Excerpt for Orphan Black and the Heroine’s Journey: Symbols, Depth Psychology, and the Feminist Epic by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Orphan Black

and the

Heroine’s Journey

Symbols, Depth Psychology, and the Feminist Epic

Valerie Estelle Frankel

Other Works by Valerie Estelle Frankel

Henry Potty and the Pet Rock: A Harry Potter Parody

Henry Potty and the Deathly Paper Shortage: A Harry Potter Parody

Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey

From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey in Myth and Legend

Katniss the Cattail: The Unauthorized Guide to Name and Symbols

The Many Faces of Katniss Everdeen: The Heroine of The Hunger Games

Harry Potter, Still Recruiting: A Look at Harry Potter Fandom

Teaching with Harry Potter

An Unexpected Parody: The Spoof of The Hobbit Movie

Teaching with Harry Potter

Myths and Motifs in The Mortal Instruments

Winning the Game of Thrones: The Host of Characters & their Agendas

Winter is Coming: Symbols, Portents, and Hidden Meanings in A Game of Thrones

Bloodsuckers on the Bayou: The Myths, Symbols, and Tales Behind HBO’s True Blood

The Girl’s Guide to the Heroine’s Journey

Choosing to be Insurgent or Allegiant: Symbols, Themes & Analysis of the Divergent Trilogy

Doctor Who and the Hero’s Journey: The Doctor and Companions as Chosen Ones

Doctor Who: The What Where and How

Sherlock: Every Canon Reference You May Have Missed in BBC’s Series

Symbols in Game of Thrones

How Game of Thrones Will End

Joss Whedon’s Names

Pop Culture in the Whedonverse

Women in Game of Thrones: Power, Conformity, and Resistance

History, Homages and the Highlands: An Outlander Guide

The Catch-Up Guide to Doctor Who

Remember All Their Faces: A Deeper Look at Character, Gender and the Prison World of Orange Is The New Black

Everything I Learned in Life I Know from Joss Whedon

Empowered: The Symbolism, Feminism, & Superheroism of Wonder Woman

The Avengers Face their Dark Sides

The Comics of Joss Whedon: Critical Essays

    Mythology in Game of Thrones

    A Rey of Hope: Feminism & Symbolism in The Force Awakens

    Who Tells Your Story: History & Pop Culture in Hamilton

This book is an unauthorized analysis and commentary on Orphan Black and its associated products. None of the individuals or companies associated with the television show, comics, or any merchandise based on this series has in any way sponsored, approved, endorsed, or authorized this book.

Copyright © 2017 Valerie Estelle Frankel

Smashwords Edition

All rights reserved.

LitCrit Press












Works Cited


One can watch the five-season epic of Orphan Black as a single heroine questing towards enlightenment, with different aspects of the same woman representing the inner voices of rationality, rebellion, ferocity, cold anger, and propriety. Smaller, quieter voices offer Beth’s paranoia, Tony’s snarky defiance, M.K.’s terror, and Krystal’s lightness. Of course, Sarah is the willpower, the directed self. Her brother Felix calls her “the glue that’s holding us all together” in “The Antisocialism of Sex” (407).

As a heroine’s journey text, Orphan Black is fascinating. Rarely in fiction do five women all quest (with a few more like Beth, Krystal, and Veera going on abortive, simplified journeys). Arguably each has nearly a fair share of the story arc, casting them all as the story’s central heroes. Far from static sidekicks, all grow and change. Moreover, their journeys often reflect, as Sarah and Helena each must accept the other in season one and return together from the symbolic underworld in season five. The heroines are not only questing for freedom, but for unity, binding together ever tighter in their Clone Club.

The heroine’s journey, like the hero’s journey popularized by Joseph Campbell, involves the central character metaphorically growing from child to adult by journeying into the underworld and facing dark forces that represent the tyrannical father and/or murderous mother – both inversions of the potential good parents the hero might become, after he or she has learned from these voices of the dark side. In fact, the shadow, as Jung calls the dark side of the self, is all the undesirable impulses one has repressed – greed, cruelty, anger. This side of the self reveals qualities the hero can see in other people but not in himself – “such things as egotism, mental laziness, and sloppiness; unreal fantasies, schemes, and plots; carelessness and cowardice; inordinate love of money and possessions – in short all the little sins about which he might have previously” ignored in himself, explains Jungian analyst Marie Louise Von Franz (Individuation 174).

