Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Orphan Black Season 1 recap – “Natural Selection”

“Natural Selection”


Some basic backstory.  The main character is Sarah Manning.  She and her foster brother Felix Dawkins were adopted by Siobhan Sadler, known as Mrs. S.  They had been in London, but years ago moved to … Somewhere North America.  Sarah, and to some extent Felix, have been known to pull some cons.  Sarah has a young daughter Kira.  About a year ago, Sarah ran off with her boyfriend Vic leaving everyone behind.  Just before this episode, Sarah and Vic have a fight, she steals a bag of coke from him, and goes back home.

While Sarah is waiting for a train, she sees a woman pacing on the platform crying.  This woman sets her purse down and takes off her shoes and coat.  She turns around and Sarah sees that she looks just like her.  This woman then walks in front of a train and is killed.  After the shock wears off a bit, Sarah grabs the woman’s purse and runs off.  She finds that the woman was Beth Childs, and that she had two phones, one in a pink case.

Sarah meets Felix at a bar.  She asks him to sell the coke for her so she can get money to take him and Kira away.  She tells him about the woman, and they wonder if they were related.  But then Sarah figures that she might be able to grab some more money from the woman’s home.

Vic shows up at Felix’s grungy apartment/art studio demanding to know where Sarah is.  Vic owes the local drug lord Pouchy for the coke.  And he loves Sarah, even though she hit him with an ashtray.  Felix tells him that he doesn’t know where Sarah is.

Sarah finds Beth has a boyfriend Paul who is out of town for the week.  She also finds out that Beth is on a lot of medication, and that she has a new bank account with $75,000 in it.  Sarah plans to impersonate Beth to get the money.  She dyes her hair and studies videos of Beth at her runs to get her voice and some mannerisms. 

To help her along, she has Felix go to the morgue to identify Beth’s body as Sarah’s.  He does, and flirts with the coroner Colin.  Later when Vic shows up, Felix gives him “Sarah’s” death certificate.  Vic doesn’t believe him, so they go back to the morgue where Vic is broken up. 

Sarah shows up at the bank wanting to withdraw most of the $75,000, in cash.  The guy tells her that it will take a day or two for them to get that much money together.  She also looks in her safe deposit box and finds birth certificates for Beth, Alison Hendrix, and a Katja Obinger from Germany. 

Sarah goes back to Beth’s home, and Detective Art Bell pulls up demanding to know where she’s been and why she hasn’t been answering his calls.  Sarah tries to talk her way out, but he puts her in his car and they go to the police station.  Turns out, Beth was a detective who was on leave due to shooting a civilian, Maggie Chen.  Sarah excuses herself to go to the restroom.  She calls Felix to call off everything, but he doesn’t answer.  She drinks some hand soap, and when the review board hearing starts, she vomits over the table.

Sarah goes back to Beth’s to get ready to clear everything out, when Paul comes back home.  He asks about the hearing and other questions, but when Sarah become evasive she just has sex with him. 

A drunken Vic shows up at Felix’s.  They decide they’ll have a small wake for Sarah after the cremation. 

The next morning Sarah goes to the bank and gets her money.  She then stops off at Felix’s, but he’s at the wake.  She doesn’t notice that Art is following her.  He breaks into her car and finds the stacks of money.

The wake is on a river bank, so Sarah goes to the other side and watches through binoculars.  She calls Felix and they talk about things.  But then Mrs. S. shows up with Kira.  That wasn’t the plan, and Sarah doesn’t want Kira thinking her mom is dead.

Sarah goes back to her car, and another woman who looks like her – Katja – gets in the back seat.  Sarah tries to get her to leave, but Katja talks about having the samples for Beth’s “scientist friend.” She also coughs up blood. 

Katja finally figures out something is wrong, and poses a question, “Just one.  I’m a few.  No family, too.  Who am I?” Sarah can’t answer that.  But just as Katja figures out that Sarah isn’t Beth, a sniper shoots Katja in the head. 

Sarah manages to drive away.  She hears Katja’s pink phone ring, and then Beth’s.  She had ignored it several times throughout the episode, but now she answers it.


So that’s the first episode.  I did leave a few little things out, but having seen the first three seasons I know what minor details come up later, such as Pouchy.  One thing I included that only comes up a few times is their code phrase “Just one.  I’m a few.  No family, too.  Who am I?” I have no reason for this, but I have a feeling it might come back in Season Four.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

I fully believe that if you look at something long enough, you’ll be able to find something to nitpick.  The biggest nitpick I have for this episode is that while Sarah went through Beth’s financial statements looking for stuff to steal, shouldn’t she have noticed direct deposits from the police?  Shouldn’t she have tried to find something to figure out what job Beth had?  I mean, if the guy at the bank had asked how things were at work, how would she have answered?

Regardless of such minor issues, how many shows have someone walking in front of a train in the first five minutes?  This episode begins and ends with a bang.

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