‘Orphan Black’ review: ‘Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow’ / ‘History Yet to Be Written’

One of Orphan Black’s favourite twists to pull off is the reveal that there’s yet another layer to what it has been telling us is the complete picture.

It’s done this a couple of times over, which makes it all the more impressive that it continues to work so damn effectively. Admittedly, here it’s peeling back a layer to reveal that the strings are being pulled by a group we are already familiar with, bringing the Neolutions back as it reveals they’ve been behind Castor and Leda all this time.

It’s worth mentioning that this works better than the typical twist to unveil that events are being secretly manoeuvred behind the scenes, both because we’ve heard of Neolutions before and because this is just the kind of show where something like this might happen! It definitely helps that we already know of the fervour for scientific progress shown by the Neolution movement in the first season, through characters like Leekie and Olivier – that guy with the tail that was killed by Helena.

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Before the show gets to the point of that reveal, though, it first delves deep into the twisted family past of Siobhan Sadler as it delivers surprise after surprise, perhaps with the biggest being that Siobhan’s mother, Kendall Malone (Alison Steadman), is the original for both Castor and Leda, making her enormously valuable to all sides in this conflict.

The ninth episode takes the action to London, and even if Orphan Black doesn’t do an especially convincing job trying to make Toronto look like London, the change of location does bring an urgency to proceedings that the show needs. It’s an episode where it feels like there are some real consequences (friends of Mrs S keep on getting killed by Ferdinand, who returns here) and big revelations.

Elsewhere, ‘Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow’ sees Cosima become doubtful of whether her girlfriend could be a spy for Castor, and then has Delphine go into fully torturous villain mode. Seeing her go this evil is something the show will find difficult to forget, and it definitely feels like where her story ends for the season could be something of a karmic response to her villainy.

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The very end of the season manages to find ways to bring forth all the conflicts that the show has been foreshadowing, but sometimes in less obvious ways. It was certain Rudy and Helena would eventually face off after their brief confrontation in her cell, but it would’ve been hard to predict that he’s essentially lured to his death and dispatched with ease by Helena in Alison’s garage.

Similarly, we knew Mark would have to choose between his Castor brothers and his love for Gracie, but it’s interesting that the choice is made in the penultimate episode by Gracie as she gives up key information in return for getting Mark back. He eventually does have a role to play in the final episode, but it’s less important than many would’ve speculated for a season that some expected to be about the Castor clones as much as it is about Leda.

Orphan Black 3 10 Alison Hendrix (TATIANA MASLANY)

That wasn’t really how it was designed to be, though, so it ends with all of them dead except Mark, and the threat from Coady essentially non-existent. The far larger concern is the return of the Neolutions, and you can be certain that their opposites, the Proletheans, will come back into the picture soon too.

This reveal ensures that characters from anywhere, especially those within Dyad, could also be Neolution, which is part of what makes the final development that sees Delphine shot by an unknown assailant all the more interesting. It’s unlikely she’ll die, but who shot her in the first place?

It’s just as interesting to see who is anti-Neolution too, with Ferdinand’s sudden violent outburst showing that he is firmly not on their side whatsoever. There’s a lot to chew on with this episode, it even brings back Rachel’s mother from the dead, as the apparent leader of the Neolutions. Within all this craziness in the plot, though, it’s great to see that the Clone Club is still able to sit down for a relaxing dinner together and that Sarah gets a chance to reconnect with Kira when they’re taking Kendall to a safe place.

Orphan Black 3 10 Siobhan Sadler (MARIA DOYLE KENNEDY)

It’s doubtful that any sense of calm will last particularly long, but that cathartic reminder that these characters are continually there for each other serves the same purpose as the dance party scene in last year’s finale by keeping our focus on the family and community that is fighting to simply be allowed to live normal lives.

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Available to watch now on BBC iPlayer.

> Buy the Season 1-2 boxset on Amazon.

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