Orphan Black: To Right the Wrongs of Many (Series Finale)

"We really shouldn’t like Sarah."

Those were the first words Sunbunny wrote in her review of Orphan Black's very first episode. There is a certain dramatic irony attached to them because now, in the final episode of the series, Sarah is the one who doesn't like herself.

I mentioned in my last review that there wasn't enough story left for an entire episode, and that was true, in part at least. The fight against Neolution ended fifteen minutes into the episode, but there was still a major story left to tell, and that was the conclusion of Sarah Manning's character arc. With Alison, Cosima, Rachel and Helena already having gotten one episode centered on each of them this season, the spotlight finally landed on Sarah for the final hour of Orphan Black.

Long denouements are usually tiresome and unnecessary, but in this series finale not only is it a smart choice, it's also the right one: this isn't about Sarah fighting or surviving, this is about what Sarah does after the fight is over. "To Right the Wrongs of Many" doesn't consist of only hugs and celebration after Neolution has been defeated, it's a careful look into Sarah's PTSD.

The battle is won, so what could Sarah possibly do now? She is an improvisor, a fighter. She doesn't make long-term plans and has no idea how to be a good mother under normal circumstances. In a welcome return of Maria Doyle Kennedy via flashback, we learn that Sarah considered having an abortion, but decided to keep the baby mostly because she wanted to prove Siobhan wrong, she wanted to show her that she had what it took to raise a child. Flashforward to the series premiere and Sarah is a drug dealer who hasn't seen her kid in one year. Siobhan was right and Sarah was a shit mom. Flashforward to the series finale, Sarah has become a much better mother, but she still perceives herself as a failure in general.

She tries to go back to studying, with the help of Cosima and Scott, which is absolutely adorable. But she fails to take the high school equivalency test, consumed by her own fears and inferiority complex. She doesn't share that with anyone; instead, she shuts down, which is what she does best when it comes to complicated issues. When Delphine mentions Siobhan's passing, it's crystal clear Sarah doesn't want to have that conversation. "I'm worried about Sarah, she is not mended," Helena says at one point about her twin. It's only when Alison pushes Sarah over the edge regarding her decision to move out that Sarah loses control and lets her wounds become exposed.



What follows is a beautiful scene of the three sestras, Helena, Alison and Cosima, coming to her rescue. It was so lovely of Alison and Helena to share with Sarah memories of moments in which they were bad parents also, letting her know it was okay to fail, to be scared and to not have everything figured out. Sarah has a lot going on in her head: her grief over Siobhan's death, not knowing what to do with her life, not knowing if she is a good mom, and the thing that broke my heart the most, not knowing how to be happy. Her three sisters don't need to go through every single issue, only a few words of empathy and encouragement are enough to shed some light in her path. And just as Felix brings the good news that he has the list with the names and addresses of every Leda, which will allow them to right the wrongs of many and take the cure to the clones all around the globe, Sarah goes through her own healing experience, surrounded by the love and acceptance of her family.

Saying Goodbye to the Clone Club

Delphine and Cosima are taking the cure to the Ledas. Though Cosima worries about the clones who haven't received the cure yet, Delphine tells her to concentrate on the ones already cured. You know, this is oddly appropriate advice during a pandemic (this review was written in early 2021), as I try to concentrate on the still small number of people who have already been vaccinated.

Alison is learning how to play the piano and she and Donnie are as great as ever, Helena is taking care of her babies, and I wonder what she will do to make a living, Felix now has a successful art career, and, was it my impression or has Art adopted Charlotte?

Last but not least, even though they will never allow her into the Clone Club, Rachel was their big champion in these final four episodes: returning Kira to Sarah, giving S the intel she needed to take down John and his organization, helping Sarah find Helena and, now, giving Felix the list with the information they need to take the cure to all Ledas. The conclusion to her arc is bittersweet, but, boy, did she have an amazing arc this season.

Neolutionist Bits and Proleathean Pieces

— I absolutely adored this episode's title. So appropriate.

— The deaths of Virginia and John were brutal, and though I understand that neither Sarah nor Helena planned to become as violent as they are, I do have a problem with a story that wants to emphasize the values of love, family and human connection, but resorts to brutal violence so easily (Sense8, I'm looking at you).

— The birth of the twins was beautiful. I loved the way Tatiana Maslany looked at Tatiana Maslany after Tatiana Maslany helped Tatiana Maslany give birth to her children. I also liked how they alternated between the birth of Kira and the birth of the twins. And the music that played during the entire scene was gorgeous.

