Orphan Black focuses on Rachel in this all-seeing look into the villainous clone
Going into this episode of Orphan Black we knew that it was going to be centered on Rachel (Tatiana Maslany). What we didn’t expect however, was to learn so much about her upbringing and what truly made her who she is today. At first, we were treated to a flashback that took us completely by surprise. Obviously we know that Charlotte (Cynthia Galant) is a Leda clone, it was just so weird to see young Rachel look identical to her. (We know they’re clones. It was just weird to see the young actress play Rachel and have the accent.) What we learned throughout the episode through the Rachel flashbacks was that she is exactly who she is because of the way in which she was brought up. Science over everything. Science over love. Science over family. Science over happiness. Being a test subject made Rachel cold, aloof, hardened. She had no choice but to close off her heart and emotions from the world. She had to adapt in order to survive. In her world, the weak are picked off. As arguably the most self-aware clone of the bunch, Rachel always thought she was special. That she was above it all because she was essentially in on her own joke. This episode taught us a lot about Rachel and how far she’ll actually go when she has her heart set on something.
After discovering that “Westmoreland” (Stephen McHattie) was playing her and implanted a camera into her eye, Rachel set the stage for perhaps the bravest thing she’s ever done. She released Kira (Skyler Wexler) from DYAD and the experiments she would have to endure, back to Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) and Mrs. S ( Maria Doyle Kennedy). It’s easy to think that Kira simply saying:
“Are you okay? Who hurt you?”
may have resonated in Rachel’s tiny heart and led her to releasing her niece. In one of the most gruesome moments in Orphan Black history, Rachel, in order to get out from Westmoreland’s “all seeing eye”, CUT OUT HER OWN EYE. Yes, folks. Cut it right out. Gross. We can’t say we blame her, but wow. Rachel’s story will undoubtedly play out more next week.
Elsewhere, Alison (Tatiana Maslany) made her shall we say, triumphant return to Orphan Black. With a new look and a new attitude, we’re at a loss for what to expect moving forward.
This Rachel centric episode of Orphan Black had twists, turns, revelations, blood, and even a little bit of heart. With everything that happened, we need to talk it over with our roundtable guests for this week. Let’s meet them, shall we.
Valerie Anne (@PunkyStarshine) – “TV recapper at Autostraddle.com, twitter-obsessed lover of stories.”
Angelica (@A_GeekMonkey) – “Colombian girl, TV geek, proud member of the Delphine Cormier Defense Squad.”
Rebecca (@RebeccaBeery) – “Aspiring writer, OB fan, PT student (not Westmoreland).”
Tanya (@tatianalexandre) – “In denial over orphan black ending.”
Pauli (@PwiePauli) – “My favorite person is Orphan Black.”
1) Rachel is a classic case of nature vs. nurture. Why do you think she is so different from the other clones?
Valerie Anne (@PunkyStarshine): Because she wasn’t nurtured. She was a victim in this experiment; she was denied a family, she was denied any kind of affection once the Duncans faked their deaths. She was praised for being able to recite tag numbers, she was used for her body, for science. She was manipulated into being cold.
Angelica (@A_GeekMonkey): Rachel’s story has always been insecurity hidden in the power she felt as a self-aware clone. She thought she was special and had an advantage as the only clone with control over herself, that’s why she always treated the other sestras with disdain, but this only hides her insecurity, she always wanted to have what her sestras had, only for the power to have it.
Rebecca (@RebeccaBeery): I think from the start she has always been different in that she knew she was a clone from an early age. Having that kind of knowledge that you have the same face as who knows how many other girls probably drove her to feelings of superiority, out of need more than anything. Because she knew she was a clone when the others didn’t. And with that, she was raised self-aware, so she was treated differently by her caretakers and more was expected of her.
Tanya (@tatianalexandre): Rachel is so different from the other clones to me because of her upbringing or lack their of, the way she was raised through a company and not a family. She has always deep down wanted that love but because she never received it she now finds it hard to show love herself.
