ethan and kira

There’s a lot going on in Orphan Black episode 8 – but just how are they going to wrap up all of these story lines before the season ends?

Editor’s Note: This review will include spoilers, so look out!

Last episode had quite a few important plot points:

  • Rachel met her long-lost father
  • Sarah and Cosima both know that Kira’s stem cells are needed for Cosima’s treatment
  • Oh yeah, and Leekie got shot in the head and died (thanks, Donnie)

As we come up on this season’s end with just three episodes to go, we still have some resounding issues to resolve. There’s Helena’s Prolethean baby, Cosima’s illness, Rachel’s place in the Dyad now that Leekie is indisposed. All of these questions and more will have be to answered in the next few episodes, although one of the questions I want answered the most (and one I’m not sure will ever be answered) is if we can even trust Cal. Sarah trusts him enough to put her daughter in his care for the majority of this season, which is a quick and easy way to keep her out of harm’s way and limit the amount of actual airtime for Skyler Wexler, who plays Kira. But let’s be real, it’s kind of ridiculous that Sarah just up and leaves her daughter with the man she believes to be her father and then runs off to deal with other things. It’s not out of character for Sarah to do such a thing, but it is kind of insane to just trust her with some man she just happened to meet again after eight years of radio silence.

For all intents and purposes, Cal’s been a pretty good dad from what we’ve seen. There haven’t been any clues to date that he’s an untrustworthy person to have around Kira, but I have some concern about his background and general purposes in this story. Cal’s history was pretty glossed over in favor of a few sweet morning scenes between him and Sarah, but let’s not forget that he had a heavy hand in creating drone technology that’s now being used by the government. It seems like the engineer was simply brought into this show to have a few rounds under the sheets with Sarah and then act as a glorified babysitter. It’s more uncommon for characters in Orphan Black to be one-
sided rather than multifaceted and to have this master engineer brought on just to act as a fulltime childcare provider for Kira is a huge missed opportunity. Here’s hoping something twists in regards to Cal in these last few episodes.

Now, on to episode 8… This episode opens up with a flurry of activity. A passenger van barrels into a mechanic shop only to produce an injured man named Sammy and…another clone. This clone, interestingly enough, has a very deep voice and what seems to be a small goatee although still looks eerily like Sarah. Fearing the worst about his injuries, Sammy gives Tony, the new clone, a mysterious message for Beth Childs. I certainly wasn’t expecting the entrance of another clone in this season nor do I really think another addition is necessary. We haven’t seen Helena in two episodes and Cosima’s illness is still a major issue to be resolved in this season. I’m sure this new clone will come with some important information, but I just don’t see the point adding another clone when there are still so many loose ends to tie up with the ones we already care about.

rachel and delphine

Back at the Dyad headquarters, we get a pretty cool sequence of scenes where Cosima and Scott, after receiving Kira’s tooth, get to dive into their science skills. Scott points out that it would make more sense to obtain the stem cells from the donor’s bone marrow instead of her teeth, but I doubt Cosima even thinks of that as a real option. Kira is extended family for Cosima and she’s already experiencing a moral dilemma in even using Kira’s teeth for treatment. Bone marrow has got to be out of the question.

Meanwhile, Rachel informs Delphine that Aldous Leekie is dead from a fatal heart attack. Rachel also informs Delphine that she’s aware of another route for a possible cure to Cosima’s illness, which in turn means she’s also very aware of the role Sarah and her daughter now play. I believe there are three sides of the Leekie death story: what Rachel believes has happened, what Rachel is telling other people, and what actually happened. This falls pretty easily into the second category, as I think Rachel really believes that her assassins got to Leekie and I don’t think that her knowing his actual fate would change the story she told anyone else.

Via Beth Childs’ phone, Tony meets up with Art and they head to the base camp of Felix’s apartment. Through Felix’s eyes, we get a much longer look at the new clone. Although still much like Sarah in appearance, we learn that Tony is actually a transgender clone who is very unaware of the clone situation. Art decides to run Tony’s background and see if they can trust the new clone, leaving Felix alone to try and swindle Sammy’s cryptic message out of Tony.

scott, cosima runewars

Delphine heads to Mrs. S’ house to offer Sarah a new proposal from Rachel. Apparently, there is a new key to the clone cure that doesn’t require Kira’s stem cells. The catch? The Dyad needs Ethan Duncan instead, who has the synthetic sequences for the clones in his possession.

Back at the Dyad for some late night research, Cosima finds Scott and three friends playing Runewars, a tabletop strategy game, in her laboratory. Finally we get to see more of Cosima’s characterization as she swoops in to kick some ass in this awesome game. Mid ass-kicking, Cosima has another coughing fit and it seems like her illness is escalating more quickly than anticipated.

