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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Orphan Black Recap 1.1: Natural Selection

I've decided that in the wake of the terrifyingly long hiatus that BBC America has announced for Orphan Black, I'm going to try my hand at writing episode recaps. I have long admired the recaps written by the likes of Heather Hogan at AfterEllen, the women at Autostraddle, and Rin and Sophy of RophyDoes, and have considered writing my own for a while. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally stop considering and start doing.

If you haven't seen all of Orphan Black, I would suggest not reading these because I'm writing with the assumption that whoever reads them will have seen all of the episodes already. I'll be using screencaps from Colouring With Screencaps because I lack the knowledge to make screencaps of my own. Also, as a reminder, none of the GIFs I use at any time are mine either.

Those who know how to make such things get the Scoobies applauding for them.
So, without further ado, let's begin!

We begin with our beloved Sarah Manning, sleeping peacefully on a train until she is rudely awakened by an announcement over the intercom system.

Basically the exact moment I fell in love with Sarah Manning.
She gets off at Buxley Station and calls an unknown person (who we now know is Mrs. S) in order to ask if she can see Kira (who we now know is her daughter). The conversation doesn't go well, and Mrs. S hangs up on her. Seems like Sarah's having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Too bad it's about to get worse.

Also on the platform while this is going on is a sobbing woman whose face we do not see, but now know is Beth. Sarah walks over to her as she starts removing her shoes and jacket, which is signal number one that something is definitely not right. Judging by how she carefully arranges her items before walking in front of a train to her death, it's no wonder she and Alison were such good friends.

It's even all color-coordinated.
Beth stands shakily and turns around, revealing to us (and Sarah) that she and Sarah both have the same amazing face.

Shit just gets realer from here on out.
I want to talk about Beth for a minute. Knowing what we know about Beth gives a rewatch of this scene a whole new layer. Beth is anxious and stressed about her clone status and Paul's betrayal to the point of abusing prescription drugs and wanting to end her own life. Her own face reflected back at her is probably the very last thing that she wants to see before she dies. Talk about kicking her while she's down.

Then she just unflinchingly walks in front of a train.

Accurate representation of all of our faces when we saw this for the first time.
Welcome to the trip, Sarah and viewing public.

Sarah, like any person in this situation, is understandably shaken and confused as all hell. Unlike any person in this situation, Sarah decides to steal Beth's purse while everyone is suitably distracted by Beth's mangled corpse. Unfortunately, security cameras aren't so easily distracted. You just know this is going to come back and bite her in the ass later.

I always feel like somebody's watching me.
Cue opening credits. Which remind me of jellyfish for some odd reason. Also the amoeba boss at the end of the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time.

The resemblance is uncanny, really.
After the credits, we join Sarah rummaging through Beth's purse (as one does when one steals from their dead doppelganger) in the gloriously graffiti-ed bathroom of a bar. It's really pretty for bathroom graffiti. I love the aesthetic of this entire show so much.

It's loaded up with things and knick-knacks, too.
Beth's purse contains general purse-y things, except for the fact that she has two phones: one super sleek smart phone and one dinosaur phone. In the real world, I would jump to the conclusion that Beth just really liked playing retro phone Snake and carried an extra phone around for that purpose. However, this is TV world, so things are not that simple.

Also, I would bet money that Alison picked out the Clone Club phone cases, insisting that they be uniform and pink. Is there fic of that? I feel like there should be fic of that.

We then cut to Sarah sitting at the bar waiting for Felix. Then Felix comes in, opens his mouth, and I immediately love him. That's kind of a trend with a good share of the characters on this show.

I chose this screencap because LOOK AT THEIR ADORKABLE FACES.
Felix and Sarah start playing catch-up, giving us some backstory in the process. Before that, however, Felix gets a drink from Bobby, the hot bartender.

