Title: Orphan Black S1
Released: 2013
Series:  Orphan Black

After ten long months, Orphan Black is FINALLY returning to our TV screens! Although if you’re anything like me, it’s been a while, and you’ve forgotten quite a bit. So here’s everything you need to know about Season 1!

If you still haven’t seen the show yet, take a look at why you should start instead. Don’t even let your eyes stray downwards; I’m typing a lot of superfluous words to give you the chance to stay spoiler-free while you still can. So watch Season 1 (online in Canada and all these places in the U.S.), and then please come back to this extremely spoiler-y post.

And for the initiated and non spoiler-phobes, here’s a drinking game for your (re)watching needs!

The Official FYA Orphan Black Season 1 Drinking Game

Take a drink whenever:

  • someone is drinking alcohol
  • someone is using a Hot Pink Clone Phone
  • there’s a Clone Club webcam session
  • a clone is pretending to be another clone
    • excluding Sarah as Beth, unless you’re a pro
  • someone notices a difference between a clone and who she’s pretending to be
  • Felix is painting
  • Alison is crafting
    • torture-crafting counts
  • something undeniably Canadian/Torontonian is spotted
    • GTA-ians, y’all might want to downgrade this from a drink to a sip

Take a shot whenever:

  • someone’s bare butt is visible
    • take an extra shot if you have a crush on that character
  • Felix mentions Cosima being more attractive than Sarah
  • you recognize an actor from a teen show
    • e.g. Sav and Emma from Degrassi: The Next Generation, Whitney from Smallville

Chug a glass of H2O whenever:

  • Vic is speaking (because shut up, Vic)

Finish your drink when:

  • a new clone is introduced
  • a clone dies on-screen

On to the recap!

Clone Club Chronicles


After a ten-month absence, professional ne’er-do-well Sarah returns to Unspecified City But Obviously T-Dot. All she wants to do is skip town with her daughter Kira and foster brother Felix, using money that she’d get from selling the coke she stole from her skeezy dealer ex Vic. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

Then again, there’s no way Sarah could have seen any of this coming. (Unless she had a precognition enhancement chip, amirite?) She witnesses fellow clone Beth killing herself by walking off a train platform… then promptly swipes Beth’s purse, and fakes her own death by having Felix identify Beth’s body as her own. As one does.

What started as quickie identity theft to drain Beth’s bank account becomes full-scale impersonation, with Sarah-as-Beth drawn into Beth’s personal, professional, and secret clone life. But everyone eventually learns Sarah’s true identity anyway — including Sarah herself, when she finds out her birth mother was actually a surrogate from Cape Town named Amelia, who was actually carrying twins: Sarah and Helena. 

On the romance front — if you can even call it ‘romance’, with the first guy — Vic the dick still has delusions of Sarah being the love of his life, even after learning of her deception. But it’s like, BUDDY — she faked her own death to get away from you. TAKE A HINT. And then take a hike, ’cause NO ONE LIKES YOU. 

Then there’s Paul, Beth’s boyfriend that Sarah ‘inherits’ when she assumes Beth’s identity, along with the Cubed Condo that they shared. While Paul was only with Beth to be her monitor, his feelings for Sarah are genuine. (Like, bringing her kid puzzles and colouring books? MELTS.) But Paul is still under the neolutionists’ thumbs — he’s being blackmailed to work for them with his mercenary past — and Sarah’s finding more and more reasons not to trust his employers. So swoon may not be in their near future, is what I’m saying. My poor little shipper heart!


Fitness fanatic and newbie detective Beth had a LOT on her plate, and she was abusing prescriptions to deal with it all. She had been suspended for mistakenly killing civilian Maggie Chen — only it was no accident, and Beth’s partner, Art, helped cover it up without knowing why; Chen was working for the Proletheans, aka the religious extremists who hate clones. Beth was also (rightfully) suspicious of Paul, her boyfriend of two years, to the point of bugging his office. Ultimately, these developments were too much for Beth; she ended her life by walking in front of a moving train. 


