A Look at Orphan Black- Season 5, Episode 7: “Gag or Throttle”

Time for Rachel to take control.

The episode begins with a flashback as Dr. Leekie presenting a young Rachel Duncan, played also by Cynthia Galant, to a group of onlookers who test her knowledge.

In the present, Rachel and others have a call with PT Westmoreland, who tells them that thanks to Rachel, they have found their Eve.  Rachel takes over and tells the group that Coady has taken over Susan’s position.  In enters the modern day Eve as Kira is brought before the group.

Rachel tells Kira that she must stay another night so her sleep can be monitored.  After that, she can finally go home.  Kira then gives Rachel a friendship bracelet as a present.  Rachel made one for a friend at summer camp, but she’s no longer friends with that person.  Sarah knows about not keeping friends.  Rachel tells Kira that she can talk to Rachel tomorrow.

Frontenac tells Rachel that the coast guard found Cosima’s boat drifting off shore.  Air transport is ready to take Rachel to the island.  In the meantime, keep putting Sarah on hold.

Indeed, Sarah hates being kept on hold, so S wants to take up action with arms, but Sarah wants to go about this another way.

Charlotte and Cosima somehow made it back to the shop and reunites with Scott and Hell-Wizard.  She fills Sarah in on the plan to take Kira’s eggs and the process will take another day at least.  Sarah figures that this is their window and they need leverage to rescue Kira.

So Cosima brings up how Westmoreland is a fraud and is assuming an identity to sell his story.  Felix and Adele sent money on the Neolution money trail, so Cosima will go over it with Scott and Hell-Wizard.  Then Alison joins the call and tells the others that she’s in California and will be back tomorrow.  Cosima then tells everyone that Dr. Coady is on the island, meaning this probably didn’t go well for Susan.

Rachel arrives at Revival and lays flowers at her mother’s grave as she thinks back to PT asking her to join him at his side to lead Neolution forward.  After all, he considers Rachel his daughter.  In the present, PT joins Rachel and asks how she’s holding up.  Rachel laments that Susan never believed in her.  Virginia Coady is waiting to meet Rachel.

Indeed, Rachel and Virginia officially meet for the first time, as Coady is looking forward to working with Rachel.  Also, it’s time for Rachel’s examination in regards to her inoculation.  After all, Virginia wants to cure the remaining LEDA clones as much as Rachel does.

Flashback again, Rachel signs over a document that legally emancipates her and means there are no more monitors.  As such, PT tells her that she can go home.

Just as Rachel is about to change, though, she looks over at a nearby computer and sees her file, as well as her patient number.  Virginia arrives and begins the procedure, and she’s more than glad that Susan is out of the way.

We then flash back to Rachel going through a similar examination and she asks if this is in regards to the latest results of another examination.  She asks Leekie if another clone has developed symptoms, and two have appeared in two other LEDA clones.  They’ll know more when there’s more data.  Rachel, though, wants to know when she’ll get her results, and she wants to know now.  But she’s not exempt from the experiment.

In the present, Coady doesn’t see any irregularities in Rachel, who asks for some privacy.  She then begins to, well, examine herself.

S and Sarah go through the paperwork when S comes across a man who talked up Neolution. Millions have been paid to a Kuwait consulting firm, but if it’s a slush fund, it’s controlled by one particular individual.  S is confident that Kira will find a way to call them.

At the same time, Cosima, Scott, and Hell-Wizard go through Susan and PT Westmoreland’s background.

Donnie, meanwhile, gets the house back in perfect order just as Alison arrives with a new, purple hairdo.  She wanted something creative and free, and now she feels more present.  With that, the two kiss.  When Donnie squeezes her rear, Alison winces, as she got some work to commemorate the transformation- a tattoo just above her panty line.

Back at Revival, Rachel overhears PT talking with a person about Kira.  She enters and tells PT that she wants to choose her own physician, not to mention she’d prefer advanced notice.  PT then asks for an update on Kira.  She expects that Kira’s eggs can be harvested in 24 hours.  After that, they can begin studying deeper tissue.  PT figures that Rachel is growing fond of Kira, but Rachel disagrees.

Good, so PT wants her brought to the island, even though DYAD has the resources.  PT would prefer her at Revival, and the transport has been arranged anyway.  Rachel then spots some soldiers bringing a masked man who is Virginia’s guest.

Downstairs, the masked man is revealed to be Mark, who tells Coady that he can’t imagine Gracie living all on her own.  Coady needs Mark to provide an ejaculate sample, even though that wasn’t part of the deal.  Still, Mark should have plenty, and he reveals that he may be able to help Virginia find Helena.

Speaking of, we head back to the covenant, where Helena receives a surprise visit from Gracie.

Rachel does some snooping and finds the tablet PT used for his correspondence, but when she turns it on, she just finds the same image repeated over and over.  It looks to give her a bit of a headache.  When PT arrives, Rachel says her goodbye and leaves.

We flash back to Rachel giving Leekie a report, saying she took initiative and shows a subject she killed- Miriam Johnson- rather than wait for them to die, as Leekie did.  Miriam was creative, but homeless, and her mother was a drunk, so Rachel isn’t feeling too sympathetic to Miriam’s death right now.

In the present, Rachel returns to DYAD and tells Frontenac to set up a video call between Sarah and Kira, but keep a close eye on them.

Back at Revival, Mark and Coady stand before Ira’s grave.  Oh, okay.  Coady tells Mark how she came to choose, and the brothers didn’t fare well, either.  She thanks Mark for trusting her, saying that he’s doing the right thing.

So Alison starts packing up all of her craft supplies and does as much spring cleaning as possible to reveal her inner chaos.  She’s uncovering her shadow self, though Donnie asks that if they’re bad, wouldn’t they want to be kept in the dark?  But no, and now the craft room is becoming the music room as she sets up an electronic keyboard.  She’s not going to tell him what to do anymore.

Indeed, Sarah and Kira have their video call.  Kira reveals more of her story, but at the end, Sarah wants the two of them to work on the rest together.  Frontenac tells Kira to cut the call short and he does just as the two start to have a moment.  Sarah reveals that Kira spoke in code, and Rachel is taking Kira to the island, where Coady is.

Rachel, meanwhile, drinks and watches footage of herself with her mother when she gets a phone call from Westmoreland.  He’s checking in to make sure that Rachel is alright, given that he’s asking her to do something that he doesn’t want to do.  She talks of her childhood at DYAD and how naïve she was, but PT knows that she’s transcended that point in her life, which is why PT has shared so much of her life.

However, unknown to Rachel, PT is watching her every move through his tablet.  She tells Frontenac that she’ll give Kira the sedative, and Rachel’s face will be the last one that Kira sees.

Then PT appears on the screen and tells Kira that he’s counting down the minutes until they can meet in person.

Back to Cosima, Scott, and Hell-Wizard going over potential men who died under certain circumstances.  They finally land on one and Cosima calls Sarah to tell her that they’ve settled on a J.P. Matheson.

Back at DYAD, Rachel reads the same article when Sarah calls her with this information.  But Rachel tells Sarah that they’re all frauds.  As for the board, Rachel figures Sarah wouldn’t listen to her- a nuisance clone.  Sarah tells Rachel that Kira needs her family.  What happened to Rachel shouldn’t happen to Kira as well.  But it’s out of Rachel’s hands and with that, she ends the call.

She brings Kira a drink, though Kira asks Rachel if she hated being studied when she was young.  Rachel doesn’t remember, but she eventually got used to the studying.  She asks Kira, nay, her younger self, why she doesn’t run.  Kira touches Rachel’s hands, a trick from her mom, though Rachel forces Kira to down the drink.  When Kira soon falls asleep, Rachel leaves the room.

Rachel tells Frontenac that Sarah is attempting to blackmail them in a way to invalidate Westmoreland’s name.  She tells Frontenac not to hesitate since he’s about to handle this himself.  Following this, she sends a text message.  At the same time, Art makes a surprise visit to Sarah and S with some unexpected news.

