‘Orphan Black’ Recap: The Eyes Have It

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Tatiana Maslany as Rachel in ‘Orphan Black’ (Photo Credit: Ken Woroner/BBC America)

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the “Gag or Throttle” episode of Orphan Black.

It’s one of the most famous, and gag-inducing moments, in the history of Orphan Black: back in Season 2, Sarah turned an ordinary No. 2 pencil into a literally eye-popping missile, aimed directly at Rachel. After modeling an oh-so-fashionable eye patch for a bit, Dyad’s top Leda clone acquired a significant optic upgrade with a cybernetic eye taking the place of her punctured left peeper.

The past is present in the seventh episode of the show’s final season, “Gag or Throttle.” The closing moments cheerfully activate the audience’s collective gag reflex when Rachel’s eye is separated from its socket again, this time at her own hand… that happens to be clutching the broken stem of a martini glass. Upping the ick factor substantially is the fact that it’s an entirely premeditated bit of gouging. Rachel consciously has to raise that sharpened stick of glass to her eye and dig in without dry heaving or retching. We on this side of the screen, however, have no such need to hold back.

To be fair, it’s not like Rachel’s popping that eye out for fun. It’s a declaration of independence directed at P.T. Westmoreland, who has secretly been watching her every move through the camera hidden in her pupil. That discovery shatters whatever parental bond exists between the father of Neolution and his favorite daughter, the only clone who he legally emancipated as a way to win her trust. As it turns out, that promised freedom was almost as big a lie as Westmoreland and his fountain of youth. Cosima and her fellow sleuth/science geek, Scott, have positively I.D.’d “Percival” as John Patrick Mathieson, a former University of Cambridge student who supposedly perished in a boating accident on August 13, 1967. In actuality, Mathieson merely cloaked himself in the real Westmoreland’s legend, and worked with Susan and Virginia to set in motion the events that have brought us to the increasingly bloody present day.

Skyler Wexler as Kira and Tatiana Maslany as Rachel in ‘Orphan Black’ (Photo Credit: Ken Woroner/BBC America)

As a true believer in Neolution’s mission, and her own exalted status within the movement, Rachel takes Mathieson’s double betrayal doubly hard. But her pain proves to be Sarah’s gain; Rachel rebels against her false prophet (and patriarch) by spiriting Kira out of Dyad and back to her family, rather than dispatching her directly to Neolution Island or, as the child has christened it, Wonderland. She also forwards the intel on the Mathieson/Westmoreland connection directly to Dyad’s wealthy investors, proverbially setting fire to Mathieson’s business at the same time his island community is literally burning to the ground.

But the wily scientist isn’t out of options just yet: with Susan dead, her rival Virginia is in charge, and she’s brought in her own ringer, Mark Rollins — ex-Prolethean and last surviving Castor clone now that Ira is buried alongside his patron. And Mark happens to have inside scoop on Helena’s whereabouts through his wife, Gracie, the pregnant clone’s tormentor during their time at the Prolethean farm. Since Rachel’s not going to hand over Kira, Helena’s “behbies” could provide the all-important gene that Neolution’s minders have been chasing across all these years and clones. Of course, if Mathieson thinks he can control Helena in the same way he tried to control Rachel, he’s in for a rude awakening. Rachel may be brave enough to gouge out her own eye, but Helena’s crazy enough to go after his.

Onto our clone power rankings, with all of the remaining Leda sisters present and accounted for.

Tatiana Maslany as Helena in ‘Orphan Black.’ (Photo Credit: Ken Woroner/BBC America)

1. Rachel
After a life lived in service of Dyad, she’s finally doing something for herself. Even if that “something” is forcibly removing an eye.

2. Sarah
Brute physical strength has rarely worked against Rachel, so Sarah instead used information as power in her latest clash with her sister/nemesis. And guess what? It brought Kira back to her. Given the fight that still lies ahead, though, Sarah should be prepared to use some of her physical strength again pretty soon.

3. Alison
Returning from a respite at a retreat in California (maybe the same one where Don Draper learned to buy the world a Coke?), Alison walks through her front door sporting a cool new ‘do, a new tattoo, and a whole set of fresh interests beyond crafting — like keyboard therapy. You do you, Mrs. Hendrix.

4. Cosima
Cosima instigated the Neolution Island uprising last week, and continued to provide fresh ammunition for the anti-Westmoreland forces by revealing John Patrick Mathieson’s name and face. If there are more secrets buried out there — and there almost certainly are — she’ll uncover them.

5. Helena
Helena’s days in hiding appear to be coming to an abrupt end with Gracie’s sudden appearance. The two have tangled before, with Helena emerging the ultimate victor. Still, that was before she was on the verge of giving birth to twins; it’s different when you’re fighting for three.

Non-Clone MVP: Donnie
For accepting and embracing the fact that his wife has returned home a changed woman. And yes, you should totally buy that bass guitar, Donnie.

Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. on BBC America.

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