Orphan Black Review: More Than Just Project Leda


The finale episode of season two, episode ten ties up the remaining loose ends, but still has room for the biggest loose end of the entire series.

Here’s a brief overview of last week’s Orphan Black:

  • Donnie and Alison dealt with Leekie’s body, put an end to harassment by Angie Deangelis and Vic, and repaired their marriage in the process.
  • Helena dealt a smack-down on the Proletheans which resulted in her burning down their farm.
  • Rachel impersonated Sarah and kidnapped Kira from the hospital.

In the finale episode of season two, Sarah searches for Kira by infiltrating the Dyad Institute. The clones band together to try and save each other from the corporation’s clutches, but Dyad isn’t the only thing our group of sestras have to be worried about.

sarah at dyad

And now, the finale. This scene opens with Sarah in a dark room, being hounded by doctors who ask her invasive questions about her medical history and put her through frantic preliminary medical tests. Handcuffed and dressed in Dyad’s clothing, not her own, Sarah gives her unconditional surrender to the corporation.

Presented with a contract by Dr. Nealon, a Dyad doctor who has been running tests on the clones from the beginning, Sarah pleads to see her daughter but is shot down. In contrast, Kira is getting a smaller-scale examination done in her bright, homey room at the Dyad. Perhaps street-smarts are passed down genetically because during the cheek swab, Kira swipes a cell phone from the nurse and calls unknown man who sounds suspiciously like Cal.

In Cosima’s lab, the Institute confiscates Kira’s bone marrow and plans to bring it directly to Dr. Nealon, Cosima’s new physician, per Rachel’s orders. Meanwhile, Rachel forbids Delphine contact with any clone and promptly ships her off to Frankfurt, eliminating her interference. Rachel also divulges a little nugget of information by telling Delphine that Sarah’s procedure is imminent. She doesn’t explain the mystery procedure nor does she give into Delphine’s futile attempts to change her decision to do away with the good doctor.

While Scott tries to stop Delphine’s transfer, Cosima is emailed Rachel’s itinerary for the day via Delphine. Cosima makes a case to see Kira to help foster cooperation between the clones and Dyad and then is left alone with Scott. Thanks to the itinerary, the duo begin planning for Sarah’s mystery procedure by using the only information they have: when Sarah and Rachel will be in the same place at the same time.

Back with Sarah, Dr. Nealon explains that Dyad’s long-game is to harvest Sarah’s eggs. Sarah concedes in order to see her daughter and is taken to another black, soundproof room with a two-way mirror in it. Through the mirror she can see Kira but Kira can’t see her, though Kira does give the mirror a long look which implies that Kira may be aware of her mother’s presence. Rachel joins Kira in the room to further twist the knife in Sarah’s gut and delivers an order straight to the two-way mirror. “Even mothers have to do as they’re told sometimes.”

Outside the Dyad, Cal shows up at Mrs. S’ house, prompted by Kira’s earlier phone call for help. While Cal attempts to convince Siobhan of his good intentions, Felix receives a phone call from Detective Art Bell who has a visitor. Helena is back, eating all of Art’s food, and demanding to see Sarah. Felix is sent to babysit Helena with strict orders from Mrs. S not to inform her about Sarah’s whereabouts. At Art’s apartment, Helena tells Art and Felix about her trip to the Prolethean ranch and though asked point-blank twice if she burned down the ranch, Helena denies any involvement with the fire.

Cal outlines his research on the Dyad for Siobhan and informs Mrs. S that he’s been in contact with someone he believes to be very high up within the Institute. When he asks this nameless person for help and informs them of his company, they ask Mrs. S about Castor, though she doesn’t explain who or what Castor is. Instead, a meeting is set up between Siobhan and her inside contact Paul (surprise!), back in his military role. Siobhan and Paul wait for Cal to arrive with his Dyad contact, who turns out to be Marian Bowles, the high-level Dyad contact we’ve seen boss around both Leekie and Rachel this season.

rachel and ethan

At the Institute, Sarah passes a likewise-handcuffed Ethan Duncan in the halls. The professor instructs her not to despair and then is shuffled down the hall while Sarah is led into an elevator. In a video room playing home movies of young Rachel’s life with her father, Ethan is confronted by Rachel yet again. In a showdown of the minds, they drink tea and war back and forth with each other. Rachel demands that Ethan “unlock” another clone and in exchange the Dyad would save Cosima. Ethan flips the demands, stating that he won’t even consider another clone until Cosima is cured. Rachel yet again demands the key to Ethan’s cipher, which prevents the creation of more clones, and Ethan bluffs that he never wrote the cipher down but instead only kept it in his mind. Once they come to an impasse, Ethan asks Rachel if she remembers how much he and her mother loved her and Rachel admits that she has no memory of their love at all. Ethan appears overly emotional at the admission but in reality is reacting to the poison he laced his own teabag with. In his last moments, Ethan tells Rachel he doesn’t believe she deserves him any longer.

Cosima has been granted time with Kira and the pair engage in a small science experiment of their own. Cosima teaches Kira about force by having her try to push a pencil through a piece of construction paper. As the science experiment ensues, scenes of Cosima and Scott preparing their own experiment mix in. We’re not given a clear idea of what they’re making, but it’s implied that is has to do with force, much like Kira’s experiment, only on a much larger scale. Unfortunately, Cosima’s illness has gotten the better of her and she can’t complete the experiment. However, the ever-impressive Scott produces a Dyad keycard and convinces her to let him follow through as it’s their only chance for success.

Sarah is stolen from her room and pulled into a terrifying, impromptu surgery. As she’s secured, Scott appears in guise of a surgeon and loosens her straps just before Dr. Nealon approaches. He tells Sarah that they are performing an oophorectomy, or removing one of Sarah’s ovaries, for research purposes. And as if Dr. Nealon wasn’t bad enough, in walks Rachel. She sends everyone out of the room and shows Sarah Kira’s bone marrow, now in her possession, and a picture from Kira depicting the mother/daughter pair and a large fire extinguisher.

