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Headscratchers / Orphan Black

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  • If the clones are all the same age (as seems to be the case), how is Cosima still in college at the start of the show, while Alison is married and living in suburbia with two kids? I know the kids are adopted, but Alison and Donnie met in college, and while Cosima's degree definitely takes longer, it seems like Alison and Donnie have been married for quite some time. Did Alison just go to college for her MRS? Even so, it seems like Donnie at least graduated and got a decent job.
    • Cosima is a graduate student- it's not weird for a science PhD to take 7 years, and there's no guarantee she started immediately after undergrad. So if the clones are 28-29, Alison and Donnie could easily be 6-7 years into their marriage/career while Cosima's finishing a doctorate.
  • Do the Neolutionists really own the clones and Kira?
    • No, that's not the way that genomic patents work. First and foremost, human beings are not property, no matter how they're made. The guy who holds the patent on in-vitro fertilization doesn't own the children who were conceived that way. An AgriCorp may own the genomic patents on the seeds they produce but the farmer still owns the wheat they grow. Genomic patents apply to an intellectual property that's used to develop technologies, not the end-product of using those technologies. Of course, since the Neolutionists aren't really concerned with moral or ethical niceties they're probably not planning on taking things into a court of law.
      • Or the patent was put in place in preparation for a time when they gain enough influence to change the laws, allowing them to conduct their experiments legally and legally own the clones. Some of the Neolutionists are seen discussing this very prospect in one scene, celebrating a favorable court decision relating to such matters.
      • The sentence encoded in he clones' DNA is not a patent, despite what Cosima says. It's a statement of property. In any case, not enforceable legally, since cloning is illegal. There's also the question of whether a clone can be property, which could be disputed if cloning becomes legal.
  • If Maggie Chen was 41 and the clones are about 29 (according to their passports), how is it possible that Maggie helped make them, like Helena said? Maggie would have been something like 12 when they were born, and even younger when the science was happening.
    • Its possible that Helena was lied to or doesn't really know what's going on.
    • According to Leekie, Maggie wasn't involved in making the clones. She was a spy who showed up later in the game, while the neolutionists were watching the girls grow up.
  • Why didn't Beth find Sarah when she searched the Europeans' photos for matches on the police database? Especially considering that Sarah has a criminal record.
    • Sarah was moved to Canada when she was still a minor. Her criminal record is Canadian.
    • A better question is why didn't Beth search the Canadian database?
      • It's not clear how far along she was in the process. Beth had found several clones, but she still had Allison's money untouched in her account and was clearly losing her grip.
      • Beth might have been afraid to alert her coworkers or even the secret conspiracy. It is also completely possible that she did found other clones but went through a combination of: Didn't had the opportunity to contact them; decided that contacting wasn't safe or useful; Didn't kept records of them anywhere; Kept their information/records in a different place, which would be safer to everyone involved.
      • If she found Sarah's record while Sarah was with Vic, then that's quite likely. If Beth hadn't killed herself, she probably would have contacted Sarah after Sarah returned to Toronto.
  • The whole concept of the fingerprints connecting the clones makes this the least credible plot element. Not only, as noted on the main page, would Beth's prints have been taken when she became a police officer, Alison's would likely have been taken in order for her and Donnie to adopt their children. Given all the things that people must get fingerprinted for, the existence of the clones would have come to light long before the present.
    • Actually, identical twins don't have the same fingerprints.
  • Wuerzberg is in West Germany. Why did Katja have a DDR birth certificate, then?
    • And why does Felix say she's born in Berlin after he looks at her birth certificate?
  • The fact that Alison and Donnie were High-School Sweethearts makes the idea that he is her monitor a little hard to reconcile. It seems weird that the Neolutionists would have placed a teenager in the critically sensitive position of a monitor. It is also equally unlikely that he became her monitor at some point after marriage. The monitor would have to be somebody who was able to watch the subject on a day-to-day basis, and there could have been no guarantee that Alison and Donnie would have continued to remain so close, let alone gotten married. Were the Neolutionists just that Crazy-Prepared?
    • Presumably Dyad subverted and recruited Donnie sometime after their relationship became serious, if not after their wedding. It would also make sense that monitors only get emplaced after the clones reach adulthood, because children tend to get more medical monitoring than adults do.
    • It seems likely that Dyad has some damning information hanging over Donnie's head like they do with Paul, but the writers haven't found it prudent to go into detail (yet).
