ORPHAN BLACK Review: “Gag or Throttle”

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Rachel’s true allegiances become clear in this week’s episode of , “Gag or Throttle,” and you certainly may gag or throttle your couch pillow after that gruesome closing scene. I personally watched through my fingers. What a crazy twist. It’ll be tough for the show to top that. Or maybe it won’t be – part of the reason we all love this show is that it somehow still has the ability to surprise without going overboard or feeling unrealistic.

This week’s episode centers around Rachel and Kira’s lock down at Dyad. Though we do get two special surprises – a Helena cameo and the return of Alison. Then again, now that I think about it, I probably should have guessed this week’s episode would be gorey. It always seems that whenever Allison is involved in an episode, there’s gore – though in this case, it’s not Alison who’s created all the mushy blood and guts.

Instead, Alison has returned from her visit to her mother’s and her journey of self-discovery with purple hair and a bob cut. She’s “more present” now, has a tattoo, and wants to play music instead of working on crafts. It’s all a very Alison 360, but strange that the show would introduce a new wig this late in the game. It might serve no more purpose than a funny Alison joke, but something in my gut is telling me there’s more to this purple hair than what meets the eye. I’m almost more eager to find that out than to see P.T. Westmoreland destroyed. Almost.
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On the Dyad front, Rachel is showing her true colors to Kira as she forces Kira to stay at Dyad for hormone treatments against Kira’s own wishes. However, things begin to go south for Neolution when Rachel is called to visit the island and we discover her true motivations for her affection for P.T. It seems that P.T. had Rachel sign an agreement formally releasing her from the property of Dyad. However, as Rachel inadvertently discovers, this was all a front, and she is still very much part of Dyad’s property. Much slower than all the other clones, she’s realizing that you’re never really free, only free to do the will of the corporation.

This doesn’t sit well with Rachel, and uncovering a device in P.T.’s desk that allows him to spy on her through her neolutionist mechanical eye is the icing on the cake. Of course, this means she’s in a tough spot – she can’t do or say or watch anything without him knowing. She can’t even be kind to Kira without it reaffirming P.T.’s opinion that Rachel has gotten too soft with her.

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While Rachel comes to terms with the bind she’s in, Sarah and Mrs. S work madly to find the truth behind Westmoreland. Thankfully, Cosima was able to escape the island with Charlotte and find her way back to the mainland and the safety of Scott’s lab undetected, and is able to use the knowledge she’s uncovered at the camp to help Sarah and Mrs. S find the truth about Westmoreland. Through their combined efforts, they uncover Westmoreland’s true identity and name, and forward this on to Rachel, who – whether in agreement or not – knows that P.T. is watching and must react appropriately.

Rachel proceeds with the Dyad plan, drugging Kira so that she is prepped for the trip to the island. Sarah and Mrs. S think their last-ditch effort to get Rachel to see the light of day hasn’t worked, until Art knocks on their door – it seems that Rachel has been able to covertly send for help to get Kira safely out of Dyad before she’s taken to the island. In a clever ruse, she fools P.T. and Dyad long enough to get Art, Mrs. S, and Sarah into the building to hand over Kira, and send them on their way again before prying her mechanical eye out of her eye socket with a broken martini glass stem. It’s gruesome to watch, but also – dang girl, how much pain can you tolerate?

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That may be the end of Rachel’s pretend freedom – perhaps the end of her life, though previews for next week’s episode suggest differently. It’s not, however, the end of the threat for Kira, or Helena’s babies; Mark returns to Virginia on the island, and mentions he may know where to find Helena, just as Helena gets a visit from his ex-radical christian wife. Yikes.

Here’s to hoping next week’s episode keeps up the momentum (I have no doubts) and perhaps more flashback scenes in which Cynthia Galant can play more clones show off more of her talents with accents. You go, girl.
Season 5, Episode 7 (S05E07)
Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 10PM on BBC America

Read all of our reviews of Orphan Black here. 
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Tasha is a freelance writer currently based in Los Angeles. Originally from Kansas, when she’s not writing about or watching TV, Tasha is searching for the best BBQ place in LA to fill the KC BBQ hole in her stomach.
Keep up with all of Tasha’s reviews here.

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