Rachel proceeds to tell Sarah that Ethan is dead, though Rachel believes that Sarah is actually in possession of Ethan’s cipher. When Sarah is unaware of the cipher’s location, Rachel smashes Kira’s bone marrow on the floor and begins to leave the room. Sarah calls her back and quickly reaches for the handle of the fire extinguisher next to her, which projectiles a sharp pencil straight into Rachel’s left eye. Scott swoops in and hands Sarah a Dyad keycard so she can to save Kira and escape.

Sarah hurries to Kira’s room just in time to see Marian Bowles preparing Kira to leave the Institute. She tells Sarah that they are free to go of their own accord and that she’ll give Sarah all the information she wants if she agrees to meet Marian the next day. Felix brings Helena to his loft and the Ukranian clone is brought face to face with her entire sestra family, for the first time in two seasons. The feels just keep on coming as Helena is embraced by Cosima, Alison, and lastly Kira, all of whom are happy to see their long-lost relative. The most touching scene of the season includes a dance party between all clones to a great reggae soundtrack.

sarah at marian's

The morning after the clone sleepover, Cosima and Sarah have a moment alone to discuss Cosima’s impending death. Meanwhile, Helena wakes and after leaving the case housing her embryos at Felix’s apartment, decides to step out. Her motive isn’t exactly detailed, but there’s not much time to ruminate on that as her head is immediately covered with a black bag and she’s incapacitated by an electrical Taser, then carried off by two nameless men.

Kira comes to Cosima’s bedside to wake her but doesn’t get a response. It takes several shakes for Cosima to rouse and this happens only after Kira touches the clone’s face. With storytime in mind, Kira hands Cosima the copy of The Island of Doctor Moreau gifted to her by Ethan Duncan, which allows Cosima sees all the sequences outlined in the book’s margins.

Meanwhile, Sarah meets with Marian Bowles at her lavish house and comes face to face with a little girl who looks remarkably like young Rachel from her home videos. Marian explains that Charlotte is definitely a clone, the only one of 400 failed Dyad experiments, and that Marian is Charlotte’s adoptive mother. The information just keeps on flowing as Marian explains her role in the Dyad. Her company, Topside, helps steer the Dyad Institute along with other large, multinational corporations. Their primary role is to secure money to help the Dyad’s research in technologies to help the future, including synthetic biology and genetic engineering.


Also according to Marian, Project Leda wasn’t ever actually dismantled. Instead, Dyad carried female clones to term while the military carried male clones in a project known as Project Castor. As Marian explains, the scene shifts back to Helena. Handcuffed and in the back of a military-personnel vehicle, Helena is transported to an airplane and accompanied by soldiers the entire way. Paul and Siobhan watch Helena board the plane while Paul explains that Siobhan essentially sold Helena in exchange for Paul’s assistance with Sarah’s escape from Dyad. The scene shifts again, back to Gracie and Mark from the Prolethean ranch, who have just been married at a church. Back with the military, we see Helena pass Mark, dressed in the same uniform as the other soldiers. Finally it clicks when Sarah comes face to face with the Project Castor clone Marian has secured in her home: another Mark.

And with that, season two of Orphan Black comes to a close. Finally everything loose from this season seems wrapped up. Paul was brought back in and his ties to the military explained through his role with Project Castor. Cal’s role in the finale was a bit lackluster, but necessary in order to bring Sarah to Marian. We were also able to end this season with Kira back home and all of our favorite clones intact, even if Cosima seems to be nearing the brink. We’re not sure if Rachel survived or not, but that kind of cliffhanger isn’t surprising at the end of this season. Plus, if she does survive, we at least know that she’ll have a great villain-wound. Now all she needs is a swivel chair and a fluffy white cat.

One part of this episode that nags at me is Kira and her implied powers. We’ve been told time and again that Kira has mysterious powers, though until now they’ve all been physically within her. She’s got incredible insight and the genetic capability to walk away a head-on collision with a car. While it’s never put in black and white if Kira really does have these genetic one-ups or if she’s just a lucky, sort-of creepy kid, I think it’s all too convenient to be a coincidence. Instead, it’s possible that these powers of hers could have manifested into something stronger. With everything else that Kira’s been able to accomplish this season, she could definitely have saved Cosima from death with just her touch. On the flip side, it’s possible that Cosima wasn’t actually dead and instead just too weak to answer, but I prefer to believe that Kira’s miracle child powers are starting to show.

But the part of this episode that is truly important is the Project Castor tie-in. It makes sense that the military never actually shut down Project Leda, but instead shifted it to suit their needs. By bringing Helena into the fold of Project Castor, I have a bad feeling that she’s gone from being the Proletheans’ “broodmare” to being the military’s instead. Paul, who has now been promoted to Major, is likely the Rachel of Project Castor. I believe he’s in charge of quite a bit, but certainly not in charge of everything as he would be much more informed if he was, and much harder to get access to. I don’t believe he knows that Helena has been impregnated or I believe that Paul would have had some decisions to make regarding chasing Helena as opposed to chasing Sarah.

There’s no official word on whether season three is in the making and it would be a real shame to end Orphan Black this way. Dropping Project Castor into the mix and not having any follow up to explore that experiment and ultimately resolve Helena’s involvement would be a real travesty. That said, I would be stunned if Orphan Black wasn’t renewed for a third season, especially with how well it’s done on BBC America. I’m staying positive in hopes that we get official word of a renewal soon. Until then, I’ll be brainstorming the many ways Helena could fight herself out of a military stronghold.

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