Saturday, July 8, 2017

REVIEW: 'Orphan Black' - Cosima Confronts PT About Neolution's True Goals in 'Ease for Idle Millionaires'

BBC America's Orphan Black - Episode 5.05 "Ease for Idle Millionaires"

While Sarah and Kira spend some well-needed bonding time at home, secrets are unlocked about Kira's special gifts that are surprisingly linked to the island's creature. Cosima joins Delphine at the mansion for a twisted family dinner, causing a dangerous showdown with the Neolution patriarch.

It's interesting to see Orphan Black try to shake up the way it tells stories in its final season. Yes, most of the season has been episodes that are exactly similar to the way the show has covered story across its previous four seasons. But "Ease for Idle Millionaires" is the second episode of this final year where it picks one of the Leda clones to spotlight with a significant main story. The most successful episode of the season so far was "Beneath Her Heart" where Alison was prominently on display. And now, "Ease for Idle Millionaires" is a close second because of the strong focus on Cosima as she continues to push too hard too fast to learn everything that is going on with PT Westmorland and Rachel. This hour suffers a little bit from the various subplots not being as strong. They especially fell like the narrative just moving the pieces along. They don't need to make narrative sense. They just need to happen at this point in the season to set up whatever is coming next. So, that's a little annoying and problematic. But Cosima's story is so absolutely devastating. She isn't written off the show like Alison was at the end of her spotlight episode. But she is giving a pretty grim fate that could carry a ton of consequences for the remaining characters. She's still alive and could rally to freedom. But right now, she's locked in a cage far away from her research and her allies.

This hour even has to devote time to remind the audience of the fact that within the clones' DNA there is a message declaring them and their genetic material intellectual property. That was such a devastating reveal early on in the show's run. It made the clones feel like they were property to be manipulated instead of actual human beings. Their humanity was being stripped away for this nefarious and mysterious experiment. Over the course of the series, the narrative has done a phenomenal job in showing the humanity in all of the clones. Tatiana Maslany continues to explore new depths with all of them in each new episode. Remembering this detail is important for this episode because it highlights Cosima once again having to fight for the clones' creators to see her for her humanity instead of her biological material. She chose to stay on the island in order to get the answers that have eluded her and her sisters for so long. And now, she finally has some clarity. She is able to connect the pieces together while still holding onto her humanity. That move only further highlights the vicious villainy that the clones are actually up against in this world.

It's also meaningful that Delphine plays a crucial role in Cosima's spotlight story. She needed to be a prominent part of this story because their relationship has meant so much over the series. They've barely been able to spend any time together after the reveal that Delphine was still alive. She was saved by PT and Neolution. And now, she is forced to work for them. She has the freedom to come and go from the island. She's willing to make contact with the rest of the main characters as well. That's the only way to spread the information that is discovered on the island. But it's incredibly isolating to Cosima as well. She finds herself fighting this fight and pursuing the truth all by herself. She has no allies on the island. Charlotte is a familiar face. Mud has been reluctant to give any information about the creature in the forest but still does. And Aisha has the genetic history on display for Cosima to figure everything out. But Delphine is a comforting face in an incredibly trying time. She's a bit aloof as well. She's working hard to ensure the safety and the humanity of the rest of the clones. She's doing so because she loves Cosima and wants her to live. But she is keeping secrets as well. They are clashing because they have different personalities. Delphine needs to play along and do things without Cosima's consent in order to survive. That's how she lives and that's why Cosima makes her so nervous a lot of the time.

That's especially true when Cosima and Delphine sit down for a very awkward and intense dinner with PT, Susan, Ira and Rachel. It's such a combustive sequence because it's Cosima revealing herself to her creators. She's proving to them just how much she has discovered in not a lot of time. She has questioned what the creature in the forest really is. She's pursued the answers in the genetic makeup. And now, she's confronting the people in charge with the truth. She's not afraid. And that's what makes it so unsettling when PT asks about her parents. It's such a random question that carries a lot of weight to it. It's him revealing himself as well. His influence is far-reaching. He still has such immense knowledge despite his age and the things he has done in his life. He knows how to throw Cosima off her game. He's trying to use that in order to keep her down. He wants to turn Cosima and Delphine against each other. They are powerful allies who can accomplish a lot together. Separating them is bound to hinder the progress Cosima can make. And yet, they only reaffirm their love to each other. That's so powerful to watch. Yes, the intercutting of that scene with the previous one where Delphine first pledged her support to Cosima is a little unnecessary. But it's also a significant statement to make. It's Cosima expressing her own strength and individuality in a world that wants to oppress her.

When all of that fails to work, PT presents Cosima with an incredibly daunting moral conundrum. The creature in the forest has been good for a couple of cheap scares and thrills this season. It was a completely surprising addition in the premiere. But since then, it's been more of a one-note mystery than something truly engaging and unexpected. It showed that PT and Susan have been experimenting for years in ways that are truly damaging to the human condition. They created the clones but they also stripped this man of his humanity. Cosima wants to restore that to him. She doesn't want him to be locked in a cage and experimented on because PT is filled with so many regrets. The humane thing would be to kill him. It would put him out of his misery. And yet, Cosima can't do that. She is not a killer. She still values her integrity and humanity. She will not lose that just because PT wants her to. That's her greatest act of defiance against him. She chooses being a friend to the creature instead of killing it. And then, PT reveals himself to be the true monster because he kills the creature and locks Cosima in that cage. She screams only for no one to hear. That's such a devastating conclusion. Cosima made all of these breakthroughs. And now, everything she's learned won't make it back to her sisters. Some will because Delphine is an ally. But not enough.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Ease for Idle Millionaires" was written by Jenn Engels and directed by Helen Shaver.
  • Rachel's testing on Kira has proved that she has the genetic mutation that PT and Susan were trying to create with the clones in the first place. It took until the second generation for it to be visible but it is now. So, the new horror is them wanting to harvest her eggs and implant them in new surrogates to continue the cloning experiment.
  • Things have been tense between Sarah and Kira this season. And yet, their relationships is largely fixed offscreen in this episode. That's weird. Kira wants to know more about what's actually going on in this world. The truth is promised to her. Sarah must have said something because Kira now wants to be a hustler just like the rest of her family.
  • Rachel and Susan have their first conversation since Rachel stabbed Susan and PT changed both of their lives. They are working together once more. But Rachel needs to make it known that she is the one in charge. She's out to prove a point that a clone can be responsible for this whole experiment. She has the same vision as the rest of the people at Neolution.
  • Ira is starting to glitch. That's an ominous tease for the future. The Castor glitch hasn't been mentioned in awhile. But now, it's bound to return in some epic way. Perhaps that will be the thing that frees Cosima from her prison. She and Rachel have taken the cure. So maybe she can save Ira as well.
  • The villagers going out to hunt down the creature is a very anti-climatic story. So much of it revolves around Mud and her desire for everyone to treat the creature as a human. It just drags for too long and builds to the inevitable conclusion of one of the men getting killed in the process. Plus, it doesn't serve much perhaps as the creature returns to his cell by himself.
  • Mrs. S and Scott are proving to be a very effective team. They have created their own conspiracy board. Every new piece of information they receive they put up in the hopes of it leading in a new direction. Of course, that scene also plays as a reminder for the audience on how much these characters know about the situation.
  • With Alison and Cosima getting the spotlight treatment this season, which other clones should get the same? Sarah seems inevitable even though she is frequently more of the lead in the overall show. It would be nice to see an hour all about Helena or Krystal or Rachel. Those could be very interesting moving forward.