    • It's revealed that Donnie was recruited for what he thought was a sociology experiment in college, probably sophomore year going by the course number. He didn't know about the full ramifications, and breaks down when Alison tells him what's really going on.
  • Helena grew up in a Ukranian orphanage because her birth mother wanted to "give one child to the church." Why did she pick a church in (what was then) the Soviet Union, of all places?
    • In fact, why separate them at all? Why not give both to either the church or the state?
    • We don't know the exact circumstances. Given how weird the whole situation was, she may have separated them to decrease the odds of them both being found, and trusted a church out of whatever religious convictions she held.
    • Also, of note Amelia only said she gave Helena to "the church" not that she specifically sent her to that particular orphanage. It's very likely that she simply surrendered Helena to a church and she was placed there later.
    • Why exactly would said church go to all that trouble to send Helena to the Sovjet Union,assuming they would be allowed to do so in the first place? Why not place her in a local orphanage? It would certainly save them time,money and paperwork.
    • What "church" did Amelia give Helena to? The most common church in Ukraine is the Orthodox Church,but it seems pretty unlikely that Amelia,a Nigerian woman living in UK,would give her child to them,because it is unlikely that she was orthodox herself.Roman Catholic church seems more likely,but is far less popular in Ukraine (ca. 1% of the population) and besides, Helena is shown to use an orthodox cross (it has a diagonal bar on one end).Protestant church doesn't work very well either,as there aren't any protestant convents (they do exist) in Ukraine as far as I know .Granted,Helena's religion might be a bit muddled due to the infuence of Prolethians,but still.
    • Speaking of which,the Prolethians would be considered heretics by most official churches,so why would the nuns give them Helena?
      • The only nun that was present when Tomas took Helena away was the one Helena caught having a A Date with Rosie Palms. Could be that she just wanted to get rid of her.
  • Regarding the CASTOR and LEDA clones being brother and sister, is that supposed to mean the originals were brother and sister, or are they Opposite-Sex Clones? The clones refer to each other as siblings anyways, and Cosima explained this through Technobabble.
    • The originals were normal siblings who got cloned. Genetically, the Castor and Leda clones are all siblings.
      • Actually, the original was one woman who had absorbed a male twin in the womb, giving her two sets of DNA. The woman is Mrs. S's mother.
  • Why did Delphine and Cosima break up? I know Delphine is dealing with taking Rachel's place at Dyad, but no real reason is provided.
    • Delphine couldn't maintain the front her new position required while still involved with Cosima. It would have raised awkward questions and could be used as a lever against her.
    • Okay, but that's not a reason to actually break up. Dyad already knew Delphine was a monitor, why not just keep things quiet until things get resolved? There's obvious animosity between them and no reason for it.
    • It seems to me like it has less to do with any potential awkwardness in Delphine's position, and more to do with her commitment to protect the clones. She won't be able to do the things she has to do if she's that close to Cosima. Delphine says herself that she's promised to "love all (Cosima's) sisters equally." She can't do that if Cosima is "first among equals."
  • Mrs S not recognising that Sarah, and thereby the clones, looks exactly like her own mother seems extremely implausible. We are even shown what appears to be a photo of Kendall holding a young Siobhan in her lap right before the reveal, and yet the younger Kendall did not seem 'old enough' to plausibly mean Siobhan didn't 'recognise' Sarah as looking like the Mum she knew. Even if this is the case, it seems likely that Siobhan would have seen pictures of her mother when she was the clones' age. It's all very Marty Mcfly, and felt a bit contrived for what is otherwise a fairly serious show.
    • Resolved in the Season 3 finale. The original's status as a chimera means she doesn't look like either the CASTOR or LEDA clones. Scott and Cosima start brainstorming about the epigenetic implications of being a chimera.
  • Real life actress aside, how are all the clones exactly the same weight? Are we supposed to believe that all of them share the same diet/exercise routine? Or are we supposed to believe that they were somehow designed to be identical in their bodies as well as in their faces?
    • Yes.
    • Early on it seemed (to me, at least) like they were trying to use their wardrobes to make it look like they had at least somewhat different body types. Cosima was generally made to look more voluptuous, Beth had more of a super-lean runner's body, Sarah was somewhat less in shape (presumably due to a year of living as a drug user/abuser). Then after about the halfway point in S1, they seemed to give up all pretense of this.