Still, the shadow side offers a surprising strength. Most often the fictional questor is the sweet, inexperienced adolescent – Dorothy Gale or Harry Potter – discovering the rage and power of the evil tyrant. However, other questors discover other lost parts of the self – the innocent they’ve long left behind or the sexual woman they’ve always repressed. Thus, the women of the series all undergo this journey as the story focuses on their meeting these lost shadow twins as much as it does on their struggle for autonomy.

The shadow need not be evil but simply polarized, as professional Beth and heedless Sarah have chosen contrasting paths. In fact, all of the clones are opposites, representing the different sides of the personality. Each time Sarah masquerades as Beth, she tries on her personality and borrows abilities she’s never discovered in herself. As all the clones use this power, and also tangle with wicked matriarchs and patriarchs, they discover their own potential. The hero’s journey is about facing one’s shadow – all one could have become but chose not to – and discovering one’s hidden abilities. “A woman’s psychological development requires integration of many facets of her self in order for her to become a whole and healthy human being. When a woman is limited to only one or two roles, she can feel or act mad because the unactualized parts of herself are struggling to express themselves,” explains Linda Schierse Leonard in Meeting the Madwoman: Empowering the Feminine Spirit (4). This is the struggle all people face, embodied so directly through the many faces of Tatiana Maslany, the actress who plays them all.

This moment of learning proves true for the actress as well. “There’s a large part of me in each of them. And a large part of myself is revealed in each of these characters,” she says (“Send in the Clones”). Through the series, the women all take each other’s places, walking a mile in each other’s shoes and discovering what it would be like to be so different. Maslany says of switching, “They’re playing, they’re struggling, they’re trying something on – they’re not embodying themselves, they’re putting on an act and they feel exposed and they feel that they’re screwing up and like they’re going to be caught out and they’re going to be seen as a fraud and that’s everything I feel when I’m doing those scenes. And it is technically so confusing, but that’s what is so fun about those scenes” (Berstein 93).

Sarah, questing for her child as the epic heroine often does, learns love from Helena, domesticity from Alison, discipline from Beth. Cosima, who’s dying from the illness they share, impresses responsibility on her. However, Sarah can only defeat the brutal corporations by playing Rachel, the dark insider clone who knows all their secrets and is willing to play dirty. Rachel, by contrast, spends five seasons setting herself above her sisters and ignoring their pleas to protect and join them. She does not step into their shoes, but by observing their love, finally chooses their side. In the same way, Sarah’s accepting Helena helps the madwoman emerge from religious conditioning. After, Helena becomes pregnant and quests to be a mother, but first she must defeat the shadow figure Virginia Coady, murderer of her own children, to absorb her terrible strength. At the same time, Alison grows from a place of denial and repression to a free spirit, finally comfortable with who she is. While Cosima is the best adjusted, contrasting lover-inspiratrices Delphine and Shay guide her down different paths before she faces her creators and decides who to become. This book explores all their classic heroine’s journeys – hearing a call to heroism, working with comforting friends and enlightening lovers, borrowing the powers of their sisters, and finally defying the tyrants to claim freedom.



I will start with the thread of my sestra Sarah, who stepped off a train one day and met herself.

Sarah Manning has the most traditional pattern, beginning as “a poor little orphaned foster wretch” as Felix calls her in episode one, who’s completely unaware of her magical birth and glorious destiny. The show’s creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson saw her as the central figure from the start. Manson says of Sarah, “We always knew that she was the outside, the black sheep, that she would be the one who’s different from the others somehow” (Berstein 35).

This is the story of the superheroine, the epic young woman born with a magical power others lack (in this case an unusual fertility that will ultimately save them all from death). She’s Harry Potter, who not only was born a wizard but destroyed the Dark Lord at age two and remains marked with divine powers, signaling his ability to fight evil. Sarah’s power is internal – the ability to bear children even despite her creators’ deadly curse, and the power to defy the illness killing her sisters.

