ORPHAN BLACK Mythology Guide: 1.04 Effects Of External Conditions

Orphan Black Effects of External Conditions Mythology

“Can you feel it?”

The nature and nurture of the clones is further explored in Orphan Black‘s “Effects of External Conditions,” as particular light is cast on the environmental factors that may have shaped the clones into who they are, while religion and science become more defined forces within the overall mythology.

Sarah and Art head the investigation into the killer clone, Helena. During a game of cat and mouse Helena arranges to meet Sarah, as her association with Maggie Chen, the woman Beth shot and killed, comes to light. Helena is a ‘religious fanatic’ spurred by the belief that she is doing God’s work by killing the clones. Sarah appears to feel a connection with Helena and allows her to escape before quitting the force. Meanwhile, Alison allows Sarah to be in two places at once by assuming her doppelganger’s identity so she can keep her meeting with Kira. The switcheroo fools Mrs. S but not Kira who, even after ten months apart, knows “you’re not my mother”. However, she agrees to keep it a secret.

ORPHAN BLACK Mythology Guide: 1.04 Effects Of External Conditions

Key Learnings / Mythology Developments

  • Turns out Beth intentionally killed Maggie Chen to protect the clones. Chen was one of the people who helped create the clones, Sarah included, though she eventually “saw the light” and joined the forces with those working to kill off the clones.
  • Cosima learns that the very old handle on Helena’s blade bears a winged fish symbol representing fecundity — the ability to reproduce. The same symbol is imprinted on Chen’s neck. Like Chen, Helena is working for those who see the clones as an abomination of God’s work.
  • Alison’s kids are adopted, which may explain her surprise at hearing that Kira is Sarah’s child by birth. Sarah’s ability to reproduce may be one of the traits that makes her different from the other clones, which may support Helena’s intrigue with this particular doppelganger.
  • While she doesn’t explicitly say so herself, it seems Helena is under the belief that she’s the “original,” though she also seems to be seeking some kind of ‘redemption’ by killing the clones, who she describes as “poor copies of God’s image of human beings”. It’s unclear whether she is the human on which the clones are based, the original clone or just a bat-sh!t-crazy clone seeking entry into ‘God’s kingdom’.
  • Sarah hands in her gun and badge and leaves the force.
  • Helena, dying from her injuries, collapses in an alleyway. She is retrieved and put in a van by an mysterious man in black, wearing a ring that bears the same winged-fish symbol as Chen and Helena.


    Angel Down

  • Alison stands in for Sarah when meeting Kira. She seemingly fools Mrs. S but not Kira who knows immediately that she’s not her mom. The little one agrees to keep it a secret. Sarah and Kira have yet to meet in 10 months.

Clones By The Numbers

  • Nine ‘clones’ have been introduced or referenced on-screen so far.
  • Five of the nine clones are from Europe.
  • Helena has killed four known clones.
  • Five of the known clones are dead.

Clone Conspiracy Mysteries / Unanswered Qs

ORPHAN BLACK Mythology Guide: 1.04 Effects Of External Conditions

  • Is Sarah really different from the other Clones?
  • Helena claims she can “save” Sarah – how?
  • Is Helena really “the original”?
  • Who, specifically, are the sides locked in the clone fallout?
  • What caused Maggie Chen to switch sides?
  • Who, specifically, is the mysterious ring-fingered figure who saved Helena?
  • How did Kira know immediately that Alison was not her mother?
  • Can Mrs. S be trusted?
  • Why didn’t Helena go immediately to her people when she was injured?
  • Why did Beth kill herself?
  • How many clones are there?

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  1. RickTerry says

    I have this weird theory that the reason why Kira knew Allison wasn’t her mother was because she too has this clone connection. I’m thinking that the clones might be sterile like some hybrid animals are, and that is why Allison was surprised that Kira was Sarah’s natural daughter. In other words; What if Kira is a clone as well, and Sarah’s womb was used to incubate her. This could very well be done without Sarah’s knowledge if it was done via in vitro fertilization under anesthesia. It’s possible that Sarah has been being watched all her life without her knowledge. Whoever is behind this could have waited until the perfect moment to abduct her then fertilize her, then put her back.

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    • says

      @RickTerry – I think you could be onto something. The Kira/clone angle would hint at an even larger, more complex conspiracy. To what end, I’m not sure at this stage, but Ep. 3 certainly brought the clone/reproduction aspect towards the center of the mystery.

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