Usually, season finale time is when fans start to ask themselves how long they'll have to wait for their favorite show to return to their TV screens. Unfortunately, in the case of BBC America's cult favorite sci-fi series, fans already know the answer: Orphan Black won't return for Season 6. The network announced that Season 5 would be the show's swan song long before it started airing, and hopefully members of #CloneClub have been soaking up every last minute of these final 10 episodes.
But behind every cloud is a silver lining; and in this case, the silver lining of Orphan Black's impending end is the fact that, over the past five years, the series graced audiences with some of the most dynamic, compelling, complicated, believable, and three-dimensional female characters to ever make it to the airwaves. (Knowing that most of those characters were brought to life by the same person just makes Orphan Black all the more astounding.)
Along the way, much was made — both on the show and within its fandom — about the themes of sisterhood prevalent within Orphan Black. But ultimately the show was a celebration of the many kinds of relationships between women: motherhood, daughterhood, biological family, adopted family, friend, enemy, ally, competitor. In anticipation of the bittersweet series finale, here's a tribute to some of the show's most badass ladies:
1. Sarah Manning
To Sarah: who never let anything — the revelation that she was a clone, the meddling of power-hungry scientists, or the threats of bizarre medical experiments — distract her from her singular goal of protecting her daughter, Kira.
2. Cosima Neihaus
To Cosima: who made science sexy again, who persisted through her own debilitating illness to find a cure for herself and her sisters, and who proved that love knows no gender.
3. Alison Hendrix
To Alison: who committed to any task with equal ferocity, whether it be infiltrating Neolution or getting her kids to soccer practice; and who showed that everyone, no matter how unassuming, has something to contribute.
To Helena: who was able to overcome a lifetime of abuse with the love and support of her sestras, and who proved that loyalty is one of the rarest and most valuable traits in the world. (I think I'll miss you most of all, Helena.)
5. Rachel Duncan
To Rachel: who refused to let anything derail or distract her from her ambition, and refused to apologize for it.
6. Beth Childs
To Beth: who stumbled on a truth she was unprepared for, but who was still willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect the ones she loved.
To M.K.: who showed viewers what any of the beloved sestras might have become if they'd lost their tribe, and thus illustrated how utterly necessary it is to have a family — real or makeshift — to keep yourself tethered to reality.
8. Krystal Goderitch
To Krystal: who is living proof that tenacity is a virtue to be envied — but also that we only ever see what we want to see.
9. Charlotte Bowles
To Charlotte: who proved that your sense of self starts to form at a young age, and it's crucial to surround yourself with good role models who care about your wellbeing.
10. Mrs. S.
To Siobahn: who pretty much defined the phrase "mama bear," and whose fraught relationship with Sarah reminded viewers that you don't always have to like your family to always want to protect them.
11. Susan Duncan
To Susan: who serves as a cautionary tale of what can happen when a parent tries to steer their child's life rather than allow them to grow and flourish on their own.
12. Kendall Malone
To Kendall: who is a painful reminder of the often dangerous responsibilities — and painful sacrifices — that come with opening yourself up to a family.
13. Delphine Cormier
To Delphine: who let love guide her from a life of lies into a life of honesty… and then from literal death back to health and happiness.
14. Evie Cho
To Evie: whose ambition — unchecked by any guidance of sisterhood or advice from loved ones — led directly to her own downfall.
15. Gracie Johanssen
To Gracie: who managed to break out of a cycle of brainwashing and abusive teachings to find a modicum of happiness on her own — however short-lived.
To Adele: who, as someone removed from the Neolution shenanigans, proved that sometimes family (as annoying as it can be) is the only thing that keeps us sane and grounded.
To Kira: who is only alive and whole today because of the sheer force of will and love of the women around her, and who stands as a symbol of hope for the future… both for the characters and the audience alike. (An Orphan Black spinoff about grown-up Kira sometime in the future?)
It will be painful to say goodbye to these amazing women — those that fans haven't already been forced to say goodbye to already, anyway — but thankfully, just because the show is ending doesn't mean all memory of them will be scrubbed from the world. Orphan Black may be remembered in part for its wacky sci-fi adventures, for its unexpected Emmy win, and for Tatiana Maslany's indelible performance; but ultimately it's the sisters of Project Leda — and the loving, scheming, supportive women around them — who made the show so spectacular.