Well Clone Club, it’s about that time! Only 2 days left until Orphan Black graces our screens again, now at it’s new time, Thursdays at 10pm (thankfully not running up against HTGAWM which has been off for weeks now). If you haven’t been able to do a rewatch of the previous 3 seasons to get you refreshed and ready to jump back into the show, never fear! I have taken one for the team and rewatched all 30 episodes. So, here is all you need to know to be caught up with Orphan Black by the premiere.
Okay, basics first. There is an auto-immune illness killing both the Leda and Castor clones. They were created as a way to keep them from being able to reproduce, but have been presenting unforeseen consequences. Though the illness shows up differently in the female and male clones, three of the Leda clones so far have contracted to illness, and at least two Castor clones have as well. Cosima almost died at the end of season 2 but Kira mysteriously revived her. While the Leda clones’ illness manifests in the uterus, the Castor clones’ appear as a neurological flaw, which not only causes their brains to glitch but is contagious and sexually transmitted. When the Castor clones have sex it sterilizes the women they sleep with. Apparently Sarah (and presumably Helena) is immune to both illnesses.
The Leda Clones
Obviously, we all know the core of Clone Club, Sarah Manning and her sisters Cosima Niehaus, Alison Hendrix, and Helena. We know Rachel Duncan the proclone, and we know Beth Childs, the first clone Sarah ever saw (right before she killed herself). But there are so many more clones Project Leda has pumped out (and given Tatiana Maslany even more space to wow us). So far Leda has given us:
o Tony Sewicky, the trans clone who is on the run and who only knows and is only known about by Sarah, Felix, and Art.
o Katja Obinger (aka The German) who was killed by Helena back in her days of being a serial killer of clones.
o There were other Europeans clones, all of whom are also dead as a result of Helena’s killing spree before she was reformed.
§ Janika Zingler
§ Danielle Fournier
§ Aryanna Giordano
o Jennifer Fitzsimmons, who died of the respiratory illness Cosima is also sick from.
o Charlotte Bowles – the youngest clone who was created much later than the other Leda clones. She was originally the daughter of Marion Bowles of Topside, but at the end of Season 3 was given to Rachel to raise.
o Krystal Goderitch, a woman who worked at a nail salon but was kidnapped and switched with Rachel to aid her escape from DYAD.
o Honestly there are probably more. It’s unclear how many Leda clones there are, and we know from trailers and promos for this new season that there is at least one more Leda clone running around.
The core of Leda have been extremely busy, trying to save themselves from multiple adversaries. Sarah spent most of season 3 looking for her twin sister Helena, who was kidnapped by the military faction in charge of the boy clones known as Project Castor. She had to send her daughter Kira away to live in Iceland with her father Cal in order to keep her safe from the military, DYAD, and Topside, who are all interested in Sarah and Helena’s ability to bear children (something that wasn’t meant to happen).
Cosima, who is still sick from the autoimmune disease that is a side effect of the clones being unable to procreate, has been searching for a cure with her coworker Scott, using the book Professor Ethan Duncan gave them, The Island of Dr. Moreau. Cosima was originally working inside DYAD, but resigned at the end of the last season.
Alison ran for and won the position of school trustee in her district. Along with her husband Donnie, she is selling prescription drugs to the residents of Bailey Downs, using her mother’s soap store Bubbles as a front. Let’s also not forget that they have the dead body of Dr. Leeke, the former head of DYAD, buried in their garage.
Helena, who spent the first half of season 3 as a captive of Project Castor, is pregnant from being artificially inseminated by the Prolethean Johanssen. She is now living with Alison and her family and has recently been reunited with her boyfriend Jesse Towing. She also murdered the drug lord Pouchy and his people after they stole her fertilized eggs and threatened Alison’s children.
Rachel—who Sarah stabbed in the eye with a pencil—was held a captive of Topside until tricking Sarah into helping her escape. With the help of Dr. Nealon, she switched herself with Krystal Goderitch and was taken to a secret facility where she was given a prosthetic eye, a daughter in Charlotte, and the discovery that her mother was still alive.
And the biggest surprise was Kendall Malone, the original for both Leda and Castor. She is also Mrs. S’s estranged mother, who apparently killed S’s husband John. Before putting her into hiding with Kira and Cal, the clones get some of her tissue samples in order to find a cure for Cosima and the other Leda clones who may contract the illness.
