Orphan Black Review: “Clutch of Greed”

Orphan Black‘s final season continues, with character committing acts of brutal violence, villains corralling the clones, and significant questions lingering.

Will we finally see the Cow? And what rough shape will it take?

Title: “Clutch of Greed”

Cast and Crew
Director: John Fawcett
Writer: Jeremy Boxen

Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning/ Cosima Niehaus / Alison Hendrix / Helena / Rachel Duncan / MK
Jordan Gavaris as Felix Dawkins
Kristian Bruun as Donnie Hendrix
Maria Doyle Kennedy as Siobhan Sadler
Evelyne Brochu as Delphine Cormier
Skyler Wexler as Kira
Dylan Bru Kevin Hanchard as Art Bell
James Frain as Ferdinand
Josh Vokey as Scott
Ari Milen as Ira
Cynthia Galant as Charlotte Bowles
Jenessa Grant as Mud
Elyse Levesque as Detective Maddie Enger
Calwyn Shurgold as Hell Wizard
Glenda Braganza as Dr. Slaight
Sirena Gulamgaus as Aisha
Homa Kameh as Aisha’s Mother
Simu Liu as Mr. Mitchell
Karen Ivany as Vice Principal
Sheila McCarthy as Connie Hendrix
Ryan Blakely as Reverend Mike
Bas Reitsma,Tim Beresford as Neo Agents
Dalton Derek as Security Guard
Paula Barrett as Nurse Wennie
Stephen McHattie as P.T. Westmoreland

Premise

The Neolutionists claim the clones, Ferdinand kills quite bullishly, Helena escapes, Kira breaks with her mother, and Cosima meets the 170-year-old P.T. Westmoreland.

High Point

P.T. Westmoreland—or whoever that is—didn’t remain hiding for long. We have enough mystery surrounding the man without keeping him behind the curtain for half a season, and a lesser show would almost certainly have played that game.

Low Points

Unless it makes up an as-yet-unexplained part of the Neolutionists’ plan, or Dyad’s plan, or someone‘s plan, I have to ask why everyone easily blows off the top-notch security and surveillance. Yes, Siobhan, Sarah, and Felix have experience with lawbreaking and running, but no one’s escape plan should work that well, under these circumstances. If they hadn’t decided to listen to a child’s demands, they would have made it.

The characters’ actions, ending up in certain places at certain times, feels a little forced this season. In deference to its past seasons, I’ll give the series the benefit of the doubt for now.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6

Effects: 5/6

Story: 4/6

See High and Low Points.

Acting: 6/6

Emotional Response: 5/6 Given the number of emotional things that happen—Kira’s response to her mother, and MK’s brutal death, I’m surprised my own reaction wasn’t stronger. It feels like we have so much happening and so many new mysteries presented in such a labyrinthine fashion that reaction becomes blunted, no matter how horrific the events.

YMMV.

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6 The plot moves forward with this year’s mysteries. Given that the villains appear to be winning with little resistance from our heroes, we really must question what we’re being shown. We get a broad view of Revival, and we see few signs of its supposed age. We meet Westmoreland, but nothing we see confirms that he is who he says he is. MK, no longer around to reveal what she knows can find no information or records of his continued existence which, as she notes, does not entirely make sense.

Delphine’s role also remains uncertain, in part because she’s not where she’s supposed to be.

Things are not as they seem.

In total, “Clutch of Greed” receives 34/42

Lingering Concerns

In its final season, Orphan Black has much to overcome. The early seasons had the compelling mystery of the clones. Even as we learned the truth, they existed, not only as intriguing characters, but as means to reflect on such things as identity, individuality, nature versus nurture debates, and corporate ownership and responsibility. The clones, by this point, have become familiar. Compelling characters, to be sure, performed by a brilliant actress, but they’ve lost the other aspects that made the show worth watching.

The show’s villains, meanwhile, proved a complex bunch. We had many factions, with disparate motives, complex disagreements, and fallible, changeable plans. Now that they have (or so it seems) joined forces under one master villain, the show’s conflicts risk developing the kind of simple, unrealistic dichotomy that is such a staple fare of pop culture, online conspiracy theories, and contemporary American political rhetoric.

I’m hoping for the best; the show has come through before. Otherwise, it risks finishing, as so many other series have, as a mediocre version of its former self.

8 replies on “Orphan Black Review: “Clutch of Greed””

  1. lost says:

    I suspect the ease of that escape plan working has as much to do with MK’s resources and the funadmental arrogance of Rachel and her team as anything else.