Rachel puts her old eyepatch back on and enters the room where Kira is being held.  She wheels the stretcher out and begins to take her from the chamber.  However, when Simon and other agents arrive, they find the house empty.  Simon tells them to leave while Frontenac activates another glitch in Rachel’s head.

As for Kira, Rachel has handed her safely back to Art, Sarah, and S.  As she returns to her office, she gets more headaches, but manages to send out a message.

She removes her eye patch and takes another drink just as she suffers another glitch. Having had enough, she then grabs the glass and soon carves out her eye.

With the exception of Helena, we’ve spent a good chunk of time with each of the clones this season.  I wouldn’t have expected Rachel to get the bulk of an episode devoted to her, especially at this point in the final season, but given how much focus she’s had spread throughout the season, not to mention her connection with Westmoreland, her taking center stage is a welcome change of pace to focusing on Clone Club.

But let’s work our way backwards.  S said that there would come a time when Rachel would need her help.  I didn’t expect it to come this soon.  While Rachel is still a villain, she is still, at the end of the day, another clone.  No matter what individual merits she may feel she has over the others.  To people like Leekie and PT, her smarts, values, and intellect mean nothing.

Now to be clear, Rachel has done some pretty awful things and this doesn’t make me any more sympathetic, but it’s easy to see how she would feel betrayed.  She tried to advance in her work with Dr. Leekie, who admonished her for taking initiative.  And Westmoreland just sees Rachel as a conduit to Kira instead of an actual accomplice. He says the right words to get Rachel to comply.

And for so long, Rachel has just complied.  Despite Rachel’s cold demeanor and exterior, it’s easy to see her as someone who just wants credit for her work.  Or get some legitimacy.  Not necessarily acceptance because she knows her own worth, but what she’s still realizing is that she’s another patient number to the people who have greater power than her.  People who don’t value her in the way she values herself.

So for her to take control is a huge step.  For one, she puts her own life at risk not just by freeing Kira, but by stabbing her own eye just to get rid of the camera.  And Rachel is just the kind of crazy and ballsy to do something so mad for a greater purpose.  After all, we saw in this very episode that she killed a subject instead of waiting for them to expire, so she’s not at all afraid to take matters into her own hands.

I think what I appreciate about Rachel here is, aside from her heavy drinking binges, we rarely see her crack.  She doesn’t become emotional or angry upon realizing how she’s just a patient number to Westmoreland.  Rather, she bides her time and plots a plan to show that she has control.  And with the others continuing to expose Westmoreland’s past and following the Neolution money trail, the walls are closing in on PT.

And while Rachel had the stronger story this week, everything else felt very procedural and fast.  It appears no one made an attempt to go after Cosima and she’s made it back to the lab in the span of one episode, with no problem at all.

Plus, while Alison leaving was a big thing for her, I didn’t expect her to return in just four episodes.  Especially since we never saw her on her own or caught up with Donnie to see how he adjusted.  It’s nice to see that Alison has gone through some changes, but I wish we’d gotten to see even a little bit of that instead of being told.

The video call was a nice treat, but then she’s back in the same episode.  Felt like just a way to remove her from the equation while everyone worked on the Neolution threat. But if that’s the case, we could’ve just not shown Alison or Donnie altogether and then caught up with them here.

It’s also nice to see Mark and Gracie back, though I’m curious what, if at all, their plans are for Helena.  Also, Ira just died at the end of the last episode?  Were his glitches that bad?  Seems suspect, given that we didn’t see him die, but okay.

“Gag or Throttle” was a very good Rachel-focused episode as it gave us a look at her origin, upbringing, and battles to gain legitimacy.  Rather than gag, she chose to throttle and take control, no matter the consequences. Now she may indeed need to turn to the other clones for help as the battle against Neolution continues.

1 thought on “A Look at Orphan Black- Season 5, Episode 7: “Gag or Throttle”

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