Saturday, June 10, 2017

REVIEW: 'Orphan Black' - Sarah Struggles to Survive as Cosima Explores the Village in 'The Few Who Dare'

BBC America's Orphan Black - Episode 5.01 "The Few Who Dare"

Sarah is deeply wounded and struggling to stay alive on the Island. Driven deep into its forest by Neolutionists and worse, she strives to make it far enough to rescue Cosima. Meanwhile, a recovering Cosima reunites with Delphine.

Across its series run, Orphan Black has maintained a strong mystery element to its storytelling. Whenever the Leda clones thought they had a good handling on the conspiracy that controls their lives, it either explodes in their faces or some new part of the conspiracy is revealed. It's been very exhausting. Some twists have worked better than others. And now, the show seemingly finds itself in the place to finally give definitive answers to the characters and the audience. The truth lies on the Island. It's the location where all of the clones seem destined to go in this premiere. PT Westmorland is the founder of Neolution. He is the man behind all of this. More importantly, he also happens to be 170 years old. That's just the kind of crazy twist to expect from this show. This is the final season so answers should be forthcoming. Everyone is seemingly close to understanding everything they've always wanted. But the answers are still elusive in this premiere. PT Westmorland's identity was first teased in the fourth season finale with Rachel finally earning a meeting with him. And yet, the audience is still yet to meet him. Is he actually who he says he is and has lived all of these years? Or is it just yet another conspiracy that needs to be unraveled? Only more time in this world will reveal the truth.

However, it should be noted that Rachel's meeting with PT Westmorland has completely changed her world. She has always been the villainous one of the clones. She's the one who's worked for Dyad and Neolution. But she didn't have all the answers either. She believed to be in control. And yet, she didn't even know her own mother was still alive and running the clone experiment. She's had a lot of repressed anger. And now, she's letting all of that out and hurting the other clones. She took the cure Cosima developed for herself and tried to kill Sarah. But then, she met PT and has a new outlook on life. She has seen the man behind the curtain. She knows the game plan for all of this. And now, she's by his side helping him make his vision a reality. It's deeply unsettling to see such a changed Rachel in this premiere. She's still depicted as a villain to the other clones. She is manipulating them to her own benefit. But there's a calm quietness that comes from knowing the truth. She finally has clarity for probably the first time in her life. She has that over the rest of the clones. She may enlighten them as well. She's keeping them alive for some sinister reason. She's not trying to kill them anymore. But kidnapping them is still pretty villainous.

Meanwhile, Cosima's reunion with Delphine is great but mysterious as well. She remains a key ally for the clones. She is in this village against her will too. And yet, Neolution saved her life after she was shot. She's still alive to have this conversation with Cosima because of PT. So, she's working at the clinic in this village. She doesn't know exactly what's going on in this community. She's doing medical exams for the new people as they arrive on the Island. They are on a quest to be a part of this community and drink from the Fountain of Youth like PT. But Delphine hasn't seen his face. Right now, her priority is helping Cosima because she knows just how valuable the cure is for her. She needs it to survive because she's been having the symptoms of the disease for a long time. But Delphine ultimately isn't the person who helps her with this. Yes, she takes the drugs and makes sure to tell Cosima where they are. But it's actually Rachel who injects Cosima with them. That's surprising. Cosima chose to stay on the Island in order to get the answers the clones have been searching for. She had the opportunity to leave with Sarah and didn't. She's willing to risk her life to help her sisters. That's brave. But it also means interacting with this new Rachel who has big plans for the clones.

Elsewhere on the Island, Sarah is simply struggling to survive. Her attention is being pulled in a number of different directions. Rachel stabbed her in the leg last season. So, she has to tend to her injuries. Plus, she's trying to rescue Cosima from the village because it's a place full of people they can't trust. And finally, Ferdinand has kidnapped Kira and Mrs. S. So, a lot is going on in her world right now. The action never cuts away to Kira and Mrs. S. Sarah just makes sure that Felix knows what has happened to all of them - just before her phone dies too. So things are looking dire for her. Rachel is going after her family. It looks like she's winning in the end too. Neolution is able to take Felix, Art and Alison. They are likely coming to the Island as well. Everyone is gathering for the big event. The more the season teases that reveal up, the bigger the payoff will ultimately have to be. The show has typically been pretty good with that. But this is the big final answer. So, it'll really have to deliver. Sarah will be there for all of it too. She isn't able to leave the Island. She's discovered and knocked out. She's taken to Rachel who looms over her with that devious smile. That can't be good. It's an effective way to end the episode because it puts all of the clones in jeopardy. That's interesting and compelling storytelling.

Plus, there's Helena and Donnie in the woods. Those two characters always make for such an entertaining pairing. Neolution comes for them. They take Alison pretty easily. She even lets it known to her kidnappers that Donnie is nearby as well. They probably already knew that but her screams did serve as confirmation. He is able to slyly run away with his packed luggage though. He only makes it to the car before he's discovered. That leads to Helena needing to save him. It's a tense sequence. One that does end in tragedy because Helena is stabbed in the stomach with a tree branch. She has been pregnant on this show for so long and done so many crazy things while carrying her babies. And yet, this still plays as a serious risk. It means they'll have to go to a hospital to get treatment. However, that will make them easy targets for Neolution to pick up. They want those babies because they will likely carry special powers just like Kira does. Those powers have been so loosely defined across the series run though. Perhaps more clarity will come this season. Or maybe not. It's still unclear just how ambitious the show wants to be this season. But that's very exciting. It can literally do anything. Nothing is really off the table and that's such a fascinating place to start the final year.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Few Who Dare" was written by Graeme Manson and directed by John Fawcett.
  • Every season of this show has introduced a new clone for Tatiana Maslany to play. There are so many out there that it may not be necessary to introduce another one - especially for the final season. But it is a pattern seemingly broken in this premiere. Perhaps that will hold true in the remaining nine and perhaps not. Maybe we'll see more than a dozen clones onscreen this year. 
  • Similarly, every season finale of the show has seemingly killed a character off only for them to be revived the next year. It's become an expected pattern of the show. Yes, Delphine didn't return for a long time. But she eventually did. So, it's not particularly surprising to learn that Susan may have survived her encounter with Rachel.
  • So which of the non-regular clones is everyone hoping will return this season? Krystal and M.K. seem like givens because they've been important in the story on numerous occasions. But will Beth make a reappearance via flashbacks or something? Will Tony ever show up again? Should there be any new male clones or is Ira enough? He's not all that interesting either.
  • There is some kind of creature on the Island as well. It appears to be half man and half beast. Some of the residents know about its existence and some do not. Sarah has an actual run in with the creature. She is able to attack it before it kills her. But it's a completely new mystery that only amps up the stakes of the Island even more. It's even more dangerous than anyone previously believed.
  • There's a weird moment where Felix and Art are startled by one another in the secret hideout for Mrs. S and Kira. It's odd. Plus, the only progress made with that story is by Scott who is trying to figure out how to contact M.K. for help considering she may have more experience with this type of thing.
  • In the many months since he stopped working with Beth (or Sarah playing Beth), Art is finally assigned a new partner. Of course, it doesn't take long until this new one is revealed to be working for Neolution and has no problem threatening him to get information out of Alison.