German hair dye enthusiast Katja informed Beth that the European clones were being hunted. The two had planned to meet up for Katja to hand over hair and blood samples from the Euro clones. Except, y’know, Beth died by suicide and Helena killed Katja. 


Soccer mom Alison lives in the ‘burbs with her two kids, Oscar and Gemma, and her husband Donnie; she also bankrolls the Clone Club. Alison is all about protecting her family by any means necessary, and she knows her way around a gun — both the bullet and glue kinds.

But Alison’s paranoia drives her to do WILD SHIZZ. When she suspects Donnie to be her monitor, she tortures him for the truth, which (understandably) leads to their separation. Then when she’s convinced that her monitor is her nosy best friend Aynsley, Alison has sex with Aynsley’s husband in retaliation. After a few more bouts of verbal and physical fighting with Alison, Aynsley is strangled to death when her scarf gets caught in a garbage disposal… as Alison watches this unfold and does nothing. (Bye, Ayns; I’ll miss your offhand insults to your useless husband Chad, because of course he’s named Chad.)

With Aynsley gone for good and a reconciliation with Donnie underway, Alison just wants her life to go back to normal. She signs the neolutionists’ contract for them to stay out of her life, in return for semi-annual medical tests. But that contract is a liar, liar, pants on fire; Alison’s monitor has been eating, farting Donnie all along. DAMMIT, DONNIE; I was rooting for you. But no one would have put up with Alison’s recent antics unless they had to.


PhD evo(lutionary)-devo(lopmental biology) student Cosima is the Clone Club’s resident scientist. She studies at the University of Minnesota and commits the cardinal sin of a San Francisco native by referring to her hometown “San Fran”. 

Cosima can sometimes be one of those ‘too smart for her own good’ types. She figures out that monitors have been assigned to the clones, and she gets close to her suspected monitor, immunology student Delphine, to play the player for the Clone Club’s advantage. Except Cosima totally falls for Delphine, who’s definitely working (and maybe sleeping) with neolution poster boy man Dr. Leekie.

While Delphine’s affections had been initially encouraged by Leekie, her feelings for Cosima grow into something real. Delphine tries to make up for her past betrayals by following Cosima to The City That Shan’t Be Named and science-ing stuff together (more on that later). Y’all, I reeeeeally hope Delphine isn’t running some super long con for Leekie. I don’t think so, since Delphine helps Cosima to the detriment of Leekie’s cause, and not in a help-but-actually-sabotage way. BUT I’M FEARFUL ANYWAY. 


While Amelia gave Sarah to the state, Helena ended up at a convent in Ukraine, before Maggie Chen and Tomas found her for the Proletheans. And that crazy cult severely messed Helena up; Helena slices her back to make the scars look like angel wings, and she’s brainwashed to believe that she’s the O.G. and therefore must kill the other clones. 

After Helena meets Sarah — and by ‘meet’, I mean ‘almost kills’ — Helena feels a connection with Sarah that becomes an outright obsession. That fixation extends to Kira; just as Helena is unable to kill Sarah, she also can’t bring herself to take Kira to the Proletheans. Cult’s gonna cult, so Tomas locks Helena up in a cage for punishment. But Sarah finds them and puts Tomas in the cage instead.

Sarah plans to hand them both over to Dr. Leekie, until she discovers that she and Helena are twins. Sarah arranges a family reunion between her, Helena, and Amelia — only to have Helena later kill Amelia for giving her up and therefore being responsible for what Helena became. And that’s the final straw for Sarah, so she finally kills Helena. 

Miscellaneous Maslanys

Helena’s clone extermination tour of Europe took her to France (Danielle), Austria (Janika), and Italy (Aryanna). This trio of ladies allowed Tatiana Maslany to try on more hairstyles, so obvs they’ve already served their purpose. 


Raised by neolutionists, ‘pro-clone’ Rachel is the liason between the clones and the puppet masters that she calls Top Side. Rachel insists that her only role is to help the other clones transition to self-awareness, but people without ulterior motives don’t conduct their business in dimly lit offices.

