Meet the ‘Orphan Black’ clones face to face
In "Orphan Black," Sarah Manning is thrown into a world in which her face is not just her own. Human cloning, mystery ailments, religious fanatics and overzealous scientists all converge in this series, in which Sarah's allies and foes include her genetic identicals. As "Orphan Black's" second season reaches its midpoint, here is a look at the clones that have been introduced so far, all played by Tatiana Maslany. Warning: There are spoilers ahead.
About: Sarah Manning is a street-smart con artist who, after watching a woman who looks identical to her commit suicide at a train platform, takes off with the mystery woman’s purse and decides her deceased look-alike would not miss the money left behind. Intending to take on her double’s identity for just long enough to trick the bank to withdraw funds, Sarah instead finds herself the focus of a police internal investigation, discovers she has more “twins” than she realized and stumbles into the world of illegal human-cloning experiments and conspiracies. An orphan, Sarah was raised by her foster mother, Mrs. S., along with her foster brother, Felix. Sarah’s sole motivation is to be able to provide for and keep her daughter, Kira, safe.
What makes her different: Sarah has a biological child, unlike the other clones, who tend to have fertility issues. She also is a twin.
Whom she has played: A clone chameleon, Sarah has so far passed herself off as Beth, Katja, Alison, Cosima and Rachel.
About: A suburban soccer mom with an affinity for prescription drugs and white wine, Alison Hendrix is also the “clone club” go-to for any firearm needs. Concerned with maintaining her straitlaced image, Alison is the clone most interested in distancing herself from the conspiracies and is willing to go to extremes if it means being able to return to a normal life. Prone to paranoia and rash behavior, Alison’s obsessive quest to discover her monitor’s identity causes her to install surveillance equipment in her room, torture her husband and stand back while watching her neighbor and former best friend die in a kitchen accident. When she lands the lead role in her community theater’s musical production, it is also revealed that the mother of two adopted kids is a better shot than a stage actress.
What makes her different: Alison is the clone with the most distinct double life, keeping anything clone-related completely separate from her everyday life, where she is active in her community.
Whom she has played: Alison was mostly successful when forced to play Sarah to meet with Mrs. S and Kira.
About: Beth Childs is a police detective who commits suicide by jumping in front of a train, and her story is revealed through Sarah taking on her identity. Having killed an unarmed civilian, Beth was in the midst of an internal police investigation for the shooting. After Beth (as played by Sarah) is cleared of the incident, Sarah discovers that perhaps the shooting was not quite an accident. Maggie Chen, the victim, is revealed to be a Prolethean, a member of a religious sect who believes the clones are an unnatural abomination that needs to be eliminated. Beth is the founding member of “clone club,” recruiting Alison and Cosima after she learns about her status as a clone from Katja. Though the exact reason for her suicide has not been revealed, it has been implied that Beth was barely coping with the entire clone situation, relying on myriad prescription drugs.
What makes her different: Beth jumped in front of a train to kill herself.
Whom she has played: Beth’s body was passed off as Sarah’s.
About: The “clone club” resident scientist, Cosima Niehaus, is introduced as a Ph.D. student in evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota. Cosima’s background in “evo devo” means she has the greatest scientific understanding of her and her sister clones’ biology within the group, but it also means she tends to be overconfident in science itself. While her brain is ruled by fact and reason, Cosima shows her heart is run by a different algorithm when she pursues a relationship with Delphine Cormier, a fellow scientist she suspected and later confirmed is her monitor. Suffering from a mystery ailment that has affected other clones, Cosima is working with Delphine within the Dyad Institute, the organization conducting the clone experiment, to search for a cure as well as to uncover the secrets behind the clone project.
What makes her different: Cosima is the only clone in a lesbian relationship.
Whom she has played: Nobody. Yet.
About: A mentally unstable religious fundamentalist who followed Katja Obinger to North America, Helena believes she is the “original” while all the other clones are abominations. Trained by a religious sect known as the Proletheans (diametrically opposed to the Dyad Institute) to eradicate the other clones, Helena murders Katja before meeting Sarah, who is later revealed to be her twin. Helena was mentally and physically abused by her former Prolethean caretaker, has many self-inflicted wounds and likes eating food. A lot. After a near-fatal encounter with Sarah, Helena was liberated from the hospital by a different sect of Proletheans interested in her potential fertility. Though Helena’s mental state remains questionable, she appears to value the idea of family and is loyal to Sarah.
What makes her different: Helena is Sarah’s mirror twin, meaning her internal organs are reverse to what is standard.
Whom she has played: Helena disguised herself as Beth, who at the time was actually Sarah.
About: Katja Obinger is the German clone who made contact with Beth, revealing to her the world of clone conspiracies, and was the catalyst to the formation of the “clone club.” Afflicted with a mystery illness, Katja is trying to rendezvous with Beth while escaping the clone assassin who has followed her from Europe. Unfortunately for Katja, Beth has committed suicide and Sarah has no idea she should be expecting a visit from another doppelgänger. Katja is murdered by Helena before she is able to reveal anything to Sarah.
What makes her different: Katja helped Beth, Alison and Cosima become self-aware of their clone status.
Whom she has played: Unknown.
About: The adoptive daughter of scientists who originated the clone project, Rachel Duncan was raised by “neolutionists,” proponents of scientifically directed human evolution, and grew up aware of her genetic identity and status as a clone. Though still a subject of the clone experiments, Rachel holds a high position within the Dyad group, the neolutionist institution profiting from the experiments and responsible for collecting data and monitoring the known clones. Rachel wants Sarah and Kira under Dyad and, by extension, her control and is willing to go to any length to get them.
What makes her different: Rachel has been aware that she is a clone since she was a child.
Whom she has played: Finally taking matters into her own hands, Rachel disguised herself as Sarah to gain access to Kira.
About: With an implied resume of unlawful activities that probably puts Sarah’s pre-clone days to shame, Tony Sawicki is a grifter on the run who comes into town searching for Beth, only knowing her as the police officer who had contacted him in the past. After barely escaping a run-in with mysterious men in suits that leaves his friend (and likely monitor) Sammy mortally wounded, Tony is tasked to deliver a message to Beth. Tony, who had only been told by Beth that they were related, knows nothing about the Dyad Institute or the clone experiment until he meets Sarah. Born Antoinette, Tony is transgender and his security in his identity enables him to accept Sarah’s explanation about their status as clones without having an existential crisis. After sharing Sammy’s message, Tony hits the road again for his safety.
What makes him different: Tony is the only clone that has made out with Felix. Also, his gender identity.
Whom he has played: Nobody. The real reason Tony left town might be so he could avoid having to pass as one of his sister clones.
Additional clones who have been referenced in the series.
Jennifer Fitzsimmons: The first clone to exhibit the symptoms of the illness affecting some clones. She was made to keep a video journal chronicling her illness, to which Cosima gains access through her agreement with the Dyad Institute. Died because of the illness.
Danielle Fournier: A French clone whose information and samples were collected by Katja. Presumed dead.
Aryanna Giordano: An Italian clone whose information and samples were collected by Katja. Presumed dead.
Janika Zingler: An Austrian clone whose information and samples were collected by Katja. Presumed dead.
Credits: Photos from BBC America