Orphan Black Theories: Why Is Sarah Different?


So it appears that we’ve gotten to the meaty plotty portion of the season and holy crap I have a lot of ideas.  Here my are my current theories about Sarah and the other clones.

Theory 1: Sarah is the original. All the others are clones.

It’s a common misconception that clones can’t reproduce. In fact, they can make offspring as long as their original could, but this rumor is so persistent (I believed it until I started researching for this article) that I’m going to consider it fact in the Orphan Black universe for the sake of this theory. In the last episode we learned that Beth was infertile and a few episodes ago we learned Allison has adopted children. Allison acted genuinely surprised to learn about Kira, so it’s looking very likely that these clones can’t has kids. Cosima appears to be a lesbian, so her fertility might not come up and we haven’t really learned much about the Europeans, so this theory could fall apart rather quickly. But from a story structure standpoint all of these things have to add up to something. There is just too many allusions to children and not being able to have them for it to be a coincidence.

Secondly, can we talk about that weird moment with Helena? Helena seemed for feel some sort of connection with Sarah and flat out refused to kill her when she learned she was not Beth. Perhaps we have the wrong impression about the cult she was raised in. Maybe they never raised her to think she was the original copy. Maybe she knew she was a clone, but was brainwashed into killing all the other clones as a sort of repentance. Sarah, of course, isn’t a clone and to this crazy cult thing the original probably a pretty sacred person. Killing the original would probably be the highest crime in that cult and it’s pretty obvious that Helena is craving redemption of some sort.

Theory 2: Sarah is not the original, but she’s special in some way.

So let’s say we’re onto something with the “Sarah can have kids, the others can’t” thing, but we’re barking up the wrong tree. Maybe the original is still out there, but Sarah’s fertility is a miracle because these clones can’t have kids. This time it doesn’t matter if the writers are going with the “all clones can’t have kids” theory because if the original is infertile, all the clones should be infertile too. If that’s the case, Kira is even more of a miracle than we realized.  If the original cannot reproduce and then all but one of the clones can’t reproduce, then something extra special is going on.  Mrs. S even commented that Kira was much more special than Sarah knew. And oh yes, let’s talk about Mrs. S…

mrs sSo I’m convinced that Mrs. S is Sarah’s monitor and decided to grab Sarah and Felix and leave the experiment for some reason. This was long before Sarah proved that she was actually fertile and when that happened Mrs. S probably realized she’s left with the unique clone. Mrs. S is extremely protective of Kira, too. I mean, sure, she was a foster mother so caring for wayward and abandoned children is kind of her shtick, but I feel like it goes beyond that. Also let’s not forget that picking up her two foster kids and migrating across the ocean is extreme to begin with, to their presence in some ambiguous North American town (it’s Toronto, guys) started off with a pretty extreme act. Something is up with Mrs. S, man.

Theory 3: There is no original. They are all completely artificial.

Maybe there is no original. Maybe every single strand of their DNA is artificially constructed. Many of them have been shown to be pretty extreme in their widely varying personalities. I mean can you get more soccer mom than Allison? Any more alternative than Sarah? Any more science geek than Cosima? Maybe they were all designed to be completely blank slates and planted in environments for the good ol’ nature vs. nurture debate. Maybe these girls are even genetically modified and have talents we don’t yet realize. I’m not talking, like, laser vision or anything (hell, if this show went that far I’d probably still stay along for the ride), but maybe they have a higher capacity for things like intelligence, stress, pain, etc. They’ve all been pushed pretty far already. Many people would have snapped at some point halfway between “we’re clones” and “hunting us down.” Hell, one of them did snap (RIP Beth), though she was pretty heavily medicated and just learned that her longterm boyfriend had been spying on her.  I’d say in that moment she was perhaps pushed beyond the limits of even the strongest person.

Maybe maybe maybe.

Maybe I’m wrong on everything. I don’t know. What are your theories?

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.

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4 thoughts on “Orphan Black Theories: Why Is Sarah Different?

  1. Well, we’ve learned a few things since you posted this, but I think you’re on to some stuff. This is my current thinking:

    Mrs. S. is a major player. Exactly how, we don’t know yet. But I’ve got some hunches.

    First, Mrs. S. was involved in creating Sarah et. al. That story she told, of being part of an “underground railroad” for abused children, that’s all a smokescreen. She sees that Sarah is asking questions about her origin, and trying to lead her away from the truth.

    Second, Mrs. S. wasn’t just involved: she was one of the masterminds behind the project, perhaps THE mastermind. Could she even be the original herself? Think about it: if around age thirty-ish she used her DNA to make the originals twenty-some years ago, she’d be about the age that Mrs. S. appears now.

    Third, Mrs. S., for whatever reason, recognized that Sarah was special (so, your number two is basically on target). This has to do with her being able to reproduce. For whatever reason, this causes Mrs. S. to take Sarah and run.

    Fourth, Sarah isn’t the only clone out there. Felix is the product of a similar research project.

    But the really big question, the one lurking in the background, is why they created Sarah et. al. in the first place. The next question in line: where did they get the technology for all this back in the 80s? It seems to be related to Neolution, but I think that there’s more going on there than meets the eye. Does Dr. Leekie have a more sinister agenda? Is Neolution just a front? Is he the mastermind, or just another middle manager, like Olivier?

    And just who is Kira’s father???

  2. My theory is that the neolutionists did something to the clones after they were born to ensure that they couldn’t have children. Since Sarah escaped their grasp they couldn’t do it to her. Kira is not something they ever intended to happen.

  3. There must be an original, we are talking about the 80’s and is very unlikely that they would artificially construct every single strand of DNA, and also, why would they look all the same? that wouldnt make sense.

    1. Perhaps this will be the mystery of the second season. Who knows. The interesting thing is that I wrote this partway through the first season and we aren’t really any closer to understanding why Sarah is special. We know why her and Helena were close, at least, but we still don’t know why she’s the only one that can conceive or why she is able to pretend to be the others so well when the others clearly struggle with swapping places with her. Perhaps the latter is just a personality trait or a trait from her lifestyle, but the former? That is a mystery still.

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