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ORPHAN BLACK Season Finale Recap: I’ve Got a Neo Attitude

Hello sestras and brothersestras alike: this here recap is the epitome of Spoilerville. So unless you’re all caught up on Orphan Black‘s finale episode, “History Yet to Be Written,” we’d highly suggest maybe NOT reading this recap. Because we’re serious when we say it is chockablock with spoilers.

And so here we are: back at the beginning again. If you’ve been keeping up with this particular set of recaps, you’ll know that this author (no idea why I’m talking in the third person) has long thought there was a more insidious connection between Project Leda and the seemingly pulp science of Neolution. And well! Tonight we finally saw the truth of that come to life: they’ve always been there, guiding from the inside. Damn that Orphan Black Season Three finale, right?

In so many ways it makes sense: if self-directed evolution is the goal of Neolution, being a clone is the ultimate freedom FROM the natural evolutionary flow of things. By merely existing, you have disrupted the natural order of things. Sure, as a clone you are a copy (so to speak), but that doesn’t mean your life must look exactly like the one that came before you. To be something new means you can be anything: you can move past biologic resemblance to something wholly your own — even when staring at an identical face. And the clones are, essentially, the ultimate representation of that goal. More so than the folks with tails and weird, carnival-esque body modifications. This evolution comes from within.

Though who’s to say what all that means in practice: we’ve got Season Four (and presumably five — the alleged last season in Graeme Manson and John Fawcett’s overall plan for the full story arc of our sestrahood like no other) to figure that particular mystery out, and it’s sure to be a dramatic, exciting ride. Because in many ways Orphan Black has returned to its roots after spiraling outwards with the inclusion of Castor. The series’ co-creators (and Castor clone Ari Millen) have both said as much in interviews with us — the male clones serve as a storytelling device to get answers. And while we’re sure we’ve not seen the last of Mark the Prolethean or Mr. Benchman (the shadow-y leader from Arlington/the military/government who is also probably a Neolutionist himself if you think about it), by-and-large, the Castor line felt to have a bit of finality to it on Saturday night.


Because now that we’ve got answers to the question of “who?” as asked by Beth in Sarah’s Mexican fever dream (gosh this show is the best), we can finally start asking “why?”

We know that Dr. Susan Duncan is actually alive (oh hi Rosemary Dunsmore!), having faked her death for the Neolutionist cause, burning things to the ground to make it look a certain way. In fact/curiously enough, a lot of this felt oddly in line with Mrs. S’s line of thinking if you recall the beginning of season two and her interaction with “the birdwatchers.” In that way, maybe S and her network have always been looking at the Neolutionists: those Galapagos Finches in Rachel’s room gave us some eerie vibes in that regard. Anyone else?

Has Rachel been a Neolutionist all along? Probably not in name, but perhaps subconsciously in some of her practices. Dr. Nealon has clearly had a large affect on her, as did Dr. Leekie before that. Now back in the hands of her mother with baby clone Charlotte proclaiming the new-eyed captive her mama-figure-to-be (what happened to you, Marian Bowles?), Rachel has a whole new set of circumstances to navigate. And with so much positivity brought to her by the Neolutionists, we’re sure she’ll be a quick convert to the ways of this dangerous science-cult. After all, she’s always looked out for herself above all.

There are still some mysteries that remain unsolved: Sarah and Helena’s fertility chief among them. We don’t know why they’re immune and/or without the genetic defect that’s wrecked havoc this past season. And we also have nary a clue as to what the Neolutionist endgame is here. Why clones? Why now? And when Dr. Nealon made his creepy claim (before the worm part WHICH WE’LL GET TO) that the science was beyond what we may think: what did that mean and to what end?

