Mon
Nov 18 2013 11:00am

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.

9 comments
Rob Munnelly
1. RobMRobM
Thanks for the shout out Rob, it's been a fun series of posts. Thanks for your work on it.

Re the finale - I'm getting the strong feeling that Mrs S was involved deeply in the project, had serious misgivings, and when she was able to find Sarah through Carleton, she got custody and then took off with S and F. That's why they left England for Canada and she keeps saying she's ready to take off again if any of the clonestorm gets close to Kira. So I think Mrs S and Kira are both kidnapped.

I love the birdwatching scene in ep 2 and any early hint that Mrs. S is more sophisticated than she might appear.

If she's Mrs. S, who is Mr. S? That's an open question worth investigating.

Speculating even further, I wonder if Mrs. S is genetically related to Sarah and the rest of the clones. They could pass as mother and daughter if you look closely enough.

I'm dying to know if Felix was brought along as a coincidence or whether he is a black orphan as well. I'd love to see an investment banker Felix or Farmer Felix show up in Seasons 2.

Re Art, he represents the thermonuclear option if Proclone doesn't give Kira back ASAP. Neolution has a physical presence in *Toronto* at the club and Art could put a lot of pressure on them re kidnapping or other charges. I assume Sarah's going to either threaten that or do it ASAP in season 2.

Re Cosima - she's going to have to work on herself to figure out the problem of the lung disease. Having D as an immunology person is probably a really good thing for her survival prospects. Still, not certain she will make it.

Re Allison - hip hop abs for the win! I'm worried about how things will play out now that she is under contract. And even more worried what will happen to her mentally when she finds out Aynsely was innocent.

Re more clones - yes!! but I wonder how they'll fit in (a South american clone? Israeli?). Wonder if there is a finite number of them - I assume yes. 16? Including or excluding Sarah and Helena?

Re Kira superpowers - yes!! Has to be something but doubt it is someithing on the level of Heroes.

In sum a fun show and can't wait until next april.

Rob
Christopher Bennett
2. ChristopherLBennett
Thanks for the shout-out, Robert, but I'm afraid our points of view are very different on this one. This is where the show pretty much lost me. The final twist about the clones is completely ridiculous. The clones are patented? So what? A patent is only useful if it can be enforced. The company wouldn't dare go to a court of law and say "Hey, we created live human clones based on our patented gene sequences and so we want you to protect our right to own them as slaves." They'd be exposing themselves to prosecution. So really they have no leverage at all over Sarah and the others.

On the contrary, it's the clones who have all the leverage. All they need is to go public and get a good lawyer, and they can get the public and the government on their side and totally ruin Leekie's people. This is the problem with most TV series based upon the aliens or mutants or robots living among us in secret and trying to avoid annihilation or domination. Most of the time, if they'd just reveal their existence to the public, get a good lawyer and a good PR person, their problems would be solved. They're hurting themselves by keeping their existence secret. (The CW's The Tomorrow People has the same problem. There's no way the Ultra organization could get away with murdering teenagers if the public knew what they were doing.) The problem with these shows is that they're trying to maintain the conceit that they take place in the real world, so they have the characters keep everything secret so as not to upset the status quo of everyday life. But that's a ridiculous conceit because any rational viewer knows they're watching fiction anyway, so it doesn't have to match the real world. And the characters' insistence on secrecy often does them more harm than good, which is definitely the case here.

The other thing that totally lost me was Alison letting Aynsley die. That was just too broad and over-the-top. Why did she even do it? She didn't even know for sure that Aynsley was her monitor, just suspected. And she'd been told that her monitor was leaving, that she had nothing more to fear. So even if Aynsley had been her former monitor, what did Alison have to gain by letting her die? It felt like a forced, arbitrary plot twist for the sake of shock value.

As for Mrs. S. turning out to be part of the conspiracy, that was boringly predictable. This is why I don't like conspiracy/paranoia-driven shows -- they're completely predictable because it's a given that everything will turn out badly and anyone who seems trustworthy will turn out to be sinister.

