‘Orphan Black’ Season 3 Finale Introduces Another Conspiracy Layer With ‘History Yet to Be Written’
As has become tradition for Orphan Black finales, the Season 3 finale sets up Season 4 with yet another layer to the clone conspiracy — a conspiracy that grows ever larger with each passing season. “History Yet to Be Written” checks off all the appropriate boxes with a riveting narrative climax that services fans while enriching the overall series direction.
It’s not an easy feat to pull off, and few shows do it well, but the Orphan Black finale pleases fans while servicing itself — more importantly, it displeases fans in a pleasing way. Delphine dies at the end of the episode, shot by an unseen assassin. Not only do we finally feel the sense that the characters we love may not be safe from narrative excision, but the show feels like it has some stakes.
For too long we’ve watched the Leda gang successfully and often improbably survive, and while survival is a running theme of the series, DYAD and Neolution (more on that shortly) and Topside never feel like a legitimate threat. Our leading Leda ladies will always persevere, and while it’s expected that they’ll come out on top when the series eventually ends, it would be more narratively rewarding and that victory would feel more hard-won if a couple of them actually died on the way there. That seems like a grim perspective, but sometimes you need to feel loss as a viewer in order for the danger to seem dangerous, and for the wins to feel won.
But let’s rewind a bit. “History Yet to Be Written” covers a lot of bases — Siobhan brings her mother, Kendall Malone, to DYAD for some DNA extraction, while Sarah orchestrates a trade with Ferdinand. With Mark’s help, Sarah tricks Virginia into believing that Rudy has successfully captured Kendall, luring her to the facility, where she comes face to face with Ferdinand and is promptly made to f—k off.
It’s also during this time that I suddenly realized who Kendall reminds me of:
Meanwhile, Rudy is preoccupied at Alison’s house with Helena, and it doesn’t take a science genius to figure out that it won’t take Helena much to absolutely obliterate him. She did wipe out a handful of tough drug-dealing thugs last week, after all.
Helena and Rudy share a tender moment, in which they both remember their childhoods — Rudy thinks their purpose is very much the same, but as Helena somberly reminds him, they are different: he’s a rapist.
Orphan Black’s finales have offered a series of escalating twists, and this one is the most bonkers of all of them — taking the series from the realm of weird sci-fi to hard sci-fi in one fell swoop: Just as Delphine realizes that Rachel has been secreted away, Dr. Nealon explains why: he’s a mole for Neolution (remember Dr. Leakey?), and they’ve taken her and given her a new, scary science eyeball.
As Nealon explains, they’ve been running the show the entire time, moving the Castor and Leda clones around like pawns on a chessboard.
When Nealon gets the advantage on Delphine and she shoots him, a horrifying, worm-like thing slithers out of his mouth. Is it a technological invention? Part organic, part mechanical? What..the…hell?
And that’s when Orphan Black gets into some seriously hard sci-fi territory — as Nealon tells Delphine, wherever she thinks the science is, she’s wrong. Neolution is beyond fringe science and into something way deeper, and way scarier. And who is behind Neolution? Dr. Susan Duncan, who is keeping Rachel tucked away in a room somewhere far away, and who gifts her daughter with a daughter of her own.
There’s more levity to the finale, as if they’re really trying to give us as much goodness as possible before killing off Delphine. Sestra-brother Donny reunites Helena with her boyfriend, Jessie, and we get to see more of Helena’s feral sex moves.
Alison wins her election, and the Clone Club, along with its non-clone members, gather for a lovely dinner. It’s really sweet.
But then we should have seen Delphine’s death coming — she drops the genetic code off with Shay, telling her that she should be with Cosima, and to let Cosima know that it’s okay to tell Shay the truth. Delphine goes to Cosima, who apologizes for forcing her former girlfriend to make hard choices, and then blaming her for them. It’s one of the most lovely, mature apologies in the history of apologies, and like all good ones, it’s short and direct.
“What will happen to her?” — these are Delphine’s last words as someone shoots her alone in a parking garage. We can assume this someone is from Neolution, and with that, Orphan Black brings Delphine’s narrative full circle.
And to further reward us for killing off Delphine, the finale ends with a sweet reunion between Sarah and her little monkey at her snowy, remote outpost, safe and sound from all the horror we’ve witnessed this season. Sestra-mother Kendall comes along to meet her niece, and everyone is pleased. The end.
P.S. I think Kendall sums up this finale really well:
- I’m so into Helena’s Sestra nicknames for everyone: brother-sestra, mother-sestra, etc. She’s cute when she’s not being psychotic.
- It’s so sad to see Delphine go, but her death feels necessary to propel the narrative and to make the audience feel like there are legitimate stakes. Will Ferdinand join Team Leda next season, or will he cut a deal with Neolution and take Delphine’s place?
- Is Rachel’s new “daughter” part of a new clone program, with Rachel expected to raise her much as Susan raised Rachel? Hmm.
- Does anyone give a crap about Krystal? She’s roused from sedation to a crazed Delphine, then promptly abandoned when Delphine realizes she’s not Rachel. So that’s that, I guess.
- Ferdinand is delightful in his menace and seething, and even though he’s a bad dude, I hope he joins up with Team Leda next season because they could use another man on their side. And he’s so vastly different from Felix and Cal.
- While the whole Helena and Jessie thing is cute, I don’t think we need Jessie as a recurring character in Season 4. Sorry, Helena. Maybe they can leave him out and explain his absence with “Oh, he’s busy watching the baby at home.”