Checking In on the 'Orphan Black' Clones Before the Season Premiere

Orphan Black, BBC America's cult hit about a group of clones, returns Saturday, and picks up right where the action of the first season left off.  

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Orphan Black, BBC America's cult hit about clones, returns Saturday, and picks up right where the action of the first season left off. Since there's not time for a breather, we thought you might need a refresher as to what exactly your clones were doing when last you saw them.

Orphan Black is something of a little show that could. Flying under the radar for much of its first season, its chorus of fans grew louder last summer. Now it's landing Entertainment Weekly covers. The main draw to the show is the virtuoso performance from Tatiana Maslany, who plays all of the clones, often acting opposite herself.

That's not to say the show doesn't have its faults. Though it films in Canada, the action frustratingly exists in a sort of nowhereland. The threat against the clones is also, at times, sort of vague. Still, it's mostly exhilarating, thanks to the characters Maslany has created with Graeme Manson and John Fawcett. Credit also goes to Jordan Gavaris, who is turning in a fantastic supporting performance as clone cohort Felix. 

If you haven't watched the show, we encourage you to catch up. If you have, here's a refresher as to what exactly is happening.


A reminder of some of the terms you're going to need to remember.

Neolutionists: The ethically ambiguous scientists who run the Dyad Institute and are responsible for controlling the clones.

Prolethians: Religious extremists who are very anti-clone.

Monitor: The people who watch the clones. They hide as the clones' close friends or lovers.


Sarah is ostensibly the protagonist clone, the one who sets off the entire series by stealing the identity of clone Beth, after Beth jumps in front of a train. In the first season finale Sarah is arrested, only to be let go once a mysterious lawyer takes control. That leads her to clone Rachel, deemed a "pro-clone" because she works for the Neolutionists. Rachel offers Sarah and the other clones a deal to work with the institution, in exchange for information and protection from the Prolethians. Rachel offers her a day to think about it, and during that time Sarah comes to blows with crazy Prolethian clone Helena. Though Sarah is about to concede to Rachel after killing Helena, thinking that the Neolutionists could provide a better life for her daughter, she is stopped by Cosima. When Sarah returns home she finds her foster mother and her daughter Kira have disappeared.


Cosima, the cool, lesbian, scientist clone, is clearly suffering from the illness that affected deceased clone Katja. She's has just received a job offer from Aldous Leekie, the Neolutionist scientist responsible for the clones, who also gave her a genome sequence. Meanwhile, she is growing closer to Delphine, her girlfriend/monitor, who has decided to help Cosima. Cosima discovers that the sequence is in fact a patent, meaning that the clones are property.


Alison is the uptight, vaguely alcoholic soccer mom who turns out to have a talent for glue gun torture, and ended the first season as something of a killer herself, if perhaps an accidental one. Alison does nothing but watch when Aynsley—the woman who she thought to be her monitor—begins to suffocate after her scarf gets caught in a garbage disposal. Yeah, Alison's paranoia has led her to do some crazy things: that glue gun bit had been used on her husband, who she had also believed to be the official watching her. The ending of the episode strongly implies that in that case she was probably right. Note: Alison is my favorite clone


Helena, the sugar-loving, jello-eating, crazy clone, who had been coached by the religious fanatic Prolethians, is left for dead after being shot by Sarah. Before this, however, she kills the woman who gave birth to her and Sarah. That woman could have revealed vital information about Mrs. S, Sarah's foster mom.


We only spend a short amount of time with "proclone" Rachel, but she is not to be taken lightly. Her last words of the season finale are "you know what to do," strongly implicating her in Kira's disappearance.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.