REVIEW: Orphan Black S5 Ep9 – One Fettered Slave

Now that we’re down to the final two episodes, I wasn’t expecting to see many more flashbacks – I figured all the inevitable action in the present wouldn’t leave time for looking back. But I’m glad I was wrong, because Helena has always been one of my favorites, so I loved these glimpses of her childhood. While there really wasn’t anything major revealed that we didn’t already know (though I did like seeing the origin story of her bleached hair), the reminder of her past made her doubts about if she’d be a good mother more impactful. Since Helena has been siding with her sestras for most of Orphan Black, sometimes it’s almost easy to forget that it wasn’t always that way.

My one issue with the flashbacks is that young Helena wasn’t played by Cynthia Galant, who plays Charlotte and young Rachel, but by a different actress (Habree Larratt). It’s not that Habree did a bad job – quite the opposite, I very easily believed her as a young Helena. But given how identical the clones are to one another, and since it’s established that the young Leda clones looked like Cynthia, it felt out of place to have a new actress step in.

S's funeralIn the present we start out at S’s funeral (and yes, that was a heartbreaking goodbye letter that she was writing last week), but the clone club doesn’t have much time to grieve before they find out that Helena’s been taken. Their search to find Helena first takes them to Rachel, and then Al-Khatib, one of the last living Neolution board members. (PT has been sending Frontenac out to “clean up” the board). Neither know where Helena has been taken, but in the end they come up with a plan to find her: Al-Khatib offers up Rachel to PT, in exchange for his own life. But when Enger comes to pick up “Rachel” and bring her back to PT, it’s really Sarah, and Art is tracking them to see where they go.

Sarah’s caught by PT pretty quickly, and the only thing that keeps her alive is Coady’s insistence that she’s needed for a blood transfusion to save Helena. Poor Helena, whose labor was induced because PT’s impatient to use her babies to cure himself. Helena, who was told by Coady she was incapable of being a good mother. (And I have to say, Helena’s lip quiver after that exchange gave me all the feels). Unable to cut the cuffs at her wrist to escape, Helena cut her wrists instead, wanting to free her babies from a life as experiments. I really thought for a second that they might kill Helena off right there – but then what would the series finale be about? With so much buildup to Helena’s pregnancy, I felt her story simply had to continue into next week.

HelenaSure enough, Helena comes back around once she starts receiving Sarah’s blood. And with her left wrist now uncuffed, she catches Coady off-guard and brutally knocks her unconscious. “You are shit mother,” Helena declared – and she doesn’t even know that Coady killed Mark earlier, just because PT told her to. The thought crossed my mind that Helena orchestrated her injury just so they would uncuff her (at the very least, when I saw them free her left arm, I knew they’d end up regretting it), but that’s a very big risk for Helena to take, assuming they’d revive her somehow after such a big blood loss. And she did seem very genuine while speaking to her babies, telling them they deserved better than her.

As the episode ends, Sarah and Helena have freed themselves from the chair and bed they were bound to, but with alarms blaring, and Helena’s water breaking, they’ve certainly got a long way to go before they’re truly free.

I’m going to complain again that there wasn’t nearly enough Alison. We didn’t see much more of Cosima this week either, but at least she’s had a much larger role to play throughout the season. At this point, I honestly don’t know what role Alison might play in the finale, other than offering emotional support.

I’m also giving up hope of seeing Mud again. The “previously on” got my hopes up by including her, but now that all the major characters are off the island, I sadly doubt she’ll make a reappearance.

The preview for next week feels surprisingly light, featuring a voiceover from Helena alongside the cheerful sounding “With a Girl Like You.” “This is a story about my sestras,” says Helena. “My story is an embroidery with many beginnings and no end.” Are they luring us into a false sense of calm, before an intense finale? Or is this some kind of reassurance that things will be okay in the end?

This is your very last chance to make a prediction, so leave us your thoughts in the comments below!