of the room, naked from behind her hospital gown. Helena’s violence is always survival-motivated, unforgiving, and at times very funny; it’s a direct contrast to the violence Ferdinand inflicted on MK, and serves as a way to differentiate the kinds of aggression frequently seen on the show.

There’s a great deal of parallelism going on in “The Clutch of Greed”, much of which pays homage to the complicated histories of these characters. Helena’s babies healing themselves in utero mirrors the genetic miracle of Kira’s birth, while both Sarah and Rachel walk with a limp, each inflicted by the other, aiding in Sarah’s ability to pass as Rachel. These parallels offer another way to understand these characters, while connecting them even more.

Orphan Black is juggling a great deal right now, not the least of which is Delphine’s (Evelyne Brochu) sudden appearance at Mrs. S’s door at the end of the episode. With eight episodes left to wrap things up, the show’s on a specific course, one that’s sure to be filled with more surprises, more violence, and hopefully, with Sarah, Alison, Cosima, and Helena alive and well.

Orphan Black

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