Orphan Black: Season 1 Refresher

Hello readers! Welcome to Dork Shelf’s Orphan Black recaps with yours truly! I, like you, am a Clone Clubber. Yep, I’ve swayed my hips to the tune of Helena’s creepy ass soundtrack and I’ve elbowed the douchebag Proletheans who were trying to grind all up on me. But you know what? Being a Clone Clubber is difficult. On top of trying to convert all of your friends to this amazing TV show, you also have the added burden of trying to keep up with all of the insane characters and happenings that Space throws at you. So before we start our first recap, let’s take a look at what we’ve learned about our Tatiana Maslanys last season!


We now know that sometime in early 1980s London, England, two scientists asked a woman named Amelia to be the surrogate mother of twin daughters as part of the mysterious “Project LEDA”. Sensing that the children might be in danger and being unable to provide for them, Amelia gave one daughter to the state (Sarah Manning) and one daughter to the church (Helena). In a surprise twist, a woman tied to Project LEDA (Siobhan Sadler, aka Mrs. S) ended up fostering both Sarah and a boy named Felix. Mrs. S. protected the children (and many others like them) using a secret ring of underground connections. When they reached their teen years, Sarah and Felix were taken by their foster mother to Toronto, Canada. There, Sarah eventually had a daughter named Kira with an unidentified lad who I will assume was devastatingly charming, unlike Sarah’s Jersey Shore-esque ex-bf Vic (seriously, he looks like his biggest skill is lifting things).

Pictured: Vic


Helena, unfortunately, was not as lucky as Sarah, and was given away to a convent in Ukraine. How in the hell did a child from London get sent to Ukraine, you ask? We ask not these questions. Anyhoo, at around age twelve, Helena was found by creepy ass Tomas and Maggie Chen (a woman who infiltrated the group of scientists related to Project LEDA). The two then indoctrinated Helena to believe that she is an original and that all the related clones should be wiped out with murder. Basically Tomas is like Hitler with a Days of Our Lives-esque villain name (it’s Tom-AHS, you guys, not Tom-us, jeez).

~*Wibbly wobbly time in between the early 80s and the present*~

During the period between the distant past and the present, scientists connected to the Dyad Institute pop out more clone babies than Michelle Duggar. Why did they do this? Well, we’re led to believe that this had something to do with the patenting of living organisms. In the season finale of season one, we learned that all of the clones’ genomes have an embedded message that says: “This Organism and Derivative Genetic Material is Restricted Intellectual Property”. So basically the Dyad Institute’s plan is:

Step 1: Clone hot lady and stamp her with a “MINE” label


Step 2: ?????????


While this is all happening, Dr. Aldous Leekie (aka Barf-bag McDouchebag) becomes the face of the Dyad Institute-related movement called Neolution (which is basically like Scientology but with less de-gay-afication and John Travolta and more “self-directed evolution” like putting tails on things that shouldn’t have tails). Dr. Leekie and his toadies let the clones think they were free, when in actuality they’re assigned secret agents called “monitors” that infiltrate their lives.  Oops, and they’re also drugged and experimented on from time to time. Also being horrible is the Prolethean brotherhood (do they have robes?) that Tom-ASS and Maggie Chen are part of. The group becomes a large, radical sect which is anti-science.  So, to summarize the two cults:





We know that over the past few years, the clones discover each other and start asking more and more questions such as, “Hey, why the fuck am I coughing up blood?” and “Bitch, you stole my look!” That last one isn’t actually a question, but I am 99.9% sure it was uttered.

At some point in time, a German clone named Katja Obinger tracks down police officer clone Beth Childs and reveals that 1) Beth is being monitored by her dull, but conventionally hot boyfriend Paul (he’s so dull I’m convinced his favourite cheese is cheddar), and 2) someone is killing off the Tatiana Maslanys (surprise—it is totes Helena!). Beth then uses some NSA-approved facial-recognition software to find North American driver licenses of women who have the exact same vogue face as her. The search turns up two matches: Savvy Sapphic scientist Cosima Niehaus, and spunky Scarborough soccer mom Alison Hendrix (I love alliteration).


The European clones, along with Beth, Cosima, and Alison, then work together in order to find out who the hell is using them as target practice. At some point, Beth finds out about and kills Prolethean Maggie Chen during a police chase. Beth’s loyal partner Art then helps cover up the murder. Sadly, Beth goes all cray cray about the clone shit, and decides to end it all by throwing herself in front of a GO train. Sarah, who is in Toronto trying to get back custody of Kira from Mrs. S after leaving town for a year, witnesses Beth’s quite public suicide. Instead of thinking, “Oh whoa, I must have had a twin, let me have a full blown emotional response in reaction to this life-changing information,” Sarah decides, “Whatevs, she’s dead; the better plan is to steal the strange woman’s identity, cash, and her dull but sexy boyfriend” (only two of those may have been intentional).

While impersonating her look-alike, Sarah finds out about the other clones and joins the team instead of running away with the money in Beth’s bank account!

In my head the girls then totally make matching t-shirts with the glitter that Alison clearly has somewhere in her home. Along the way, the girls deal with all sorts of dangerous folks who want to exploit and also murder them (man, is there a lot of murder on the show).

All the way in Minnesota (why does no one on the show have a Fargo accent?), Cosima is studying evolutionary developmental biology and generally being the smart, levelheaded part of the group. While at the lab, Cosima meets fantastic hair owner and French girl with a totally real French accent named Delphine (in case you haven’t noticed, she’s super French).


Cosima suspects the new girl is her monitor, and tests out her theory by investigating with her very scientific lady bits. Despite totally being a Freaky Leekie-ite, Delphine falls for Cosima and helps her investigate whether the remaining clones are sick, or just coughing up blood for fun. Things get rocky when the extent of Delphine’s duplicity is confirmed (she told Leekie about Helena, Sarah, and Kira), but thankfully the two overcome it and work together to find out the secret patent hidden in the clones’ genome.

