Orphan Black Rewatch: “Instinct”

Written by Graeme Mason
Directed by John Fawcett
Season 1, Episode 2
Original Airdate April 6, 2013

What Happens: “Instinct” picks up where we last left Sarah—she’s fleeing an unknown shooter, there’s a dead German clone in the back seat of her car, and Beth’s pink phone is ringing. Sarah answers the phone and the person on the other end, a female, thinks Sarah is Beth. “The German’s dead,” Sarah-as-Beth says. The person on the other end of the phone replies, “It’s true, somebody is trying to kill us.” Sarah realizes the body needs to be disposed of, and the woman on the phone tells Sarah she needs to retrieve the German’s briefcase “before they do.” Who are “they”? Sarah continues to play along as Beth, hoping to find answers to all the questions racing through her head—why there are apparently many versions of herself, and why one of them was just shot.

We then see two threads running parallel (a technique I think Orphan Black does very well). Sarah discovers a hotel key and ID on the German’s body—her name is Katja. Sarah’s fake funeral/wake resumes at Felix’s apartment, with a friend delivering a eulogy as a voiceover while Sarah buries Katja. Vic, again showing his kind and loving attitude, attacks Felix after he blames Vic for Sarah’s apparent suicide. To quote Felix, we are reminded that Vic is indeed a dick.

Orphan Black Rewatch Instinct

Vic finally leaves following a long night of boozing, and Sarah returns to Felix’s apartment. Felix warns Sarah that Vic wants to see her daughter Kira. Sarah then realizes that Art took the $75,000 she had taken from Beth’s account; she instead finds a bunch of files Art has slipped into the bag related to the shooting of Maggie Chen. Sarah calls Art, and he requests a meeting.

When Sarah returns to Beth’s apartment, she unexpectedly finds Paul. He’s clearly confused by her actions and “new” attire and informs her he’s going back to stay with his friend for a while. Sarah plays it off in a whatever-ish manner, but is clearly relieved when he leaves.

Felix rides a bicycle to a house we’ll come to see more of in the future: the home of Siobhan Sadler, referred to as Mrs. S by Felix and Sarah. We properly meet Kira and Siobhan, who scolds Felix for the funeral scheme. The weight of raising Sarah and Felix is present in her voice, as is someregret for Sarah’s misspent youth. Siobhan and Art should compare notes about Beth and Sarah, I suspect they might get along quite well over a cuppa. During Felix and Siobhan’s conversation, we learn that Mrs. S. went through a great deal of trouble to bring Felix and Sarah to Canada for a fresh start, away from whatever troubles were plaguing them in Jolly ole England. When conversation turns to Sarah’s daughter, Siobhan says that “Kira is a gift.” Felix insists that Sarah knows this, but Siobhan replies, “She has no clue.” Throughout their conversation we see Kira slowly wandering through the house following the voices.

Orphan Black Rewatch Instinct

Sarah prepares for her lunch meeting with Art—she reviews the files and comes up with the lie that the $75,000 in cash is Paul’s. Art grills Sarah-as-Beth about the shooting, and we see just how quick a learner Sarah is. While her responses to Art’s faux-trial questioning aren’t 100% perfect, he seems satisfied enough. He stresses that Beth must remember to state that she reported the shooting to the station before calling Art, since he actually assisted Beth in covering it up. At least we get a more clear picture of why Art is so edgy around “Beth,”even if he is still kind of a jerk to her.

Sarah returns to Felix’s apartment, and is relieved to learn that Kira knows she’s alive. Sarah informs Felix that Art won’t give her the money until she clears up everything in the shooting hearing. When the pink phone rings, Sarah lets it ring for a while before answering. The caller—the same woman as earlier—asks about Katja’s hotel and briefcase, again stressing their importance.

Sarah dons some big sunglasses and a hat to pose as Katja in order to gain entrance to her hotel room. (Is it Sarah pretending to be one clone? Or is she maybe a triple-layered-clone of Sarah-as-Beth pretending to be Katja? You decide!) Katja’s hotel room has been ransacked, but most disturbing is th presense of a headless doll burnt with cigarettes and a marked up Bible, left open to Psalm 139:13-14 and marked with a the word “TRUTH.” The hotel phone rings and there’s a knock at the door; it’s the front desk manager and security, who bring her downstairs and bill her for the damages. Fortunately, the briefcase was left in the security of the hotel; “they” did not find it in the room. When Sarah eventually opens the briefcase, she discovers x-rays and vials of blood inside, one of which is labeled Danielle Fournier. Sarah also finds more photocopied identification and a handwritten note with Alison Hendrix’s address.

