Watching the season finale of “Orphan Black,” I couldn’t stop thinking about intellectual property law. Really. So often we hear about how the law lags behind technology, how governments and WIPO busily holds meetings and issue reports while those who wish to do so take advantage of every loophole, staying one step ahead of those who can’t quite imagine what’s already happening. “Orphan Black” takes the issue to one (mostly) logical conclusion, but you can bet this mess won’t be resolved in any fictional courts next season.
What Cosima learns, of course, is that all of the clones are essentially trademarked, a bar code of sorts burned into their DNA bluntly proclaiming “This organism and derivative genetic material is restricted intellectual property.” At least they didn’t have to get back tattoos. In any case, it’s a game changer, and one that makes it abundantly clear that Dr. Leekie is just as scummy as we always suspected (sorry, Matt Frewer). Even though he promises all of the clones (except, of course, Helena) anything they want — security, a great job, freedom, you name it — it’s all a ruse to get the clones to sign away the few rights they might possibly have as human beings. I’d question whether the all-powerful entity that created the clones really has to worry about getting signatures, and I highly doubt they’ll come in handy in a court of law. It’s not like the players in this game have been all that law abiding up to this point, so being able to say, “Hey, we created these people! They’re, like, ours!” seems sort of like saying, “Hey, these mutant dinosaurs we created? The ones that ate some people? Those people signed release forms! They were fine with it!” Yeah, not gonna matter.
Still, Sarah realizes that Rachel (the Proclone, as Felix dubs her, and seemingly the human who begat the clones or the first clone, or something like that) wants something dear to poor Sarah — Kira. Given that none of the other clones have produced offspring (or at least, none that we know of), the little girl is a gold mine of genetic information ripe for the picking (and prodding and poking). When Sarah (thanks to Cosima) finally puts the pieces together, she tells Rachel “Up yours,” but I’m surprised she doesn’t wait to strike an attitude until she has Kira safely in her arms. It’s a dumb move, especially for Sarah, but of course it sets up the drama for next season when Sarah returns home to find both Kira and Mrs. S gone.
Kira being snapped up is only one of the big events in the finale, however — and really the only hugely predictable one. Amelia, the African woman who’s Sarah and Helena’s birth mother, is still in town and wants to meet the kids, but it doesn’t end well. Helena has to be tied up downstairs so as not to kill someone, and in the midst of all the family non-bonding, Sarah gets arrested by that nosey Det. Art Bell.
Not much comes of the journey back to the station, since a mysterious David Rosen appears to demand Sarah be released just as she’s about to blab to her former partner that she’s really a clone. Still, that isn’t going to delay him from at least starting to put two and two (and one, and possibly more) together. His curiosity further piqued by the fact that Sarah’s arrest results in big guns coming to her “rescue,” he and Det. Deangelis decide to pick the brain of a “known cohort” — Vic.
Didn’t you think that dumb thug Vic was gone forever? Unfortunately not. Now he’s going to NA meetings and bitching about how Sarah done him wrong. He’s more than happy to tell Bell and Deangelis that Sarah has a secret life in the burbs — but even the clueless detectives aren’t as clueless as Vic. They know immediately Alison isn’t Sarah — and that there’s a lot more going on than they can even begin to understand. Of course, it would help if they could get information from someone. You know, like Sarah.
But Sarah is busy meeting Rachel and pondering deals (and squeezing in a very, very quick meeting with Paul, who finally tells us what Afghanistan is all about — as an independent contractor, he killed six Marines. Mystery solved!). I wish we would have had more time with Paul in this episode, but given that he and Sarah disappear from the elevator together, I’m thinking we’ll see plenty of him next season.
The real reason Sarah had to be waylaid, of course, is to give Helena enough time to buy a brown wig (just a thought — did she have the thing on hand, or are wig stores in Canada open late?), pretend to be Sarah, and meet with Amelia. Poor Amelia. She wanted to meet privately with Sarah (why oh why couldn’t she have just slipped her the envelope at Mrs. S’ house?), and somehow doesn’t notice that she’s gotten Helena instead. Helena stabs Mom because Amelia separated her from Sarah and stuck her in a convent, and whereas Sarah wants answers, Helena just doesn’t care. Helena, who was a gentle little kitten with Kira, isn’t feeling so forgiving of the woman who bore her.
Sarah does manage to get that envelope (which includes a photo of Mrs. S circa 1977 wearing a lab coat, which implies Mrs. S is worse than a monitor and involved with Clonegate at a high level, though I don’t trust that idea, either) from Amelia before she breathes her last. She then finds the strength to pump a bullet into Helena after Crazypants chokes her with a chain. I have to admit that I’m really sad to see Helena go. She was nuts but in an interesting and sometimes oddly charming way. Still, there wasn’t much more for Helena to do, especially now that we’re moving on to bigger Big Bad. Plus I’m sure Tatiana Maslany is happy to be rid of that wig.
But, I have to agree with Patton Oswalt, who last night tweeted “I can’t believe my favorite is Alison the Soccer Mom & not Helena the Un-Killable Psycho.” Helena turned out to be pretty killable after all, but as the weeks have gone by I’ve found myself rooting more and more for the tightly wound Alison. In season two, I expect tighter winding, then rapid unraveling. While Sarah put a pretty well-deserved bullet into Helena, Alison takes a path that’s just as bloody but so much harder to rationalize.
When Alison spots the “sold” sign in Aynsley’s front yard, she just can’t leave well enough alone. She has to storm in, pick a fight, then watch as Aynsley has the temerity to shove one of Alison’s home-made Christmas angels down the garbage disposal. As angry as Alison was, I never expected her to simply stand by and do nothing to help her former bestie as her scarf, caught in the garbage disposal, strangles her. Alison, rapidly blinking, just heads home, where dorky Donnie showers her with love and affection. Really, Alison’s life is back on track, right? She signs the agreement with Rachel (as she doesn’t know what Cosima and Sarah do), she thinks her “monitor” is dead head-down in the kitchen sink, and her little suburban life is safe. Oh, Alison.
What Alison doesn’t know is that her first suspicion — that Donnie was her monitor — was dead on. He goes for a “jog” as an excuse to meet with Dr. Leekie to assure him he’s back in Alison’s good graces. I’m sure Alison will somehow find this out, which means that she’ll realize Aynsley wasn’t her monitor but was just a friend, an innocent woman she allowed to die a horrible death. I’m not sure how Alison will deal with this, but I suspect the answer is not well at all. Add in the fact that she’s still being monitored and has now agreed to twice-yearly physical exams, things aren’t looking good for her.
But Alison, for the time being, still has her kids, which Sarah can’t claim. She also has her health, which Cosima definitely doesn’t. When Delphine goes to Cosima and offers to help her crack her genetic code, it could be a prelude to Cosima showing her exactly what she doesn’t know about lesbian sex, but Cosima has other problems on her mind. She’s been coughing up clots of blood, and when she embraces Delphine, it’s in a desperate, raw state of need. I’m worried about Cosima, and wondering what the heck has been going on at the lab.
This episode was so full of so much I almost didn’t notice how little we saw of Felix, who popped up here and there (and stuck to his story at the police station despite Angelesis’ attempts to make him crack). But that’s okay. I’m sure there’s plenty of room for our favorite rentboy in season two.
What did you think of the season finale? Do you think Mrs. S is in on Clonegate or is on the run from Rachel and Dr. Leekie herself? What do you think will happen to Kira?