Wednesday, 10 May 2017
Orphan Black's Best Moments To Date
You have (probably) seen my ten favourite episodes, you have (hopefully) seen my season five wishes and you (may) have seen my season five predictions. Now, just one month out from the premiere of The Final Trip (!!!), I bring to you the best twelve scenes in Orphan Black's history.
Why twelve? Well, because I have no self-control and could not narrow it down to ten!
Honourable mentions: Helena takes down Rudy, Krystal snoops at Brightborn, Alison divulges her murderous secrets to Cosima, Cosima plays Alison on the campaign trail, Helena does some house chores, Jesus Christ Superstar, Delphine Lives, Sarah meets Alison and Cosima, Krystal meets Sarah, Helena saves Alison and Donnie, Alison's stage tumble, Krystal finds Delphine.
Oh, and that Air Italia sequence. We say no more.
Without further ado...
12. Sarah sees a girl who looks just like her... (S1E1)
Kicking starting the entire series, the excellent premise is brought to life when Sarah sees Beth - a girl who looks just like her - commit suicide on a train platform, setting the fire for the whole season to burn off. It's a truly exciting moment, intriguing audiences from the very opening moment, as the revelations slowly begin to unravel over the course of the episodes that follow. In these opening moments, we are introduced into a fascinating world that has never been forgotten across the four seasons that follow. It all comes down to that moment on the train's platform; Beth's actions and Sarah's reaction - and what a terrific moment it is.
11. "Give your sisters all my love" (S3E10)
At the end of season three, Delphine is on limited time but takes a moment to visit Cosima, as an unofficial goodbye. After a season that sees the lovers separated, it unites them in a truly touching and emotional scene, in which Delphine promises to protect them at all costs - and that may include with her life. The relationship between the two scientists is one of the most beloved elements of the show and this sequence showcases that strongly. While we know it is not a permanent goodbye now, we truly believe it is - thanks to Maslany and Evelyne Brochu's committed performances and chemistry.
10. Cosima and Sarah's suicide attempts (S4E7)
After the game-changing events of the previous episode (more on that soon...), the sisters are at their lowest point and Cosima and Sarah, in particular, are struggling. As Sarah's journey begins to parallel Beth's and Cosima, following her discovery about Delphine, is willing to sacrifice her own life for her sisters, they are both on the edge. It's devastating to see the pair so low and the way their stories overlap - providing an opportunity for Felix to be the knight in shining armour - is terrifically-executed and distressing. Maslany is wonderful and illustrates both the pair's similarities and differences in their self-destructiveness, supplying a cathartic moment that propels the series forward towards its end-game.
9. Clone-ception (S3E1)
Sarah impersonating Rachel interrogating Alison playing Sarah. Ah, the joys of Orphan Black. In this masterful scene in the middle of season three's premiere episode, the clone swap is well and truly underway as Ferdinand is escorted around DYAD and requests to see supposedly-captured clone Sarah. Saying Tatiana Maslany is incredible is like saying water is wet or the Pope is catholic, but it is in these scenes that her talent truly shines. Her nuanced qualities and traits for each character is carefully infused into her performance - even when playing clones acting as other clones - creating an intricate and complex performance that she makes look easy. It is incredible that you can recognise the character, even when they are playing another clones, because Maslany understands just how to balance the performance. Flawless, flawless work.
8. A Beth-centered memory (S3E6)
"It was never Beth I loved". When Paul speaks these words to Sarah before sacrificing himself to enable her escape, a new revelation breaks that offers so much insight into his previous actions. It answers a number of questions - including why he continued to help the sisters, even when on the other side - and delivers an appropriately emotional ending for his character. Interlaced with flashbacks making his death even more heartbreaking, his final bow waves goodbye to a long standing regular with a real heroism.
The episode also includes a beautiful moment in which Sarah hallucinates Beth. Delving into the latter's relationship with Paul, it brings the mysterious character - one we barely even know despite her suicide sparking the events of the series - into the fold, emotionally insightful and painful to watch. Stunningly-executed, it harks back to the series' opening moments flawlessly and features one of the greatest lines of the series - "We do terrible things for the people we love - stop asking why, start asking who". The Beth-infused moments of S3E6 are magnificent, greatly aiding one of the best episodes in the show's history.
7. Beth emotionally berates Paul (S4E1)
"You're hollow", Beth tells Paul as she holds a gun to his head in the season four premiere episode. While playing out in the midst of a flashback episode and with the complete understanding that she does not pull the trigger, the emotion is palpable and draining for the audience who are witnessing her crumble. Beth is reaching her breaking point and her desperation is plain as day, causing audience's hearts to break even more for her. The entire episode is full to bursting with nuggets of new, insightful information but this cry for help is the sharpest and the hardest to witness.
6. Helena's self-sacrifice (S3E3)
Switching from murderous psychopath to guardian angel as the show has developed, Helena's self-sacrifice in season three to save her Castor brother is a sobering and harrowing moment. With a chance at freedom around the next corner, she instead decides to end the suffering of her brother clone and put him out of his misery. Of all the deaths on the show, this is one of the most affecting. It pushes the show into dark territory - but my god is it a beautiful, provoking moment revealing new information to who I'd argue is the show's most complex character.