Bobby gets a screencap because why the hell not?
Here's what we learn from Felix and Sarah's conversation: Vic the Dick is an abusive slimeball, but Sarah "hit him first this time", stole his coke, and ran away. Felix is a prostitute, and Sarah wants him to sell the coke to his clients. The end game of all this is that Sarah will have money so Mrs. S will give her her daughter back. She's been gone for almost a year without contact, so surely that plan will go swimmingly. Plans that involve illegal drugs always do. Just ask Alex Vause.

I totally just wanted an excuse to use this GIF.
Sarah then fills Felix in on the whole watching her doppelganger kill herself thing. Felix is appropriately shocked by the resemblance that Sarah and Beth share. He is not appropriately shocked by Sarah's plan to go to Beth's flat and steal even more things. It's clear that theft and drugs and the like are par for the course for these two.

"I'm going to steal more of this dead girl's shit."
Beth's phone goes off. I half expect it to be A all "I'm here, bitches. And I know everything", but alas, it's just Art. Sarah does not pick up the phone. Smart move, Sarah.

Maybe A is for Art? Did I just solve Pretty Little Liars?
Sarah gallivants off to Beth's flat, telling Felix that she will call him. Felix seems unconvinced due to the fact that he has almost a year's worth of evidence that she will not, in fact, call him. Even though she now has phones plural.

She arrives at Beth's (Paul's) apartment. In the great tradition of living spaces on TV, it is swanky as hell. It also looks creepily sterile and un-lived in. Judging from their closets, Beth Childs and Melissa Hastings would have been besties.

Seriously, though. Does anyone's closet actually look like this?
Sarah snoops around a bit and finds out that Boyfriend won't be home until Saturday. She swipes a bottle of lager and makes herself at home, still (rightfully) creeped out by how much she and Beth look alike.

Stereotypical happy couple picture
We then travel to Felix's apartment, which is amazing. Part of me wants it, but then the other, more logical, part of me knows that the ventilation most likely sucks and winter would be hell. Especially since they're in Canada.

Felix is in the midst of trying to sell the coke to one of his clients. The client (whose hairy chest makes me ever so grateful to be gay) doesn't want to give Felix as much as Sarah needs. Negotiations are interrupted by someone banging on the door. That someone is Vic the Dick.

Ew. No. Leave.
While Hairy Client flees in terror, Vic questions Felix about the location of Sarah and the coke. Felix plays dumb, and we find out that Vic is in big trouble with his drug guy. Don't do drugs, kids. Vic takes an apple and goes along his merry way.

Even drug dealers need 2-3 servings of fruit a day.
Felix calls Sarah, informing her of Vic's visit and the fact that the coke is crap. Sarah is less than enthused until she finds a bank notice about the $75,000 account Beth just opened, which is more than seven times what the crappy coke would get her. Sarah gets an idea. An awful idea. Sarah gets a wonderful, awful idea.

Don't worry. She's stealing money, not Christmas.
We are then treated to a montage of Sarah working on her Beth disguise, which is accompanied by the sultry sounds of M.I.A's "Bad Girls". It's a much better use for the song than that terrible Identity Thief movie. Melissa McCarthy deserves better.

Felix is back at the bar making a call to confirm the identity of Beth's body. Except he tells them it's Sarah. Before this, however, Hot Bartender Bobby snaps a towel at him, much to his protest. The only protest I have is that there isn't more Bobby in this show.

This bar has Bobby and a bookshelf and is pretty. It needs to exist.
Meanwhile, Sarah-as-Beth is at the bank pulling the wool over Banker Stephen's eyes. He tells her it'll take a few days to get her cash, but Sarah-as-Beth hilarious flirts/bribes him to get it to her sooner. Something tells me he agrees less because of her flirting ability and more because she has Tatiana Maslany's face.

A+ flirting technique
Also Banker Stephen has created a bracelet tree in his office made out of his running trophies. He seems like a real winner.

