Orphan Black Season 1 Review “Instinct”

Orphan Black (BBC America) Episode 2 (2)

The first episode of Orphan Black was confusing. For example, why do Sarah and Felix have British accents while nobody else does, and why wasn’t Sarah more surprised by seeing someone who looked just like her step in front of a train. I was a little apprehensive that the show was going to spin into the realm of the ridiculous. The second episode recovered and gives me hope that perhaps it will find its footing quickly.

We pick up with the dead punk rock German, Katja, in the back seat of Sarah’s car. The phone rings and someone tells Sarah to get rid of the body and retrieve the woman’s briefcase. It’s comforting that Sarah is legitimately freaked out and has no clue what to do with the body. We know now that she may be tough as nails, but at least she’s not around murder victims on a regular basis. She digs a hole and puts the body in it. The first shovel of dirt lands right on Katja’s face. This is one of the difficulties I have with the show, and it may be something that works itself out as I get more into the story. When I see Katja in the hole with the dirt, I think that Tatiana Maslany must not have enjoyed filming that scene. Because I know it’s all the same actress, it takes me out of the scene. The same could be said if it was another actress – that the viewer still knows it’s not real. However, this problem is more pronounced for me with false twin shows. It’s one of the reasons I never got into Ringer. I knew Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) didn’t really have a twin. That doesn’t mean that the multiple Sarah scenes aren’t well done. We’ve come a long way since double Haley Mills in The Parent Trap. Perhaps once we have more information to anchor the individual characters (rather than different wigs), this will no longer be an issue.

After taking care of business, Sarah continues as Beth. We know that Beth wasn’t exactly the picture of mental health. She did commit suicide and is being investigated for killing a woman. But, we find out that her problems went far deeper. Beth was taking pills – a lot of them. According to her boyfriend, she also may have attempted suicide previously. We also learn more about Katja after Sarah visits her hotel room. The room is trashed and there is a Barbie with multiple cigarette burns. I’m wondering if there’s a genetic predisposition for the clones to be mentally unhinged.

There were several loose ends in Beth’s life that Sarah is able to tie up. She alienates Beth’s boyfriend enough that he takes a hiatus from their relationship, and she testifies in the police investigation in order to get reinstated. Sarah isn’t given a choice on the last task; her partner, Art, stole $75,000 from her and won’t return it until the investigation clears her (and by implication his) name. Nevertheless, by learning the case file and testifying, Sarah demonstrates that she may have more than just street smarts. Having Sarah recite the details of the shooting was an effective way to give viewers an idea of what happened. Beth was the only witness we know of and she is gone, so without this reenactment by Sarah, we may never have learned the details of the shooting. There is clearly something more going on there that we will learn about later. Perhaps the victim was one of those sent to kill the clones.

Sarah is horrified to see another familiar face, but not for the reason you may think. Alison, another clone, is a soccer mom. Alison’s also not what you may think. She’s not some gentle suburbanite. She’s hard as nails and has no interest in establishing a rapport with Sarah. Later, Sarah goes to Alison’s house and meets another clone, Cosima. Sarah still hasn’t fully grasped that she’s not part of a group of identical octuplets; she’s a clone. Besides being identical in appearance, it will be interesting to see whether there are genetic anomalies in the clones. I can’t see them developing super powers, but there may be something else that makes them a threat. These are the types of questions that will keep me watching.

The meeting between Felix and Mrs. S solved one of the things that had confused and bothered me since the show started. We finally got an explanation as to why Sarah and Felix have British accents and nobody else does. Mrs. S says that she brought them from London when they were younger. I still don’t know if they are supposed to be in Canada or the U.S., but that doesn’t seem as critical. Overall, a solid episode with some room for improvement.

Follow me on Twitter @LaVaudreuil