Clash of the Clones

And here — have another poll! Out of the clones who have had lines in at least two episodes… 

Felix Felicis

As Sarah’s foster brother and closest friend, poor Felix deals with Vic more than anyone should have to (i.e. AT ALL). Can’t a guy just paint and, uh, poke at his Loft of Lust in peace?!

Anyway, Felix is often the voice of reason when it comes to Clone Club business. 

And Felix keeps it real, when it comes to Sarah’s life. 

Same goes for Cosima’s.

When Delphine’s trying to make up with Cosima:

Felix: “Stupid, needy bitch.”

Upon meeting Delphine:

Felix: “Oh. Well, now I get it.”

As well as his own. 

Felix: “Colin is the first nice boy I’ve met in ages.”

Sarah: “What, like six weeks?”

Felix: “No. At least eight”

I totally ship this, if only to have ONE love interest on this show that isn’t or has never been a baddie. Just an ethically ambiguous morgue attendant who makes necrophilia jokes.

Because Felix is wonderful, and I only want good things for him. So you better not hurt him, Show. YA HEAR?

Mrs. S’s Home for Peculiar Children

Back in Brixton, Siobhan — Mrs. S, if you’re nasty — helped run a safe house, providing help for those who needed it. Sarah was brought in as a child who needed to be hidden. And when news came that Sarah had to be hidden even further, Mrs. S took her and Felix overseas. 

During Sarah’s lost year with Vic, Mrs. S looked after Kira. When Sarah returns, Mrs. S is reluctant to let her back into Kira’s life. Once Sarah (and Alison-as-Sarah) starts showing that she’s getting her shizz together, Mrs. S lets Sarah visit with Kira. Sarah also fills Mrs. S in on the whole clone sitch, and has Mrs. S looks into her past. 

Meanwhile, Kira is a child who doesn’t follow instructions very well. Because she opens the door for Helena, after being told not to do so for people who weren’t invited, following Clone Auntie to the proverbial white van. When Helena has a change of heart and lets Kira go, Kira’s all, “Bish, I know my way home.” But she doesn’t look both ways before crossing the street, so she freakin’ gets run over by a car. Fortunately, Disobedient Child is also Resilient Child, as she only sustains a few scrapes from collision. You might even say Kira makes a miraculous recovery, HMMMM…

When Mrs. S starts looking into the past, the past looks right back. Amelia arrives with info about her in vitro treatment and a warning that Mrs. S isn’t who she says she is — both of which Sarah doesn’t receive, thanks to Helena killing Amelia. But Amelia does leave behind something that spooks Mrs. S — a photo of two scientists, one male and one female, captioned:

Project LEDA
July 22, 1977

Sarah goes back to Mrs. S’s, only to find the place trashed, and Mrs. S and Kira missing. RUH-ROH.

They Fought the Law

The only case that Sarah-as-Beth works on is the corpse of a Jane Doe found in an active quarry. Only that Jane Doe is Katja, and Sarah’s the one who dumped her body there. Sarah impedes the investigation for as long as she can — tampering with the fingerprints and whatnot — but she-as-Beth smartly quits the police force before Fit Hits the Shan. 

Teaming up with her former partner, Art, is her replacement, Angie aka Angela Deangelis. Before I proceed any further with this recap, let me reiterate: Angela Deangelis

Amy Poehler: “Really?”

Anyway. Art and Angie Deangie re-run Jane Doe’s fingerprints and get a match — for Sarah Manning. OMG Y’ALL, Sarah looks exactly like Beth! After Art and Angie notify Sarah’s next of kin, Mrs. S, they find out that ‘Sarah’ is actually dead, since Felix identified Beth as Sarah. But then Art looks into the suicide footage of ‘Sarah’ and realizes the truth: Sarah is Beth! Beth is dead! The cake is a lie! 

Sarah becomes the prime suspect in Katja’s death — because hey, facial reconstruction results are in, and guess who Jane Doe looks like? — but Dr. Leekie lawyers up for her before she tells Art anything. 