After all this Lance Armstrong nonsense, what else are you going to do with Livestrong bracelets?
Sarah has unknowingly found Beth's safety deposit box key, so she looks to see what she can steal from that as well. Unfortunately for her, this show isn't set in Rosewood, so the safety deposit box isn't filled with piles of cash. Instead, it contains Alison's, Beth's, and Katja's birth certificates. This may be nitpicky rewatch commentary, but where is Cosima's birth certificate? Does she have one? I really want backstory and flashbacks for all the clones.

Sarah stuffs the birth certificates in Beth's purse for later pasta box storage and leaves the bank.

As Sarah struts down the street, sure in the knowledge that her plan has gone off without a hitch, she notices a black car blinking its lights at her. Before she can investigate that black car, another black (police) car pulls up in front of her. Really, though, this show should be called Vehicle Black. This particular vessel of the darkened hue contains Art, and he is having none of "Beth's" sass today because he will not let anyone take his Sassmaster crown away from him.

"I heard you think you're sassy."
"Well, I kinda am."
Art is angry that Beth didn't meet with him to go over a thing to get ready for a thing. He would probably be less angry if he knew that Beth is now a corpse. Apparently the thing is important because his, and I quote, "fat ass is on the line here, too." Art should know that the BMI test is a shitty way to determine if someone's weight is healthy because it doesn't take muscle into account. From the looks of him, his ass is most likely muscular, not fat. He says some more cryptic stuff to make us wonder what the hell Beth got herself into.

"Let me vague this up for you."
We then join Felix, who is at the morgue to identify "Sarah's" body. He starts flirting with Colin and sharing his concerns about the death air. Colin tries to reassure him by calling the act of identifying the body a "gestalt", which I just looked up. According to Google, a gestalt is "An organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts." There is more to identifying a body in a morgue than death air, apparently.

Gestalt Colin is more than his awkward morgue-flirting techniques. Maybe.
Art and Sarah pull up to the police station, which is logically filled with and surrounded by cops. Sarah is understandably freaked out by this. Inside the station, the guy who seems to be in charge refers to "Beth" as Detective and tries to get her into a conference room. Sarah pulls the bathroom card and escapes momentarily to call Felix and stop him from identifying the body. During all of this, Art sits down and works on fine-tuning his sass skills.

I would rate this face a six. Not his best sass work.
Unfortunately for Sarah, Felix is too busy flirting to answer his phone. Sarah's bad phone karma from not staying in contact with him for almost a year is finally catching up to her. Colin shows him the body, and Felix goes from grossed out to intrigued by how much Sarah and Beth look alike to grossed out to flirting in 2.5 seconds. It's glorious.

Felin? Colix? There's no good ship name for these two, is there?
Back at the police station, Sarah decides to chug some hand soap. I didn't understand why when I first watched this episode, but it's really a brilliant move on Sarah's part.

We are then treated to more of Felix and Colin flirting. Colin awkwardly asks Felix out, and I would 100% watch a spin-off starring these two. It could be called Odd Duck Dynasty.

Two odd ducks in their natural habitat.
Sarah is taken into the boardroom, and it turns out that Beth shot a woman in the line of duty and this is a hearing for that. Before Sarah can even state Beth's name, she pukes her soapy guts out all over the table. Brilliant.

Every face in this shot is perfect.
Art takes Sarah-as-Beth to the psychologist's office, and we find out that Beth and Art competed for the sass throne often. Maybe we could have another spin-off flashing back to Beth and Art working together. It could be one of those buddy cop shows on TNT where the name of the show is the name of the two main characters. Childs and Bell could be the next Rizzoli and Isles. From the way Art interacts with "Beth", it looks like the show would have the necessary romantic subtext as well.

Art pines with the slightest dash of sass.
Felix is back at his apartment painting a lovely death portrait of Sarah. Vic the Dick returns to look for Sarah and harass him some more, and Felix gives the performance of his life in the role of mourning foster brother. This is the one point during Sarah's death charade that Felix is actually convincing. Ironically, it's also the one time Vic doesn't buy it.

