Fans of Orphan Black know what a complex world it exists in, so it’s going to be fascinating to see how everything is resolved (or not) in the series’ fifth and final season.
A quick recap: when we last left the Leda clone sestras (all played by Emmy winner Tatiana Maslany), Sarah was badly wounded on the island after a bloody showdown with Rachel, who had taken charge of human cloning movement Neolution.
A deathly ill Cosima reunited with Delphine (Evelyne Brochu), Alison and Donnie (Kristian Bruun) were seeking refuge with Helena in the wilderness, and Mrs S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and Kira (Skyler Wexler) were being held hostage by Rachel’s offsider, Ferdinand (James Frain).
With so many questions and only 10 episodes to answer them, here’s what we’re desperate to find out.
Who or what exactly is P.T. Westmorland?
It’s one of this season’s most important questions. “The man behind the curtain” has been referenced several times and now we’ll finally get to meet the mysterious forefather of Neolution, P.T. Westmorland, the key to unlocking the conspiracy’s endgame. Thought to be long dead, the Victorian-era industrialist is very much still alive (he could be up to 170 years old) and this fits with this season’s theme of “the science of prolongevity”.
We know he wrote the bible of cloning, On the Science of Neolution, in 1872 and founded Neolution as “a secret scientific society” based on Darwinism and “early eugenical thought”. At this year’s television festival PaleyFest, Orphan Black co-creator Graeme Manson called Westmorland “the most evil, patriarchal figure… and kind of like a Doctor Moreau”. The show has referenced HG Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau, so does that mean we’ll be seeing some of his monstrous clones? And what exactly is Westmorland’s plan for humanity?
Then there’s a flash of a plaque in a trailer for the final season that reads “P.T. Westmorland & Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 1894.” What is his connection with the famed author? One thing’s for sure, the show’s creators say we’ll have to wait until sometime after the season premiere to finally meet the puppet master.
Could Rachel reign as Neolution’s villain supreme?
We’d like to see this villainous clone dead were it not for the fact that she’s so deliciously bad. She’s now stabbed and schemed her way to second-in-charge to the mysterious Westmorland (who’s been communicating with Rachel through her creepy robotic eye), and given her unceasing ambition and her status as the first self-aware clone, it’s not a stretch to proffer she’ll be conniving to be at the top of the food chain.
Her chilling announcement of the resumption of human cloning in the season four finale indicates as much: “Clones are farmed and monitored lab animals. If we want to know if our lab rats’ tails will grow back, we damn well will cut them off!”
Has Helena turned bad again?
Helena has always been the clone on the edge of the edge - you never quite know which way she’s going to swing. In a recently released official clip, Helena in her creepy way announces, “I will cleanse them from this earth,” while clutching a knife. She walks into a church, stabbing a praying hooded figure in the back. When she turns the body over, she’s shocked to find it’s a clone. It could be a flashback, a dream or a chilling reversal of character for Helena.
What will become of Kira?
A final season trailer shows Sarah’s daughter, Kira, being taken - yet again - by Rachel, who creepily tells her, “We’re going to take such good care of you.” As the only biological offspring of a clone to date, Kira is key to the success of the cloning project and Rachel plans to “study” her further.
“We’re really going to get to the bottom of Sarah’s daughter this year,” says Manson.
Who’s going to die?
Someone or rather some-clone will surely die in this final season, especially if Kira’s chilling realisation, as glimpsed in the trailer, is anything to go by. As she’s being bundled into the back of a van she yells, “I can’t feel her anymore!” - possibly a reference to her ability to remotely sense the presence of each Leda clone.
The stakes are higher than ever and each clone sestra would die for the other (probably not Rachel, though). The chronically ill Cosima has been on shaky ground for some time and Helena will do anything to protect her babies, as will Sarah for Kira. Much of this question will hinge on if a cure for the clones’ defective gene can be found.
The trailer also shows a photograph of Kira being burned, though that would be a very dark path, even for this show, to take. Whatever happens, we’re going to need to keep the tissues handy. “You’re going to be crying,” says Manson.
Is this really the end?
Cloning is at the heart of the show’s world, so even if the Leda clones can bring the Neolutionists down, surely another movement will sprout up in its place? How could the clone wars realistically end?
Even if - and it’s still an if - we do get closure on the clone conspiracy, how each clone and character will find peace is a big part of the puzzle, especially for Sarah, who has been the hunted and the hunter throughout the story. And, promises Manson, there will fittingly be a twist in the tale.
“There’s this great open question about their hearts and their future and the strength of the bond of the sisterhood, everything they’ve gone through,” he says. “So, I think we do want to kind of have a sense of the future, of something moving forward when we get to the end of it. But again there’s a twist on that, and hopefully you’ll enjoy it through your tears.”
Watch Orphan Black on Sundays at 1pm at SBS On Demand when episodes will be fast-tracked from the US. Episodes will also air on Sundays at 8:30pm on SBS VICELAND.