Nov 11 2013 11:00am

Orphan Black Rewatch: “Unconscious Selection”

Orphan Black Unconscious Selection “Unconscious Selection”
Written by Alex Levine
Directed by TJ Scott
Season 1, Episode 9
Original Airdate May 25, 2013
Re-air date: November 9, 2013

What Happens: The ambulance carrying Kira, Sarah and Mrs. S. rushes to the hospital, and blood can be seen trickling down Kira’s head. In the hospital waiting room, Sarah beats herself up, but Mrs. S. tells her she shouldn’t blame herself. Alison appears at the hospital, saying “I can’t help but feel it’s my daughter in there.” Felix offers up his apartment for Alison to use while they wait for news on Kira’s condition.

A nurse tells the doctor he needs to see something with Kira. Seconds later, he walks out and tells Sarah that Kira’s going to be fine and that she’s a very lucky girl. There’s that word again… At home, a chandelier in Kira’s room flickers and she wakes saying, “She looks like you, she looks like mommy.”

Meanwhile, Helena is slapping herself, shaking on a bed in front of Tomas who tells her to pull herself together. He grabs the letter written by Kira and tells Helena that Kira is valuable. When Helena tries to apologize, Tomas starts hitting her.

Orphan Black Unconscious Selection

At the police station, Deangelis thinks they need to bring Beth back into the station. She argues with Art when the captain asks them what’s going on with the case, that maybe they need a fresh pair of eyes. The captain walks away and Art stands up for Beth, but Deangelis thinks Beth has something on Art.

At Paul and Beth’s apartment (throughout the series they flip flop between calling it an apartment and a townhouse), Leekie informs Paul that he knows the security footage at Olivier’s club was tampered with and that two clones were in the club the night before. Leekie has searched for the lost clone for years thinking only of Helena until he drops the name Sarah Manning.

Orphan Black Unconscious Selection

Alison is in Felix’s apartment doing the only thing she can to cope—cleaning his flat. Felix is rather unhappy at the cleanliness, and asks about the “drug paraphernalia.” Alison’s kids are with her mother, but she asks if she can hang at Felix’s until she finds an apartment. Alison needs to go get some stuff from her home, and asks Felix to be her “wing man.” He hesitatingly agrees, but needs to change clothes and asks Alison to “fetch me something gay.” Great chemistry between these two characters.

Cosima and Sarah chat on their clone phones while Cosima is back in the school lab and Sarah is at Mrs. S’s house. Sarah wants to know if Kira is somehow different because she’s Sarah’s child. Cosima asks if Sarah would send some of her and Kira’s DNA, saying that she’ll following the science.

The doorbell rings, and it is Paul. Mrs. S smiles widely when he enters, but he has bad news—Dr. Leekie knows who she is. Leekie wants to meet with Sarah, and Paul sees this as an opportunity. They both agree it has to be on Sarah’s terms.

Orphan Black Unconscious Selection

Tomas locks Helena in a cage—the animal metaphor is literal now. Clearly, he’s a little disappointed in her efforts to get Sarah, and is angry that Kira slipped away from her.

Cosima’s lab buddy provides her with the DNA reports about the “respiratory disease” she asked about a few episodes back. Delphine enters the lab, asking if she can come over later. They kiss before Delphine leaves.

Sarah kisses Kira goodbye and asks Mrs. S to watch over her. Mrs. S. says she’ll be safe, as she leans on a shotgun. On her way out, Sarah receives a call on Beth’s phone from Art—he says she has one last chance to tell the truth.

Orphan Black Unconscious Selection

Alison and Felix walk into her home only to find Donnie, Aynsley, and a few other neighbors waiting to ambush her with an intervention. Donnie says she needs to stop with the pills and drugs and tells everyone how she abused him. Aynsely, never one to keep quiet, brings up how Alison slept with her husband, Chad. When Donnie tells Alison that it is about more than the two of them and asks if she wants to break up the family, she walks upstairs in tears.

At a rock quarry, “Beth” meets Art, who only gets “two minutes for two years by her side.” Art flashes a photo of Felix, saying Beth was at Felix’s apartment, and that it all comes back to Maggie Chen. “We do what we gotta do,” Sarah says before driving away. She pulls up to a work site whilst on the Clone Phone with Cosima. They are talking about the DNA, and Cosima says they can tell the clones apart by the DNA due to a bar code. This still doesn’t explain how Leekie knows her name, so Sarah asks Cosima what she said to Delphine—she fears that they are one step closer to Kira. Cosima confirms that Sarah is the first and only one of the clones to bear a child. Sarah says she’s about to meet Leekie, who is led into the trailer, blindfolded, by Paul. A strange emotion crosses Leekie’s face when he gazes upon Sarah, perhaps pride or a sense of accomplishment?