Pauli (@PwiePauli): I think the most remarkable difference is that Rachel is a ”child raised by Neolution”. It seemed that she had a happy childhood until she lost her parents, so Leekie brought Rachel to DYAD, where she got tested and forced to learn a lot about science and business which probably caused a lot of pressure from the beginning on. As a little child she already knew who she was, could recite her tag number and also knew the ones from the other clones. I think Rachel got excluded from many things, wasn’t able to establish contacts or experience love. She was raised to be a perfectionist with the mission to be ”better” than the others which explains her appearance and behavior today.
2) The Cosima and Scott reunion was great. Do you wish we had more of them this season?
Valerie Anne: There are a few things I think of as quintessential Orphan Black I wish we had more of, including Scott and Cosima sciencing together, but also Felix! Where the heck is Felix?! But I have loved watching Cosima and Charlotte bond, and the reunion was such a sweet, satisfying moment.
Angelica: I need a Team Science Mega Force reunion more than life right now! Seriously, I need these three nerds of my life one more time reunited and working and solving Clone Club problems with science… And I need Scott hugging Delphine too.
Rebecca: This was so cute!!! I love them. Obviously I wish we could see more of them! There are three more episodes yet…..
Tanya: I loved their reunion for sure, but I’d only say yes to having more of them at this point if it helped wrap up the whole story.
Pauli: Totally! I mean we all saw how happy they were to see each other again after all the time they were separated. I would love to see a reunion with Delphine too so Team Science Mega Force could be finally complete.
3) If you absolutely had to find one redeeming quality about Rachel.. what would it be and why?
Valerie Anne: Well I think the biggest reason I find it hard to hate her entirely is because she wasn’t born wicked, she had wickedness thrust upon her. She’s smart – so smart – but if this show has taught us anything it’s that science can’t be an emotionless field. One more thing I’ll say about her is that she refused to be denied her seat at the table.
Angelica: Very difficult to say, because for me, Rachel was always the villain of the series (and frankly, the best). I have doubts about a redemption story line for her, but I think she finally saw in Kira the same pain she suffered in her childhood and finally decided to stop thinking about her and not destroy this life like the men that destroyed her in Dyad.
Rebecca: I really and truly believe that Rachel wants to be good. Every time there’s a conflict, we see that moment with her where she could go either way. But that draw to power is too strong for her better nature. She is the product of her upbringing, which was cold and aloof, but because of that we see her long for the love she never (or only briefly) got. Since that is her most desperate desire, it was only a matter of time before it came through. And thank goodness it came through with Kira!
Tanya: It has to be her deep connection to Kira, Kira might just be the one person Rachel feels she is truly connected to.
Pauli: The most significant quality about Rachel is that she’s a very smart, intelligent and structured person which could be in many cases very helpful. She’s also strong and brave, no matter how many times she got broken in the past.
4) We were blessed with Alison’s return this week. What did you think about her and the new attitude?
Valerie Anne: I love her new hair and I think it’s hilarious that even though it’s short and has purple in it, it still somehow looks so…suburban. She just went from being the soccer mom to the hippie music teacher. But I can’t imagine this lasting long, especially once she gets back into the mix with her sestras and all that drama. Donnie will wake up in the middle of the night and find her in the dumpster covered in yarn trying to rescue her pinking shears.
Angelica: Ooh…I think this new Alison is a time bomb ready to explode and that tattoo… the laser removal would very expensive and painful.
Rebecca: I’m not gonna lie, I have mixed feelings about girl’s hair. The unique hairstyle of each clone is usually the first thing we register when seeing them, it is their main outwardly identifier. So seeing Alison with a completely new ‘do just threw me for a loop. On the one hand, this total aesthetic and attitude switch is strangely very Alison, but on the other hand I feel like we are losing what it means for her to be Alison. HOWEVER, I completely understand the decision of both the writers and Tatiana to change her in this way. She has gone through so much shit throughout the entire series (I might even argue that these events have been the most challenging for her because of her conflicted nature), and has been “yanked around by her brain” on multiple occasions that it isn’t even remotely surprising that she would want a fresh start. So Alison, I respect you!
