Orphan Black’s premieres are often shocking in some way, but the following episodes are usually a little less explosive. Not so this season. The final season of Orphan Black looks like it’ll continue ratcheting up the tensions every episode until the ultimate finale, but as this episode shows, the writers may not always pull the right strings with these new twists.
Massive spoilers for “Clutch of Greed” below.
There are two main things about this episode that invite immediate discussion. The first, of course, is Ferdinand’s murder of MK. MK reappears in this episode after a long search by Scott, and she immediately sequesters herself in Felix’s loft and refuses to come out. When Sarah, disguised as Rachel, goes to find her, Ferdinand follows her and MK tells Sarah to trade clothes with her and go. After Sarah escapes, Ferdinand barges in and in a devastatingly brutal scene, kills MK.
The death itself was violent and gory, not just on a physical level but on a psychological one as well. Prior to this scene, Rachel had in essence told Ferdinand their sexual relationship was over, and when Ferdinand sees MK in the Rachel wig, he calls her “Rachel” and says he’s carrying out “two revenge fantasies at once”: one expressing his anger toward Rachel and one expressing his joy at “finishing” the clone massacre of Helsinki. It’s clear that the writers wanted MK’s death to raise the stakes of Orphan Black’s final season, but in her death, MK didn’t get to be anything more than an objectified, dehumanized clone. We already knew that it’s dangerous times for Clone Club; killing off a clone we only got to know last season seemed a gratuitous way of raising the stakes at best.
More than that, the death didn’t make any sense for MK’s character. We don’t know what she’s been doing since the end of Season 4, but she apparently has had such a change in mental state that she’s willing to stop running and die. But we didn’t get to see and experience this character journey with her, and so I’m left wondering why one of our most elusive clones didn’t just run out the door of Felix’s loft with Sarah when there was still time. Similarly, MK is one of our smartest, sneakiest clones—she may not have been able to stab Ferdinand, but barring that, I fully expected her to have rigged Felix’s loft with explosives and thus ensure Ferdinand was taken out with her. When the camera pans back and we saw Ferdinand’s smug grin and MK lying on the ground, broken, well, it was a scene I expected out of more misogynistic shows, not Orphan Black.
On top of all that, MK is also the only clone whose behavior was strongly coded as socially anxious/Asperger’s—I don’t think the creators had any malicious intent in killing her, and many of the other clones have struggled with drugs, mental illness, and suicidal ideation over the course of the series. But the fact remains that the clone who had the most visibly neuroatypical behaviors was also the one whom the creators saw as extraneous enough to kill off to heighten tensions.
The second point of discussion is the new development in Sarah’s and Kira’s relationship. When Sarah wakes up from being tranquilized at the end of the last episode, she’s in a prison cell similar to the one she was in at the end of Season 2, and Rachel tells her that she holds all the cards: she’s got people on Alison, Cosima’s in Revival, and she has Kira and Mrs. S. (Helena is thankfully out of her reach for now.) Sarah can go free as long as she allows Rachel to run some vaguely-worded experiments on Kira. Sarah agrees, but only long enough that she, Mrs. S, and MK can come up with a way to take Kira and go on the run again. Surprisingly, however, Kira wants to know why she has the healing powers and ESP-like powers that she’s been demonstrated to have throughout the series, and she insists on going with Rachel.
I’ve seen a lot of people who dislike this twist as well, but I love what this means for Kira’s character. For four seasons she’s been dragged from place to place, kidnapped by Rachel, sent off to live with her father, hiding in Iceland, hiding in a basement, and kidnapped by Rachel again, and she’s never had any structure or really any schooling aside from Cosima’s occasional science lectures. She’s certainly been on screen more than Alison’s kids, but that doesn’t mean she’s had any real character development or any real agency. From Kira’s perspective, what Rachel’s offering her means that she’ll have stability again—she’ll get to go to school and see her friends and even learn why she has the powers she does. In demanding to go with Rachel, she’s finally being allowed to express her real emotions, even if it’s heartbreaking to watch.
There are still some things I’m not sure about—we still don’t know what’s up with Rachel, what Westmoreland’s charged her to do, or how “non-invasive” these experiments will be. We don’t know what Rachel will do with the results of the experiments, either. I especially hated seeing Sarah realize that Kira may trust Rachel more than her at this point, but I definitely get why—Sarah’s basically never told Kira anything and even lies to Kira about MK being fine when Kira can clearly feel her death. So although it’s heartwrenching to watch, to me this is the successful emotional twist that MK’s death was not.
The other clones took a backseat this episode—Alison’s been confined to her crafts room by Art and his new Neo partner, and Cosima is in Revival, meeting the real Westmoreland (not the old man we implied last episode; a different old white man). Helena and Donnie are at the hospital, and various medical tests show that Helena’s twins have the same healing ability that Kira does. Helena believes (possibly correctly) that the hospital is filled with Neolution agents who want to take her babies, so while Donnie’s distracted, she attacks a doctor with a needle and escapes the hospital. Since Helena is doing all of this while registered as “Alison” in the hospital, I really need to know what consequences this will have for Alison’s future medical care and/or criminal record.
Next episode looks like a return to suburbia, and hopefully an answer to my burning, if not exactly plot-relevant, question. Alison’s back to her usual community antics, but hopefully that doesn’t mean she gets sidelined yet again, and we’ve got a whole ‘nother mystery brewing with Delphine and Mrs. S. Till next week, Clone Club!