Meanwhile, Helena’s still knocking around her cage looking for any means of escape.

Orphan Black Unconscious Selection

Leekie has a lot of questions for Sarah. He needs to know about Helena, and Paul asks him about Tomas. Leekie explains that Tomas is a religious extremist, part of a group called “Proletheans” who oppose the Neolutionists; Maggie Chen was a Proletheans who infiltrated Leekie’s group. Leekie asks Sarah to bring Helena to them so they can deprogram them. Leekie said if she does that, they (Neoloution) will allow the clones to live freely.

At Cosima’s apartment, Delphine walks in to find a deflated Cosima, who looks as if she’s been crying. Cosima pulls up a picture of Leekie’s group on the web that clearly shows Delphine.

Orphan Black Unconscious Selection

Alison has locked herself in her bathroom, and she’ll only talk to Felix. He enters, giving her three “friends” (Aynsley, Meera, and Charity) all a smug grim. Felix tells Alison to “pull her chin up…face the music, eat some humble pie…and live to fight another day.” Alison agrees, and asks Felix to help put on her face.

Back at Mrs. S.’s place she and Sarah and debates what to do about Helena. Sarah is torn between helping Helena and putting a bullet through her head; Mrs. S. says Sarah owes nothing to Helena. Mrs. S. got in touch with her people in England to find more about Sarah’s origins, but they are “…scared. Something is going on over there, too.”

Cosima packs up her stuff and asks Delphine what she told Leekie. Delphine insists she’s kept Kira a secret, and Cosima yells that they need to stay away from the little girl. Both women are crying, and Delphine explains that she’s fallen for Cosima despite having never been with a woman. Cosima angrily replies, “Yeah, well it showed.”

Orphan Black Unconscious Selection

Art visits the train platform where Beth (incorrectly listed as Sarah Manning in the coroner’s report) killed herself, and notices a closed circuit security camera. He checks the security tapes with the transit workers; the tapes show Beth and Sarah meeting before Beth jumps in front of the train. Art walks out looking determined.

Finally, Helena reaches her phone and calls Sarah, who agrees to meet with Helena. Paul and Mrs. S. are of the same mind as Admiral Ackbar—it’s a trap. Up in Kira’s room, mother and daughter are talking. Kira says the accident wasn’t Helena’s fault, and that Helena needs Sarah’s help. Sarah grabs Paul’s gun before heading out the door.

Back at the Hendrix intervention, Meera tells Alison she saw what was going on in the rocking van with Chad, and Aynsley chimes in that Alison has done so much damage to everybody. Alison asks if Aynsley is the one who brought everyone into her house (yes), so Alison thanks her for scrutinizing every detail her life as if she were a test subject, then turns the tables and says maybe Chad was cheating because Aynsley was blowing the roofer. Finally, Donnie kicks out everyone and walks them to the door. Felix is VERY proud of Alison.

Sarah enters the lair of Tomas and Helena with her gun drawn, and finds Helena in a cage. She wants to know if Kira is okay, but Sarah says she’ll never see Kira again. Sarah puts the gun to Helena’s head but can’t pull the trigger, and lets her out of the cage. “You are all I have now,” Helena tells Sarah, before hugging her.

Orphan Black Unconscious Selection

As Tomas enters, Helena pulls the gun from Sarah. Tomas says Helena is the original, and that Kira should be hers. Helena takes turns pointing the gun at her sister and her tormenter. She yells at Tomas “You made me this way!” before attacking him and trying to gouge out his eyes. Sarah puts a stop to it and then locks Tomas in the cage and zip ties Helena’s hands together. Before she can take Helena to meet Leekie, Sarah gets a call from Mrs. S telling her she needs to get home right away, that she’ll explain when Sarah gets there.

At the police station, Deangelis has something to say to the captain about Beth Childs. She shows the two photos to the Captain as Art walks away unhappily. The Captain says they need an arrest warrant for Beth Childs. Art responds, “Beth’s dead. We need an arrest warrant for Sarah Manning.”

Leekie is frustrated that Helena and Sarah didn’t show. Paul apologizes and assures him that Sarah said she’d be here. Leekie calls an unseen woman with a familiar voice who says, “Blood is thicker than you think, Aldous.”

Orphan Black Unconscious Selection

Sarah arrives at Mrs. S’s place and introduces her to Amelia, Sarah’s birth mother. Amelia says she was being watched, and after all this time they found her. She was only 22 in a new country (she is originally from Capetown) when a wealthy couple asked her to be an in-vitro surrogate. Amelia remembers that there were a lot of tests, that the couple wanted “a child unfettered by tradition.” Amelia realized that the “couple” were actually scientists and that the child was in danger, so she fled and had the children in secret—she gave birth to twins and knew she couldn’t keep them, so she gave one to the church one to the state.