Orphan Black Rewatch Instinct

The pink phone rings again as Sarah reviews the contents of the briefcase; she considers for a minute before revealing that she isn’t Beth. When the person on the other end spouts the line, “Just one, I’m a few, no family too, who am I?” Sarah has no answer, and the phone goes dead. That’s twice for that phrase, so they might be Arc Words (Beware that link, for it directs you to the rabbit-hole known as TVTropes) for the series.

Sarah drives to Alison’s address, assuming she is the woman on the phone. She follows a red minivan to a soccer field where she meets her fourth duplicate, face-to-face. Alison is an uptight suburban soccer mom, much to Sarah’s chagrin—quite the opposite of the punk Sarah is. Alison is angry when confronted by Sarah (who she thinks is Beth), and is upset that her kids might see her. Sarah tells Alison that Beth killed herself, but Alison refuses to believe it and has another minor fit of hysterics. Sarah begs for answers, but Alison refuses to deal with her and simply tells Sarah to “wait for a call.”

Orphan Black Rewatch Instinct

Meanwhile, Sarah’s inconsistencies are coming back to haunt her; following Sarah’s prior preformance, psychiatrist Dr. Bowers plans to rule Beth unfit for duty, which could protract the hearing process. Ever the quick-thinker, Sarah pulls out the list of drugs Dr. Bowers prescribed Beth, pointing out those which overlap. Once Dr. Bowers realizes she might be culpable for Beth’s troubles, she relents and recommends that Beth is ready to return to duty. When Sarah approaches Art to get the $75,000 back, he tells her that he’s keeping it as insurance until she’s fully reinstated.

Sarah’s pink phone rings again—Alison requests a meeting at her house that night, and tells Sarah to bring Katja’s suitcase. Sarah drives to Alison’s house with Felix, who is grossed out by suburbia. To calm him, she tells Felix (likely trying to convince herself as well) she’ll have the money in a few days, she’ll patch things up with Siobhan., and they’ll be on their way with Kira. (With 8 episodes to go, we all know that won’t be happening…) Alison allows Sarah entrance to her home, only to wave a gun in her face, threatening that if her kids see Sarah, she will shoot. Seconds later, another clone with braided hair, glasses, and a slouched sweater appears and introduces herself as Cosima, the woman from the earlier phone calls. So we’ve got three versions of the same person on the screen, and a quick glance would not lead you do believe they are the same acrtress.

Orphan Black Rewatch Instinct

Commentary: Two episodes in and we’ve got a lot of stuff going on here. We meet the foster mother of our two British punks, and she’s far from an approving, happy mother. I suppose if the girl I raised faked her own death, I’d be less than happy, too. Especially when you lump that on top of the fact that Sarah disappeared and abandoned her daughter for nearly a year. Suffice it to say, the writers did a solid job of implying a sketchy past for Sarah with the brief conversation between Felix and Siobhan. Again, Felix holds things together for the multiple lives Sarah is living, and has very convincing rapport with his foster mother.

Cosima…what do we make of her? Well, she looks the geek girl part and seems much more comfortable with the events than Alison does. All we really know about her at this point is that she was speaking to Sarah earlier, when Katja was shot, and seems to have a much better grasp of what the hell is going on with all these look-alikes than anybody else on the show.

Sarah’s ruse as Beth continues to be more successful than it has any right to be. She plays off Art very well, and Beth’s relationship with Paul was something of a mess already, so she is able to downplay his concerns.

Orphan Black Rewatch Instinct

Clone Count (episode): 3—Sarah, Alison, and Cosima. 4 if you want to count the body of Katja.

Clone Total (series*): 5—Sarah, Beth (deceased), Alison, Cosima, Katja (deceased)

*I’m only counting those we’ve met in a physical sense, not just names on a sheet of paper

Clone Layers: Sarah pretending to be Beth pretending to be Katja, though admittedly, that might be a bit of a stretch.

Sexy Time: Not as much sexy time here as in the pilot episode.

Hey, it’s that guy/gal!

  • Inga Cadranel, seen briefly as Detective Angela Deangelis (the officer who greets Sarah when she and Art first enter the police station), plays the character of Saskia on Lost Girl.
  • At the end of the episode, we get a glimpse of Sarah’s daughter Kira portrayed by Skyler Wexler, who played “Zoe” on three episodes of Alpha and “Catie” on an episode of Warehouse 13.

Rob Bedford lives in NJ with his wife and dog. He reviews books and moderates forums at SFFWorld and runs a blog about stuff. He sometimes wonders if he is a clone, but shudders at the thought of multiple versions of him mucking up people’s lives. His twitter handle is @RobHBedford


Back to the top of the page


This post is closed for comments.

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.