In an effort to get Vic to shut up, Felix takes him to the morgue to see the body for himself. Felix and Colin make eyes at each other over Vic sobbing over the body. It's probably my favorite thing to happen during this episode.

Odd Duck Dynasty is a go.
Sarah is talking to the psychologist and doing an admirable job pretending to be Beth. The psychologist calls Maggie Chen a "churchgoer" which, as we now know, is the understatement of the year. Sarah dodges specific questions and asks to reschedule the appointment. This session will put a hiccup in her later plans, but taken by itself it's very impressive pretending on Sarah's part. The way it's shot is impressive, also, with the intentionally blurred transitions and such.

Two Tatiana Maslanys are better than one. Or, you know, seven.
Sarah and Felix meet at Beth's apartment so Sarah can bring Felix up to speed. A lot happens in this scene, so I'm going to cover it using the numbered list method:
  1. Sarah sees that she has twelve unread text messages on the dinosaur Pepto-Bismol phone.
  2. Felix and Sarah collectively decide that given the gunning down of an innocent and the recently opened bank account, Beth was probably up to something pretty sketch, and that something is probably what drove her to suicide. 
  3. Felix pushes Sarah to think about whether Beth might be her long-lost sister and consider that her life may be a fairy tale. If Sarah's life were a fairy tale, I'm pretty sure it would be written by the Brothers Grimm because suicide, abuse, etc.
  4. We find out that Sarah doesn't think she's special and doesn't think anyone would care if she died. It is painful how nonchalant she is about her perceived non-importance.
  5. Sarah insults Paul's looks. Since hindsight is 20/20, this is hilarious.
  6. Felix tells Sarah that Vic wants a funeral. Sarah refuses, partially because of point number four on this list and partially because it would draw a lot more eyes than is good for the plan.
  7. Felix points out that the birth dates on the birth certificates all lie within a month of Sarah's. Sarah does not give a crap.
  8. Sarah reveals that she's going to leave for awhile because all the texting and pretending to be Beth is too much. Felix is not pleased and doesn't see what is so scary about texting. I would advise Felix to watch a few episodes of Pretty Little Liars.
  9. Felix calls Sarah out on abandoning Kira for ten months and sashays away. Sarah feels appropriately terrible.
Some time later, Sarah is packing to leave after taking a shower. Before she can finish packing, however, someone comes into the apartment. I wonder who it could be?

It's Boyfriend Paul! He's back early because he wants to be there for Beth after her hearing. Good boyfriend-ing work, Paul. On rewatch, this seems like a good indication that Paul, while totally betraying her trust, did actually care for Beth. He's confused about "Beth's" T-shirt choice for a second, but then hops straight into an interrogation about how the hearing went. Sarah explains the vomit situation while trying to put as much distance between her and Paul as possible. Paul keeps closing the distance, and it is vaguely creepy.

Paul, perceptive as military training has made him, notices that something is off. Sarah launches herself at his face before he can start putting pieces together. Obviously, this works quite nicely. Having someone who looks like Tatiana Maslany launch themselves at your face would be pretty darn distracting.

All thoughts/blood went to his other head.
They then start making monkey right on the kitchen counter. Con: This is pretty morally sketchy on both of their parts because neither is who the other thinks they are. Pro: Tatiana Maslany's body.

I couldn't pass this cap up. It's like her face is saying "Thank God I get to make out with Evelyne Brochu later."
After Paul falls asleep (in the bed, not on the kitchen counter), Sarah gets up to make her escape.

Meanwhile, Vic is back at Felix's for the third time this episode. Apparently he picked a fight with some random because he has anger issues or whatever. I do not care, and neither does Felix. He's moaning and groaning on the cold concrete about having a memorial for Sarah, and Felix finally gives in and says they'll have a small wake. He pats Vic on the head and sends him off for a shower and a Xanax.

