Orphan Black: Endless Forms Most Beautiful

“There’s a reason we look exactly the same, Art. Why the prints match and the DNA’s all screwed up. But you have to promise to protect me and my daughter.”

Lots of clean up this week, but it didn’t feel like one of those episodes where the writers have a huge list of things to wrap off and check them off one by one. The episode was exciting, cohesive, and left me waiting very impatiently for the next season of awesomeness.

The center of the episode was Leekie’s offer of contracts to his clones. We’ll leave you alone, you agree to medical testing. It sounds like a good deal. On top of that, each clone gets an appropriate carrot. Alison’s monitor is (allegedly) lifted. Cosima gets her (allegedly) complete sequenced genome. Sarah is released from police custody and promised protection for her and Kira. Alison is the first to sign, which makes sense. She is the most conventional of the clones, and the one who most wishes it would all go away. Sarah is ready to sign for Kira’s sake until Cosima calls her with the shocking information that the clones have been patented. It is clear the Neolutionists think of them as property, not as people.

It’s great to have Cosima back in town. Unfortunately, she seems to have developed whatever lung disease Katja had. If she dies next season, I will be extremely pissed off. It’s great to have our three main clones back in one scene. They don’t do it too often (it takes them 17 hours to film a scene with the three of them) but it’s lovely when they do it.

The deaths in this episode are particularly horrific. Amelia is killed by Helena so suddenly and so horribly. Sarah is forced to kill her own twin sister because she’s dangerous and insane. Alison watches Ainsley die. That’s the worst one for me. I watched it once and every subsequent time I’ve watched this episode, I’ve fast-forwarded through it. It’s not just because (much like Billie) I have a distaste for the whole something gets caught in the garbage disposal thing. Why didn’t Alison do something? It would have been so easy to flip off that switch, but she doesn’t. She watches her previously best friend strangle to death. Obviously her actions here aren’t malicious. I’m not convinced she makes a conscious decision to let Ainsley die. In addition, she still believes that Ainsley is her monitor. Still, I love Alison and it’s not an easy thing to watch someone you love do.

So, it turns out Donnie, not Ainsley, is Alison’s monitor. I knew it wouldn’t be Ainsley, but I had gotten over my initial suspicion of Donnie. I figured it would be one of Alison’s friends or possibly Chad, Ainsley’s husband. Donnie seems to be the only monitor who can do his job. He watches Alison while avoiding her suspicion and not abandoning his bosses for the love of his clone. Unlike some people...

Are Delphine and Paul really both in love with their clones and ready to abandon everything for them? Doesn’t this seem a little convenient? I’m really hoping one of them is still on Leekie’s side, playing their clone for information. I just can’t decide which one I’d rather have it be. Paul and Sarah have great chemistry, but I also really want Cosima to be happy.

Despite all of Sarah’s efforts, the Neolutionists know about Kira. Have they known all this time or is this a new revelation? Did Delphine or Paul tell them? What about Mrs. S? Kira and Mrs. S have absconded into the night. The heavy implication is that it was Mrs. S Rachel called. Does this mean Mrs. S was Sarah’s monitor? Or is it just a misunderstanding? Did maybe Mrs. S sense danger and took off with Kira to keep her safe? (Please, don’t let that be the truth; that would be so dull.)
I'm also proud of putting the circle in the picture.

I noticed something I’m particularly proud of. It’s like a Josie-level observation. Well, maybe not quite that profound, but I’m still proud. The caption on the back of Amelia’s photo says “Project Leda.” Which got me thinking about that really odd piece of artwork Mrs. S has in her kitchen. You know, the swan.

Leda and the Swan is a Greek myth centered around the rape (or possibly seduction) of Leda by the god Zeus who takes the form of a swan. You know, because what woman wouldn’t want to have sex with a swan? Leda and Zeus’s children were Helen of Troy (the one who the Trojan War was started over) and the twins Castor and Pollux (although some traditions Castor is fathered by Leda’s mortal husband Tyndareus). Make of this what you will.

Bits and Pieces:

I wish Sarah had been able to tell Art the truth. I feel like the clones should have someone fighting for them on the outside.

Someone on Tumblr pointed out how lovely the now-sick Cosima looks standing next to the word Terminal. Let’s hope this isn’t foreshadowing.

