Neolution’s grip grows tighter ‘round the Clone Club in the season five premiere of ORPHAN BLACK, “The Few Who Dare.” As usual, the episode covered a lot of ground, opening up new doors of terror and bringing a few new players to the field – one quite literally. You would think, with all the web detangling we’ve had to do over the last four seasons, we’d be at a place where simplifying enemies to one faction would also mean less villians to worry about, but unfortunately, as our heroes find out in this episode, Neolution has deep, deep roots.
As with every Orphan Black episode, this one does not disappoint. Still, the episode didn’t feel quite up to pace with previous seasons. Chances are this had less to do with the number of dilemmas brought into the episode to set up the season, and more to do with setting. For one, Sarah and Cosima are stuck on an island in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of hippie Neolution scientists. Mirroring their situation, Donnie, Allison, and Helena are hiding out in a forest. Meanwhile, Siobhan and Kira are nowhere to be found and Felix and Art are doing a not-so-great job of finding them. So, while the action moves, the setting does not. In a show that normally has us bouncing from site to site as we follow the story, this one felt particularly stationery.
The episode brought in several new elements to digest too, but the first might just be the craziest. Sarah, stumbling through the woods on her wounded leg (how much blood loss and risk of infection can one woman take? Seriously, she’s invincible), builds a fire to keep warm and is woken in the middle of the night by strange sounds of rustling and growling, right before she is attacked by a man – or at least, something resembling what once could have been a man. He doesn’t seem much more coherent than a rabid animal, and Sarah beats him away with a rock.
Later on we see evidence of this man-like creature’s separation from the village of science-crazed libertarians, known as ‘Revival,’ and even they are afraid of him. Revival is where Cosima is being kept, but we’ll get to that. Before, I need to take a moment to help you soak in the fact that Orphan Black has just now introduced what I can only assume is a zombie (it’s probably a deranged cannibal – but I’ve been binging iZombie so let me have this) created from the Neolution experiments performed on the residents of Revival. I swear, if this becomes a smoke monster I’m going to be so mad.
The second new element is Art’s new partner, Detective Enger. She’s a misogynist, white woman cop. Okay, I get it, let’s mix it up and not bring in another white dude and have him hate women. But having a woman hate women? I mean, it’s not an unbelievable stretch, and it’s certainly interesting, but it feels a bit too comedically on-the-nose. Especially considering her character is anything but comedic. She’s as intimidating in her fast and loose, threatening way, as any dirty Neolution cop could be.
Another new element is Rachel’s team-up with Dr. Westmoreland. It’s nice to have the Clone Club’s enemies molding into this one, solid entity that our clones will get to take down over the course of this last season. Rachel as a villain has been an interesting twist from the beginning, because she’s halfway sympathetic. She’s clearly delusional and power hungry, with a bad case of emotional instability, but her desire to mother and her instinct to do so has given the audience plenty of reason to believe there might be some good in there, deep, deep down.
That’s what makes the scene of her helping Cosima take the cure so harrowing. We’d just come from a crazy, delusionally enraged Rachel in the season four finale, stabbing her own mother and Sarah. Now, all of a sudden, she wants to help Cosima by injecting her with the cure after Cosima snuck out of her tent in order to take the treatment? I was waiting for Rachel to either stab Cosima with the medicine or jam it into her heart or something…
Alas, Rachel played nice, but the full angle of her cooperation has yet to be revealed. Cosima is either tremendously courageous or incredibly desperate (probably both) to trust Rachel with her life like that. But it makes for fun tv!
The episode spends a lot of time backing Sarah into a corner without her knowing it. Cosima is already under lock and key with the Neolutionists, and Art’s new partner is closing in on Allison and her family – they capture Allison, but Donnie and Helena get away. (Now there’s a funny scene – Allison gets nabbed while Donnie is hiding behind a tree, but instead of coming to her aid, he runs away. Probably a wise decision, since Donnie definitely couldn’t take down both gunmen anyways.)
Felix is captured, and Art, naturally, is contained just by the nature of having a Neolution cop at his side. Siobhan and Kira are nowhere to be found, and we can only assume they’ve been captured, too. That leaves only Donnie and Helena free and on the run, and they’ve got problems – in an attempt to save Donnie from yet another Neolution gunman, Helena winds up with a stick in her belly, and who knows if the babies are okay or not.
At the end of the episode, Sarah, who is almost off the island, is finally captured as well. So what will happen to the gang and how will they save themselves from the grasp of Neolution? It’s almost unfair that we have to wait a whole week to find out.
Season 5, Episode 1 (S05E01)
Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 10PM on BBCAmerica
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.
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Tasha Cerny | Contributor