Orphan Black Rewatch: “Endless Forms Most Beautiful”

“Endless Forms Most Beautiful”
Written by Graeme Manson
Directed by John Fawcett
Season 1, Episode 10
Original Airdate June 2, 2013
Re-air date: November 16, 2013

What Happens: Sarah gets up from Kira’s bed to shut off the light. She descends into the living room and speaks with Mrs. S. and Amelia about introducing Helena to Amelia. When they head into the basement (where Helena is tied up), Amelia says she needs to speak with Sarah away from the house; she has something to tell her about the in-vitro treatment. When Sarah introduces Amelia as their mother, Helena laughs. “How can you be my birth mother?” Upstairs, Mrs. S. begins to go through Amelia’s bag and finds a bound pad with a photo in an envelope. Kira comes down the stairs and surprises Mrs. S; “I think something bad is going to happen again.”

Back in the basement, Amelia explains the twin situation to Helena. Upstairs, a banging on the door from the police sends the house into chaos as Art and Deangelis come in guns blazing and arrest Sarah while Helena finally breaks from her restraints in the basement.

At the police station, Art tells Sarah that she’s been obstructing the investigation from the moment she took over Beth’s identity. Felix is also in custody, and Art indicates Kira will be one lonely little girl if Sarah doesn’t tell her story. She thinks Art won’t believe it. “Try me,” he says.

Alison is working out to “Hip Hop Abs” when Dr. Leekie rings her doorbell. He wants her to sign a contract, but Alison is not a stupid suburbanite. Leekie offers her answers, but she just wants her life back. Leekie hands over a packet of paper and says it will give her life back, safe from Helena and without a Monitor, but she just needs to agree to some regular tests. He tells Alison that her monitor has already been lifted. “She has?” Alison asks.

Cosima waits at a bus stop, coughing up blood when Leekie appears. He offers her a similar deal as he did Alison, plus a lift to the hotel. Leekie claims to want to work with Cosima, and as a show of good faith he hands her a hard drive containing the clones’ sequenced genome.

Art walks back into the interrogation room with Beth’s phone, and plays Sarah the message/confession from earlier in the show about Beth’s body. Art wants her to help him, but Sarah wants a guarantee that Kira will be safe. Sarah seems about to open up to Art when a lawyer, claiming to be Sarah’s lawyer, walks in and whisks her away before she can say anything. Sarah looks as surprised as Art looks pissed.

The lawyer, Daniel Rosen, walks Sarah into an empty floor of an office building where she meets with Paul. He seems not to know what’s going on, but says she should listen to what they say; he is also concerned that they are still holding an incident in Afghanistan against him. Sarah walks across the dark, empty office and sees the back of a short-haired blond woman dressed in a business suit. When the woman turns around, we meet Rachel Duncan, who is played by Tatiana Maslany. You didn’t think we’d get through the finale without meeting another clone/genetic identical, did you?

Rachel and Sarah review an agreement similar to the one Leekie offered earlier to Cosima and Alison. Rachel’s role is to transition Sarah to “self-awareness.” She claims not to be the enemy, that rather Helena and her ilk are. Rachel knows that Sarah wants make the right choice for Kira, and says that Sarah is “lucky.” Rachel offers protection for Sarah and her daughter, but Sarah isn’t interested. Rachel gives her 24 hours to think it over.

Back at Felix’s apartment, Alison, Felix and Sarah are hashing out the details of the contract when Cosima comes knocking; the clone club is in full swing! Cosima explains that she’s been offered a position at the Dyad institute and that she can help from the inside. But, she does warn that Kira, a girl born from a clone, may be what they are after in the long run. Alison insists that if there are no more spies in her life and her kids are safe, she has to take the deal.

Back at home, Alison goes is bringing the recycling out to the curb when she notices a For Sale/Sold sign in front of Aynsley’s house. (She got a deal on the house, while Chad took the dog.) Alison follows Aynsley into the house, yelling “Admit it…you know Dr. Leekie.” The two women argue and Aynsley angrily stuffs one of Alison’s gifts into the garbage disposal when her scarf gets caught, choking her. She begs Alison for help, but Alison instead watches Aynsley choke to death. Alison hastily walks out, leaving Aynsley’s body in the kitchen.

Meanwhile, Art and Deangelis look over some of the clone paperwork, saying it will take weeks to sort out. Art suggests they find Vic, and they track him to an AA meeting. They approach Vic and ask him about Sarah. Vic tells them the last time he saw Sarah she was living as a housewife in the suburbs. Jump to Art and Deangelis parked outside Alison’s house…

Sarah packs Kira’s stuff with Felix, and tells Kira the bag is a secret—they may be going on a trip. Mrs. S. waits downstairs with a shotgun by her side, nervous and on edge as Sarah leaves to go meet with Amelia.

Cosima coughs up more blood at Felix’s apartment; Felix asks if she’s okay when a knock on the door reveals Delphine. Felix looks over her and says “Oh, now I get it… It’s Delphine, she’s got baggage.” Delphine promises Cosima that she didn’t tell Leekie about Kira. She tells Cosima that Leekie is a liar and that she won’t find the DNA on the hard drive. Delphine claims to be on Cosima’s side. Cosima thinks the DNA contains a message.

Ameila meets Sarah at the townhouse. She wonders how Helena and Sarah can be so different, then warns Sarah that Mrs. S. is not who she says she is. Sarah whispers, “How do they put baby in you?” just before stabbing Amelia in the stomach. As Amelia falls back she pulls at Sarah’s hair, which turns out to be a wig, revealing Helena. “You gave me to them,” Helena says angry.

Sarah arrives at the townhouse sometime later to find a blood trail and wig, realizing what happened. Her phone rings, and Helena invites Sarah to come join them.

Alison is crying in her kitchen with an empty glass of wine. Donnie apologizes for the intervention, but she’s still crying. He says they can put it all behind them, which is just what she needed to hear. Of course he doesn’t know about Aynsley.

Cosima and Delphine look over the DNA files at Felix’s apartment, trying to figure what the DNA can tell them. Delphine knows Cosima’s specific sequence, so she can isolate it and look for other patterns. Eventually they realize they need to look at the DNA through a more simplified coding from about thirty years ago, when the clones were first created.

Sarah enters a darkened warehouse, sees the blood trail and pulls out her gun while shouting for Helena. She finds Amelia, who is dying. Amelia hands Sarah a picture, telling her it is of her foster mother. The photo depicts two scientists with an armed soldier or guard in the background. The back has a sticker dated 1977 and is marked “Project LEDA” but the scientists’ names are blacked out.

Helena enters with a flare as Amelia dies. Helena and Sarah exchange words before fighting; Helena at first has the upper hand, choking Sarah with a chain. Helena claims she “wants to make a family,” but Sarah shoots and kills her. Sarah is in tears, bloody and bruised, when she makes a phone call to Rachel. She says, “I want to know my daughter won’t have to live like this, I’m coming in.”

Alison signs the agreement and begins faxing it when she sees flashing police lights in front of Aynsley’s house. Rachel receives the contract via e-mail: “One down, two to go.” Donnie walks into the home office as Alison finishes faxing. He asks what’s going on (presumably with the flashing lights), and Alison replies, “It is none of our business.” He’s in a track suit and heads out for a run, which makes Alison happy.

Sarah arrives at the office building and meets Paul in the elevator. He admits that he was a private contractor in Afghanistan, and killed six Marines. Leekie’s people covered it up in exchange for his services as a monitor. Cosima calls Sarah and tells her, “you can’t make a deal…any freedom they promise is bullshit…the sequence shows the clones to be patented, they own the clones…they could claim Kira.”

Heading out on his jog, Donnie passes the emergency vehicles in front of Aynsley’s house and continues to a parked limo where he meets with Leekie. Donnie tells the doctor that they’re “Back on track… it’s not easy—she’s not easy.” Donnie was Alison’s monitor all along.

The elevator reaches Rachel’s floor, where the lawyer finds an empty elevator car. Sarah sent an e-mail to Rachel: “UP YOURS PROCLONE.” Rachel makes a phone call to an unknown person, saying “You know what to do.”

“This organism and derivative genetic material are is restricted intellectual property.” flashes across Cosmia’s computer screen

Sarah gets back to Mrs. S.’s house to find everything a mess, as if the house was ransacked. The house is empty—Kira and Mrs. S. are gone and the first season ends with Sarah shouting out of Kira’s window for her now missing/abducted daughter.

Commentary: You stole Kira! You Bastards! I refer to the writers/creators of course, because holy buckets is that a cliff hanger of an ending. It was building to a point, in retrosepect, where no other ending would have been appropriate. A reunion between Kira and Sarah would have been a short term goal that may have worked, but in the long term of the show, would have robbed the story (from both a creator and viewer perspective) of its power. It would have also been untrue to the foundation laid before it—there are no easy answers in the world of Orphan Black and our characters don’t get what they want or deserve in many instances.

What else did we get? Well, Clones can be intellectual property and be legally owned. I doubt in the real world that idea would hold weight, but the writers did such a good job throughout the series with all the other elements of the story, I’m willing to take this logic leap.

We also got to see three clones on the screen at the same time since (I think) Cosima and Sarah first met at Alison’s home. Again, seamless acting and visual effects to make this happen, but that’s the norm, right? Maslany’s performance and the smooth integration of three of her made it easy for me to take for granted that it was one actor. Smart work there to make such a challenging thing look and feel so easy and commonplace.