I always talk about how amazing the scenes with multiple clones are because Tatiana Maslany’s performances are so nuanced; but can we all just take a minute to appreciate the special effects they use to get three Tatiana Maslanys in one scene?

Vic puts at least four sugars in his coffee.

Alison lives at the corner of Black Oak and White River.

The song that plays when Delphine shows up at Felix’s is “La petite mort” by Cœur de pirate, whose albums you should definitely buy and listen to ad infinitum.

Helena wearing Sarah’s London Calling shirt was a great and suitably subtle callback to the pilot.

Is that supposed to be Mrs. S in the picture? I can’t tell.

Can you legally patent the result of an illegal experiment?

Let me point out that Paul escaped with Sarah.


Sarah: “I don’t want to be your sister, meathead.”

Felix: “God, you three are weird enough.”

Felix: “It’s Delphine! She’s got baggage.”

Felix: “You know, if Sarah were here, she’d kick your willowy ass.”

Donnie: “They had no right to intervention you like that.”

four out of four proclones
sunbunny, who is probably not played by Tatiana Maslany


Jess Lynde said...

Hmmm ... I think I'd rather have Delphine still in league with Dr. Leekie, and not Paul. I like Paul, and I'm starting to trust him. Delphine, not so much. Even if she did initially opt to keep Kira's existence from Dr. Leekie.

I don't think Mrs. S is in league with the Neolutionists at this point. But I think she was probably involved in the early days of the experiments. I suspect she absconded with Sarah long ago, knowing full well what she was, and kept her a secret all these years. Leekie didn't seem to know about Sarah at all. It certainly would explain why she took all these bizarro revelations in stride. I believe Mrs. S has been protecting Kira, both because she loves her and because she knows how special and unique Kira is. I definitely think Mrs. S is the one that took off with Kira, but I believe she did so independent of the Neolutionists. I'm really excited that she seems to be far more heavily involved in the mythology and isn't just Sarah and Felix's foster mom. I can't wait to see where it all goes next!

Allison really had a Walter White moment there, huh? I get why she'd do it, but it was such a dark turn. Especially her seeming relatively content with the choice after the fact (if I'm remembering correctly). I hope this isn't the start of a continued downward slide for her. Maybe Felix can pull her back from the ledge.

Mark Greig said...


Not Helena!!!

Why, show, why?

sunbunny said...

I'm really hoping we get some flashbacks next season. I want Helena back (and I'd LOVE to see her before Tomas got his hands on her) and I really want to know more about Beth. She's such a mystery. I want to know how the first clones came together and how Alison dealt with that news, because I'm guessing it wasn't well.

Josie Kafka said...

It’s like a Josie-level observation. Well, maybe not quite that profound, but I’m still proud.

I am utterly unworthy of this shout-out.

I'm really happy you got me into this show, Sunbunny. I wrote it off completely without watching the pilot, and I don't think I would have watched past the pilot if not for your encouraging enthusiasm.

I think you ask the key question this episode left me with: "Can you legally patent the result of an illegal experiment?" Given the ban on human cloning, I'm almost certain the answer is no, which makes me wonder how they'll address why the clones aren't going public in the second season. Sure, privacy--but if it's a choice between running for your life and going on the Canadian equivalent of Oprah (which is probably still Oprah), then I'd say going public is worth it. Right?

Billie Doux said...

I came to the end of the season more intrigued than ever, and I dare say that's what every season finale should do. Ainsley's horrible garbage disposal death kept reminding me of the death of Isadora Duncan. It also reminded me of a scene in Breaking Bad a couple of seasons ago. (BB returns tonight! Maybe it'll keep me from brooding about TWC, CBS and the fact that I'm being deprived of the final season of Dexter.)

I felt a lot of pity for Helena, but I wasn't surprised that Sarah killed her. Helena was just too crazy and too dangerous, as well as obsessed with Sarah's daughter.

Not a surprise that there was more going on with Mrs. S. I don't doubt that Mrs. S. loves Sarah and Kira, so here's hoping for the Mrs. S took Kira somewhere to protect her scenario.

Thanks again for reviewing this show because I might not have given it another try.

sunbunny said...

I'm glad I convinced so many of you to watch the show! I never would've checked it out were it not for Paul and Mark's fangirling (yes, you two are fangirls) about Tatiana Maslany on Twitter. This is the ultimate word of mouth show. I hadn't even heard of it outside JD's review of the pilot and the aforementioned fangirling before I started watching. It was poorly advertised and, in the US, stuck on a fairly obscure cable channel. I keep telling everyone I see to watch it (this and Orange is the New Black, which you should all also watch).

