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Television

'Orphan Black': Krystal Is the Amusing Delight of a Serious Story

Krystal brings much needed levity as Orphan Black moves to its endgame (Photo Credit: Ken Woroner/BBC AMERICA ).

The islanders rebel, Cosima escapes, and everything is coming to a head in "Manacled Slim Wrists".


Orphan Black

Airtime: Saturdays, 10pm
Cast: Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, Kevin Hanchard
Subtitle: Season 5, Episode 6 - "Manacled Slim Wrists"
Network: BBC America
Air date: 2017-07-15
Amazon
P.T.: Do you remember who I am?

Susan: John. Of course I remember. But no one else does. If you don't think we need the myth, you've gone mad.

P.T.: Was I mad when I began all this?

Susan: No, you were…magnetic. If a meddling student.

P.T. And you were brilliant. But it was 1962, and you were a woman. And what I couldn't get with brains, I bought.

Susan: By fortune and fiction. That's how the patriarchy works. John, what is your point?

P.T.: Your fictions. Your lies. Your crafty little workarounds. All to push your crazed ideals. But you weren't the only scientist I bought, were you?

"Manacled Slim Wrists" keeps an interesting balance between the complex plot and action of the larger story, and the inherent comic relief that a character like Krystal (Tatiana Maslany) provides. In some ways, it may appear as if the overwhelmingly serious tone of the season left no room for the humor that Krystal brings to the show, but Orphan Black manages to deftly weave her, in all her ridiculous glory, into the Neolution/Dyad story in a way that both makes sense and allows the audience some moments of true comedy. There are only four episodes left, and it stands to reason that any remaining moments of levity will be few and far between from now on. While Alison and Helena do always find ways to inject humor into otherwise somber moments, the humor that Krystal brings is much more overt and purposeful.

As she has in the past, Krystal has unwittingly stumbled upon a new avenue of Dyad's corporate machinations. Krystal's fixation on Big Cosmetics and her past relationship with BluZone Cosmetics CEO Len Sipp (Tom Cullen, Maslany’s real-life boyfriend) all lead to the discovery that Len sold the company to Dyad where a dermal delivery prototype is being developed and presumably imminently to-be-unleashed on the public.

Although Sarah had intended to impersonate Krystal to learn all this, Krystal intervenes and handles the whole thing herself, with Sarah and Art (Kevin Hanchard) monitoring everything via camera. Krystal's penchant for forgetting the true stakes of her actions makes for plenty of hilarity in the episode, culminating with a kick to Len’s balls and slathering hair removal cream all over his beard. In short, she's a delight to watch. Krystal's scenes are a direct contrast to the more sedate and exposition-heavy scenes between P.T. (Stephen McHattie) and Susan (Rosemary Dunsmore), and speak again to Maslany's consistently mesmerizing performance.

Because Orphan Blackis winding down so quickly, there's little time to tease out revelations any longer. It can make for some clumsy exposition at times, such as when Susan confirms that P.T. isn't really 170 years old, but rather a former student, or reintroducing Virginia Coady (Kyra Harper) into P.T.'s plans so soon after Susan explained how they were purposely kept apart.

Similarly, Krystal's connection to BluZone Cosmetics is revealed just as Sarah and Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) receive a fax from Felix, Adele, and Delphine's fact-finding Geneva mission, confirming Dyad's acquisition of the company. The show is racing toward an end and because of that, it's starting to give up information in big bursts instead of its usual trickle. It can be awkward at times; however, at this point it's necessary and, if it's done in the service of bringing the sisters back together, it's ultimately worthwhile.

Speaking of reuniting the clones, Cosima is released from P.T.'s cage by Ira (Ari Millen) -- who, by the way, is experiencing serious glitches -- and she finally manages to escape the island with Charlotte (Cynthia Galant). Before her escape, she explains to those on the island what P.T.'s true plans are (to use their children in an attempt to extend his own life) and that his entire story has been a fabrication. The islanders are already on the verge of rioting after Salvador's death last week and Aisha's (Sirena Gulamgaus) death this week, so it's no stretch for them to believe her; the island is in flames by the time Cosima and Charlotte escape. Although the original plan was to leave with Ira, Susan, and Mud (Jenessa Grant), Mud reveals their deception to P.T., who proceeds to kill Susan, while Ira appears ready to follow her soon as his symptoms worsen. That Mud discovers the truth when it's too late makes her yet another casualty of P.T.'s manipulations.

Meanwhile, Rachel’s plans to use Kira (Skyler Wexler) are temporarily put on hold at the beginning of the episode when Kira fakes an illness to get out of her usual session with Rachel. Unfortunately, P.T. discovers Kira’s missed session and orders Rachel to remedy the situation at once, prompting her to take Kira for an overnight "sleep study". Kira's role has always been integral to the Orphan Black story, and now that she's aware of all that's happening and the potential consequences, that role has become more about planning than reacting. It's a dynamic that the show won't be able to explore completely in depth, but one that'll surely be important to how the sisters proceed in the remaining episodes of the series.

As has been building all season, the sisters -- while capable and creative when working alone -- are heading towards an ending in which they all come together again to defeat their enemies. It can be frustrating to have them separated for such long periods, but "Manacled Slim Wrists" continues to push forward their inevitable reunion, and even Mrs. S's cryptic warning to Rachel ("There will come a day when you need us") confirms this. The details of how things end still remain to be seen, but Orphan Black is steering things directly back to their coming together with all the information and resources they can dig up to help them win.

7

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