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Orphan Black: Instinct

“Oh, and hide your ugly face on the way out of here.”

Watching this episode the second third fourth time, I really wanted to concentrate on why so many people gave up on the show. I think I’ve got it. This is not a bad episode, but when compared with later episodes in the season, it is underwhelming. Most of the episode was exposition and set up for later plot twists and revelations. It was very well done (zero awkwardness) but it wasn’t the sort of stuff that generally has you on the edge of your seat. I promise, newcomers, not every episode is like this.

Major developments in the Maggie Chen investigation. In “Natural Selection,” we are told that Beth saw cell phone but reacted gun, killing Maggie Chen accidentally. Here it is revealed that the cell phone in Chen’s hand was planted there by Art after the shooting to help clear his partner. The suggestion is that Beth was so whacked out on a litany of prescription drugs, she shot first, not giving herself the chance to ask questions.

None of this puts Beth in a very favorable light. Sarah, on the other hand, shines. She manages to quickly memorize the Maggie Chen case file, and does well in the hearing, all while being blackmailed by Beth’s partner. Sarah for the win.

Actually, Sarah gets multiple opportunities to show off this week. Her reaction to Katja’s death suggests that she’s never seen a person shot through the head before, but she quickly figures out how to handle the situation. Ditch the body, clean the car. Plus, she pulls a total Sydney Bristow to get into Katja’s hotel room. Rock and roll.

So now Sarah knows of more doppelgängers. Besides Katja and Beth, we now have Cosima, Alison, and three unseen Europeans. What the heck is going on? Again, I remind you that this is a spoiler free blog. The next episode reveals the big secret; I trust you all can wait that long.

We only see Cosima (the one with the dreadlocks) for a second, but we do get to spend a little time with Alison Hendrix. As likable as Sarah is right off the bat, Alison is unlikable. She is uptight, bitchy, and abrasive. Don’t worry; she grows on you. For the first time, Tatiana Maslany really gets to display her truly awesome acting ability. It’s so easy to forget when she’s in a scene with herself that it’s all her. Every one of her characters speaks differently (it’s not just the writing), walks differently, stands differently. I literally forget Alison and Sarah are played by the same person. And no, I’m not going to stop fangirling over Tatiana Maslany anytime soon.

Also introduced this week are Mrs. S (the inimitable Maria Doyle Kennedy) and sweet little Kira. The scene between Mrs. S and Felix is largely expositional. We learn that Mrs. S moved Felix and Sarah to Canada from London for reasons as yet unknown and that she and Sarah have a rocky relationship at best. Like I said, most of this episode is just set up for eventual awesomeness.

Bits and Pieces:

The title of this episode is “Instinct.” What instincts is it referring to? Sarah’s and Alison’s desire to protect their children? Sarah’s desire to avoid being suspected by the police in Katja’s death?

I love the way Sarah’s hair gets all curly and frizzy when she’s sweating burying Katja’s body. Score one for realism.

Although it was suggested that Vic was not Kira’s father in the first episode, here we definitively learn he isn’t. Who is then?

Found in Katja’s hotel room: a Bible and a headless Barbie. Might be important later...

Sarah refers to Alison’s Scarborough address as “practically local.” I dutifully looked it up and you can get from Toronto to Scarborough in about half an hour.

For the record, Toronto suburbia looks nothing like southern California suburbia.


Cosima: “You need to get rid of the body.”
Sarah as Beth: “How? Like how?”
Cosima: “I don’t know! You’re the cop. Like buy a shovel.”

Vic: “Love is imperfect. Love is imperfection itself.”
Felix: “If that’s your definition, no wonder she jumped.”

Felix: “Vic! I have a knife and I will stab you in the face!”

Felix: (to Sarah) “Aren’t you supposed to wait like three days before rising?”

Paul: “And why are you suddenly dressing like a punk rock ho?”

Felix: “She is trying. Badly, granted. But in her own way, she is, she’s really trying.”

Sarah as Katja: “Rock and roll.”
Security Guard: “Rock and roll? The sink is broken. What the heck is wrong with you?”

Avery: “Are you enjoying the city?”
Sarah as Katja: “It’s killing me.”

Sarah as Beth: “I had to go to Bed, Bath & Beyond, okay? Nobody wants to admit that.”

Sarah as Beth: “Does that sound stoned to you?”
Psychiatrist: “Glitched sounds stoned?”
Sarah as Beth: “Uh, tweaked, gakked, spun?”

Felix: “Don’t stop. Someone might speak to us.”

Felix: “You know, my skin just breaks out every time I leave downtown. [...] Tiny little suburban stress zits emerging in direct proximity to bad architecture.”

possibly season one’s weakest hour; but still three out of four pink phones
sunbunny, who is probably not played by Tatiana Maslany


  1. Wait! People gave up on this show? What is wrong with these people? I wipe my hands of them. I know them not!

  2. I think it is nearly impossible to "stop fangirling over Tatiana Maslany." I'm sure it sounds ridiculous to the uninitiated to say that you forget her characters are played by the same person. But you really do. It may not be evident at this stage, but the more you get to know Alison and Cosima, the more you see them as entirely distinct from Sarah. And there really were times throughout the series, when Tatiana would be playing against herself, and I would "literally forget" that she was doing it. The roles are so well defined and different, I just think of them as entirely separate people. Not the same person in different costumes. Tatiana's ability to do that is simply amazing. So fangirl away, sunbunny! Fangirl away!

  3. I am glad you have opened the floodgates for excessive fangirl-ing, because I don't think I will be able to control myself. TM is amazing. I absolutely forget that all these characters are played the same person, especially when she is Cosima, who reminds me of a friend of mine from grad school(coincidentally, in molecular biology). I have read that TM was a dancer, and I think that is why she is able to impart such different physicalities to the characters. It is especially impressive when she is one of the characters impersonating one of the others...the body language, the accents...She is even able to somehow show what the impersonator's JUDGEMENT of the impersonated person is. Amazing. She is an onion of acting talent.

    The quote you chose as the header was a standout. It is so awful and tells you so much about Alison.

    The quote from the hotel manager about the sink was hilarious.

    Alison becomes my favorite, even though she is rarely less than horrible.

    Sarah pressure washing the inside of her car was brilliant. I think that is when I fell in love with her character.

    I think one of the best signs of good writing is when it almost seems like different story the first time you see it and the second time, but it stands up just as well. Without getting spoiler-y, this show does that.

  4. I started watching this for Maria Doyle Kennedy and ended up watching the entire series in a day.

    It's like with Teen Wolf: you just have to push through the first episode or two to get to the good stuff.

  5. I was impressed. If this episode is weak, I can't wait for the rest.

    As you said, sunbunny, this one really made me like Sarah. The way she memorized and absorbed everything about the Chen case and then outwitted the shrink was impressive. I just loved the music when she was Sydney Bristow-ing her way into the hotel -- it was "These Boots are Made for Walking" in German.

    Alison creeped me out, with all of that constant playing with sharp objects.

    Thanks for reviewing this show. I never should have stopped with the pilot.

  6. I thought I was underwhelmed by this episode, but then I promptly watched the next one. So I guess I'm hooked!

  7. I am one that gave up after the pilot and I am still not 100% sure. I do really, really like the various attributes that Maslany manages to give to each of the girls -- impressive as hell.

    Sarah is an awesome person, troubled but awesome. I love how she is able to completely inhabit another character and her role as Katya was laugh out loud funny.

    Sounds as though things really kick off in the next one, so I will watch at least one more.

  8. Chris, I'll chime in and say, do stick with it. This series is amazing.


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