The Castor Clones
The Castor Clones are the male-half of the cloning project. All of them were raised self-aware and together in the military, headed by Dr. Virginia Coady. They all think of her as their mother, and in addition to trying to find a cure for her boys who are also sick, she is also trying to find a way to weaponize them.
The main Castor clone, the only one alive that we know of, is Mark. He was undercover for Castor, spying on the Proletheans who later inseminated Helena, when he fell in love with and married Gracie Johanssen. He eventually was forced to come back to the military, but he was freed once Gracie gave Castor information on where to find The Island of Dr. Moreau. He then helped Sarah and her sisters stop Coady and his brother Rudy from getting the original genome. The other clones, though shortlived, were:
· Rudy, who was the most lethal and the most devoted to Dr. Coady. He was killed by the brain disorder (or glitch) the Castor clones have, while fighting Helena.
· Seth, who was killed by Rudy while glitching. Sarah gives Seth’s body to DYAD for Cosima to research his genes.
· Miller, a soldier who was killed by Paul while helping Sarah escape the Castor base.
· Parsons, a clone whose brain was being studied while he was alive. He was mercy-killed by Helena.
· Abel Johanssen, the only living clone the Prolethean Johanssen was able to make with the samples he’d stolen from Castor. He died as a baby. He also didn’t have the synthetic sequences that the other Castor clones had and presented an opportunity to isolate those sequences and find a cure for the boys, but Paul blew the remains up before this could happen.
· We are unsure if there are more Castor clones, but they could pop up at any moment.
We’d all thought the Neolutionists were gone after season 1, but apparently they were operating like Hydra in SHIELD. The Neolutionists that we know of believe in self-directed evolution. They were led by Dr. Leeke (former head of Dyad, now dead and in Alison & Donnie’s garage), but now appear to be led by Rachel’s mother Susan Duncan. Apparently Leeke was just a figurehead for something much more sinister, which I’m sure we’ll find out more about in this season.
DYAD is in charge of Project Leda, initially led by Rachel Duncan and then later by Cosima’s ex-bae Delphine Cormier after Rachel was stabbed with the pencil. They want to be able to do research and experiment on the existing clones in order to both cure the illness and to make more clones. At the end of the season, Delphine is shot, and maybe killed?, by someone in Neolution.
Topside and other multinational corporations
Topside, etc. fund DYAD. They value profit over anything else and therefore do whatever it takes to make that profit. They are headed by Marion Bowles, who helped Sarah escape from DYAD and gave Helena to Castor in season 2 in order to get a Castor clone (Rudy). Ferdinand is another member of Topside, known as the “cleaner.” He inspects DYAD and reports back to Topside. He also had a relationship with Rachel at one point. At the end of season 3, he works with Sarah and Clone Club in order to get the original samples for Topside. He captures or kills (it’s unclear) Coady for them in exchange for the samples, though these plans change once he realizes that Neolution is operating within Topside. He hates Neolutionists so much that he helps Leda hide the genome, though it isn't totally clear whether he's now in Clone Club.
The Military deals with Project Castor. They value their weapons and were using the Castor boys as soldiers. Along with Coady, Paul worked for Castor. He was sent to spy on Leda for Castor, which is why he became monitor to Beth, Sarah-as-Beth, and later Rachel. There is also Benchman, who works for govt. and works with Coady. He apparently has a contact inside Leda, though we’re not sure who that is. We’re really not sure who he is or who he works for—maybe he’s a Neolutionist?
A religious group that (for the most part) believe that the clones are an abomination. They raised Helena and conditioned her to think that she was the original and the other clones were abominations, turning her into a serial killer of other Leda clones. Tomas was the man who socialized Helena; he was horrible man who locked her in a cage when she misbehaved. Maggie Chen, who was the catalyst for most of the events in the show, was a Prolethean who was after Beth, and Beth killed her. Later, Helena is taken to the Johanssen ranch, where Johanssen—another Prolethean—aritificially inseminates her with his sperm, getting her pregnant. Johanssen was unusual in that he actually believed that it was a miracle for Helena to be able to conceive and wanted her baby rather than to kill her. Gracie Johanssen grew up on the ranch and fell in love with Mark (spy and Castor clone). They ran away and got married, and are now together. As of right now, the Proletheans aren’t a problem, but Gracie’s mother is still out there so they could show up at any time.
And there you have it! That’s everything to remember before you watch the season premiere of Orphan Black. What are you most looking forward to in this season? What mysteries do you hope are uncovered? Which is your favorite clone? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments!