Orphan Black S1 Ep9&10 review

Some questions answered, but new ones asked

Sarah must decide what to do about Helena, Alison tries to regain her old life and Cosima makes a startling discovery as each of the three must determine whether to accept tempting offers as season one of Orphan Black draws to a conclusion.

After ten episodes, let’s look at where we have ended up with each of our three featured clones.

Alison

Alison wants nothing more than to return to safe, suburban normality, free from danger and constant monitoring. So when Dr Leekie promises exactly that in exchange for agreeing to twice-yearly tests, she readily accepts.

Convinced that nosy neighbour Aynsley is her monitor, she’s happy to stand by as she becomes fatally entangled in her own waste disposal (a gloriously macabre yet comedic moment). But Aynsley was never her monitor – husband Donnie is.

Cosima

Cosima’s motivation is two-fold: solving the genetic mysteries behind her and her sisters, and understanding why she is now coughing up blood, just as Katja did.

Leekie offers her data on the clones’ genomes and a job which would enable her to research this further. She is tempted.

Her relationship with Delphine comes full circle, first rejecting her after uncovering her association with Leekie, then accepting her declaration of love and her help in unlocking the genetic code which reveals that individual patents are written into each clone’s base pair sequences.

Sarah

Sarah’s aims have always focussed around her daughter Kira.

Her relief at Kira’s miraculous recovery drives her to redouble her efforts to protect her daughter. She finally shoots her twin Helena – but not before Helena has killed their birth mother Amelia – because her zealous instability threatens Kira’s safety.

When ‘pro-clone’ Rachel Duncan promises safety she is ready to accept until Cosima warns her off. But even then her worst nightmare comes true, as she returns to Mrs S’s and discovers the house ransacked and Kira gone.

Where next?

The final two episodes successfully bring the clone conspiracy to a partial resolution, while introducing us to a tenth version in Rachel Duncan and setting up several mysteries for next season.

It’s been a fun journey, with the final three episodes picking up the pace after some slack in the middle of the run. The whole affair has been underpinned by bravura performances from Tatiana Maslany and slick effects work which has seamlessly interwoven scenes with two or three clones without ever looking forced.

I’m looking forward to seeing what direction the show goes in for its second season, and to answering some key unanswered questions, such as:

  • For what purposes have the clones been patented? And who is Rachel Duncan really working for?
  • Does Kira have some kind of psychic ability? And is Cosima right in her suspicion that she may have enhanced stem cells which speed her healing processes?
  • Mrs S suggests that there’s something going on in England too which is spooking her contacts. Is it related to what is happening here?
  • Amelia warns Sarah that Mrs S is not all she seems. What’s the significance of the redacted photo she hands her?
  • It’s implied that the action Rachel orders is Kira’s abduction, but is that actually the case? Could it have been the Prometheans? Or Mrs S herself?
  • Why do some of the clones cough up blood? Is there an inherent flaw in their genetic make-up? And can it be cured?
  • Will Aynsley’s death be traced back to Alison, who must surely be a key person of interest if the police suspect foul play?

Orphan Black reviews

1.1 Natural Selection

1.2 Instinct

1.3 Variation Under Nature

1.4 Effects of External Conditions

1.5 Conditions of Existence

1.6 Variations Under Domestication

1.7 & 1.8 Parts Developed in an Unusual Manner & Entangled Bank

This review was originally posted on Metro.co.uk.

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2 Comments on Orphan Black S1 Ep9&10 review

  1. Liked it, didn’t love it. Tatiana Maslany was great throughout. But clones? Who cares? (Lots of people, I know, just not me.) And like the fatal flaw in a potential romantic partner, that’s always going to stop me from committing fully to Orphan Black.

    • I’m definitely in the pro-clone camp on this one, Jed. 🙂

      Personally I think the writers did a good job in keeping the sci-fi element largely in the background until the final few episodes, by which time we’d had a chance to grow to like the characters as individuals. But I can understand how you might want to do a Helena during the more high-concept (and well-trodden) sci-fi segments.

      Also agree with your review in that the series has been a little up-and-down in terms of episode-to-episode quality and pacing, but at the same time we’ve found a genuine star in Maslany and – tech geek alert! – the effects work in scenes with multiple clones has been top-notch. I do like me a nice bit of effects work.

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