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Orphan Black - Gag Or Throttle - Review: “Redemption” + POLL

Orphan Black has had many villains during its run, but very few have been even remotely redeemable. Rachel was the last character anyone would have guessed would be able to be redeemed. She’s done far too many horrendous things to her own sisters to even be able to name them all off. Yet young Kira managed to reach Rachel’s well-guarded heart and warm it as she broke down her Aunt’s barriers and found the terrified girl hidden behind a lifetime of control and indirect abuse. It was a huge surprise to see Rachel come around to the side of her family and help them at great risk to herself. It all started with a friendship bracelet and a little bit of compassion from a child who taught Rachel the meaning of kindness. In Kira, it seems that Rachel saw herself and managed to break the cycle to ensure that Kira wouldn’t have to endure all the things she had to while growing up.

There is no arguing that Rachel has done many despicable things. In her own twisted way, she has always been able to justify her actions. While it’s easy to hate a character that has done so many awful things to beloved characters one must take into consideration what she was put through as a child. For her entire life, she was knowingly used as a test subject. Over and over again she was subjected to horrendous tests and paraded around in front of investors. She had to adopt a tough persona to be able to endure all she was put through at Dyad. This episode made it very clear why she had such a contentious relationship with Leekie. He was one of the biggest culprits for using her for his own purposes. She had to become tough and cruel just to survive. It doesn’t make right all the horrible things she has done, but it does explain why she turned against her sisters.

Rachel isn’t all that different from her sisters in that they all want to be free. Unfortunately, unlike her sisters, she was willing to make a deal with the Devil for her own gain. She had a chance at freedom and took it without consideration regarding what she’d have to do to maintain that perceived freedom. It’s really kind of sad to see just how desperately she wanted freedom. Perhaps had she not done what she did it would have been easy to be angry at her for yet another betrayal of the sisterhood, but one can’t really blame her for trying. Sadly, for her, the perceived freedom she signed for was nothing more than yet another elaborate act to keep her under thumb.

She had to learn the hard way that she was never going to be free. It took a bizarre visit to the island and a medically invasive meeting with Virginia to start to open her eyes, literally, to what was going on. All she has ever been and ever will be to P.T. and Neolution is a pawn in his ultimate plan to find the proverbial fountain of youth. Perhaps she would have been willing to overlook that too and just live with it if she didn’t see history repeating itself with Kira. It could be said that Kira pulled off the ultimate hustle on Rachel, but in truth, all she did is show Rachel a little-unexpected kindness which opened up a whole new world of possibility for her. Through all of her small gestures, she won Rachel over to the point that her Aunt couldn’t let history repeat itself again.

However, to pull off this betrayal, Rachel had to appear to still be betraying her sisters. In the process, she had to put Kira in some tense situations including reluctantly having to sedate her. She didn’t seem to enjoy it at all, but she knew it was what was best for Kira. Rachel might not usually be a welcomed sister, but she is still a Leda sister and therefore Kira’s Aunt and in the end that familial bond proved more powerful than all of P.T.’s false promises. Knowing that he was watching through her implanted eye she took great measures to keep up appearances for him. It all paid off because in a genius moment of expert texting, she communicated her plan to Art and he was able to coordinate Kira’s escape. For the first time in a very long time, Rachel took a stand and did the right thing. In that moment she fell into line with her sisters and proved that Rachel Duncan is no longer a Neolution pawn. Though, ultimately, finding any semblance of freedom meant removing her bugged eye. That easily went down as the most gruesome scene this season if not for the whole series. Kudos to Tatiana Maslany for the way she played that moment. She found Rachel’s humanity in this episode and showed off a side of her the audience has never seen before. That allowed this moment to carry a lot of extra weight as the audience had a reason to feel compassion for Rachel.

Elsewhere, Cosima and Charlotte finally made it back to the family. Once back home and with Scott and his resources they were able to trudge through old records to discover who P.T. actually is. It is thanks in part to that information that Sarah was able to break through to Rachel finally. Kira already had Rachel swaying, but that last bit of information was all she needed to act. With that information now freely floating around it’ll be curious to see how long it takes others within the organization to accept the truth. Many of those higher up need P.T.’s story to exist for them to make their money, so they’ll likely keep trying to accept and sell the lie. However, there are likely to be a lot of defectors in the wake of all this that is sure to cause the infrastructure of Dyad and Neolution to begin to crumble rapidly.