Also this happens.
Sarah's escape is interrupted by a very naked Paul. He's all about having a repeat of last night's shenanigans, but Sarah is having none of it. He questions her a bit more about the hearing and about whether she's "on the meds again". Apparently Beth had a prescription pill problem. Sarah finally manages to successfully cockblock Paul and get the keys to Beth's car. The car is not black, but instead a very dark shade of green that almost looks like black. Close enough.

Also in a dark-colored vehicle is Art, who is monitoring "Beth" and looking as sassy as ever while doing it. He follows her as she drives away.

*sassily starts vehicle*
Sarah goes to the bank to get Beth's cash from Banker Stephen. He catches her leaving a voicemail for Felix, which she hilariously waves away by calling Felix an "obnoxious English relative".

Also adding to the hilarity is Banker Stephen's face and existence.
After a brief moment of hesitation and suspenseful music, Sarah gets the cash and hightails it out of there, proceeding to Felix's apartment. As she gets out to go see Felix, Art breaks into her car and finds the money. Sarah, bb, you really shouldn't leave $75,000 laying around in a car, even if it is locked.

In other news, Felix lives over a steam bath place. I didn't even know that was a thing that existed.

Pretty graffiti is pretty.
Unfortunately for Sarah, Felix is not home. He's at the wake. At least he had the courtesy to make invitations with the location of the wake on them.

These are surprisingly high-quality for how last minute this wake was.
Starsweep to the wake, where Felix is marvelously scoffing at how pathetic Vic is being. It's even more marvelous when Sarah calls him and he just BLATANTLY TALKS TO HER IN FRONT OF HER MOURNERS. He is not even a little bit subtle.

"Hey, totally not talking to the dead girl."
Sarah jokes with him for a bit about watching her own funeral, but her good mood goes downhill real fast when Mrs. S and Kira show up. Felix puts his phone away to do damage control, but Sarah keeps talking to him about how Kira can't know she's dead and dissolves into tears and there is water coming out of my eye holes.
Unfortunately, Sarah isn't able to wallow for long because just as she gets into her car, so does a German lady with Emily Fitch colored hair. And, oh hey, she also has the same face as Beth and Sarah.

"Worst day ever. Nothing could possibly make it wo-"
"What the f-"
German lady's name is Katja, and she's the one who's been trying to reach Beth via Pepto-Bismol phone. She starts coughing up blood and talking about a briefcase and asking to see Cosima. Sarah has reached her limit and freaks out until Katja finally picks up that something's off. She says a little Sphinx riddle to see if Sarah is actually Beth. Of course, she is not, and Katja finally realizes this.

Then Katja gets shot through the head.

That's probably going to stain.
Sarah doesn't get time to process this before more bullets are fired at her. Her magical mantra of "shit, shit, shit," manages to protect her as she escapes. Once she starts to relax, Katja's phone rings. When Katja fails to pick up the phone due to the fact that she's now a corpse, Beth's identical phone rings.

Sarah picks up the phone, because really, what else is she going to do at this point?

Unfortunately not Jimmy John's.
And thus ends the first episode of Orphan Black. I hope you've enjoyed this recap. As a reward for reading the entire thing, here is another GIF of Alex Vause.

There can never be too many GIFs of Alex Vause.


  1. Hi, I'm MarinoAzul.
    Thanks for to tell us about Bobby, Orphan Black, because I feel also that her caracter needs more development. Her friendly with Felix it's very nice and congenial, it looks that there is a fine friendly with him from time ago.
    And also thanks for tell about Laura Prepon, because I don't knew nothing about her (sorry, sorry), so I went to watch quickly her series "Orange is the new black". Thanks for third time.

  2. You wrote under a pic: "This bar has Bobby and a bookshelf and is pretty. It needs to exist."
    Well, look for Cameron House, Toronto, with Google. ;)

    And Jordan Gavaris said: “I’ll never forget my first day of work and walking through the doors of the Cameron House, which is where we shot the Bobby’s Bar interiors. I remember seeing Tat – that’s what I call Tatiana Maslany [Sarah] – standing by the bar nursing a bourbon."