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Orphan Black: Unconscious Selection

“Blood is thicker than you think.”

This episode manages to cover the tragic, the hilarious, and the shocking, while still remaining a fairly standard episode of Orphan Black. I’m not speaking ill of this episode; I’m speaking well of Orphan Black.

This might be the hardest to watch episode of the first season. Between Sarah’s grief and worry over Kira and Tomas’s cruel treatment of Helena, it’s one of those hours of television I watch ready to fast forward through anything too upsetting. Let’s talk about these moments quickly, so I don’t have to dwell, okay? Kira’s fine, likely because there’s something different about her. Helena is caged like a wild animal by her...uh...Tomas, but finally turns on him when he makes her choose between him and Sarah. It’s all very well-acted by Tatiana Maslany and Tatiana Maslany, but it’s also seriously distressing.

Helena and Sarah are twins. Raise your hand if you saw that one coming. It’s okay, I didn’t either. I want to take this as proof positive Sarah is not the original. Leekie calls Helena “the lost clone,” and, if one twin is a clone, the other is a clone. If one is the original, the other is (another) original. So, Sarah is (I think) not the original. I like this. I would be extremely upset with Sarah being the original. Why? Because of the inherent message that Sarah’s ability to reproduce is what makes her the original, what defines her as real. Please don’t do this, show.

Let’s talk about the Neolutionists. Are they frightening? Do they make viable villains? The scariest thing they’ve done so far is killing Olivier (who totally had it coming). They don’t seem to be out to hurt the clones. The monitors are just instructed to observe, not to take any action. Is that really so very bad? The Neolutionists created our clone club, which is illegal, but I find myself asking is that evil? No, it’s not. Creepy? Yes. But, in my mind, the Neolutionsists aren’t very effective villains. Leekie peacefully interacts with Cosima and Sarah. He’s not the most comforting of people, but he just doesn’t rate with my favorite TV villains. Sloane. Angelus. Lucifer. A lack of scientific ethics just doesn’t seem the same. Hopefully the Neolutionists will scary up next season.

Alright, enough of that, onto my favorite part of the episode: Alison and Felix. I love Alison and Felix, even more than Sarah and Felix. The two characters play off each other so well and it’s so nice to see Alison with a genuine friend (you get the idea that’s a rather new experience for her). The ill-fated intervention was just priceless. I loved Alison facing off against her entire neighborhood, with only Felix in her corner. Felix started off the series hostile to Alison and her suburban lifestyle, while she did not appreciate his babysitting technique of teaching her children about cross-dressing. They’ve really come together as the season has progressed. I like it. Paul’s constant presence in Sarah’s life might have meant Felix was sidelined as a character, but this, thankfully, is not the case.

Bits and Pieces:

Sarah keeps saying the car ran Kira over when really it hit her and she bounced. I’m guessing they were planning on Kira’s accident being more dramatic, but toned it down in post-production.

What the hell was on that ultrasound?

Felix’s face when Alison says she’ll only talk to him is priceless.

Why does Felix have such an expensive vacuum cleaner?

Tomas says it’s not possible that Kira is Sarah’s daughter.


Felix: “I need to change. Fetch me something gay.”

Sarah: “Cosima, Kira’s not a lizard.”

Sarah: “I worry about scientists more than science.”

Mrs. S: “One of the great things about this country: hunting’s not just for the rich.”

Felix: “Felix. Gay friend.”
Alison: “Acting coach.”
Reverend: “Oh, that’s perfectly fine here.”
Felix: “Which one?”

Felix: “Sharsies?”

Delphine: “You know, I’d never been with a woman before.”
Cosima: “Yeah, it showed.”

Felix: “That went very well.”
Alison: “I think it went well.”
Felix: “Yeah.”

three out of four Kira lizards
sunbunny, who is probably not played by Tatiana Maslany


  1. I also loved Felix and Alison together. Hey, I love them separately, too.

    It's funny, but I really did want Sarah to be the original, so this was a little disappointing. Although you're right that it makes the other clones seem a bit less important.

  2. Yeah, I was also nursing the "Sarah is the original" theory at this point, so the reveals of this episode threw me, too. But I grew to like the "twist" after the fact.

    I thought the hospital scenes were incredibly powerful. Felix, Mrs. S, and Sarah supporting and comforting each other was really, really touching and made me invest in them far more as characters. I remember being genuinely choked up and moved by that early stuff. Even by Allison's attempts to help and be there for them in small ways. Very humanizing moments.

    And the later scene with Felix and Allison in the bathroom was equally magical. Such a lovely moment for both of them. I also rather loved her organizing his assorted paraphernalia at the loft. :) I'm glad they have each other.

