Orphan Black: “Ease for Idle Millionaires”
Episode 5.05Photo via Ken Woroner/BBC AMERICA TV Reviews Orphan Black
The jig is up: the monstrous forest yeti is just a trial run at cloning thanks to the misguided efforts of Virginia Coady (Kyra Harper) and Susan Duncan (Rosemary Dunsmore). It’s been made explicitly clear to the audience that this character marks a foreboding “there-but-for-the-grace-of-God” symbol for the Clone Club, but Cosima’s (Tatiana Maslany) CSI efforts reading the DNA sequence from the poor mutant’s tooth confirms their common origin. They’re property. And no flashback snogging from Delphine (Évelyne Brochu) is going to fix that.
The relationship between the traitorous and post-traitorous Delphine and Cosima, the most boring and trite romance of the series, thankfully has more play in this episode than its hushed whispers of “they don’t own your integrity.” Delphine is back on the island, working for PT Westmorland (Stephen McHattie, consistently the best actor in the new season with his withering glares and regal erudition). She also continues playing both sides, providing Cosima comfort while discovering her sensitive information, because below Cosima’s white girl dreadlocks lies a headful of nothing but science and blind trust.
The science comes from the co-efforts of Aisha (Sirena Gulamgaus) and Mud (Jenessa Grant). One provides Cosima with a progress journal of her cancer treatment while staying in Revival, complete with happy face stickers and cute, crayoned emotional commentary. The other, we find, released the “bear” running around the island and providing the “Wild” in our running show-within-a-show, Clone vs. Wild. The revelation that Mud released the poor test subject is far less interesting (torture is bad, we need a nice soft girl to calm the savage beast, snore) than her startling coup into supporting character status. She protests the hunting of Scary and the Hendersons while Revival turns into a mutant-fighting police state quicker than you can say “Days of Future Past.”
This police state is protecting the hushed and hurried research into the link between Kira (Skyler Wexler) and Rachel’s (Maslany) genetically-modified ambitions. Kira, spending the episode with Sarah (Maslany) and Siobhan (Maria Doyle Kennedy), continues to be the worst. She’s an angsty soundboard with a mysterious connection with all the clones and a healing factor ripe for corporate exploitation, but there’s no worse mouthpiece for your fun sci-fi concept than a girl that’s clearly out of her acting depth. She’s only going to get more important to the series, not as a daughter, like she has been up until this point, but as a plot goal: Kira’s healing factor is a mutation of the “fountain of youth” gene that the Neolutionists desperately want.
At least the Manning clan are all friends again after they agree to stop lying to Kira. That’s more than we can say for those on the island. Before the episode’s climactic dinner party, Rachel has a sit down with her mother. Westmorland already reassured Rachel that she’s better than “them,” the unwashed masses of cloning and thrust the show even more pointedly into a study in classism and aspiration. Nepotism, legacy, and the self-loathing born of genetic expectation bubble out of Rachel (Maslany) and Duncan’s dinner confrontation (thankfully, the knives were hidden). These fascinating topics are pushed aside when Cosima and Delphine crash the party. Invited to dinner because Cosima figures out the shared gene between Kira and his first test subject, Cosima and Delphine don an antiquated tuxedo and dress, literally getting a seat at the table. They push their power play while trying to be a power couple.
Opened with the waltz from Swan Lake, the dinner comes soaked with expectation. Extravagance and delicacy always masks primal feelings and betrayals, not unlike the jealousies and pettiness at the heart of Tchaikovsky’s ballet. The tete-a-tete between the diners is decadent and deliberate, allowing Cosima a bit of backstoried depth at the very end of the series. This bit of character growth is swiftly undermined by some formal buffoonery. An extended flashback at the beginning of the episode is followed by flashbacks to that flashback later, all arguing that the romance between Cosima and Delphine is inherently damaged and gross, considering one literally manipulated the other as her profession.
“This is what he does, he divides women,” Cosima says of Westmorland. No, these two have been stabbing each other in the back for much longer than we knew he was around. But alas, back to square one. The two admit their unhealthy, exploitative relationship and then make out.
On top of all this, Ira glitches out of nowhere, resurrecting a plotline more abandoned than the Latvian orphan Westmorland turned into the episode’s monster. Speaking of, Clone vs. Wild goes off the rails, with Mud just dinking around in the woods until the mutant swoops in, kills her companions with a healthy helping of grunting, then runs to Westmorland’s mansion. Here Westmorland demonstrates his ruthlessness and ends Clone vs. Wild with an abrupt series finale. Equally abrupt is Delphine’s return to Siobhan, reporting on the off-screen endeavors of Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and his sister. I’d much rather have seen their Jason Bourne-like European espionage—even if it’s about something as vague as “following the money”—than the overly-explained meanderings of the Neolution story at hand. However, the sprinkling of clues and emotional beats between the soapy plot builds the overall narrative and pushes Orphan Black closer and closer to a satisfying conclusion.