Orphan Black S05E07 “Gag Or Throttle” REVIEW

Orphan Black S05E07 “Gag Or Throttle” REVIEW

0 comments 📅24 July 2017, 12:29

Airing in the UK on Netflix, Sundays
Written by: Renee St Cyr
Director: David Frazee

Essential Plot Points:

  • We meet Rachel as a child, being presented to a board by a younger Dr Leekie. She recites her number, rather than her name, as though she’s a robot.
  • In the present, Rachel tells the board that she is about to do a biopsy of Kira’s liver, lungs and stomach. Ouch…
  • Kira, apparently determined to make Rachel see her as a person and a friend rather than a test subject, gives Rachel a friendship bracelet.

  • Cosima and Charlotte have arrived at the comic store, safe and well after her escape from the island. Scott is so pleased to see her, bless him!
  • Cosima tells Sarah the news about Kira’s eggs being harvested. Despite being furious, Sarah is actually amazingly level-headed about how to handle this new information – she launches a mission to discredit Westmorland with the board, who might still be believing his bullshit about being immortal.
  • Rachel goes to the island and leaves flowers on Susan’s grave. (Ira did indeed die, and is buried alongside her. RIP, Ira.)
  • She has a flashback to Westmorland saying he considers Rachel to be his daughter.
  • Virginia Coady and Rachel finally meet. Coady asks Rachel to have an endometrial biopsy. Ouch.
  • We see Rachel, in flashback, emancipate herself under Westmorland’s gaze, becoming a free woman and not ‘property’. And yet, in the present, she sees her code number on her medical files – realising she’s not as free as she thinks she is.

  • Donnie welcomes Alison home from California – she has new hair (purple!) and a new attitude, having fallen in with a Jungian crowd. She’s even got a tattoo! (“Liver deep?” asks Donnie, confused by the font.)
  • Castor clone Mark turns up on the island (he’s the one who fell in love with cult survivor Gracie and left the project to be with her). He’s desperate for a cure, knowing he’s going to start glitching soon. Coady wants his sperm in exchange for help… and he also offers Helena!
  • Gracie, meanwhile, has gone to see Helena. What’s going on?
  • Rachel has seen Westmorland put something in a desk drawer and wants to know what it is. Horrifyingly, she discovers it’s a screen showing what she’s looking at! The robotic eye is being used to spy on her!
  • Flashback: Leekie is freaked out that Rachel killed a clone to find out more about the disease killing them all. (In other words, “Here’s a reminder that Rachel is evil, viewers!”)
  • Kira has a video call with Sarah, reading her a story she’s been working on. It’s code – she’s telling her mum that she’s being taken to the island and doesn’t want to go.
  • Rachel is drinking and watching home movies; the sight of her medical records has unnerved her. There’s a meltdown on the way…
  • Cosima finds out that PT Westmorland was actually called John Matheson and died in 1967. Sarah sends the newspaper article to Rachel, so she knows the truth. Rachel seems unmoved.
  • She forces Kira to drink drugged juice, then tells Frontenac to go and kill Sarah!
  • However, she also surreptitiously texts Artie, who turns up at Sarah’s house to warn them…
  • Putting on an eyepatch so Westmoreland can’t see what she’s doing, Rachel steals Kira, wheeling the kid to her mum. She did it! She saved her! Rachel has redeemed herself!
  • She emails the board to reveal Westmorland’s secret, then smashes a vodka glass. She uses the stem to cut her own eye out. IT IS HORRIBLE AND WE ARE SCARRED FOREVER AFTER WATCHING THIS.


Bloody hell, it’s all go this week! What a cracking, pacey, plot-driving episode. It’s chilling in places (Rachel making Kira drink the juice); amusing in others (Alison’s new awakening); thought-provoking (the insight into Rachel’s life); disturbing (Rachel finding the camera screen) and, of course, horrifying (THE EYEBALL!). After a few somewhat stilted episodes, this one’s like a kick to the guts – and you really get the sense that things are ramping up towards the finale, now only a few episodes away. Brace yourselves!

As always, Tatiana Maslany is wonderful, playing so many clones we almost lose count, and the supporting cast are superb. Kyra Harper as Coady is another standout, although this week Skyler Wexler is especially heartbreaking as the homesick and scared Kira. It’s great that Ari Millen gets to return as another Castor clone after the sad loss of Ira last week, although we can’t really cheer him on as he’s so desperate for a cure that he’s going to give up Helena… although will Gracie really be up for that? Perhaps she’s gone to see the pregnant seestra to give her a warning. We’ll clutch at those straws while we can, thanks.

The flashbacks with Rachel are beautifully realised, as we come to understand – as if we hadn’t figured it out already – that the reason Rachel is willing to treat Kira so badly is that she was treated that way as a child herself. The little clue about her picking at her fingernails is cleverly done: she’s always struggled with her role, both as a child as an adult, and Kira picking up on her uneasiness is as masterful touch. We have to admit we doubted Rachel would turn traitor right up to the text-message moment, at which point we finally started to breathe again… which is not only testament to the writing, but also Maslany’s brittle, uncomfortable performance. (In fact, checking our notes, when Rachel told Frontenac to go and kill Sarah we wrote: “You BITCH!” So yep, totally fooled.)

While we do still feel the lack of Felix of late, it’s great that Alison and Donnie are back in the mix – newfangled hair and attitude ‘n’ all – thus lightening the tone of what has been a very dark series. Seriously, those final scenes with Rachel’s eye were so incredibly disturbing we may all have nightmares. Pass the vomit bag. But hey, she wants to be a free individual and not a number – just like all the other seestras. She’s finally joined them! Hurrah!

The Good:

  • Scott and Cosima’s reunion. Awww, those guys!
  • Did you spot Tainted Love playing on the end credits, echoing Rachel’s loss of faith with father-figure Westmorland?

The Bad:

  • Do you think Sarah and Mrs S remembered to take Kira’s mouse when they left the house? If they go on the run now, that poor thing’s going to starve to death.

The Random:

  • Cynthia Galant has always done a grand job as Charlotte and/or young Rachel, but you have to feel for her this week as she’s forced to adopt both a British accent and recite some awful science-speak and streams of numbers. Nobody under of school age should have to memorise lines about nucleotides, it’s inhuman! Let’s hope they held up cue cards or something.

Best Quote: Kira: “Who hurt you?”

Rachel: “ALL OF THEM.”

Reviewed by Jayne Nelson

Read all our reviews of Orphan Black 

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