As it is, with the loss of Kira, P.T. has lost a huge part of his plan. A lot of what he wants to do rests with Kira. Unfortunately for everyone, Kira is no longer the only known child of a clone which means that even though she’s back within the safe arms of her family there are others still vulnerable. Helena is still trying to protect her unborn children, but with Virginia at the island swaying Mark to her side and Gracie at the convent things aren’t looking great on that front. Without some clever or volatile play by Helena, or some big change of heart by Gracie and Mark, things could true quite serious. If Virginia gets her hands on Helena the consequences could be catastrophic for all involved. Since Ira was supposedly sadly lost in the prior episode that theoretically leaves Mark as the last brother standing. To be clear, Ira’s demise wasn’t shown, so while he may truly be gone it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he randomly appears somehow. Still, as far as Mark knows, he’s alone and dealing with a ticking time bomb within himself. He’s desperate and when a person gets desperate they can become quite unpredictably dangerous. P.T. is a prime example of that, so there is no telling what Mark might do under his control thanks to Virginia.

In the past, there has been a kindness to Mark that many of his other brothers lacked. With any luck, his and Gracie’s better angels will win out and they won’t sell out Helena. If it does happen then there is no guarantee left that Virginia will even help cure him. She’ll have a new generation to deal with and may just toss him away like she did with so many of his brothers. Any sadness she expressed over the others was nothing more than an elaborate act. Susan was right when she called Virginia dangerous. With her and P.T. working together uncontrolled and their creation rapidly falling apart they are likely to become more dangerous than ever. Whatever happens next it’s guaranteed to be massive and epic as P.T. tries to save his horribly misguided organization.

That puts Sarah and her entire family in more danger than ever. Surprisingly, this time around, Sarah seems to be the levelheaded one. She stopped Mrs. S. from storming Dyad to get Kira back. That decision bought Kira the time she needed to win Rachel over and alert her mom, through a clever story, what Dyad’s plans were. It might not always be easy for Sarah to slow down and think through a situation, but when she does great things happen. Her patience allowed them to get Kira back without a single shot having to be fired and kept Kira out of the line of fire. She did have to leave Rachel behind in a rather precarious position though it seems like Rachel knew she couldn’t go with them as long as she was traceable because of her eye. If Rachel endured and survived gouging out her own eye she’s sure to end up in some serious trouble. It’ll be interesting to see if Sarah decides to try and help her wayward sister.

While all of this was going on Allison finally made her return trip home to Donnie and she was very different in a number of ways including a brand new tattoo. Physically her hair is different but personality wise she has really mellowed out. The fact that Allison is so chill seemed to really freak Donnie out and with good reason. It was very weird to see her act so out of character. Given her experience with the Neolution craziness, it’s a bit weird that she’d seek out any sort of self-help type of institution. Hopefully, by the end of the series, she’ll come back to her senses and be back to the Allison everyone knows and loves. This zen persona just isn’t her. It’s great that she wanted to better herself for her family, but that doesn’t mean that she needed to completely change herself and who she is. Identity is a big thing in this series and it seems like she might be having a tiny bit of an identity crisis here at the end. Still, even with this odd twist, it was great to see Allison back to get her back in the fight.

This was a massive episode with a lot that went down. Rachel surprisingly finally came to her senses and sided with her sisters. She also got to show her humanity as she covertly had to mourn Susan. Then to the surprise of everyone she risked everything to save Kira from a scary future. Had she allowed Kira to be taken to P.T. on the island things could have gotten very horrible very quickly. Rachel was the unexpected hero of this episode. Cosima is home and safe with Charlotte and Kira is back with her family. It seems like a lot of things were setup in this episode that will lead toward a big showdown with P.T. and Virginia sometime very soon.

Don’t miss the next episode when it airs next Saturday, July 29th at 10/9c on BBC America.

Hit the comments with your thoughts about this episode. Were you surprised by Rachel turning to the side of her sisters? What do you think will happen now in the wake of Rachel’s betrayal?