Commentary: One interesting twist here in our ninth episode is that Helena and Sarah actually are siblings. Throughout the series, various characters have assumed the clones were sisters. Deangelis and Art in particular thought Beth and Sarah might be twins, when the audience knew that all the versions of Tatiana Maslany were clones. Well, we just learned we didn’t know everything and the reveal worked perfectly, whereas other “secret twin” reveals often come off as lame.

At this point, I think we’ve all taken for granted how fantastic Maslany is while juggling all these roles, but it is still fascinating to see two of the clones having a conversation physically next to each other, as when Alison and Sarah were talking in the car. It was seamless from both the acting perspective and the technical perspective, creating the illusion that there were actually two people sharing a car ride.

Reading the comments on these posts, I realize some have been (rightfully) critical of Alison’s behavior. Yes, she’s been very erratic, acting out, having extra-marital sex, whacking her husband with a golf club, and drugging it up, but she’s had a lot of things going on in her life driving her to these actions, so some kind of break from or her tightly organized life should be expected. That said, the writers have set up Aynsley very well as a foil for her, which leads us to wonder just how close these two women were before we met them; for Aynsley to share with Alison that she had cheated on Chad leads me to believe they were possibly very good friends. However, the venom they have for each other now makes it tough to see them as friends prior to the show. So to see Alison explode on her in a Crowning Moment of Awesome for me was very rewarding, as it was for Felix.

Orphan Black Unconscious Selection

Felix again holds everything together for his Clone Sisters. From supporting Alison to providing great lines like “Fetch me something gay” (which you can now buy on a t-shirt), he continues to be the glue.

That word “lucky” came up often in this episode in regard to Kira, who may end up being the biggest mystery in the series. Clones are not supposed to reproduce, yet here we have Kira. We also don’t know who her father is, as very little has ever been mentioned about him.

Orphan Black Unconscious SelectionOnly one more episode this season, folks…


Clone Count (episode): 3 — Sarah, Cosima, Alison, and Helena

Clone Total (series*): No change from last week, still at 6 — Sarah, Beth (deceased), Alison, Cosima, Katja (deceased), Helena
*I’m only counting those we’ve met in a physical sense, not just names on a sheet of paper

Clone Layers: Sarah pretended to be Beth briefly.

Sexy Time: Some kissing between Cosima and Delphine and hints of their entanglement.

Hey, it’s that guy/gal!: All the same players as previous episodes.

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.

Rob Munnelly
1. RobMRobM
Great episode all around. Kira (and what did the Docs see on the X-ray), the WTF birth mother, Allison-Felix bonding, Cosima-Delphine heartbreak, Sarah-Art, Sarah-Leekie, Deangelis being a b*tch, Art figuring things out, more Allison-Felix interactions ("Sharesies?"), and Helena-Sarah-Tomas. Wow.
Adam S.
Lots of great things in this episode, plus a whole bucket of WTF with Sarah's birth mother, but as usual Felix steals the show. He and Allison should take their comedy duo on the road. The intervention scene was truly laugh-out-loud awkward. Kira's super-healing powers make me wonder what the big secret about her will be...we still don't know who her father is or how Sarah had her when all the clones are apparently sterile.
Sara H
3. LadyBelaine
-- Allison's little comment that she chirps "I think that went well," after she blows Aynsley (ugh, do you think they spelled her name so pretentiously twee just for added annoyance-factor?) wide open and then sends them all packing, well, the way that Tatiana says it with the spritely mischief in her voice made that one of my favorite things in all of 2013.
Christopher Bennett
4. ChristopherLBennett
So Kira seems to have superior healing or durability, as well as being highly intelligent and perceptive. We begin to see the purpose of the genetic experiment: some sort of genetic engineering to produce a superior breed of human, but only in the second generation. Odd that it only worked in one case, though.

Having Sarah and Helena turn out to be actual monozygotic twins gestated in the same womb does add an interesting twist, making them closer than any of the other clones -- shaped not only by the same genetics, but by the same in utero developmental influences. So the only differences between them are environmental and experiential -- yet they still turned out radically differently. Nurture over nature indeed. (Hmm... I wonder if Helena could have kids. Maybe the split is the reason Sarah's fertile when the others aren't.)

At this point, the unlikely friendship between Alison and Felix was the only thing I liked about Alison. Although I really don't like the drug use by Felix and the other characters in the show.

And I didn't care for where they went with Delphine. "I was sent to seduce you but I really fell in love with you" is a massive cliche, and having Cosima be the first woman Delphine ever even thought about sexually makes it even more melodramatic.