Tanya: BLESSED. So blessed that Alison is back. The new hair?? I can not get over that. I feel a little lost with it all, but also super interested in her current attitude. I loved seeing her smile.
Pauli: Honestly, I did not expect that she changes so much in such a quick time. Her new hairstyle and tattoo still confuse me, haha! But maybe that’s what she needs after everything she has been through and just wants a new start because she can’t identify with her old self anymore. But it’s hard to believe that she gives so many things up like her crafting hobby and acts completely different.
5) We can’t say we missed Mark and Gracie. Are you glad to see them return?
Valerie Anne: I kind of missed Gracie! But not if she’s here to put Helena and her bebes in danger… And I love Ari Millen but I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed that we hadn’t seen the end of the Castor clones… They’re all such creeps. (Also a product of their environment.)
Angelica: Mark and Gracie are always trouble for Clone Club, especially for Helena. I think they’ll be the theme for episode 9, but nope, I’m not happy with them around Clone Club again, especially Mark…I don’t want Castor anymore.
Rebecca: First of all, Gracie scares me….. That’s…that’s it.
Tanya: Nope. Not at all bothered about them being back. I grew to like Ira and then that should have been the end of Castor to me.
Pauli: Not really, I was happy that they finished their story in season 3 so the producers could focus on the main characters and topics of the show. I think they only bring problems which could be very dangerous for the clones, especially for Helena.
6) “PT” has been watching Rachel. Why? What do you think he’s gained from doing that?
Valerie Anne: Well, everything, right? Everything the DYAD has been doing, plus insights into where her loyalties lie. It’s just another example of them manipulating Rachel; they let her think she’s free of the experiment, they let her think she was in charge, and none of it was true. The men in her life were always screwing her over. Always. And frankly I think she’s had enough of it.
Angelica: It’s about control. He needs to have women in control (and divide them and make whatever he wants only because he can), like he did with Susan and Coady. It feels like a vigilante stuff at first but then you see he can disturb Rachel´s mind and things get creepier. He is really the Doctor Moreau of this story.
Rebecca: PT gave me the major skeeves this week, I will just preface by saying that. My first reaction was “poor Rachel, omg.” I think PT will never pass up an opportunity to study someone, especially one of his clones, and even one who has been told she is an equal. Also, Rachel is his investment, and he wants to make sure his investment is doing what she’s supposed to do. He is Rachel’s monitor when she thought she had none, and the purpose of monitors is to track their clone’s whereabouts and health. With this eye-cam addition, PT can see real-time where Rachel is and what she’s doing, which adds another layer of control for him. It is a way for him to give Rachel the illusion of freedom without actually doing so. Until she finds out, that is.
Tanya: I think PT may have purely been watching Rachel to feel like he could actually really control someone. Though 7 episodes in and I still don’t understand this man and don’t think I ever will.
Pauli: With the possibility of watching Rachel he had the opportunity to be one step ahead of her and also her sisters, that gives him a lot of power. PT likes to control everything and doesn’t have to be afraid that someone is going to betray him. But it’s nothing new that Neolution still keeps the monitoring…
7) Rachel let Kira go as one of the only good acts she’s ever done. Can you believe those final “eye popping” moments?!
Valerie Anne: I was so glad my roommate wasn’t home because the noises I was making were not human. When she broke that glass I was like, “Girl, don’t do it” and the lead-in was so slow and purposeful and I knew it was coming but I just kept groaning “noooooo” and couldn’t look away.