But AHA! Angie Deangie has a new lead! Sarah’s known associate, OH FRICK IT’S VIC. Vic gives Art and Angie a clarification on his outstanding warrant was for fencing stolen pork, not meat (which is a pretty great line delivery and undoubtedly the most I’ve ever liked Vic), as well as the address of where he last saw Sarah — at Alison’s home. So now the cops know about Beth, Katja, Sarah, and Alison all sharing the same face. OH SHIZZ. 

Neolution News

Publicly spearheaded by Dr. Aldous Leekie from the Dyad Institute, neolution is “self-directed evolution” via enhancements, bio hacks, and body mods — like omg the tail on Olivier (Paul’s handler) before Helena slices it off. But the Dyad Institute and businesses like Trexcom Consulting (Paul’s workplace) and Club Neolution are all fronts for the neolution overlords.

And these peeps do NOT mess around. When Olivier fails to apprehend either Sarah or Helena — two clones who have evaded their reach until now — Dr. Leekie has Olivier killed. What a shitty severance package. (GET IT GET IT?)

After the failure of his operative, Dr. Leekie tries a different approach. He and Rachel present Sarah, Cosima, and Alison with contracts promising freedom and protection without monitors, in exchange for submitting themselves to semi-annual medical tests. But of course, the neolutionists have no intention of actually keeping their end of the deal… 

Stick to the Science, Geek Monkey

There are ten known clones, with Sarah being the only one who can have biological children and her child being a bit of a medical mystery. 

Prior to her death, Katja’s health was seriously deteriorating. Like, coughing-up-blood and is-this-a-genetic-concern deteriorating — a symptom that Cosima has started to exhibit. It’s still unclear whether it’s a clone-related illness. 

By studying the DNA samples of the clones, Cosima discovers a synthetic marker that differentiates the otherwise genetically identical clones. Recognizing the sequence as code, she and Delphine decrypt it to reveal an individual tag number and a patent: 

This organism and derivative genetic material is restricted intellectual property.

… meaning the creators will never truly grant the clones freedom, and they could make a claim for Kira as well. 

Spoiler-Free Speculation of Season 2

I’ve been trying to stay away from the Season 2 photos and trailers that have been released. I’ve kiiiinda read and seen too much in putting this post together, but I’ll base my comments on the official Season 2 photo alone. Because science. 

Felix in a turtleneck! Badass Mrs. S.! No Vic! Has someone been reading my wish list? Because those are like the only things I want. (OK, that’s a lie. I’m greedier than that.) 

There are also a couple of new characters in the mix: 

  • When I first saw Shadowy Dude, I thought, “Ugh, that guy looks like skeevy Liam from Nashville.” That’s because HE TOTALLY IS SKEEVY LIAM FROM NASHVILLE. (He’s also New Daario on Game of Thrones.) Are no awesome actresses safe from you, Skeevy Liam? 

  • Then there’s Cowboy Bolo, who’s played by one of those “Why is your face so familiar” actors. Where do I know him from?! Surely, the answer will be something embarrassing and highly revealing of my undiscerning tastes in entertainment. (Same goes for morgue attendant Colin. How do I know his face?!)

And a few more burning questions to mull over: 

  • Will we ever meet Kira’s dad? UGH, will he be Skeevy Liam?! Whoever he ends up being, I hope he’s completely unaffiliated with the cloning shizz (or at least, he had been back when he and Sarah were together), ’cause that might just be too shark-jumpy of a development. 

  • Will there ever be a clone with different eyebrows than Tatiana Maslany? Though to be fair, hers are phenomenal, so I understand why all of the clones thus far have shared her grooming habits.

  • Will the show just admit that it’s set in Toronto? Not like this really matters, but I just find it funny that the characters can say ‘shit’ but not ‘Toronto’. Although I’ll totally call trolling if the CN Tower is shown and the city still remains nameless.

  • Who’s going to die this season? Because someone must, right? I really love the idea that any clone is fair game; this show can theoretically get rid of its main character and keep chugging along. I mean, not that I’d want Sarah to be killed off or anything. (Please don’t kill Sarah, Show.)

So what were your favourite moments from Season 1? And what do you hope to see in Season 2? Sound off in the comments below, and meet me back here next week to talk about the Season 2 premiere!

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.