The one thing I really liked here was Vic getting into rehab and turning his life around. That was an actual surprise, and a pleasant one. It did a lot to redeem what was otherwise a rather annoying character.

And I do have to hand it to Donnie. He was far more committed to his part than Paul ever was.

Honestly, I'm not sure how interested I am in the second season, given how completely the show went off the rails for me here. I wasn't a huge fan of it overall; Maslany's acting was the main appeal. That might be enough to make me at least give the second season a try. We'll see.
a1ay
3. a1ay
BTW, for anyone wondering, the title is a quote from the last sentence of "The Origin of Species"...
Christopher Bennett
4. ChristopherLBennett
@3: Yep -- every episode title was taken from that book. I wonder if they'll continue the trend next season or maybe switch to a different Darwin book (or maybe something by Wallace or Steven Jay Gould or somebody?).
Rocky
5. spacechampion
Synthetic genes are patentable according to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, but Neolution is likely using a fog of bullshit to try making the clones think they are slaves or they have any right to take Kira away. Neolution can patent the genes but not own the person. I don't know why that would "lose" anybody though; corporations and governments trying to bullshit their way through things of dubious legality is a time-honoured tradition. I'm sure many episodes will highlight the legal issues in the future. But there are surely consequences to the clones if they go public. One, more people might want them dead as "sins against God". Two, endless media scrutiny. Three, legal problems from hell when they don't have the funds to fight it. Four, "do-gooders" using the excuse of clonedom = child abuse to take Kira away from Sarah. Social workers typically act on accusations without evidence, don't they?
Rob Munnelly
6. RobMRobM
I didn't have a huge problem with the plausibility of the gene patent issue. Yes, at least in the States it would almost certainly be declared void as against public policy but it is a first impression issue anywhere, we don't know which countries's laws would apply from a conflict of law standpoint and, most importantly, the clones are dealing with their own lives so can't take anything at face value. So in the real world there would be more serious discussions of enforceability but no doubt that will get addressed in season 2. I can accept it for dramatic purposes at this point in the story.

I have a bigger issue with Joe lawyer coming in and springing sarah fromthe police station. Where is her consent to be represented in the first place? Where is the court order that springs her prior to arraignment? Grounds? But I'll accept that for dramatic purposes as long as other things hold together.
a1ay
7. Sanagi
I too had concerns about this episode. It was starting to look like the whole conspiracy was going to be blown wide open, and now everything's seemingly under wraps again. Part of what made season 1 so great up to this point was that it never settled into a status quo, and every revelation had consequences. I'm looking forward to season 2 but I hope there's an ending in sight. I don't want the show to turn into a soap opera.
Rob Munnelly
8. RobMRobM
Just announced - new season starts on the palindromic date of 4/19/14.
Christopher Bennett
9. ChristopherLBennett
Thread bump, since the excellent Law and the Multiverse blog has finally weighed in on the legal issues raised by Orphan Black. To the question of whether it would be legal to clone humans, the answer is basically yes. But according to LatM's legal experts, the show's conceit that the clones could be patented is, in proper legal parlance, "Wrong, wrong, wrongity wrong." They elaborate:
In Canada it’s not possible to patent any higher life forms, not even “simple” animals such as genetically engineered mice (plants are okay, though, for reasons that strike some as unprincipled). ... It is likely that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms would prohibit exerting ownership over a human being via a patent in any case.
...
Next up: patents have a limited term, and they must be filed for within a certain time after an invention has been in public use. The law on this varies from country to country and has varied over time as well, but the bottom line is that there is almost no way that Dyad can have a valid patent that covers Sarah and the clones in 2014. Such a patent would either have to have been filed for in the 1970s, in which case it would be expired now, or it would have to have been filed for more recently, in which case it would be invalid. ...

Finally: patents are public. The word patent literally means “open.” If Dyad owned patents on a method for producing viable human clones (or on genetically engineered humans, or both) it would be public knowledge and a huge deal. Certainly Cosima would be aware of it.

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