Warning: This recap for the “From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths” episode of Orphan Black contains spoilers.
Orphan Black’s fourth season began as a return to the show’s Cronenberg-ian body horror roots. But tonight’s season finale, “From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths,” moved the series firmly into The Godfather territory, with Rachel becoming the clone answer to Michael Corleone. At the end of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 Mafia movie classic, Michael — the mild-mannered Corleone brother that nobody saw as a threat — orchestrated a bloody takeover of the New York mob world. Likewise, the finale ends with Rachel firmly in control of Neolution, having eliminated the obstacles that stood in her way, either permanently (RIP Evie Cho) or just painfully (better get that head wound looked at, Sarah). Rachel’s coup firmly establishes her as the Big Bad the Clone Club is going to have to face off against in the just announced fifth and final season, an impending clone-on-clone confrontation that should continue the momentum gained from this creatively recharged year.
When it wasn’t channeling The Godfather, “Psychopaths” also seemed to be echoing Lost, establishing that there’s a whole lot more on Susan Duncan’s personal Mystery Island than a deluxe mansion with a tricked-science lab. There’s also a small village where a tribe of “Others” congregate, with a bearded Messenger — the same man who Rachel has been seeing in her visions — carrying intel back and forth to Susan. (The reference to an escape boat, meanwhile, immediately had me coming up with clone variations on “Not Penny’s Boat.”) The exact identities of these particular Others have yet to be disclosed, but signs certainly point to the presence of O.G. Neolutionist P.T. Westmoreland — who has found a way to expand his life well beyond his Victorian Age origins — amongst their number.
Conveniently, this village also happens to be the current place of residence of one Delphine Cormier, the former Dyad head who took a bullet fired by the not-so-dearly-departed Detective Duko and yet lived to tell the tale. Her presence allows for a reunion that fans have been clamoring for all season, with long-separated lovers Cosima and Delphine collapsing into each other’s arms. The happy reunion may be short-lived, though; while a weakened Cosima is swimming in and out of consciousness, Delphine is informed by the mysterious Messenger that she “won’t be allowed to stay with her.” If they are forcibly separated again, at least Delphine will leave Cosima in a better state than when she found her thanks to the clone cure that’s been smuggled out of Susan’s lab.
And Cosima’s sisters will need her mind and body healthy, since they’re not in the best states themselves to go up against Rachel, let alone the shadowy board members that are the real power behind the Neolutionist cause. As previously mentioned, Sarah is dealing with multiple Rachel-inflicted wounds and, when last seen, she’s weathering the harsh elements on Susan’s island, vainly hailing Mrs. S with an S.O.S. that can’t be answered as long as her foster mother and daughter are in the company of her enemy’s personal enforcer and bedmate, Ferdinand. Alison, meanwhile, is roughing it alongside Helena and Donnie somewhere in the Canadian wilderness. The only clone not injured or in hiding is Krystal, who still doggedly follows her own just-shy-of-correct conspiracy theories even after being exposed to the other members of Project Leda.
Even if it hadn’t been announced ahead of time that Orphan Black was heading into its final year, this episode clearly establishes the show’s endgame. Effectively clearing the deck of all the other clandestine operations and genetic projects that have cluttered up the mythology over the years, “From Dancing Mice to Psychopaths” re-establishes the show’s central conflict as being between the two sides of the same clone coin: Sarah and Rachel. The former is seeking total control of her own mind and body, while the latter is all too happy to brand clones as property, reflecting her own corporate culture upbringing. That’s the natural stopping point to a season that specifically set out to bring Orphan Black back to its roots. Next year, it’ll be time to move forward again…hopefully to a resonant final chapter for this particular clone saga.
With Season 4 over and done with, here’s our end of season clone power rankings. Let’s hope that Cosima doesn’t encounter any polar bears on that island.
She started the season as a prisoner and ended it as the warden, making Susan’s home her own personal domain, while the previous owner nurses her wounds in isolation. An improbable arc? Not for Rachel, who — when looking at the season as a whole— clearly planned every methodical step.
Among the many pleasures of Season 4 was the chance to get to know the clone whose death kicked off the series. Seen mostly in flashbacks and/or ghost form, Beth nevertheless emerged as a richly complex figure, whose devotion to her job and her sisters was only matched by her penchant for self-destruction.
Armed with both the clone cure and Delphine, Cosima is in a position to launch the Clone Club’s first strike against Rachel. But first, she’s got to extricate herself from the potentially dangerous company of the Westmoreland’s disciples.
Krystal’s ability to be wildly off-base about everything has served her well so far, revealing the steely self-determination beneath her carefully manicured exterior. She’s emerging as the clones’ best field agent… even if she doesn’t believe anything they tell her.
With the twins’ due date rapidly approaching, it’ll be interesting to see Helena get in touch with her maternal side. We’ve already seen that it hasn’t affected her aim.
This season hasn’t been the strongest showcase for Alison, who has been confined to the background for long stretches. And she didn’t appear in the finale at all, a reference to her stomach troubles explaining her absence. While her skills are certainly many and varied, at this point, it’s hard to see what role she’ll play in bringing down Rachel.
As this season has built Rachel up, it’s also torn Sarah down. Since being forced to flee her Icelandic refuge, Sarah has struggled to be her old take-charge self, thrown off her game by Kira’s sadness, Felix’s new sister, and her own demons. Even before Rachel wounded her body, her spirit had already absorbed too many blows.
Introduced as a compelling new clone, Mika ceased to have a prominent role in the proceedings after her revenge plan against Ferdinand failed to ignite. At this point, she seems the most expendable in the final battle, but it would be nice to see her treated as more than just cannon fodder.
Non-Clone MVP: The Special Effects Team
Even though we didn’t get another Clone Dance/Dinner party, Orphan Black’s F/X wizards did another stellar job juggling multiple Tatiana Maslanys, and designing nightmarishly deformed babies. Seriously though, we’re expecting a big final season clone-related stunt. How about a clone softball game?