ORPHAN BLACK Review: “One Fettered Slave”


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The buns are almost out of the oven in this week’s episode of , “One Fettered Slave.” The series is almost completely wrapped up as the clones struggle to reunite completely and Neolution staggers to keep itself upright amidst its fast downfall after last week’s public outing. This episode teases us with more deaths as we try to move past Mrs. S – still not over it – and manages to pull out all of our emotions while keeping the storylines for this episode relatively simple.

Tonight’s episode was Helena’s, and I am so happy – finally, FINALLY, Helena has her moment to shine. I know it’s probably weird to choose Helena as a favorite clone, but she truly is my absolute favorite, and this episode was incredibly telling. We get to see her origin story; her time spent in the convent, the reason why her hair is bleached and she has the pink discoloration around her eyes. It’s a well-rounded and interesting backstory, and I’m glad we were made privy to it before the series ended.  

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As we enter the final episodes of the series, it’s safe to now say that this season has been a solid finale season. Yes, some of the episodes have seemed a bit slower than usual for the series, and yes, at points it seemed like they were stretching story a bit to make sure there was enough to cover for every episode, but questions have been answered, rocks have been turned. Stories are being covered about the world and the characters we have come to know and love while at the same time we’re unraveling the final thread to the neolution puppet master that’s been controlling the clones’ lives since the beginning. It’s the best combination.

Tonight’s episode was a perfect example of this mixture of menace and memories blending seamlessly to create an episode that was thrilling, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, and at all points entertaining. The cohesive thread of Helena’s past and present kept the episode from feeling jumpy, and the emotional intensity handed to us by the neolutionist scientists working against the clock of impending government shutdown in contrast with the urgent but sorrowful work of the Clone Club to find and save Helena gave the episode a thrilling pace that made it an extremely easy and entertaining watch, even as we didn’t travel a dozen different places, or see several action scenes. It was, by far, the best episode of the season as of yet.


The episode starts at Mrs. S’s funeral. Sarah is giving a bit of a eulogy, and I’m not crying, you’re crying! At S’s wake, the mute nun that Helena had been staying with arrives to give Sarah Helena’s notebook. As the nun can’t speak, she can’t outrightly tell Sarah that neolutionists kidnapped Helena, but Sarah gets the message when she realizes that she’s holding Helena’s notebook. In it, Helena has mentioned that Gracie came to visit her, and the Clone Club knows immediately that this must mean Gracie and Mark gave Helena away to them.

Of course, unbeknownst to Mark, this was really an unfortunately bad decision. Gracie and Mark were always destined to be doomed, as there was never a cure for the Castor clones. Even more unfortunately for Mark – or perhaps, more unfortunately for Gracie, as she might have survived to live a very long life if it hadn’t been for Mark – Gracie is killed on the spot by Neolutionists when they come to kidnap Helena. Mark, of course, doesn’t know this, and he continues to talk to Coady and ask her about when he can see Gracie again, now that they have Helena. Also of things that Mark doesn’t know, Westmoreland orders Coady to kill Mark off. She is of course a bit reluctant, seeing as he is the last living Castor, but despite her objections, she follows through when Westmoreland insists. So Helena has been kidnapped and her babies are at risk of being put into the hands of Neolutionists and their experiments, all for nothing. There is no longer any Mark or Gracie to benefit from having given her up, right into Neolution’s hands.

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Lucky for Helena, through the combined efforts of the clones, Art, Felix, and Scott, Rachel is able to help them locate where Helena is being kept. Sarah goes undercover posing as Rachel, kidnapped against her will by a board member who doesn’t want to die himself. This, of course, backfires pretty quickly when Sarah doesn’t do a particularly great pretending to be Rachel. Sarah’s good fortune continues, though, when Helena attempts to commit suicide by cutting her wrists so that she can stop Neolution from using her babies as experiments. They need a viable blood transfusion to keep Helena alive, so – after Sarah’s cover as Rachel is blown – she gives Helena some of her blood. Enough that Helena is awake enough to bash Virginia Coady’s head in (finally, some real justice!!).

The episode ends as Sarah and Helena attempt to escape when they discover Helena’s water has broken and there might not be enough time to get out and get the babies delivered safely. What will happen next? Will Neolution finally die, or will Helena’s babies be gone forever? Will more of the Clone Club need to be sacrificed before then? I’m anxious to find out!
Season 5, Episode 9 (S05E09)
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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