Jess Lynde said...

Word of mouth is definitely what got me to watch this show. Same for Orange is the New Black, which I agree everyone should watch. I've heard so many critics talking about both shows this summer, and they are starting to accidentally combine the titles. I keep hearing people say, "You should totally watch Orphan is the New Black!" Yes, watch both!

Mark Greig said...

Dammit, how did you discover our Secret? We were so subtle. We only tweeted about the show about a million times or so.

Anonymous said...

Well, I happen to think both Paul and Delphine are on the clones' side. The "black sheep" there is obviously Donnie. But if I had to pick one, I would pick Paul, mainly because he is as interesting as watching paint dry. Besides, the writers already confirmed Delphine "followed her heart" in the finale by pretty much saving both Cosima and Sarah from signing their lives away - which is the complete opposite of what Leekie/Rachel were going for. Anyone still doubting her intentions haven't been paying attention. And writers also spilled what was more than obvious at this point: she'll help to find a cure for Cosima in season 2 (whether she'll succeed or not is anyone's guess but I will riot if they kill Cosima off). Paul? Not so much. And Delphine and Cosima feel like *the* love story of the show. And it's completely secondary, which is great. Not a fan of "romance" in sci-fi.

I happen to think what happened to Delphine is what happened to Mrs. S. Both are scientists that work/worked with/for them but ultimately became disgusted with their original goal. I don't think she will turn out to be a villain at all.

Not sad to see Helena go, either. I'm much more interested in Rachel.

Lamounier said...

Great season finale. There’s only one thing I didn’t enjoy a lot, so I’ll just address it and get it out of the way: the cops’ plot was building up so nicely, but not many relevant stuff (as far as plot goes) happened this episode. If Sarah had stayed twenty more seconds with Art, she would’ve told him enough. Art and Angie going after Victor, watching Alison at distance, that all felt like stalling on an episode where they should’ve heard the c word. That being said, it was hilarious to see Victor at rehab.

On the good stuff, this episode had such a Dollhouse feel to it, which is understandable since both are sci-fi shows and have similar premises acting wise. There was Sarah on punk clothes like Caroline. There was even a tall building, and Sarah being taken to a high floor to talk to “the boss” (even though Rachel is certainly not the boss of bosses). There was Tatiana Maslany on a new hairdo as proclone Rachel, channeling Adelle DeWitt somehow. Also, Leekie kept saying they just wanted the best for the clones, which is reminiscent of Adelle’s belief that she was taking care of the dolls. Then there was that tragic information that the clones are properties, similar to how the dolls where properties of the Dollhouse. But more on that later.

Leekie and Rachel’s deal proposal to the clones made for a very interesting character study. You could see right away that Alison wanted to take it (it would give her the much beloved “normal” life back), Cosima was clearly attracted to it (as she’s been attracted to danger all along) and Sarah just didn’t care about it (she’s smart enough to see there’s more to the Neolutionists than good will). How it developed was also interesting: Cosima did what she knows best and discovered through science that the deal was bullshit, Sarah got broken to the point she would take the deal (the woman does love her child) but was rescued by Cosima just in time, and Alison deserves her own paragraph.

So, wow. Alison, you were my favorite clone. Why did you do that? Quite frankly, I don’t think Alison let Ainsley die because she thought Ainsley was the monitor. This entire Alison/Ainsley plot was a great examination of suburban life, and my take is that the suburban paranoia, and not the clone paranoia, drove Alison the point of watching cold heartedly her best friend die. For a plot that had been used mostly for laughs, this was definitely a daring and dark turn, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. It made me dislike Alison a little bit, but I did feel heartbroken for her by the end of the episode once the truth was revealed.

Lamounier said...

On Helena, while I’m sad we won’t get a Helena/Alison scene (just think how awesome that would’ve been) I can’t say I’ll miss our religious crazy clone. Helena was a villain as much as she was a victim, and I agree with Sarah that her reaction to Amelia would determine how they would deal with her. Also, there’s a point where a potentially redeemable villain will just get me tired of their back-and-forth charade, so I was glad Sarah shot her.

