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Better Know Your Clones, an 'Orphan Black' Primer

By Craig Wack | Lists | April 16, 2015 |

By Craig Wack | Lists | April 16, 2015 |

Lost in the returns of Mad Men and Games of Thrones,the arrival of Daredevil and the end of Justified is the Season 3 return of Orphan Black.

It’s the plucky little sci-fi show carried by the limitless talents of star Tatiana Maslany. If you have never heard of it, then you don’t know anyone who has seen it, because Clone Clubbers are a devoted bunch who like to talk about the show in the same way folks talk about going gluten-free.

If you need to catch up, IFC will marathon the first two seasons of the show starting at midnight Eastern on April 18 until the new season’s premiere at 9 p.m. on BBC America, Sundance, WeTV, AMC and IFC. (It will air on its regular home of BBC America after that).

In case you are all binged out or need a refresher since the last time we saw the clones, here’s a primer (Season 1 and 2 spoilers ahoy!).

Sarah Manning: Grifter, reluctant ringleader, mamma bear

Other clones may be more beloved, but Orphan Black is unquestioningly Sarah’s story. This train started with Sara stealing an identity and it’s barely slowed down since. Sarah’s made some inconsistent decisions along the way, but her goal has always been the same: find a safe haven for herself and her daughter, Kira. The deeper she’s gone investigating her origins the more family she’s added, which, given her noble heart, has complicated her life immeasurably.

Helena: Fanatic, assassin, lover of junk food

Helena is Sarah’s mirror twin seestra. Where Sarah was raised by her foster mother, Helena was raised in a convent in Ukraine before eventually falling into the hands of two ex-members of the Dyad Group (which created the clones) but had since joined the Prolethian cult. They trained Helena to hunt down and kill the other clones spread around the world as a self-flagellating Angel of Death. Helena started out as a thing that went bump in the night, but has evolved more than any character on the show. She can be loving (in her own way) but reverts to homicidal rage when pushed. Guess which trait she’s likely to display now that she’s been kidnapped by the military?

Cosima Neihaus: Geneticist, lover of Delphine, Living Search Engine

All the clones have a fatal flaw - an expiration date - and Cosima is living on borrowed time. She is often in the lab racing to find the cure that will save all the clones’ lives, so we more often than not see Cosima via Skype. Cosima is Sarah’s go to for any kind of research. Cosima is somehow simultaneously the cool kid and nerd of the group. Her deteriorating health has given the plot a sense of urgency, but the treasure trove of data she discovered in that dog-eared copy of Island of Moreau (long story) has given her new life.

Alison Hendrix: Soccer mom, addict, knows where the bodies are buried

Alison is upright, uptight and desperate to keep up appearances even when the world is crumbling around her. She’s the mother of two adopted kids (only Sarah and Helena have been able to have kids of their own) and wife to the bumbling Donnie, a Dyad monitor. Alison is often paired with Sarah’s bon vivant foster brother Felix to hilarious ends. She went to rehab after drunkenly falling off a stage during a community theater performance. Alison and Donnie were estranged for a little bit, but reconnected (with Alison bent over the deep freeze) after thwarting an ex-drug dealer, bluffing a cop and burying a body under their garage in the course of an afternoon.

Rachel Duncan: Cold, cruel, poor depth perception

Rachel was the villain of Season 2. After a loving early childhood with parents who were a part of the clone program, Rachel was ultimately raised in the Death Star Princess Suite at Dyad, fully aware of her clone status, which has made her as exactly well-adjusted as you’d expect a person nurtured by a corporation would be. She became enraged when she discovered that Sarah wasn’t sterile and wanted to use Sarah and Kira to reverse the limits that are keeping her from having a baby. The last time Rachel was around, Sarah had used an improvised air cannon to jab a pencil into Rachel’s eye. If she does come back I’m hoping rocks an eyepatch that matches her shoes or something.

Tony: On the run, transgender, fan service.

Let’s hope that Tony stays on the lam. The less we see of his scraggly neckbeard, the better.

Kira: Person of interest, little monkey, smartest person in the room

Sarah’s miracle daughter isn’t a clone but as the natural offspring of a person who is supposed to be sterile, the child is important. Kira blessed with intellect and more common sense than all the rest of the characters on the show put together. There’s also an empathy present that is important. Kira has been hunted by all sides in this conflict.

Charlotte: New generation, mysterious, normal girl

Introduced in the last few minutes of the Season 2 finale, Charlotte is the lone successful clone of the second generation. She’s been adopted by Marian Bowles, the head of Topside, the shadow corporation pulling Dyad’s strings. We don’t know much more about her, but like Kira, given who she is, she’ll play a big role in what’s to come.

Project Castor: Male, soldiers, scary plot twist

The other nugget unveiled in the Season 2 Finale was the existence of a set of male clones that were given to the military when Project Leda fell apart. There’s a loose male clone, Mark was also in the Prolethian cult. These clones will be the engine that will drive the plot in Season 3.

Craig Wack also suggests you brush up on your Greek myths before Saturday. Please follow his Twitter.

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