Back at Felix’s apartment, Art returns with intel on Tony. Formerly Antoinette Sawicki, Tony and his dead partner Sammy are convicted thieves. Sammy was shot by several unnamed assailants in suits (hello, Dyad Institute) and Art fears that they are already searching out Tony’s whereabouts. After Art leaves to continue his detective work on Tony, Felix returns to his apartment and engages in a quick makeout session with the clone, which is all sorts of strange considering Tony’s likeness to foster sister Sarah.

tony

It only lasts a few moments before Felix pulls back and Tony tries another approach at retrieving information: revealing Felix’s obituary painting of Sarah from season one. Sarah shows up just in time to meet a fleeing Tony and convince him to stay. After getting briefed on the clones and his involvement, Tony delivers Sammy’s message: “Tell Beth, ‘keep the faith. Paul’s like me, he’s on it. He’s a ghost.'” After delivering the message, Tony is whisked away on a bus out of town for his own safety. With Tony’s jobs mostly coming from Sammy’s old military contacts, it’s not shocking that Paul’s name is brought up, but how deeply is Paul involved in this? Has he been playing everyone from the very start? Is he even smart enough to out-wit the Dyad’s bigwigs for that long? This is an interesting connection for Paul and another clone, but I don’t think Paul has the resources or intelligence to keep the Dyad in the dark for so long, especially not on his own. Maybe he’s just great at being a spy, but I don’t have that much faith in Paul.

Alison and Donnie try to repair their relationship with a bought of purely honest conversation. It’s nice to see the two of them sharing instead of fighting, even if what they’re sharing is some pretty dark stuff. Alison confesses her involvement in the death of their neighbor Aynsley and Donnie raises her confession with one of his own about the death of Dr. Leekie. There’s one more catch. Donnie used Alison’s gun to shoot Leekie and, like the fool he is, put it back in Alison’s gun locker at the range post-murder.

Ethan Duncan returns to the Dyad to face his daughter, Rachel. Just as expected, Rachel insists that their relationship hold no emotional attachments, but instead remain professional despite Ethan’s plea for forgiveness. Rachel asks a major question regarding the clones – why was Sarah successful in reproducing when no other clone has been? – and we finally get a clear answer from Ethan. The clones were engineered to be barren by design, but Sarah was a failed experiment. Rachel then offers up some insight as to why the clones were made barren, understanding it would be irresponsible and problematic to create a reproducing prototype, but that doesn’t lessen her inherent rage.

Still at the Dyad, Cosima finally tells Scott that he’s actually closer to his research than he thought and that she is the subject of their research. In a moving moment, and the first time in this series that I’ve ever gotten teary-eyed, Scott’s realization flows into endearment and he admits that he is honored to be working with Cosima. Ethan Duncan and Delphine join the duo in her lab and our dream team is ready to get down to business, but Cosima’s body refuses. She is jolted into shock by her illness, coughing blood from her lungs and shaking in a seizure-like manner on the floor. Her time is essentially running out, which means it looks like she might not get to cure herself after all but will must instead rely on Ethan and the team.

The last shot we have of this episode is of Kira with Ethan’s copy of The Island of Doctor Moreau. As we watch Kira lip through the pages, we learn that this isn’t just a well-worn book, but instead a secret notebook for Duncan. Written in the margins and black spots in the book are sketches of sequences very similar those we’ve seen Cosima working on in the past. Now we know that with the book in hand, Kira is as indispensable to the Dyad as ever.

I’m getting anxious for some Helena again. With the way the series is going, it makes sense that she’d be distant until the final few episodes, but we’re almost there and still nothing. I’ve always considered Helena one of the big bosses of Orphan Black so it’s fitting that the final episode should be dedicated to her, but we need to ramp up her story again. If she’s to be impregnated with the modified embryos from Henrick’s lab, then we need to get her some more screen time. With knowing that Sarah was a failure in regards to the barren nature of the clones, it’d be interesting to see how Helena responds in kind. Will she be able to carry a baby to full term? Will she actually voluntarily let them inseminate her or will she escape again and try her hand at procreating naturally? I’m really missing the creeptastic Proletheans and I hope we’ll get more of them and Helena in the next episode.

As for the other clones, Alison continues to teeter on this line of creating messes and cleaning up messes. This time she’s forced to clean up Donnie’s completely idiotic attempt at covering up Leekie’s murder. Really, has he never seen any crime television? The last thing I would do in his position is deposit the murder weapon back in my wife’s gun locker. But who knows, perhaps Donnie is an idiot savant and that gun locker is the last place they’ll ever look for Leekie’s murder weapon, if anyone comes looking at all.

Meanwhile, Cosima is still the show’s pet puppy. No one wants to see the scientist die and yet I have a terrible feeling she won’t make it out of this season. I feel like there’s so much potential within Cosima’s character and instead she’s been portrayed as half-damsel in distress, half-generic science geek this entire time. I hope Ethan will be able to heal her and thus give Cosima the screen time she deserves to flourish as a character, but I just don’t have a good feeling about it.

The biggest issue I have with this episode is the addition of Tony. While the new clone is very likeable and, in general, would make a fantastic addition to the clone ranks, I just don’t see the point of bringing in another clone simply to deliver a message about Paul and then high-tail it out of town.

If Orphan Black is renewed for a third season – which it would be a damn shame not to be – I could see some really interesting scenes happening with Tony. I’d be more than happy to see a third season revolve around Tony but I feel that Sammy’s message could have been relayed via so many other sources and Tony’s addition in this season is unnecessary. I don’t think tossing in a character as dynamic as Tony this late in the season really gives him the respect he deserves as part of the clone group. This season should have focused on wrapping up the Cosima and Helena plots instead of dropping in other clone just to have them walk right out again. Hopefully this isn’t the last we see of Tony, but it’s a shame he was brought in as what feels like an afterthought.

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