5. Rachel abducts Kira (S2E9)
Setting up the second season finale terrifically, Rachel - reeling from the discovery the clones were barren by design and following a sequence showcasing her desperation and disillusionment - steals the only child of a clone in a shocking moment that seems glaringly obvious on reflection. Maslany - once again - executes the clone swap expertly, dressed as Sarah but with Rachel's nuances in tact, with the startling "pleasure to meet you, Felix" holding the capacity to send shivers down your spine. Sarah's shock quickly follows and sets in motion a series of events for a completely gripping finale.
4. Rachel wants a seat at Neolution's table (S4E10)
As a character, Rachel has wavered most. From the first season, her intentions have been shrouded in mystery and deceit, switching sides on a regular basis; at the end of the fourth season though, her position could not be clearer. In an intensely-crafted and delivered speech that sets the wheels in motion for the final season, Rachel promises to use the clones as engineered lab animals for future cloning experiment - this time for the benefit of Neolution and corporation. Maslany's performance is reliably great, with a searing tone and seething impact for the future of the series. The slow, creeping movement and direction of the camera enforces a menacing feeling, with the fantastic production design - an entirely black room, with just one overhead source of lighting - absolutely terrific. A truly powerful scene.
3. The Big Clone Scenes (S2E10, S3E1, S3E10)
Ah, the big clone scenes. Although a cheat to include them as one, we've had three to date featuring the four main clones - season two's dance party, season three's dream sequence and dinner party - and each are wonderful and ambitious as the last. Frequently we see how two clones interact but it is a sheer joy to witness when, all in frame, they are able to let loose and enjoy each's other company. Oozing with fun, they are offer insight into the dynamics between the four (Sarah, Cosima, Alison and Helena) from their individual dance moves or their perceptions of each other - particularly Helena's image of her sister in season three's dream sequence. It's a rather lovely opportunity to see these clones, happy and together as a family. Here's to more in the final season!
2. Helena and Sarah reunite in bloody circumstances (S2E4)
Helena and Sarah's story ended on a rather shocking note at the close of season one, with Sarah supposedly killing her twin sister with a gunshot. When Helena returns though, clad in a blood-stained white dress in front of a tortured Sarah, jaws hit the ground; audiences knew Helena survived but we had no idea how the mercurial character would react to the sister that tried to kill her. As she menacingly approaches a shocked Sarah, the intensity is at fever pitch and the director keeps that sustained through an excruciating two minutes. When she ultimately falls to her knees to help and embrace her wounded sister, it becomes a beautiful moment that finally unites the two are allies, rather than enemies.
Not only does this sequence provide the first real 'OMG' moment, in terms of the technical skill used to bring Orphan Black to life, but with its beautiful imagery and almost poetic nature, it wonderfully demonstrates the show working beyond the surface level. As well as providing new dynamics for the show moving forward and a killer demonstration of the incredible technology it goes on to master in later episodes, it is a moment as thrilling and tense as well it is emotional and satisfying. It has almost never been topped...
1. The final ten minutes of The Scandal of Altruism (S4E6)
The Scandal of Altruism is television at its finest. Orphan Black's creme-de-la-cream combines character developments, action-beats and emotional gut-punches in an episode that simultaneously provides answers to over-arching questions and offers even more questions to ponder. Nothing though - absolutely nothing - will prepare you for the episode's final ten minutes, a television masterclass in emotion and power.
Utterly gut-wrenching and jaw-dropping, it provides a moment that, if you have invested in the show, shakes you to your absolute core. From Kendall's heartbreaking murder as the season's villain finally emerges to the soul-destroying performance from Tatiana Maslany as Cosima, it is relentlessly tense and harrowing. Watching her only hope for a cure die slowly in front of her eyes ("tell your sisters I'm proud to have been part of them all"), worsened by the revelation that the love of her life is gone ("Delphine Cormier was shot dead"), Cosima's reaction is channeled as a cathartic moment for all the sister's troubles up until the point. In the same stretch, Beth Child's story comes full circle. In the very final shot we see her, broken and desperate to save her sisters, approaching the train platform in which she takes her life. As the soft, melancholic piano music plays over her devastating goodbye with Mika and that final, devastating breaking point.
In the most exquisitely performed scene of the entire show, you are stunned into silence, not only because of Maslany's performance (as both Cosima and Sarah), but because of the thirty-six hour arch that has lead to this point culminating in such a shocking way. So much rests on the final ten minutes working and it certainly succeeds, shaking the very foundations the show was built upon, leaving our protagonists - and viewers - at their most vulnerable. It not only acts as a soft reset, aligning figures for the final four episodes, but allows us to head into this upcoming fifth and final season with great apprehension as to what other twists lie down the path.
BONUS: Alison and Donnie. Twerking. Money and glitter everywhere (S3E6)
Orphan Black nails the lighter moments, most prevelant during the Alison and Donnie sub-plots. From the drug deals and campaign trailers, their relationship features a comedic tone in gleeful abundance - the one that always stands out though, is the season three celebrations. The once highly-strung couple dance and twerk, in nothing but their underwear, as cash and glitter flies left, right and centre. I love it.
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That (probably) wraps up my countdown until the final season of Orphan Black. The fifth season premieres on June 10th and be sure to check back for weekly reviews for the final ten episodes!