After all, as Kendall Malone revealed to Sarah and Siobhan, Duncan believed the Neolutionists “polluted everything” and “poisoned the science” — two very vague statements that could literally mean anything, both metaphorically and literally. And since they have Charlotte, it’s clear the need for the Island of Dr. Moreau book was not to revive the cloning program itself — obviously they already know how to do that — but another unknown need entirely. Something in the biology of the clones must have been altered to, perhaps, speed up the evolutionary process in a way that makes it almost self-directed. You need only look at the mysterious healing abilities of Kira to see that there may be something to all that.


With the cipher written all around Rachel in Susan Duncan’s mysterious home, we know several things will likely be important moving forward: Kendall Malone’s chimera DNA, Sarah and Helena’s fertility, Kira’s healing powers, and — if he survives — Mark’s ability to overcome the glitch in his system. In some likelihood — because chimera-ism is most commonly found in twins — Sarah and Helena have dual DNA, too. And that would be an incredibly valuable thing for the Neolutionists to have, because gene splicing to create newer, better variations is a very common scientific practice (hello, GMOs!). Score another one for the scarier evo-devo types.

Of course the finale wasn’t without the more human aspects. We got total fan service in the return of Jesse, Helena’s boyfriend from the bar and the reunion of Kira and Sarah in the middle of nowhere, Iceland. (Complete with a lovely and über-Icelandic score courtesy of Sigur Rós.) There was the warm-fuzzy-inducing dinner between all the members of Clone Club at Bubbles, after having all worked together to misdirect Coady and Castor and unveil the real enemy.

It also wasn’t without tragedy. We are, of course, talking about the death of Delphine at the hand of someone she seemed to clearly know — or in the very least recognize. Was it another Leda clone? Perhaps a Castor fella or some whole new twist (Dylan Bruce revealed to be not-dead?) entirely? Maybe, even worse, it was actually Shay: now wouldn’t that be the ultimate gut punch, huh? Especially after Delphine’s last words, “What will happen to her?” She would make for an easy person to mistrust next season for those of you tending to your Cophine wounds, we’ll give you that.

In the end, seeing the girls unite and plot was the real joy of the episode. As it was to see Felix have the teensiest bit of character autonomy return (seriously — Fee was so gutted this season that actor Jordan Gavaris probably knows better than anyone what it means to be a female side character in, well, almost any filmed thing ever). With Ferdinand on their side and a new enemy with freaky-deaky mission operatives, we’re heading into the most sci-fi-y season of this series yet. That eye, that worm: there are way more questions and kooky answers awaiting us in season four.


And we, for one, couldn’t be more FREAKING EXCITED. That was a damn fine finale, folks.

Quotes and Other Stuff

  • “Is the director on board?” – said by Dr. Coady to Mr. Benchman. BUT WHY?
  • “Howdy, Jesse Towing.” – Helena, breaking our hearts.
  • There HAS to still be a mole among them if Coady knew Sarah found the original, right?
  • “You’re just a bad copy of me.” – Kendall Malone before Cosima came in with all the right things to say.
  • Do we think John Sadler had something to do with all of this? Because I totally think so — why else would Kendall kill him?!
  • “I have science baby inside me but you are my first.” “Gosh, sweetheart, you had me at soap-making.” JESSE TOWING + HELENA 5-EVA.
  • Oh and p.s. with Delphine dead WHO WILL SAVE KRYSTAL THO?
  • “When I was 9, I was made to shoot puppy.” – Helena.
  • “No, you are a rapist.” – Helena, as Rudy died. (Overall it was a sweet moment between them, though. And let’s be real: she wasn’t wrong.)
  • “Oh yeah! Sorry, monster.” – only Donnie could get away with calling Helena monster and have us be OK with it.
  • Anyone else furiously googling the epigenetic implications of chimera DNA and cloning now? No? Just me?


What’d you think of all that we saw? And do you have any theories for next season? Leave ’em in the comments (along with hugs for those mourning the loss of Evelyne Brochu).

Alicia Lutes is the Associate Editor of The Nerdist and one day hopes to officiate Jesse Towing and Helena’s wedding. Send her GIFs on Twitter @alicialutes.

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