Did Orphan Black Go Too Far With Its Latest Death?

All Photos Courtesy BBC America
All Photos Courtesy BBC America

The second episode of Orphan Black’s final season crossed a line even I didn’t expect, killing off a fan-favorite character in a cruel, sadistic, and fairly sexist way. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but it isn’t good.

Illustration for article titled Did iOrphan Black /iGo Too Far With Its Latest Death?

The episode, “Clutch of Greed,” brought us one of the first major clone deaths in a while, with Ferdinand killing M.K. by repeatedly stomping on her chest. It was a starkly violent scene, complete with the sound of crushing bones, as Ferdinand used the death to take out his sexual frustration against Rachel, since M.K. was disguised as her at the time to try and help Sarah and Kira.


In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, show creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett said it made sense to have Ferdinand kill M.K. because of their longstanding conflict. After all, Ferdinand murdered M.K.’s best friend during the Helsinki incident, and as a result M.K. spent years working to enact revenge against him (she didn’t kill him, but she did take all of his money). They also wanted to remind the audience that “nobody is safe” on Orphan Black.

“We don’t kill clones easily, but I guess it was just M.K.’s time,” Manson said.

Illustration for article titled Did iOrphan Black /iGo Too Far With Its Latest Death?

It’s true that Ferdinand had a grudge against M.K., and wanted to complete his mission, but I’m really upset by how his obsession with Rachel factored into it. He and Rachel have had a dominant-submissive sexual relationship for a while (with Ferdinand as the sub), but Rachel has refused him lately because of her devotion to Neolution founder P.T. Westmoreland. M.K.’s death didn’t feel like Ferdinand finishing the mission he started, it was a revenge fantasy against the woman cuckolding him. After all, he said: “You hurt me, Rachel!” as he crushed M.K.’s ribcage. It made M.K.’s death more about him.

This makes me uneasy, as it plays into the trope of men using violence, often against women, to deal with sexual frustration. This is something that has had real-world consequences, like we saw with University of California-Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger. Furthermore, I don’t see what value it brings to the story. We’re already aware how demented Ferdinand is... and it’s been well established that no one is safe on this show. So, what did this add specifically, and was it worth it to compromise a key character’s death?


I’m willing to give the show some time to make up this mishap, but it’s going to take a lot more than Ferdinand’s death to wash the blood clean.

Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.

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Ivan Nazarov

Full disclosure: I don’t watch this show, but I do have a concern about your point. Did the show endorse the concept of men using violence as a means of dealing with sexual frustration, or was it just using the concept? This is one gripe I have with certain criticisms, this idea that media can’t comment on certain things because there might be assholes out there who take it the wrong way and play it out. I thought we as a culture had already come to the conclusion that this was the wrong approach.

I once debated with a media professor of mine (who was a conservative Christian—yes, such professors do exist, especially here in the South) who argued in favor of censorship of violence because it might incite some people. My retort to her was, you can’t punish all of society (with censorship) based on crimes that haven’t been committed yet. I don’t think this idea had ever occurred to her before as she seemed unable to reply.

Okay, it’s a little different because you’re not actually arguing for censorship here (maybe self-censorship) but the principle is the same. To my way of thinking, shows should address this kind of thing precisely because it does happen so often. Maybe it could’ve been handled better, but give the show time. It might address this act of violence in a very meaningful way. Again, I don’t know the show as well as you do, but if it’s as good as people say it is, then I can’t imagine they will leave this unaddressed.