Alison, meanwhile, spends most of her time in season one trying to keep the clones’ existence under wraps from her high school sweetheart turned husband, Donnie, and her adopted children. Despite being a pink-adoring soccer mom, Alison can shoot a mean gun (both real and glue). Upon learning about the monitors, she is convinced her husband is the agent assigned to look after her. Even though Alison accepts that Donnie is not likely her monitor (he totes is), she becomes increasingly batshit at the thought of being an adorable rat in a gigantic experiment. Her insanity then manifests as all-out recklessness.

Smoking pot with your best friend Aynesley’s husband? Let’s do it.

Having sex in public with said friend’s husband in a minivan? Why not?

Catfight with Aynesley (whom you think is your actual monitor)? Bring it on.

Blowing up at your own intervention? Fuck yeah.

Drowning in wine? I’ll have another bucket-full, please.

Letting Aynesley get strangled to death by her own scarf when you could have easily stopped it? Hells…


Oh sweet baby Jesus.

Oh Alison. Oh sweetie, no. That’s… that’s some dark shit right there.

At some point during the season, flurry of fab kimonos Felix becomes everyone’s favourite character.

While Alison unravels, our main girl Sarah has to deal with her own growing list of problems. Not only does she have to help Art ward off questions about the suspicious circumstances of Maggie Chen’s death, she also has to get rid of gross ex-boyfriend Vic and prove herself worthy of having custody of Kira. Again: Can someone explain to me the appeal of Vic? Because homeboy looks like he belongs in a Jay and Silent Bob movie, and I had trouble believing that badass Sarah would even consider getting naked within a two mile radius of him.

Anyhoo, Sarah convincingly portrays Beth in a deposition and gets her and Art off the hook for Chen’s “accidental” murder.  Although she’s able to shake Vic off, a more dangerous crazy-person latches onto her: Helena. Sarah’s #1 fan gets insanely more attached as the two realize they are twins, rather than just regular old clones. Wanting a family, Helena protects Sarah from Leekie’s cronies (she just wants to see your tail!!), and resists hurting her sister, despite Tom-ASS’ threats.

Growing increasingly stressed at having Beth’s monitor Paul (he turns out to be dull but clone-sympathetic) and brother Felix as her only real allies besides the clones, Sarah decides to reveal her secret life to her foster mother. During a heart to heart between Sarah and Mrs. S, Helena lures Kira away from the house. Damn, child. Don’t you know not to talk to strangers who look like the deranged version of your meem? That is like child lesson 101 behind “Stranger Candy is likely Laced with Drugs” and “Vans Do Not Have Puppies in Them: A Guide”.

Apparently Kira did take a course in soothing psychopaths, as she’s able to convince Helena to let her go with a warm hug. As punishment for refusing to bring Kira to him, Tom-ASS puts Helena in a cage. He does not tell her to put the lotion on the skin or else she’ll get the hose again.

Sadly, as Kira races back to her mom, a car hits her, Mean Girls-style.

The clones are very upset about the accident, as they’ve all come to see Kira as their own child (or “genetic derivative,” in Neolutionist terms). This affection partly stems from how special Sarah’s daughter is: Kira not only shares part of the clones’ DNA (making her a communal child), but she also has a mother who can conceive (the other Tatiana Maslanys are revealed to be sterile). Also she’s cute as a fucking kitten.

In a freaky turn of events, Kira makes an immediate recovery, despite there being a lot of blood on the scene. I’m calling it! Kira is Wolverine, guys. This has all been a Marvel crossover—Professor X was hiding in the closet that whole time, and Mrs. S is actually an alternate universe Jean Grey. Let’s pack it up. Nothing to see here.

Upon finding out about Sarah from Delphine, Dr. Leekie asks to meet her along with Paul (who is still nominally on Team Neolution despite his clone-lovin’ ways). Leekie informs our girl that 1) he’s not the big cheese, and 2) he wants to deprogram Helena out of the goodness of his heart! Sarah doesn’t buy it and instead frees Helena (caging Tom-ASS in the process), and takes her home, where Mrs. S has invited surrogate mom Amelia to come by and reveal the clone bombshells from the 70s.

When Sarah doesn’t hand over Helena, the Neolutionists involve a corporate clone named Rachel, who makes an offer to the girls: Sign a contract, tell us everything you know, submit to regular medical testing, and we’ll remove your monitors (BULLSHIT) and give you protection (maybe not a lie). Cosima is specifically offered a cushy job at the Dyad Institute studying the clones. Also, there may be something else swaying her.

While the clones contemplate their offers as a group, Helena lures Amelia to Beth’s apartment while pretending to be Sarah. What’s that? Finding this too difficult to follow? Cry Tatiana Maslany a river.

Helena then straight up shanks Amelia for allowing her to end up in the clutches of the crazy ass Proletheans. Distraught over losing the closest thing she had to a biological mother, Sarah shoots Helena. Sorry bitch, you and Sarah ain’t a family.

After the Helena insanity and the revelation regarding the genome patent stamp, Sarah decides to respond to Rachel’s offer with an articulated and classy message:

When Sarah returns home, she finds that the house has been ransacked (perhaps by the Neolutionists), and both Mrs. S and Kira are missing. Scared out of her wits over Aynesley’s death, Alison signs Rachel’s contract. Cosima, meanwhile, still contemplates the offer.

So that was it for season one folks! I think this summarizes how I felt while watching it:

What will season two bring? You’ll just have to tune in April 19th on Space! Check back to Dork Shelf on Sundays for recaps of your favourite clone show!