'Orphan Black': "Ease for Idle Millionaires" Allows Maslany's Portrayal of Cosima to Shine
"Ease for the Idle Millionaires" pulls at the complex and interconnected plot threads, while giving Maslany endless opportunities to showcase her talent.
Orphan BlackAirtime: Saturdays, 10pm
Cast: Tatiana Maslany, Evelyn Brochu, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Skyler Wexler
Subtitle: Season 5, Episode 5 - "Ease for the Idle Millionaires"
Network: BBC America
Air date: 2017-07-08
"Ease for the Idle Millionaires" marks the halfway point for Orphan Black’s final season, and it's a jam-packed, exciting, and moving hour that points to all that makes the series such a standout. Although featuring Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) and Rachel, among plenty of other non-clones, Cosima is at the center of the episode. Where "Beneath Her Heart" used flashbacks to reinforce Alison's strength and single-mindedness when put to a task (in this case, protecting her sisters), this episode uses the same technique to emphasize Cosima's inherent compassion and selflessness.
Much of the episode, as well as her backstory, revolves around Cosima’s curiosity. Her scientific mind is the perfect outlet for her natural interest in the world and the things happening around her, but she's also an innately empathetic person. Cosima represents the opposite side of the Neolution experimental mindset. Regardless of her curiosity, she never channels that inquisitiveness into hurting others.
Indeed, her curiosity is in direct opposition to that practiced by P.T. Westmoreland (Stephen McHattie), Susan Duncan (Rosemary Dunsmore) or Virginia Coady; her interest and her research has a natural stopping point when it encroaches negatively on others, particularly without their knowledge. Perhaps no other exchange exemplifies this crucial difference more than when Cosima learns that the man in the woods was once an orphaned boy named Yanis (Andrew Musselman) who was experimented on, imprisoned, and ultimately murdered in front of her by Westmoreland by the end of the episode.
If Cosima’s rejection of Neolution's approach is central to the episode (and the series), then Delphine's (Evelyn Brochu) constant working behind the scenes to secure Cosima's (and her sisters’) freedom is key to her being able to do so while also moving her own research forward. In a show where the main romantic pairings are either doomed from the start because of so many lies and secrets (Paul and Beth/ Paul and Sarah), played more often for comedic effect (Alison and Donnie), or just plain dysfunctional (Rachel and Ferdinand), Cosima and Delphine have been the romantic heart of the series since the beginning. While they're frequently separated -- often frustratingly so -- their devotion to one another, and by extension their combined dedication to Cosima's sisters, has been strengthened time and time again. So when Delphine pleads with Cosima to defy those who would destroy her and simultaneously vows "I will always work to protect you. And you will win," it's a declaration that calls back earlier moments, and cements their relationship.
The centerpiece of "Ease for the Idle Millionaires" is an awkward dinner at Westmoreland's. Crashed by Cosima and including Delphine, Rachel, Susan, and Ira (who’s hidden the knives), the dinner is filled with subtle threats, angry revelations, and Westmoreland's signature dismissive pronouncements ("What a delicate balance you have. The clinical and the humane"). What's most revealing about the dinner is Cosima's fearlessness in divulging her discovery of LIN28A, an isolated gene that heals itself, and Westmoreland's confirmation that it's the main source of research at Dyad involving Kira (Skyler Wexler). Kira -- and if the theory that it skips a generation, then Helena's babies too -- have the gene and Rachel's working on inseminating thousands of women with it. Ultimately, Westmoreland is looking for a way to extend his own life, although he couches the research in broader, grander terms.
Meanwhile, Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) continues her search into the background of Neolution and its main players. Scott (Josh Vokey) and Hell Wizard (Calwyn Shurgold) are leading much of the research behind the scenes and helping Mrs. S to connect Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and Adele with Delphine in Geneva, where's she’s jetting off to next. Delphine does find the time for a visit to Mrs. S's, where it's revealed that she wasn't the source behind Coady's location (which now makes that mysterious informant even more intriguing), but she warns Mrs. S that time is running out before Rachel begins her true experiments on Kira. Sarah has also decided to be much more honest with Kira about everything involving her and her sisters, in exchange for more openness from Kira about her sessions with Rachel.
Orphan Black is moving quickly now; it's understandable, as the end of the series is closing in. Although every episode continues to reveal more and more, with only five episodes left, there's still so much left to resolve. One thing that the series can count on, though, is Maslany’s stellar presence. This episode features her Cosima, who’s filled with so much genuine compassion for those closest to her, as well as those she barely knows; Maslany expresses that emotion beautifully. She's gentle, she's furious, and she's defiant, but it all comes from the same place, and Maslany is able to distinguish the way those emotions manifest themselves in Cosima, as opposed to how they're expressed in Sarah or Helena or Alison. It's a riveting performance.
In essence, "Ease for the Idle Millionaires" pulls at the complex and interconnected threads running through the series, setting the stage for the final half of the season, while also giving Maslany endless opportunities to showcase her incredible talents.