Monday, October 2, 2017

Orphan Black Finale (Spoilers)

Okay, so, I finally finished watching - bittersweet, although I'm hoping to see Maslany again. In something. In almost anything.

And...welp....I couldn't even call this blog post what I originally intended because it would have been a spoiler. If you haven't seen the finale yet, go away, watch it, and then come back when you have.











......still with me?

My first reaction: The bastards.

Because they pulled one of the best examples of the unreliable narrator trope.

The structure of the show leads you to believe it's Sarah's story and if I had an idea for who the narrator was other than Sarah, I'd have to go with Felix. Alternatively, as there's no actual narration, you could just go with Third Person Omniscient.

All of these options purport that what we see on screen in Orphan Black is the actual story of the Leda Sisters and how they broke free. Reality. The truth.

...and then on come the brakes.

...because it might not be.

See, it turns out that the entire show is in fact a journal. Written by...Helena.


The least sane of the sisters. The one who was raised to be an avenging angel and assassin. The one who represents the fragility of womanhood. The abuse victim. (Rachel is also an abuse victim, but in a different way).

Helena is not a reliable narrator.

Unlike the normal use of the unreliable narrator trope, though, we are never specifically shown that anything in the show is unreal or untrue.

Instead, we are simply given the reveal: "Helena told the story" and left with that. Literally left with that - it's all but the last scene of the show, the lasting image being of her with her sisters and the book titled "Orphan Black."

So, instead of being told "The narrator lied" we're just told "Hey, this was all written down by the madwoman. You decide how much to believe."

And the genius of it is that it made the show make more sense. Was there really a skeleton in the Hendrix garage, or did it represent something else? Do Helena's twins have a healing factor? Who do we believe?

And the truth can also choose to believe Helena, to trust her. Which means believing the victim.

And all of the Leda Sisters are the victim.

So perhaps ending the show with the question of "Do you believe her?" brings in a theme of agency that was hinted at but never shown.

Are we people or things is a question women have often been forced to ask in this society.

"Do you believe her?" is a question society asks too often.

Especially of those who have been ill-treated and abused, of those who have been raped, of those who have been beaten, of those who's wombs have been used as a commodity.

So, it was brilliant, and the more I think about it, the more brilliant it becomes.

And the only answer for myself is:

I believe you, Helena.

It was all true.