The sestry are back! Orphan Black is returning for its fifth and final season on June 10, this Saturday, and there’s a lot to unpack. Season four was all about the show getting the clones back to their roots, and bringing them together as a family. But this year, it’s all about their futures... which, sadly, aren’t always going to be side-by-side. (Even if the trailer suggests otherwise.)
In an interview with io9, Orphan Black co-creator Graeme Manson said this season is all about giving the clones closure. He said the biggest thing that sets this season apart from previous ones is that there will be more individual episodes focusing on one clone at a time, showing how far they’ve come and what the future holds for each of them. That doesn’t guarantee they’ll all make it out of the series alive (Orphan Black isn’t shy about clone-icide), but it’ll bring their stories full circle before the series ends.
“We wanted to go, ‘Okay, who were they then, and who are they now?’” Manson said. “What does the future look like to them collectively, and each of them individually? We wanted to show the audience something new about each of them that deepened those characters as they move forward.”
Of course, you can’t move forward without looking back. So, here are some of the key things you need to remember about what happened last we checked in with our favorite sestry (all brilliantly played by Tatiana Maslany). And luckily, we’ve got some hints about what’s to come in each of these key plotlines.
One of the biggest reveals near the end of season four was that Delphine, the Dyad Institute researcher who’s also Cosima’s girlfriend, wasn’t killed in season three as we were led to believe. Rather, she’s been staying at the Neolutionist camp on the mysterious quasi-Island of Dr. Moreau. We have no idea what she’s doing there, what she’s been up to over the past months, or if she’s even there of her own free will. What we do know is Manson promised she’ll be in a “good chunk of the season,” so she’s not just appearing in a cameo—she’ll stay a major part of Cosima’s life for the foreseeable future. And yes, that includes a possible wedding. “Cophine fans, just hang on,” Manson added.
Evie, the biotech acolyte who tried to take over Neolution, might be six feet under currently, but she still managed to drive a huge wedge into the clones’ plans last season. Sarah Manning had turned over Kendall Malone, the genetic template for both the female (Leda) and male (Castor) clones, so that Cosima could get a cure for her terminal disease. Only, psych! Evie thought human cloning was outdated, so she kidnapped Kendall and had her killed... burning her corpse to annihilate the genes.
Luckily, Cosima was able to figure out an alternative way to create a cure: fertilize a Leda egg with Castor sperm. And even though Susan Duncan, the Neolutionist scientist who had promised to use Kendall for the cure, tried to stop Cosima from finishing her work (she just wanted to make clones again)... our favorite nerd was able to finish the job. Now, Cosima is in the hands of the Neolutionists with Delphine, who’s ordered her to keep the cure a secret.
Kira has been a longstanding anomaly on Orphan Black. The only living child of a clone, she’s had an inexplicable connection to her mom and aunties (Manson called it a “sort of sixth sense”) that’s continued to grow over the course of the series. What is this ability, exactly? All we’ve seen is that she can “feel” the clones, and knows there are others out there—although Manson wouldn’t say if we’ll meet new clones this season, explaining the focus is on our core cast.
It looks like this season is going to fully dive into Kira’s abilities, as well as what they mean to Neolution, thanks in no small part to Helena, who’s currently pregnant with twins. As we saw in previous teasers, Rachel has plans to study Kira—which Kira may not take too kindly to. Manson made sure to add that Kira’s growing up a lot this season, giving us a stronger look at the character than we’ve ever had before.
“Kira’s getting older. She’s grown up a lot during the series,” Manson said. “I think there’s a reckoning to be made with Kira approaching adulthood and perhaps not needing to be as protected as much as she has been.”
Those pesky Castors... when will they realize that the sestry are the only clones we love? While most of the male Castor clones are dead, either from their mental degradation disease or outside circumstances (like mass murder), there are still at least two Castors out there. These include Ira, the obedient clone of his adoptive mother and original clone project scientist Susan Duncan (currently staying with Neoloution), but who tried to kill himself last season, and Mark, the undercover Prolethean who we last saw trying to burn off his Castor tattoo to rid himself of his connection to his “brat’ya.” When asked if we’d see the return of Mark or Ira in season five, Manson simply replied: “There is certainly some more Castor Oil to be mined, yes.”
Okay, so what the hell is going on with Rachel? At first, it seemed like the most villainous clone was turning a corner, working with Sarah and the others in order to expose Evie’s diabolical work. But then, she totally betrays her sestry, wrestling power away from her adoptive mother, Sarah Duncan, and taking over Neolution herself. That’s not super-surprising (this is Rachel, after all), but she’s not purely doing it for the power. After spending a season seeing visions of a swan, she’s been converted. She’s a true Neolutionist now... maybe? Manson’s vague on the issue.
“I think Rachel believes that she is a Neolutionist at heart,” Manson said. “She’s always been quite convinced that despite being a biological identical, she is superior somehow by nurture. I think that this is what Rachel’s gonna have to reckon with this year as she’s given the keys to the castle.”
This season is going to be all about Rachel running Neolution, combining their existing technologies (cloning and maggot-bots) to truly bring about the next stage in evolution, clones rights be damned—well, except for hers of course. But Rachel isn’t acting alone; she has someone in her corner. The man they’re all there for...
Holy crap, what? Percival Westmoreland, the 170-year-old founder of Neolution, is still alive. How did this happen, what does this mean for the future of the movement, and, most importantly... why the hell isn’t he dead yet? According to Manson, Westmoreland (as played by Stephen McHattie) is going to be one of the biggest mysteries of the season, examining how the man who wrote the book in the late 1800s has lived to see the fruition of his work. Here’s a better look at the man behind the curtain.