And "Prolethean" is an even stupider name than "Neolutionist." At least the latter has a comprehensible, if clunky, etymology. "Prolethean" is just gibberish. Unless it's meant to be "pro" plus "Lethean," as in the river Lethe in Greek mythology, in which case it would parse as "in favor of forgetfulness" -- which might kinda make sense for an anti-science movement, but still, I'm reaching.
5. RishaBree
@4 - I'm not sure that I actually believe that Delphine loves Cosima, rather than just trying to salvage the situation. She wasn't even interested in sleeping with her until ordered to. That's not to say that no one has ever fallen in love with a partner that's not to your normal sexual orientation, but it's pretty rare.
6. PJK
I don't understand why everybody is wondering why only Sarah produced offspring.

All the other clones have been under close scrutiny by their observers and as we saw have been medically experimented on by the Neolutionists.

It doesn't take much imagination to see that the controlled clones have probably been rendered sterile as part of these medical tests. Whether this is a temporary or permanent sterility, I don't know, but Sarah as the only uncontrolled clone (from birth as we learn in this episode) has escaped from this practice.

Since Helena was also outside the Neolutionist control, she probably is also fully fertile, but I guess that the religious nuts that had her frowned upon any sexual activity she could have partaken in.
Rob Munnelly
7. RobMRobM
@6 - that's an interesting theory. I guess the other is that Sarah and/or Helena were the originals and the others are less than perfect copies.
Alan Dionne
8. amdionne
My favorite episode so far, and the poop has only begun to think about hitting the fan.
Felix: I'm Felix, gay friend.
Alison: Acting coach.
Priest: That's okay here.
Felix: Which one?
Robert H. Bedford
9. RobB
3. LadyBelaine
Agree about the spelling of "Aynsely." Alison's verbal takedown of her in this episode is one of my favorite moments of the show.

4. ChristopherLBennett
Lots of good things to mull over and I wonder if a key to Kira's "super powers" are her father. We still don't know who he is, perhaps he was a rogue neolutionist who knew of Sarah's existence? I took "Protlethean" as a twist on "Promethean" as in the Greek who stole fire from the Gods.
Christopher Bennett
10. ChristopherLBennett
@9: Yeah, but if anything, it would be the Neolutionists who'd want to invoke Prometheus, because they're the ones who want humanity to claim the "Godlike" power of affecting evolution. The Proletheans are against progress, against "playing God," so Prometheus is the last mythological character they'd invoke as a role model. So if that was the writers' intent, someone didn't do their classics homework.
Rob Munnelly
11. RobMRobM
I've been wordering about Dad. Obvious option is Leekie himself - that would explain at least some of his interest in Sarah and Helena - but I doubt that will be the answer. Maybe it will be someone who looks like Felix? (I keep having the thought that we're going to see preppy Felix and jock Felix and farmer Felix in season 2 or beyond.)
Christopher Bennett
12. ChristopherLBennett
@11: Felix isn't biologically related to Sarah. They're both orphans who were adopted by Mrs. S.
Rob Munnelly
13. RobMRobM
I know but I'm speculating that if there's something up with Sarah there may be something else up with Felix that we're not aware of yet. Just curious....
Rob Munnelly
14. RobMRobM
By the way, I've always wondered who Cody is that Paul was staying with during his time away from the Flat. Ideas? Certainly not one of his cooworkers. Maybe a Neolutionist? Must be a real person Beth had met, otherwise Paul would know he'd been played.
15. Hunter_Rose
I used to wonder if the writers originally intended the proletheans to be referred to as the prometheans but were unable to because of copywrite issues w/ White Wolf Games and their Promethean line of products. Because Frankensteins monster being referred to as a Promethean made sense that a group involved with cloning would be called prometheans. Now knowing that the Proletheans are anti biotech maybe the name was always intended to be Prolethean. The river Lethe is supposed to wash away all memory and knowledge so one can leave/enter Hades with no memory of your previous life or your experience in Hades. By breaking down pro and lethan you get anti memory which could be a description of a group that promotes a return to the innocence of humanity before the taint of science or at least science that can imitate what should only be, in the Porlethean's view, the creator's domain.
Christopher Bennett
16. ChristopherLBennett
@15/Hunter_Rose: It couldn't have been a trademark issue, because Prometheus is a character from Greek mythology and that game could not possibly have claimed exclusive rights to his name. The only way there would've been a trademark issue (copyright is for entire works, trademark for titles, logos, etc.) is if the show was using the term for the same kind of product or entity that the game was.

And incidentally, Mary Shelley's title Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus referred to the creator Victor Frankenstein, not his creation. Prometheus was the Titan who stole fire (and thus knowledge and technology) from the gods, gave it to man, and was punished for his act of hubris. Victor Frankenstein, analogously, tried to steal the secret of creating life, and was also (in his view) punished for it. (Although Prometheus did humanity a favor, which suggests that Shelley didn't really intend to condemn Victor's act of creation.)

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