Last but not least, this episode really, really hit me. I was feeling bad for our clones thirty minutes after I finished watching it. Of course we don’t live in a dystopia where people can be owned, however the single idea that a group of scientists freaks would think of you as their property is frightening. It’s the same deal of Dollhouse and the dolls, only it’s not a contract, it’s on your DNA. Cosima’s face as she reads the cracked code is, in my opinion, the most heartbreaking moment of the season (on second watch, when you already know what she’s reading). And so, as we leave our clones this season, Alison is unknowingly living a lie (I really felt bad for her as she smiled thinking her old life was back), Cosima is sick and possibly dying, and Sarah has lost track of her child, the thing she holds dearest. As she melodramatically screamed “Kira” and the screen went black, you could totally feel her desperation. And that, folks, is the worst dystopia you could put Sarah on.

Some notes:

- The score that played through the last ten minutes was beautiful, and helped creating a gorgeous and tragic atmosphere all at once.

- I didn’t care much for Paul and his story on Afghanistan, however I really liked this line of his to Sarah: “if you were born outside of their control, what do they really have on you?” It’s a rhetorical question at first, only it’s not rhetorical at all and we get the answer ten seconds later.

- On the discussion of whether Delphine or Paul will turn against the clones, I think neither of them will. In fact, I really liked Delphine and Cosima this time and want to see more of them together.

- God, I forgot all about Mrs. S. I love her, show, so please don’t make her a villain. My guess, like Anonymous has said, is that she’s like Delphine: she used to hang with the Neolutionists gang, but eventually switched sides.

All in all, “Orphan Black” had a very good first season. I can’t wait for the next one.

sunbunny said...

Lamounier - I'm so glad you compared this show to Dollhouse! I've been thinking about the two the entire time. They do have a lot similarities, and you certainly weren't the only one thinking of Rachel Duncan as Adelle Dewitt Jr.

Apologies to Eliza Dushku fans, but can you imagine if Tatiana Maslany played Echo? Seriously. That would be...I mean, there are no words. Or if Tahmoh Penikett played Paul in Orphan Black!

Sooze said...

I have been putting off commenting because I really don't think I have a whole lot to add to what has already been said...but I will anyway - (1) I am glad this only had 10 episodes because I quickly got addicted and HAD to watch them all (2) Tatiana is AMAZING (3) It took me a while to figure out where I had seen Maria Doyle Kennedy (The Tudors) - she has gotten more beautiful (damn her - she's a year younger than me!!). I too think she is on the "good" side, but was once involved somehow in the original experiment. (4) Paul - he bored me at first, but like you Sunbunny, "Parts Developed" made me like him...when he leaned into Sarah's side - definitely swoon-worthy. I am a sucker for that stuff. However, in the eps that followed, I went back to not exactly knowing where he stands. Why did he become attached to her so quickly? Can't be just the great sex. But that "lean in" was spontaneous - I don't think that was something he planned. So, I guess we'll see. Sarah doesn't seem to trust him 100%, so that is probably for the best. (5) Delphine - not sure I trust her yet either, despite her recent actions. (6) I love Matt Frewer. (7) Felix annoyed me the 1st episode, but quickly became endearing (8) Alison was a hoot, but is now a little scary (9) I hope Art figures things out soon in season 2 and starts helping. Really looking forward to season 2.

sunbunny said...

No, Sooze clearly you had NOTHING to say. Haha! Great thoughts! It also bugged me a bit that Paul was so suddenly head over heels over Sarah, but they have such great chemistry, so I'm rooting for them. Maria Doyle Kennedy does keep getting prettier. It's quite annoying.

So does everyone think she's a white hat but me?

JustDominique said...

I knew it! I KNEW that it was Donnie! The whole time, I found it rather telling that no one confirmed that Ainsley was Alison's watcher - oops,I mean monitor (wrong show!).

Poor, poor Alison. I was really shocked by the death scene with Ainsley, because it seemed so deliberate. Up until that point, Alison's crazy was understandable and adorable. But now, even though it's still understandable, it's not so adorable. And, I'm not sure that her crazy is necessarily a result of her suburban lifestyle... I've been wondering if maybe, like Helena, Alison also has mental health issues due to the cloning process, but they manifest differently because she didn't have the same environmental experiences that Helena did. I don't know...

Season 2 is still a LONG time away, and I'm not sure how I'm going to handle the wait!