— How the hell did they explain everything to the authorities?

— Helena named her babies Orange and Purple. In the end, she decided to give them the names of real men: Arthur and Donnie.

— While putting her things in boxes, Sarah found a birthday card Siobhan wrote her. It said: "Happy 9th Birthday! You've been so brave coming to a brand new land. It might not feel like a home yet, but it will. Promise, Chicken. Love, S."

— Colin, the guy from the morgue who occasionally dated Felix, was back.

— 'Orphan Black' is the name Helena gave to her book of memoirs.

— There are 274 Ledas around the world, 14 of which are in Brazil, which means I do have a shot of running into Tatiana Maslany any day.

— Unanswered questions: what happened to Mud? (Do I care? Nope...) Where is Cal? What is the origin of Kira's psychic powers?

Quotes

Art: "You alright?"
Helena: "Most excellent."

Sarah (to John): "You never caged us. Not me and Helena."

Sarah (to John): "I survived you. We survived you. Me and my sisters together. This is evolution."

Donnie (to Orange): "Did you let your momma sleep last night?"
Helena: "No, he was exercising his cries."

Alison: "When is she going to name them? This is getting ridiculous."
Donnie: "Well, I kinda like it. Colors are names. What about Violet? Or Rose? Or Indigo?"
Alison: "Does he look like an Indigo to you?"

Felix: "Who's this then? Got a new man servant already?"
Rachel: "This is Yusef, my Uber driver."
Felix: "Oh. So when I chant 'we are the 99%,' it now includes you."
Oh, Felix, such a good burn.

Sarah: "I don't know what I'm doing. I carry around all these mistakes. I don't know how to be happy. There's no one left to fight and I'm still a shit mum."

Sarah: "Is that your memoirs?"
Helena: "Yes. I finished my book. It's a story about my sestras. I call it, Orphan Black."
Sarah: "Boy, that's weird. What is..."
Cosima: "It's cool. 'Cause we are all orphans, right?"
Sarah: "Yeah, that's what it is. Is that what it is?"
Alison: "We're not black."

Delphine: "You can thank some very determined women."


A big salute to Sunbunny, who was probably not played by Tatiana Maslany but covered the majority of this series, and a big thank you to everyone who read our reviews.

This was a beautiful finale, an emotional capper to the tale of a group of brave women who dared to be free. Four out of four clones.
--
Lamounier

6 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Thank you so much, Lamounier, for finishing up this series for us. And thank you, Sunbunny, for doing such a fabulous job with the first four and a half seasons. :) I know it's probably a ridiculous librarian characteristic of mine, but I love that feeling of completion when we finish a really good series.

Josie Kafka said...

Congrats, Team Orphan Black! I'm not going to read this review, since I still haven't finished the show, but now I know that when I do I'll have lots of great reviews to read.

sunbunny said...

Congrats on finishing the series up Lamounier! Like, Josie, I still haven't finished the show but once I do I know I'll have a lovely review waiting for me.

milostanfield said...

Thank you Lamounier! Great reviews! I was just finishing my 2nd rewatch as you were reviewing, so lucky timing on my part.

It was amazing that Tat could play so many different parts at once, but the real magic started when you forgot about that and just got into each character and her story. And it didn't take long.

Of all the clone on clone scenes, that last one was the greatest. We knew all of them so well by then that it just happened effortlessly. My personal favorite was Sarah and Helena's road trip to Deep River in Season 2, when Helena goaded Sarah into singing along to "Sugar, Sugar" in the car. It humanized our Shakira haired monster and I loved that.

magritte said...

It's always a pleasure to see a series stick the landing. I like your comment about there not being enough story for a final episode, but what they chose to do was more interesting than a traditional climactic end. I feel like the show struck a perfect tone in its closing episode--and was glad to finally understand the title of the show! So is the implication that the Orphan Black graphic novels are written from the point of view of Helena, rather than Sarah? And you're right about Rachel's character arc this season. So often when writers try to make a villain switch sides, I find they do it clumsily, but Rachel's choices seemed completely organic and convincing.

One of the articles on this site had favorite works from the 2010's, and I think Orphan Black would definitely be in my top 10, if not my top 5. Anyone know what Maslany's been up to since?

Lamounier said...

Thank you, guys. :)

Anyone know what Maslany's been up to since?

magritte, I know she had a significant role in Perry Mason and she landed the title role in She-Hulk, which is major and I'm really happy for her.

Of all the clone on clone scenes, that last one was the greatest.

I agree. It really was the perfect scene to close the story of the characters Tatiana brought to life.