Orphan Black Review: “One Fettered Slave”

We’ll have a more detailed review next week, when the series concludes. Meanwhile, the Bureau considers Orphan Black‘s penultimate episode. What rough beast slouches towards Toronto to be born?

Title: “One Fettered Slave”

Cast and Crew

Director: David Frazee
Writer: Alex Levine

Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning/ Cosima Niehaus / Rachel Duncan / Alison Hendrix / Helena / Church Clone
Jordan Gavaris as Felix Dawkins
Kyra Harper as Dr. Virginia Coady
Kristian Bruun as Donnie Hendrix
Skyler Wexler as Kira
Stephen McHattie as P.T. Westmoreland
Kevin Hanchard as Art Bell
Calwyn Shurgold as Hell Wizard
Josh Vokey as Scott
Lauren Hammersley as Adele
Ron Lea as Lieutenant Gavin Hardcastle
Elyse Levesque as Maddy Enger
Andrew Moodie as Simon Frontenac
Ari Milen as Mark
Daniel Kash as Tomas
Scott Wentworth as Dr. Ian Van Lier
Eileen Sword as Sister Irina
Habree Larratt as Young Helena
Elie Gemael as Hashem Al-Khatib
Cintija Ashperger as Sister Olga
Aviva Armour-Ostroff as Medical Technician
Ted Dykstra as Doctor


We see more of Helena’s backstory as she prepares to give birth; the clones and their associates execute a desperate plan as international investigations close in on those associated with Neolution.

High Points

We see a lot more of Helena’s backstory in this episode, and it amounts to more than just a fan-wank. It’s disturbing and deadly serious. It does not stand on its own, of course; everything must be viewed in context of the show.

Low Points

I know the Neolutionist forces are a trifle short-staffed at present, but I find it difficult to believe they would leave Helena alone.

Never leave Helena alone.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6

Effects: 6/6

Story: 5/6 They’re doing a decent job of addressing the various plot strands, and we’re set up for a conclusion.

Acting: 5/6

Emotional Response: 5/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6 Two weeks ago I complained that they haven’t been using Art Bell much. The last two episodes have given him things to do that matter. The actor is fine; the police scenes never quite ring true in this show.

In total, “One Fettered Slave” receives 35/42

6 replies on “Orphan Black Review: “One Fettered Slave””

  1. Our biggest issues when my wife and I watched it was Helena’s hair. That’s not how bleach works!! and it doesn’t last for … ever.

    The worst science in this movie is cosmetic science.

    • We noted that (and Helena’s permanent red eyes), but I wondered if, perhaps, she deliberately continues to bleach her hair as a weird co-opting of her torment. Obviously, her hair would grow out over her lifetime, and the writers must know this. It’s an odd stylistic flourish, but I was willing to try to make sense of it.

      I believe the word for doing that appears in my review.

      • Helena has been repeatedly referred to as an albino during the previous seasons, and even when living rough she’s managed to retain that “look” despite a lack of ready access to bleach, etc. I think they probably goofed for the sake of the flashbacks, unless she’s meant to have developed full-blown albinism after that point? I don’t think that’s the way that works either, but I’m no expert on the subject.

        The co-opting of her torment idea does raise one possibility though, plus would tie into something else that seems to have no real purpose (yet?). Helena is clearly in a bad place both mentally and maternally right now, and if Alison can reinvent herself with a bottle of hair dye and some makeup, then maybe Helena can do the same by getting rid of hers?

        I also thought the low point was particularly bad given that it involved Coady who already has first hand experience with Helena’s ability to break out of containment and wreak havoc from her earlier attempts to find a cure for the Castors and should have known better. Oh well, I guess she learnt her lesson this time round…

  2. Helena must have some sort of Somebody Else’s Problem field around her. That’s the only way she could possibly have managed half of what she has over the course of the show. It would also explain the continued underestimation of her. Of course, this probably gives the writers too much credit.

    Given that psychic phenomena of some kind have been established (consider Kira and the clones) in universe, a psyhcic SEP field wouldn’t be so far fetched. Indeed, Sarah would likely have one as well given that she and Helena are actual twins. Regardless, there’s definitely something about both Sarah and Helena that is unusual considering they’ve both survived injuries that *should* have been fatal or at least debilitating for a long time, and recovered far faster than they should have.

    Regarding the bleach/albino thing: perhaps it’s some sort of acquired damage to melanin production as a result of her horrific childhood? It certainly doesn’t make a lot of sense that Helena would be a natural albino considering that she and Sarah are actual identical twins (if memory serves) as well as Leda clones. Also, previous references to “albino” may have been referring to her appearance rather than the cause. That is, imprecise language.

    • I’ve always assumed that “albino” was not meant literally. She’s clearly not an actual albino, nor even made up as one. It’s like calling someone who’s a little on the short side, “a dwarf.” It’s neither precise nor appropriate, but it’s credible dialogue.

      • Always been a bit unsure on how accurate the “albino” claim is, but didn’t really think about it too much. I was going more with it being a genuine form of the condition, but somehow limited in scope due to the practicalities of makeup and used more as a means of differentiating one clone from another than anything else, but a you say an epithet works too.

        I’m actually kind of hoping it’s all make up and she’ll have an Alison style re-invention. Given how messed up her character is it’s going to need a major change in several areas if she going to get any kind of happy ending that might actually last.

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