Sarah struggles to stay alive as she tries to escape the island.

‘Orphan Black’s The Crowded “Few Who Dare” Sets Up for the Final Season

"The Few Who Dare" continues to keep the clones separate, for the most part, as they each pull on a different thread in the Neolution plot.

Delphine: We each have our role here, Cosima.

Rachel: You and I are going to cure us all.

Orphan Black‘s fifth and final season begins just as one would expect: dropped right back into the complex mystery at the heart of their genetic story. “The Few Who Dare” continues to keep the clones separate, for the most part, as they each pull on a different thread in the Neolution plot. The discovery of a village on the island Sarah, Cosima, and Rachel (Tatiana Maslany) are all on makes for yet another intersection point between the clones, although they have their own individual agendas.

Sarah’s injured and making her away across the island, dubbed Revival (“the heart of Neolution”), in search of Cosima when an unknown human-like creature attacks her. Her survival techniques as she gets closer to Cosima and the village include narrowly escaping capture by guards with dogs and scaring off the strange creature. While she does eventually find Cosima, she’s unable to convince her to leave. Cosima’s insistence that she has work to do in discovering more about Neolution and its experiments, in the hopes of saving them, makes little impact on Sarah; she’s more concerned with their immediate survival (was burning Kira’s [Skylar Wexler] photo — “Sorry, monkey” — some kind of foreshadowing?). This fundamental contrast between the two is especially striking this episode, as Sarah’s instincts push her to get as far away from Neolution as possible while Cosima’s determined to learn as much as she can about the village and their work, despite the relatively small amount of time she’s spent there.

Meanwhile, Alison, Helena, and Donnie (Kristian Bruun) are still hiding out in the woods. Felix (Jordan Gavaris) relays a message from Art (Kevin Hanchard) that they’re to stay put and out of harm’s way. Alison immediately dismisses the request and starts packing them up to find and help her sisters. Unfortunately, Neolution’s goons capture her (“Helena was out murdering God’s creatures and my husband abandoned me”). Neolution’s reach is becoming more and more overt as the police department’s compromised staff is less interested in blending in. Maddie (Elyse Levesque), Art’s new partner, is happy to quickly threaten him about his connections to the clones, and physically accosts him as a way to get Alison to cooperate. There’s little about Maddie that’s subtle, and her interrogation tactics are no surprise.

Meanwhile, Rachel’s taken on a quasi-spokesperson role in the village for the mysterious, and supposedly 170-year-old, PT Westmoreland. She revels in the part, basking in the adoration of the villagers, but the more telling moment is when she discovers Cosima attempting to inject herself with the cure secretly left behind by Delphine (Evelyne Brochu). Their dynamic serves as yet another contrast in the show. While Rachel and Sarah have always had a horribly antagonistic and actively harmful relationship, Rachel and Cosima have an almost grudging understanding of one another, based on the science so important to the two. When Rachel injects Cosima with the cure, it’s a moment of trust between the two, and Rachel exhibits a kind of tenderness with Cosima that she rarely shows with anyone else. It’s a wonderful showcase for Maslany, whose subtlety in performance and understanding of the characters comes through naturally. It’s always been easy to forget Maslany is playing multiple roles, but scenes in which the clones interact are especially illuminating in reminding the viewer of her complete command of these roles.

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Delphine’s sudden disappearance to the island of Sardinia is frustrating for how quickly she and Cosima are once again separated. Although Delphine is clearly on Cosima’s (and the rest of the clones’) side, the constant mystery surrounding her specific work, and the speed with which she’s constantly taken away from Cosima make for a maddening pattern. Still, Orphan Black does find the time to offer small moments between the two that speak to their undeniable connection. Delphine and Cosima have always been the romantic soul of the series, unrepentantly, and giving them the opportunity to say goodbye this time further cements that relationship.

Meanwhile, while the sisters are in various states of communication, Felix is attempting to get as much information as possible from Ira (Ari Millen) and push Scott (Josh Vokey) to do more. Scott’s plan to try to contact MK online is probably their best shot to getting closer to all coming together again. The season is surely leading to a final showdown on the island, with as many players as possible, and though Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and Kira (with the exception of the dreamlike scenes in which she repeatedly reaches out to Sarah to wake up) were absent this episode, they too will also certainly have an important role to play. In addition, Orphan Black also finds time to introduce yet another couple of mysterious characters, Mr. Frontenac (Andrew Moodie), who tells Felix “there’s only one faction now”, and Mud (Jenessa Grant), Cosima’s de facto Revival tour guide.

“The Few Who Dare” is a busy episode, and one meant to both remind the audience of where these characters were following last season’s finalé, and set up the final episodes of the series. It accomplishes both, while also leaving plenty of questions for how the show will end. Sarah’s capture at the end of the episode, just as she’s about to escape from the island, keeps her in close physical proximity to at least two other clones, although more are sure to descend on the island soon. How that’ll play out, and the consequences of revealing more about Neolution and Revival, still remains to be seen, but Orphan Black has proven itself worthy of moving the story forward with surprises and satisfying resolutions.

RATING 7 / 10