Orphan Black: Natural Selection

“Just one. I’m a few, no family too. Who am I?”

We really shouldn’t like Sarah. She’s a drug dealing thief who basically abandoned her daughter for nearly a year. She watches a woman jump in front of a train and then proceeds to steal her purse with little pause. And yet, we like her. Or at least, I do. Maybe it’s that the first thing she does is accidentally swear in front of the child. Who hasn’t been there? And hey, she apologizes, that has to be worth something.

Sarah’s character is established quickly and well. She’s a bit of a screw up just out of a bad relationship (she hit him first, this time). She’s back in town for her daughter and also to fence some stolen cocaine. Still, her first concern seems to be Kira. Getting her daughter back is the end objective of all of her criminality, or at least it is now. She’s clearly used to making it up as she goes; she adapts quickly and well.

The montage of Sarah preparing to steal Beth’s identity set to MIA’s “Bad Girls” is my favorite part of the episode. It makes me like Sarah more than anything. She’s smart, she’s resourceful, she can think on her feet. She’s the petty criminal version of Sydney Bristow. I’ve heard some complaints regarding Tatiana’s Sarah accent, but, being American, it sounds fine to me. I love that Sarah as Beth doesn’t have a perfect North American accent. You can hear bits of British pronunciation slip in every once in a while. It’s an impressive bit of acting, which could be said of virtually everything Ms. Maslany does in this show.

We also meet Vic (aka Vic the Dick), Sarah’s ex-boo, who might as well have ‘trouble’ stamped across his forehead. It was so cathartic watching Felix slap him. Speaking of Felix, how much do you love him? Correct answer: SO MUCH. Jordan Gavaris (who is NOT British, let the record show) makes Sarah’s gay artist foster brother immensely likable, interesting, and (lest we forget) hilarious. In this family, he is clearly not the screw up. He lives la vie Bohème to be sure, but he didn’t abandon his family like Sarah. He seems to have more or less control of what goes on in his world.

I love Sarah’s realization that the woman she is impersonating is a cop and her obvious discomfort at being anywhere close to that many police officers. Clearly, Sarah’s had less than ideal brushes with police in times past. The hearing and investigation into Maggie Chen’s death is dealt with more completely in later episodes so I’ll leave further mention of it until then. I will also hold off on any substantive discussion of Paul. While he does seem to accept Sarah as Beth, he does notice some things are off, until that is, she creatively distracts him...

Sarah’s faux-neral is funny at first (she and Felix chat about what everyone’s wearing) but quickly becomes incredibly sad when her daughter (isn’t she adorable?!) and Mrs. S show up. Sarah panics at the thought that Kira might think she was dead. No, Sarah won’t be winning any mom of the year awards, but she cares for her daughter. A lot.

So we have two women who look exactly like Sarah: Beth and Katja. Plus there was mention of an Alison Hendrix in the safety deposit box. What is going on? (Gentle reminder that we are a spoiler free blog. If you know the answer, please try to contain yourself. I know it’s hard.)

Bits and Pieces:

The title of the episode is “Natural Selection.” “Survival of the fittest, bro. And right now [Beth] ain't looking too fit.” (Sorry, Angel reference.)

If Beth had so many prescription drugs at hand, why jump in front of a train instead of overdosing?

The birthdays on the birth certificates Sarah finds in the safe deposit box are as follows: Katja Obinger (March 24, 1984), Alison Hendrix (April 7, 1984), and Elizabeth Childs (April 1, 1984). They all have the astrological sign Aries. I hope they do something with this in future.

Although it’s never explicitly stated, the show is set in Toronto.

The soap drinking/vomiting scene makes me gag. Gross!

In Canada, cops get paid enough to afford Jaguars? It’s stated in a later episode that the apartment is Paul’s, but who pays for that car?

Two women who look exactly like Sarah: Beth and Katja. Triplets celebrated at birth or something else?


(mostly Felix...)

Felix: “Oh! You robbed her body.”
Sarah: “No, she left her bag on the platform.”
Felix: “Isn’t that essentially robbing her body?”

Felix: “Sarah, who is Elizabeth Childs?”
Sarah: “I don’t know. Just a girl who looks like me. Girl with a pretty nice life.
Felix: “If it was so nice, why’d she kill herself?”

Felix: “Do not snap towels at me, Bobby. I had a very traumatic childhood.”

Felix: “Collin. Can I call you Collin?”
Collin: “My mom does.”

Felix: “Morgue water. It’s delicious.”

Felix: “Deep down, we all hope we’re special.”
Sarah: “Yeah, the last thing I am is special.”

Felix: “Oh. You’re gonna disappear again.”
Sarah: “Yeah, I have to, Fe. It’s dangerous shit in this life. Somebody keeps texting her.”
Felix: “Oh, texting! My God, how terrifying!”

Felix: “Tell it to the angels, Sarah. You’re already dead.”

