Home ~ In the News ~ Orphan Black Clone Cheat Sheet

The Final Season of Orphan Black:
Your Clone Cheat Sheet

© 2017 - Stephanie Hoover, All Rights Reserved

Tatiana Maslany as two clones
Tatiana Maslany, in a scene with herself, playing both Sarah Manning and Rachel Duncan.

Playing one's own double is nothing new for actors. Cage and Travolta's performance in Face/Off is classic. And Ewan McGregor does a tremendous job of playing twin brothers in season three of Fargo. But nothing comes close to Tatiana Maslany's portrayal of nearly a dozen clones in Orphan Black.

The role of Sarah Manning (and Helena, Alison Hendrix, Cosima Niehaus, etc.) has earned Maslany an Emmy, a Television Critics Award, two Critics' Choice Awards, and four Canadian Screen Awards. She's also been nominated for a SAG Award and a Golden Globe.

Worried you may not be able to keep track of all of these characters? Your fears are unfounded. Viewers never have to wonder which role Maslany is playing now. Each clone has her own personality, look, attitude and physicality. There have even been instances where Maslany played one clone pretending to be another. The result: a magnificently recognizable melding of both. It's hard to imagine any other actor pulling it off.

Orphan Black debuted on BBC America in March 2013. The opening scene, in which Sarah spots her own double on a train platform, is instantly addictive. There are so many questions, the most obvious of which is "why do these two women look exactly alike?" By the time this sci-fi thriller reveals that there are more (and even more) Sarah Manning clones, we are slaves to the mystery.

While Maslany carries the bulk of the weight, the rest of the cast is titanic in its own right. Jordan Gevaris plays Sarah's younger foster brother, and closest friend and ally, Felix. His quick wit and delightfully campy reactions often steal the scene. But make no mistake: he will fight for those he loves.

Maria Doyle Kennedy is thoroughly believable as Sarah and Felix's adoptive mother, Mrs. S, who can handle a rifle as adeptly as a family argument.

Although supposedly sterile, Sarah is the only clone to give birth. Her daughter Kira (played by Skyler Wexler) knows things about the sisters no one else does. Her connection can't be explained; it's something she feels - sort of like a "spidey-sense" for clones.

The fifth and final season of Orphan Black premieres June 10, 2017 on BBC America. A badly injured Sarah fights for her own life and the consequence of that battle will seal the fate of everyone who matters to her. Here is a clone cheat sheet to prepare you for "The Final Trip":

  • Indomitable, Ukranian-raised warrior Helena used to be Sarah's worst nightmare, now she's her most loyal sestra. Like Sarah, Helena can conceive and is in fact carrying a child. Will the natural inclination to protect her unborn baby force Helena to put her own well being before that of her newly found family?
  • Cosima Niehaus is an evolutionary researcher who now devotes her life to the study of the clones' biology. She suffers from a congenital respiratory illness that is killing other clones. Time is running out to find the cure, which makes Cosima even more reckless in her efforts.
  • Unlike the others, Rachel Duncan was raised with the knowledge that she was a clone. Her ruthless nature makes her the perfect leader of the corporation trying to find, control - and profit from - her sisters' unique DNA.
  • Alison Hendrix is a bundle of contradictions neatly tied into a tasteful, handmade bow. She may look and act like any other domestically-inclined soccer mom. In actuality, she's a recovering alcoholic, former drug dealer and accidental murderer. But, that craft room is to die for...
  • Right for all the wrong reasons, Krystal Goderitch is super sure cosmetics companies are out to rule the world. While she's probably a better manicurist that a spy, Krystal accidentally uncovers some very dangerous secrets.
Other characters to know include Alison's bumbling but well-meaning husband Donnie, Detective Art Bell who unwittingly joins the clone conspiracy, and Cosima's lover Delphine who forever seems to operate in the shadows.

If you haven't watched the previous seasons, you may want to DVR season five and catch up first. Cable customers can view seasons one through four on BBCAmerica.com. The first four seasons are also available on GooglePlay, iTunes and Amazon.