    In universe, it would not be surprising if Westmoreland is who and what he claims to be. It fits with events involving Kira going all the way back to the first season. It would also not be surprising if it isn’t.

    This episode left me wondering just what Kira can do. She has the connections with the clones, but can she also influence them? Does she also have a connection with S (logical given the biological relationship)? Can she influence others? What is her agenda? What does she know that nobody else does?

    Another question is what effect would the “cure” have on Helena and Sarah? Do they also have the “healing factor” but it’s being overloaded by the clone disease?

    I still stand by my previous comment that the series finale is likely going to be either a straight up tragedy or a victory with such a cost that it can hardly be called such.

    • JD DeLuzio says:

      Right. Part of the mystery about Westmoreland is that he could actually be what he claims.

      Either way, I still believe we’re being misled. I just don’t know about what, exactly, or to what specific end.

    • zocalo says:

      I’m not convinced that all is as it seems with Westmoreland. Neolution’s genetic science is a level or two up on reality, but you’re still looking at some kind of longevity treatment almost a century before the present day and several decades before Watson and Crick realised what Franklin’s images of DNA were showing. There’s an awfully big claim there, and it’s going to either need to be a scam or have an awfully big revelation as to what happened at some point. I’m also curious how Mud fits into all this – she seems to know a lot more than she’s letting on, and Cosima even thought to ask her who she was, so we probably ought to take then hint and be asking the same question. A relation of Westmoreland (the original and/or current one) perhaps?

      Agree on the bittersweet ending; I suspect Sarah (or maybe Cosima) is going to have to make a painful choice at some point, or maybe makes a bad one for all the right reasons, and I don’t think all our remaining clones are going to survive the fallout of that. Quite where Kira (and presumably Helena’s twins) in their capacity as the next step along what I assume is Neolution’s goal of taking full control over our genetic destiny are going to factor in remains to be seen as well. One thing that does spring to mind that brings both those threads together is the question of whether clone DNA should be allowed to mix with the general human pool or not, and from there how you resolve that with the applicable clones, Kira, and Helena’s unborn twins.

      • zocalo says:

        So… thinking a bit more on Mud after Cosima’s pointed question about who she was – speculation ahead!

        Her introduction last week was “My name is Mud”, to which I expect most viewer’s probably giggled at the joke and moved on (I did), but now I’m starting to wonder if that might have been a fairly significant clue wrapped in a bit of humour to provide misdirection. Firstly, did she actually mean that figuratively, literally, or both? If the former, then why is she the implied pariah (which doesn’t appear to be the case)? If the latter, then what kind of parent names their child “Mud”? Something else Mud said this week struck a chord too – she’s apparently talked with Westmoreland a lot, but audiences with Westmoreland are supposedly a fairly rare event – so could she be a lot older than she appears and have similar longevity to Westmoreland?

        Thinking about Westmoreland and Neolution for a minute, if their ultimate goal is indeed to take full control over DNA (possibly in general, not just human), then success would confer control over an entire tree of life on Earth. In effect, that could be seen as an apotheosis of sorts; giving Westmoreland the power to create and manipulate life itself – which would certainly align with the story of going from cheese to the cow. And that brings us back to Mud; mud is dirt and, according to the book of Genesis, God created Adam from a handful of dirt, so could Westmoreland have named another attempt at his goal, one that resulted in Mud, as a kind of joke?

        On past form I’m probably way off the mark here, but I definitely think there’s a lot more to Mud (and her name) than appears – looking forwards to seeing just how wrong, or not, that is. :)

  2. zocalo says:

    Agree 100% on the closing comment – far too many shows in that situation have failed to go out on a suitable high – although I’m also optimistic as the show *has* come through before.

    My hope is that most of the lingering concerns are partly a result of them getting a little blindsided by the cancellation and having to wrap things up quicker than they may have wanted. As I noted last week, the news that season 5 would be the last came early enough that the writers had time to come up with a plan, so perhaps this is just the setup for that; a rushed resolution to the season 4 cliffhangar, a rapid shuffling of the deck to move everyone into position, then a solid eight episode run to the finalé (and a cow, apparently).

  3. Jethro says:

    Goddammit Kira!

    • Kiersten says:

      My thoughts exactly…..

      • Jethro says:

        Hey, you’re back!

        As much as I was mad at Kira at that moment, it did lead to that shot at the end where Sarah is looking at Rachel with abject hatred, and Rachel looking at Sarah with the most absolute smug look in the history of the universe, and you have to remind yourself that they’re technically the same person (:

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