Paul: “The Clash?”
Sarah as Beth: “Oh, yeah, uh...London Calling. The Clash rock.”
Paul: “Yeah, but you don’t.”

Felix: “Why, Vic? Why are you such a dick?”

Vic: “Sarah had a big heart. It was always fight or flight with her. You guys remember how she was right? This is all based on facts. She was the kind of person you want to hang...onto but she would not be held with you.”

as far as pilots go, this one was excellent: four out of four bags of stolen cocaine
sunbunny, who is probably not played by Tatiana Maslany


Mark Greig said...

So happy you're going to be reviewing this series, sunbunny.

Being a native Brit, I had some issues with Sarah's less than authentic accent at first, but it does improve as the series' progresses. Plus she's a Clash fan. Dodgy accent or not, I could never hate anyone who is a Clash fan.

I was shocked to learn Jordan Gavaris was Canadian. He's accent as Felix is so good I though he was a genuine Londoner.

Billie Doux said...

I watched this pilot and didn't continue, and now I'm sorry. Great review, sunbunny.

Jess Lynde said...

I, on the other hand, watched this pilot and ended up mainlining the entire 10 episodes in one day. I just kept wanting to see What. Happens. Next! (Sometimes real life is kind enough to give me time for an unhealthy binge watch.)

Sarah and Felix were definitely immediately engaging, and I agree that you just can't help liking Sarah, even though she's doing awful things. I think it is largely because Felix is so darn likable, and he clearly loves her, so we feel attached to her, too. Plus, she does have that wonderful Sydney Bristow/MacGyver thing going on. I loved her move with the soap!

sunbunny said...

Billie - I've heard that from a couple of other people too. Taken on its own, the pilot sets up Orphan Black to be a better version of Ringer, but trust me it gets way better than that.

Mark - There are people who aren't Clash fans?

Lamounier said...

I saw this review and the excitement on the comments, and decided to check it out. I just watched the pilot. Wow, what a ride.

For most of this pilot, the show seemed a MUCH better version of Ringer. And then it became something entirely different at the end. I wish I wasn't spoiled this was a sci-fi show, cause the twist at the end would've been jaw-dropping. It was still really cool, though.

As for the characters, I’m not really in love with anyone yet, but I liked Sarah and her brother and didn’t care much for her ex. Beth’s boyfriend sure is a good looking man, but character wise there was not much to behold.

Onto episode two.

M said...

Sarah is a thoroughly awful person at the start of the series, and I seem to remember that I didn't like her at all at this point. Even her desire to get custody of Kira is not particularly redeeming, since it is selfishly motivated and doesn't seem like it would be in Kira's best interest. In addition to her robbery of Beth's body (notice, she looks for cash in the wallet before she even looks at Beth's ID), and all the other awful things you mentioned, I felt kind of bad for Vic! She hits him, she risks his life by stealing his coke, then she fakes her own death (which is really pretty cruel, even if your boyfriend is a jerk).

But, you are right that she is smart and resourceful, and the fact that she doesn't act the way I expect her to is refreshing.

I can't say I was a big fan of Felix the first time I saw the pilot, either, since he seemed like such a stereotype. But, this time, I noticed that he is sort of a good person right from the start (despite his hustling and drug dealing)and is actually Sarah's conscience.

Miguel said...

Heard so many good things about this show and now that you're reviewing it sunbunny I had to give it a shot. And I was impressed with the pilot. Despite the fact that I was reminded throughout of Ringer too many times, but I know this show is going to head in a different and much better direction. I'm excited to see where it all goes.

Josie Kafka said...

I can't resist peer pressure, so I've decided to start watching this show. The pilot was interesting; I trust that all of you are right and it gets even better.

ChrisB said...

When I reviewed the pilot back in March, I was underwhelmed with it. However, so many people have raved about this show and because I suffer so badly from FOMO disease, I had to try it again.

Who knows why the same thing can resonate so differently even just a few months apart. I really liked the pilot this time around. If I had had this reaction to it in March, I would have stuck with it. While I still don't love it, I am intrigued enough to see what happens next.

Great review, sunbunny, as always.

PlatinumRosebud said...

Nice review, Sunbunny.

I decided to watch the pilot after seeing the e-mail noti of Doux Rev.

Watched the pilot, then read your review.

I totally agree with everything you said.

Love Felix, too. :)

Have a good one.

And oh, will continue watching and include this series in my to do list. :D

drnanamom said...

You all are bad for my to do lists! Because of how much you like this show Sunbunny I am watching it! I enjoyed the pilot and also love that it is shot in TO, being a Canadian and all. Great review and I agree I like Sarah and Felix but Mrs. S. is right to try and keep Sarah away from Kira until she proves herself.

Mallena said...

Watched the first episode and decided this show wasn't for me. Too dark with unappealing characters. Then the show was reviewed and everyone loved it. I gave it another try, now I love it too. Once you figure out what is going on, the characters come alive and the show gets great. Tatiana makes Sarah a warmer and more fun character as the show moves forward. Tatiana is amazing.