*** SPOILER ALERT: Please do not read on unless you've seen "Orphan Black" Season 2, Episode 10, titled "By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Done." (Unless you like spoilers, then go right ahead.) ***
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down, "Orphan Black"! What just happened? The Season 2 finale moved at lightning speed, jumping from one scene to the next like a Japanese bullet train. While I'm fully compassionate to the showrunners (after all, there's a lot going on here), there may have been a method to explain things in a more digestible way, rather than have Michelle Forbes' Marian Bowles run down Dyad's past, present and future in one quick monologue. "Orphan Black" Season 2 itself is like a long string of DNA, and we're the scientists trying to piece together the code. Sadly, this finale left me wanting, not because cool stuff didn't happen (I'll get to that later), but moreso because I didn't fully understand what was happening and why.
We have Dyad, the Prolethians, Paul (for some reason) as a major in some military unit -- as yet unexplained -- suddenly reappearing after a three-episode absence to secretly pair up with Marian against Rachel, Mrs. S. betraying Helena for (again) another unknown reason, Rachel going batshit and freaking out on Sarah (while destroying Kira's bone marrow), and yes, Project Castor, a program responsible for creating male clones, specifically Mark clones. I mean, all of that happens in the last 20 minutes of a 10-episode season. Tell me that's not insane.
The opening scene of the episode is so beautiful and so promising, I'm shocked at how quickly everything unravels. The juxtaposition of Sarah, Felix and Mrs. S. freaking out about Kira's abduction with the golden backlight along with the dark, cold, antiseptic questioning of Sarah in Dyad's underbelly is absolutely brilliant cinematography, wonderful writing, and, obviously, great acting. Looking back, I'm actually wondering if the production wanted to move quickly so that we didn't notice the plotholes; if the episode is fast, we won't have time to stop and ask questions.
At the end of Episode 9, I wrote "LOL Cal" in my notes, mainly because I thought we'd seen the last of him, and that throughout Season 2 he was just a sidepiece who came around only to take care of Kira. But here he is, coming to the rescue when Kira manages to steal the nurse's phone and dial his number (which I loved -- nothing better than an eight-year-old deviant). During the time he's been gone, it looks like Cal's been sitting in his trailer researching Sarah and the clones. He's got it all down pat, even better than Mrs. S., who reluctantly listens to him explain the whole thing. He even draws a huge diagram for all of us viewers, with arrows pointing right, left, up, down, and even curved around. Didn't help. In fact, I'm waiting for the interwebs "Orphan Black" fans to help spell this all out for me. (I'm not that slow, am I? For the life of me, many parts of this didn't make sense.)
The better storyline in the finale is the Cosima/Delphine/Rachel one, which at least has a simple through line. Cosima sick. Delphine used by Rachel. Rachel screws all the clones (as we knew she would). Ethan kills himself in front of Rachel to teach her a lesson -- which she doesn't learn. (One thing that did bug me about this storyline was geez, didn't anyone think to invite Delphine to the little dance party? I mean, after all, isn't Delphine kind of instrumental to this whole scheme? And a sick person deserves the one they love.) Anyway, Cosima seemed much sicker this episode, and more in line with what a person riddled with tumours would be like. I loved her scene with Kira in the Pepto bedroom, when she held her impromptu science lesson. I feel like I learned something, too. Something about acceleration. OK, no I didn't. But that pencil rocketing through Rachel's eye was the coolest f**king thing in the finale. RACHEL WITH AN EYEPATCH COMING IN SEASON 3. Believe the hype.
Let's talk about the biggest things -- the two things that started off well and then disintegrated:
The dance scene. My eyes were brimming with tears when the clones were all together at Felix's, meeting Helena. It was beautiful. When Helena and Kira reunited, my heart melted. Cosima puts on a record (Felix owns a record player?!) and takes out her oxygen tubes (not advisable, especially considering she had just crumpled to the floor in the lab) and starts dancing. And then the place goes nuts. I felt like I was watching the "Peanuts" Christmas special, when all the characters are dancing on stage. It went on far too long, and got awkward quick. I won't deny the cool factor of all the clones together, though. More of that please, budget allowing.
The end scene with Marian. You guys all know how much I love Michelle Forbes, and here she's looking fabulous, but as she and Sarah are walking the halls of her gargantuan house, and she's explaining more and more, I just felt like she was taking on the role of narrator. It was so cool to see the young clone (Charlotte), and to understand Marian's emotional ties to Dyad and the adult clones' situation. But then, huh? Way too much complexity. Despite the 10-minute exposition, I still have no idea if Marian, Paul, Mark, Rachel, Mrs. S., Cal and even to some extent Helena are playing for the good guys. After all, what was with the Helena nitrogen thing? Was she going to blow up Dyad? Not. Understanding.
Last but not least: the male clones. What did y'all think?! I've heard great things about Ari Millen, and I think his face has that alien-like quality that'll lend itself to being a clone. I personally liked the crazy one in the glass cage -- future Helena love affair? It looks like we're going to have someone fighting with Tat for screen time for Season 3 (which I don't really like to think about), but really, how long could the story go on around this specific group of clones? I understand the show's need to expand the boundaries, I just don't necessarily like it. Yet. It could go well, it could go sour. Who knows? All I know is "Orphan Black" needs to straighten out its mythology and get an A-B-C way to help us follow along.
The Golden Clone:(I'll be awarding the best clone of the week) Let's give it to our girl, Cosima. Despite a crippling illness, she still manages to come up with a plan to save everyone. She instigates the dance party, and discovers the 'The Island Of Dr. Moreau' secret. Since no one seems able to help her, she'll have to figure out that on her own too.
- Great. Another year to find out if Cosima lives or dies. THANKS. (She'll probably live.)
- None of this would have happened if Cal didn't pick up phone calls from strange numbers. They're all lucky he does. I don't.
- Show of hands: Who thought the male clone was going to be Felix? I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that it wasn't him.
- I love the scientific concept of the Golden Ratio. Glad they talked about it. An extra nice touch was the atrium window in Marian's house shaped like a shell.
- Before Ethan killed himself (which was so obviously going to happen), he was being all badass. He could recite pi to 6000 places? Damn.
- Can someone screengrab that shot of Felix when he's asking Helena if she burned down the ranch? Cuz that's classic Felix. "Did you burn down the fish people's ranch?" Love.
- By the time Mark and Gracie were shown getting married, I couldn't care less about them. Sorry. (They'll obviously be relevant in Season 3.
- It's not very often we get a science montage.
- Thanks for reading, everyone! I hope you had as much fun as I did! I can't guarantee that I'll be back writing Season 3 recaps, but I'll do my best to make it happen.