It took me a few takes to hear what Amelia told Sarah, but it’s out in the open (even if it seemed to be a different person portraying Mrs. S. in the photo)—Mrs. S., full name Siobhan Sadler was part of the clone experiments. At the very least she knew about the clone experiments, though how closely she’s tied to Dr. Leekie remains to be seen. Perhaps a different clone test? Perhaps she wanted to run her own experiment? The truth of who Siobahn is just another unanswered question that will leave us hanging for six months (or a year for those of us who were watching the show on its initial run).

Who is Rachel Duncan? Is she the original? We caught a glimpse of her backside and heard her in episode nine, but the cropped blonde version of Tatiana Maslany gets the full reveal here, in a physical sense. Was she a clone raised to be the face of Neolution? Clearly she knows Dr. Leekie, so she’s high up in the clone conspiracy organization. The way the episode flowed leads us to believe (okay, led me to believe) the call she made was to Mrs. S., who then took Kira.

Helena is gone, and her affected accent and body ticks will be missed. Seriously, Helena was pretty complex and torn throughout the series. She never knew who she could trust, she was beaten, abused, showed glimpses of humanity and yearned for something positive which she saw in Kira and maybe her relationship with Sarah. A little call out to mythology with Project LEDA, presumably the name of the cloning project. The myth of Leda involves Zeus seducing Leda, who as a result gives birth to two sets of twins, including one girl named Helen—as in Helen of Troy.

So, as it stands, Sarah truly is an orphan now since her birth mother (or who we are told is her birth mother) is dead and her sister is dead by her own hand. Killing in self-defense is one thing; I imagine killing your own blood might have some traumatic long term effects, but likely not as much as finding Kira and Mrs. S. missing. I’m not sure where Paul stands by episode’s end; while he seemed to be supporting her, he was also implying Sarah should take the deal. She’ll always have Felix, though, even if he wasn’t in this episode quite as much as previous episodes.

Let’s get to Alison, shall we? While she didn’t outright murder Aynsley, she did the next closest thing by not preventing her death. In her mind, her trouble is out of the way and she can live her happy suburban life with husband and children. Of course when Donnie gets into Leekie’s car, we realize Donnie’s been doing the best job of playing dual roles of any character on the show all season. Dude didn’t crack at all, despite the intervention, hot glue gun, and golf club to the head. I wonder if we’ve seen the last of Alison Hendrix, it would seem the writers have given themselves the opportunity to at the least, have her around only as a very minor character next season

Cosima… poor Cosima. Lovestruck and suffering the same bloody cough that seemed to have affected Katja. The smart ones are sometimes the toughest ones to let go. With Delphine’s assistance (and who is to say Delphine still isn’t on Team Leekie), she determined the clones are owned by Leekie and co. I’d hate for her to not be around in season two, but with that illness it appears her days are numbered.

By and large; though, to call this whole season anything but a success would be foolhardy and inaccurate. It made waves and drew widespread acclaim; launched the career of Tatina Maslany; helped BBC America continue to cement a solid foundation of great programming; played smartly with its science; brought the craziness of Science Fiction into the story at appropriate times; and has many folks very eager to see what happens next to Sarah Manning, Felix Dawkins, and Kira.

Things to think about for next season:

  • Will Mrs. S.’s role be fully revealed?
  • How does Rachel fit into the Neolution organization chart?
  • Will we see more clones of Sarah? (I suspect the answer to be yes)
  • Will all the clones who were alive in the first episode make it through next season? (Likely not)
  • Will we see clones of other characters, perhaps different versions of Felix?
  • How will Art figure into things?
  • Is Paul on Team Leekie or Team Sarah?
  • What is the full extent of Kira’s superpowers?

We’ll find out April 14 when Season 2 premieres.

I’d like to take the time to thank the commenters who have been keeping up with this little re-watch from the beginning. ChristopherLBennett and RobMRobM in particular have illuminated some points in a light different than I originally viewed them.

Clone Count (episode): 5—Sarah, Cosima, Alison, Rachel, and Helena
Clone Total (series*): A new clone! We are now at 7—Sarah, Beth (deceased), Alison, Cosima, Katja (deceased), Helena (deceased?), Rachel Duncan
*I’m only counting those we’ve met in a physical sense, not just names on a sheet of paper

Clone Layers: Helena pretending to be Sarah one last time; Sarah sheds her Beth clone layer and reveals her true identity to Art.

Sexy Time: Nope.

Hey, it’s that guy/gal!: One new familiar face to the show: the Lawyer Daniel Rosen portrayed by Matthew Bennett. He is likely most recognizable to genre fans as Aaron Doral from Battlestar Galactica, one of the Cylons who impersonated humans.

Rob Bedford lives in NJ with his wife and dog. He reviews books and moderates forums at SFFWorld, runs a blog about stuff, and contributes to SF Signal. If you want to read random thoughts about books, TV, his dog, beer, and hockey, you can follow him on Twitter: @RobHBedford.


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