Warning: This recap of “The Few Who Dare” episode of Orphan Black contains spoilers.
All conspiracies have a bottom, my fellow Clone Clubbers, and this fifth and final season of Orphan Black promises to leave us on the ground floor of Neolution’s grand plan for immortality — a quest that has involved competing camps of clones, small armies of monitors and genetic tampering galore. But we’ve got 10 episodes before this “Final Trip” arrives at its final destination, so tonight’s season premiere, “The Few Who Dare,” could alternately have been called “Status Update.” It’s a 45-minute reminder of where the various players are on the proverbial board, and the immediate dangers standing in their way.
And immediate is the operative word here, since the episode picks up in the near-immediate wake of the events of last season’s finale. That episode ended with Rachel and Sarah engaged in a clone-on-clone brawl that left Ms. Manning losing blood on the beaches of what’s colloquially known as Neolution Island, where the movement’s founder, the 170-year-old P.T. Westmoreland, apparently resides out of sight, but not out of mind. Sarah’s sister, Cosima, is also on this spit of land, where she’s encountered both a cure for the Leda-slaying disease and her supposedly dead lover, Delphine. Meanwhile, back on the mainland, Alison and Donnie went on the run with a pregnant Helena; one of the last Castor clones, Ira, is in the hands of Clone Club allies Felix and Scott; and Topside-turned-Neolution assassin Ferdinand had his eyes on Mrs. S and Kira.
Before Sarah can deal with the latter problem, she’s got to find her way off the island while badly wounded. To do that, she channels her inner John Rambo — the vulnerable First Blood version, not the First Blood Part II superman. Sneaking through the woods, hiding from Westmoreland’s soldiers, she improvises shelter, warmth and other survival tactics. While she’s living off the land, Cosima is getting a taste of Neolution Island’s more urbanized side, living amongst a small tent city population by the movement’s true believers. Identified as the one Leda clone Neolution can work with, rather than against, she’s at once both a prisoner and not a prisoner, free to wander around the community and ask questions, but not receive all of the answers… yet.
While the Neolution followers on the island seem to have a peaceful nature, those in the wider world aren’t above getting their hands dirty or, for that matter, bloody. Take Maddie Engers (Elyse Levesque), Art’s new partner, who has supposedly been transferred over from Vice, but actually turns out to be taking her orders from the clone hunters. It’s under her watch that Alison is captured, though Donnie and Helena elude discovery thanks to their clever “emergency loon call” system. Still, Engers proves the lengths she’s willing to go to find them by pulling a gun and pointing it directly at Art’s noggin while Alison looks on, horrified. Another new Neolution face is Mr. Frontenac (Andrew Moodie), who works for the sole remaining faction within the organization now that Rachel is fully in charge. Frontenac confronts Felix and softly, if firmly escorts him away to parts as yet unknown.
With much of the episode devoted to table setting, the main course, as it were, is saved for the final moments. That’s when Sarah and Cosima finally reconnect, and Cosima encourages her sister to leave her behind so that she can get the cure into her bloodstream once and for all. That’s an operation she can’t pull off on her own, though, which is precisely when Rachel comes to the rescue, and appears to make Cosima a willing participant in her plan’s next steps in the process. Rachel has to use force to convince her other sister to stick around, though. Moments before she’s about to flee Neolution Island by boat, Sarah is discovered by guards and knocked out cold, awakening to see Rachel standing over her, promising that a “new day” has dawned. We’ll see whose left alive when night falls.
Finally, another new season means another fresh round of clone power rankings! Here’s where the various Ledas stand at the beginning of the show’s end.
Having consolidated her power, Rachel is the second most important person within Neolution next to Westmoreland himself. And being in his presence has made her a true believer. Just look at the expression on her face when she descends the stairs from his house, and addresses the throngs below. It’s as if she’s been beatified by his sermon on the mount. No question about it: she’s almost more powerful now than she’s ever been. Which, of course, makes her ripe for a fall.
It’s taken awhile, but Cosima has finally cracked the riddle of the clone cure, making herself the first test subject. Much as it pains me to say it, an alliance with Rachel might be the best move right now, at least in terms of manufacturing and distributing the cure to others. Plus, as a woman of science, it’s hard to imagine Cosima converting fully to the religion of Neolution.
Unlike her fellow non-Neolution affiliated clones, Helena still has her freedom, even if it does require her to hide in the wilderness. Unfortunately, her beloved “behbies” are now potentially in grave danger thanks to that stick protruding from her abdomen.
Although Alison is in Engers’s custody, she does have a friend and potential escape accomplice in Art should he manage to ditch his new partner. It’s a long shot, but at least it’s a shot.
We’d watch a whole Clone v. Wild series with survivalist Sarah at the helm. The fact that she ends the episode in Rachel’s clutches, rather than on a boat back to the mainland, plunges her to the bottom of the list. When you’re already wounded and weary, the worst place you can be is in the company of your nemesis.
Non-Clone MVP: Art
At this point, poor Arthur Bell is the last honest cop in Toronto. Anyone else would just shrug and join the Neolutionist cause, but to Art’s credit, he’s trying his best to help the Clone Club without getting shot first. When all this is over, someone get this guy a cushy desk job, stat.
Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. on BBC America.
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