Angelica:You know, first I thought she only put her eye patch again to cut the “tv cable” to P.T, but then things got intense and all I have to say is thank god she was drinking all the alcohol of Dyad Institute like anesthesia because any other way… she could have died there for the pain or bleed to death. She had lots of courage to do it, but it was very disturbing to see it.
Rebecca: Things. Eyes. Sharp objects. I cringed hardcore at that last scene, good job OB! You accomplished your weekly task of making us feel things. But back to Kira. I always thought that Rachel was harboring a soft spot for her in this season, and the previous seasons actually, so naturally I got up and cheered when she let Kira go! Congratulations Rachel, you’ve leveled up from Pro-clone to a feeling human in one move.
Tanya: THAT FINAL MOMENT. Fantastic. Gross, but seriously fantastic. Also Mrs.S mouthing “thank you” to Rachel made my heart happy.
Pauli: To be honest, I’m still shocked! I’ve waited so long for this moment that Rachel finally realizes that she played for the wrong team and got manipulated all the time. I also think that she truly cares for Kira because she never had the chance to experience real, unconditional love so she thinks she can find that in a child. Rachel is definitely the hero of the episode and I hope she gets the appreciation she deserves. I’m happy about the aspect that Mrs. S. whispered ”Thank you” to her.
8) Lastly, we had to add another question here because the show didn’t even release any scenes for next week’s episode citing that, “it was too intense.” What are your thoughts? What could happen?
Valerie Anne: I’m terrified that no one is going to be left standing by the end of the series so I’m obviously terrified everyone I’ve ever loved is going to be brutally murdered. Obviously they can’t all die next week, but I still don’t feel great about it. I DON’T FEEL GREAT. Maybe it’s too intensely happy? D:
Angelica: Ok, BBC America can’t with the power and intelligence of Clone Club, and we already watched the Space promo… but in the spirit of no spoilers…. I’m gonna make like I didn’t watch it. So, first to all, I’m counting the hours since now to the return of Delphine Cormier and please, no more trips for her! In general, I really begin to feel like this is the final trip and we’re gonna have very happy moments like Felix’s art event but also we’ll have very sad moments too. They’re gonna give us very good moments that we deserve (like a very little more Cophine please!) but I think they’ll take away from us someone who we love and it will be very sad for Clone Club.
Rebecca: CAL. MUST. RETURN. I cannot shake the feeling that Cal will be important yet. He’s a technology/weapons guy, right? He could be a valuable resource for the clones. Also, Helena looks like she will pop any second, so maybe she will have her twins? And another thought. What happened to Ferdinand? He just disappeared. So many questions!!! I can’t contain them!
Tanya: I think we may get some intense fluff in the episode, but I think this is the episode that leads to another death eeeek!!
Pauli: I mean it’s Orphan Black so everything is possible, this show doesn’t give you a break. I’m really afraid that Mrs. S. could get into some trouble because of the dark secrets she carries. The possibility that Helena also could get kidnapped by Gracie and brought back to Coady makes me worry a lot. And I hope that Rachel survives and gets healthy again, she’s such an interesting and complex character, I want to see more of her.
Orphan Black 5×07 “Gag or Throttle” Final Verdict: It’s clear that this eye popping episode left fans desperate for answers
Orphan Black is quickly approaching the final episode of the series. With just 3 episodes left, it’s almost impossible to figure out what is going to happen. It doesn’t help that BBC America refused to release a promo for next week’s episode! Just a lot of tantalizing words and innuendo that left us shaken to our cores. With the return of Mark and Gracie for who knows what reason, we’re forced to sit and wait to find out if Helena and her already loved babies are going to be okay. This episode also brought a new side to Rachel. Perhaps a side that will start to put her sestras and her “family” above Neolution and the science. We can only ponder that notion until next week’s mysterious episode. With old characters returning and new characters still being introduced; we have to say we sincerely have no idea what is about to happen. “Gag or Throttle” made us realize Orphan Black is definitely not letting up for the final trip.