  3. Sarah not being the original totally worked for me. In fact, I didn’t want her to be. Scifi shows tend to label their protagonists as special among their kind. Dollhouse did it, Dark Angel too. It seemed that Orphan Black was going on that direction as well (and the writers built that possibility so naturally, didn’t they?), and then the show gave us a marvelous twist.

    I liked that Sarah is just another clone, the things making her special being what Alison drove home on the previous episode (her ability to say “eff it”) and what Mrs. S. said as well (“you are a survivor”). Plus, it opens so many plot possibilities for Kira. Up to this point, Kira functioned as the most important part of Sarah’s life, the part she can’t lose, the part her enemies might want to put their hands on just to mess with her. Kira had no direct connection to the scifi elements of the story, though. Now, it’s a totally different story. She has just been integrated to the scifi plot as well, being an anomaly, like Delphine said, and therefore that more important to the scientists who created and study the clones.

    I can’t stop praising the writers, really, I can’t. The first time we see Sarah, back on the pilot, she’s on the phone asking about Kira. As the season goes on, we see how the characters act around Kira. Mrs. S., Felix and Sarah herself. They all want to protect the child, like they should. Alison notices that Kira is special. We notice it too, like last episode, when she was so sweet to her aunt Helena. Now that we feel how important Kira is to the human aspects of the show, the writers give us a little note that says: “oh, by the way, she’s also very important science wise”. They rock.

    The Powers That Be have also built a very tight story. I can only imagine how it was like.

    - So, let’s make a show about a woman who discovers she’s a clone.
    - Oh, yeah. The clones being a clandestine experiment of mad scientists.
    - Yes. So, the woman sees another woman who looks just like her killing herself. Then she takes the deceased’s identity. People will think it’s the classical twin story at first.
    - And then we introduce another clone.
    - Exactly. And little by little she will unfold the truth.
    - But, wait, if they are an experiment, then someone is keeping an eye on them, right?
    - Yes. Let’s have them have watchers of some kind.
    - So how is our protagonist going to be able to take the other woman’s life without being noticed? Her watcher will know.
    - Not if she doesn’t have a watcher. We can say she has escaped from the mad scientists’ vigilance somehow.
    - Oh, good. Now, how about getting some religious villains on the mix?

    Seriously, everything holds together on this show. It’s marvelous to rewatch the season and see Helena and Sarah’s interaction. On “Variation Under Nature”, Helena refrained herself from killing Sarah, and one could say that was merely plot convenience, because the main character can’t die. But it wasn’t. The actual reason? Blood is thicker than we think. On “Effects of External Conditions”, Sarah is both desperate to understand what happened to Helena and to put an end to her as a threat, only she can’t. Because they have a connection. Helena felt it, and so did Sarah. So when Amelia reveals they are twins, all I could think was This. Show. Rocks.

  4. Other bits:

    - Even though the cops are far behind us, I like how things are coming together for them. Art discovering that Beth was the real jumper was a very powerful scene.

    - How awesome is Alison? And Alison and Felix? Seriously. I laughed out loud when Alison was cleaning Felix’s apartment. I could totally see my mother doing something like that. I would kill to know what was the paraphernalia under Felix’s bed. Given his reaction (“did you wash that too?”) it must have been sex paraphernalia. Then at her house, their scene in the bathroom was lovely as much as Alison’s bursting out at her intervention was awesome and hilarious.

    - On the villains, I didn’t like the Neolution crap at first (that being this season’s only flaw), but I thought they made good villains on the last couple of episodes. I’ll save more words on them for the finale.

  5. Lamounier - THANK YOU for your lovely comment! Made my night. :)

    I swear, it's impossible not to love this show.

  6. sunbunny, I need to thank you, since it was your review of the pilot that made me take a look at the show in the first place. ;)

    One more thing I forgot about this episode: even though at this point I disliked Cosima a lot (seriously, how fool for love was she?), I liked her exchange with Delphine about the danger she was facing. Her line “then you are the real danger, Delphine” was a great one, and Tatiana’s delivery was very Sarah-esque, a small moment where you are reminded all these characters are played by the same actress.

  7. ZOMG. This show... I don't even...

    CTV (a Canadian tv channel) has been re-running Season 1, and I'm so glad to have caught it from the very beginning. I'm not going to repeat all the (well-deserved) fangirling & -boying over the acting (especially Tatiana), the writing, the plotting, the pacing, the everything-ing. (Though I do want to say how great it is to see Kevin Hanchard in a recurring TV role, since I went to the same arts high school he did. :-) )

    I just want to say that every time I think I've got a handle on what's going on, the show pulls the rug out from under me in a way that's so totally believable, it makes me wonder why I didn't see it coming.

    I'm sad there's only one more episode left, and I'll have to wait months and months for Season 2.

  8. Please, fangirl away! I'm so happy people keep coming to this show. I hope it gets crazy crazy famous and our beloved Tat gets those Emmy nominations she so richly deserves. :)


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