    • There's a genetic component to body weight (your genes control hormone production, amount and distribution of adipose tissue, neural regions tied to eating/fasting, and other related biological functions). Hence people tend to be the same size as their relatives. For clones to be within a narrow weight range isn't actually that surprising. However it is possible for a clone to be particularly slender or heavyset since there are also environmental factors to take account of.
  • If they are all genetically identical, how is Cosima the only clone to wear glasses?
    • Vision problems can be genetic or environmental. Cosima could need glasses because she's a grad student who has spent many a late night staring at books, perhaps in poorly lit library study rooms, and squinting into microscopes and whatnot, causing eye strain. Alternatively, she may just the only one who has glasses, not necessarily the only one who needs glasses.
  • Sarah and Felix's accents really ought to be more garbled than they are. They spent their youth living in London, being raised by the very Irish Mrs. S, and then have spent their teens and twenties (half or more of their lives, by the end of the series) living in Canada, there's no way either of them would have that pronounced an English accent.
    • Sarah and Felix are both shown to be able to change accents with ease with Sarah posing as just about every other clone, accent and all, at some point in the series. They have pronounced English accents because they choose to present themselves as British.
  • About tying in Season 5 with the history Ethan Duncan gave. Would this be an accurate short version? Neolution started the cloning as a science experiment with Susan Duncan and Ethan Duncan as head scientists. Then the military and Dyad came in as contractors, and when Coady came in and disagreed with Duncan they split apart with Dyad taking Leda and the military with Castor. Neolution kept more control from within Dyad by infiltrating it and Ethan Duncan got cold feet they had the lab explosion which served for Ethan and Susan to fake their deaths for their own reasons? While the military pretty much gave full control to the Neoultionist Coady. And every other institution is just another area Neoulution works with (Brightborn, Revival) or a shell company (Topside) but weren't really directly involved?
    • There's really no way to reconcile the show's history. The early seasons give the impression that the clones were developed and studied as part of research into the viability of human cloning, with the possibility of larger-scale cloning projects later which might be used to either create slaves or soldiers. The LEDAs were tightly monitored to see how their biology held up, and modified to be infertile in order to prevent any accidental effects of cloning from being passed on to offspring. The addition of the CASTORs is logical, as testing cloning viability would be better done by testing both male and female subjects, and they could also be tested for their soldier possibilities. The later reveal that the Neolutionists were just trying to create a healing factor by messing with a particular gene doesn't mesh with this at all. It would have been obvious long before the show started that the clones did NOT have healing powers, so if that was the goal, why would the clones have been still maintained and monitored? And since the first thing that they do upon finding Kira's healing factor is to harvest her eggs - if that was the goal, making the LEDAs infertile makes no sense! And the idea that the CASTORs were entirely, from the very beginning, about creating an infertility pathogen doesn't add up given that Neolution already had one back when the clones were born!
    • The early story is that Ethan Duncan spearheaded the cloning project, having found the one person who he could successfully clone. His direction of the project was slowly infiltrated by Leekie etc, and eventually there was the explosion in which both Duncans "died" but actually Ethan survived, in hiding. Later we are told that Susan Duncan was in on absolutely everything with Westmorland before she even met Ethan? And that she was the one in charge of LEDA - even though she somehow didn't know where the gene source came from? And that absolutely no one died in the fire but both Duncans faked their deaths separately and split up? Except that Susan's death wasn't VERY faked because everyone in Dyad/Neolution/Etc knew perfectly well she was still around and she'd been in town meeting Beth just a little while ago? And the whole Dyad board knew about Susan and Westmorland and yet never mentioned them to Rachel?
  • In the flashback's to Helena's childhood in Season 5, why didn't they use the same actress that played Charlotte and Young Rachel?
    • Probably because doing Rachel's accent was enough of a struggle, and they needed someone who could speak Helena's language?
    • And someone who could portray Helena's fiery personality. To have the same person play Charlotte, Young Rachel, and Helena, they would need to find a child actress with the versatility of a Tatiana Maslany.
  • How much do we know about Siobhan Sadler's backstory/activities? When she was younger, Siobhan belonged to/worked with some group called the Birdwatchers, who seem to be some kind of sometimes-violent leftist guerrilla group. They may also be the ones who gave Siobhan the experience and resources to take her adopted children, go off the grid and vanish, and resettle in Canada. Do we know anything else about Siobhan’s shady past, whether her group was the Birdwatchers, what her agenda was?
    • Can't be anything but IRA. I mean, how many violent organizations with networks of safe houses can there be on the British Isles?