Most fairytale children grow up with evil stepfamilies or foster-parents bewildered by their adolescent desires. This will soften the wrench of leaving home. In his signature studies, Freud notes that this is a common children’s fantasy: After the parents somehow disappoint or dissatisfy the child, he dreams that he is adopted, the child of distant royalty. (Frankel, From Girl to Goddess 18)

Sarah in fact is a magical child, with an awesome destiny from the moment of conception. Her other superpower of course is the biology of having a child. In “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried” (210), Cosima tells her, “You’re the wild type, Sarah. You propagate against all odds. You know, you’re restless. You survive.” Nature is her ally as she quests for her child.

“In the first stage of this kind of adventure, the hero leaves the realm of the familiar, over which he has some measure of control, and comes to a threshold” (Campbell 146). Sarah begins the first episode awakening on a train, symbolizing the awakening about her life that’s coming. In fiction, “A stranger rides into town” is a classic plot, bringing change by shaking up the dynamic. As it turns out, she’s been gone for eight months, and now she wants her child returned. She had Kira when she was only twenty-one, and likely felt terribly unprepared. “The woman who gives birth when she has not yet grown up may fall asleep from the shock and find herself in a dream world in which she is forever a teenager, disconcerted to hear herself called ‘Mother’,” explains fairytale scholar Joan Gould (120). Sarah didn’t sleep but fled; however, her disassociation is clear. Though she dreams of life with her daughter, she has no idea who the girl is anymore. Her actress says, “Every part of her being wants to be that mother, for Kira. But no part of her knows how to do it” (“Send in the Clones”). She’s not only on a quest to reclaim her child but to understand her value, as her foster mother S. wishes she would, and to connect with them both.

Sarah confesses later to Felix, she wants him to steal a bag of cocaine she’s pilfered and, as she puts it, “I’m back on the run, the usual Sarah shite storm.” She’s left her boyfriend “Vic the Dick” after hitting him first. On her arrival, she calls Mrs. S., who refuses to let her see Kira. Furious, Sarah slams the receiver down with a muttered “bitch!” when S. hangs up on her. Clearly, her life is a financial and relationship shambles. She’s thus prepared for her journey to begin. Fawcett says, “She’s a character who has made a lot of wrong choices and is now trying to set things straight, make amends, and trying to be a better mother to her daughter.” Manson adds, “Over the course of the first season, I think she grows up quite a lot” (“Send in the Clones”).

As Sarah walks away, she sees a distressed woman in a business suit. The woman piles up her belongings, and when she turns, Sarah spies a face that’s a copy of her own. Before they can speak, however, the other woman jumps in front of a train.

Manson calls Beth Childs “A tortured yet brave cop” and “the inciting incident of the entire series” (“Send in the Clones”). “Sarah watches Beth take a few steps to her death, and it all begins for her. Identity is thrown open; so many questions are posed to her narrative. The appearance of her world has shifted and will continue to shift” (Heuslein 83). Each clone she meets who dies is like losing a part of herself and supplies her with deeper knowledge about mortality. Through it all, she deepens, understanding the others more as she understands herself.

Sarah is named for the Biblical heroine, whose biology (or God’s blessing) was so strong that she had a child at age ninety. Her last name suggests toughness and manning up, straddling gender conventions to be the hero. Some of the earliest-introduced clones, Alison, Beth, and Cosima, suggest an ABC pattern, regulating and dehumanizing them. In this list, Sarah is the misfit, though she takes Beth’s identity and blends in.

Beth, a single strong, one-syllable name, seems right for a cop. It’s short for Elizabeth, the name of powerful ruling queens (she also shares name roots with Buffy the Vampire Slayer). As Sarah takes Beth’s identity, she grows into this heroic archetype, learning to be a cop and protect her loved ones. Elizabeth means “Pledged to God,” and Sarah/Beth is the story’s Chosen One, battling forces of evil to save her daughter. Further, by taking her identity Sarah is subverting this – choosing to be chosen instead of letting destiny do it. Beth’s last name, Childs, suggests an inability to cope and yet an innocent perspective on the world – all a shadow for the tough, suspicious Sarah “Manning.”

Traditionally, the heroine’s journey is a call to rescue someone in danger – a sister or lover or child. All these will come through the first season, but for Sarah the first quest is to rescue herself – to seize a better life by claiming Beth’s. In the process, she discovers all the hidden potential within herself, who she could become with different opportunities. This is the power of the identical self who went a different way – in Jungian terms, the shadow.

One’s shadow is all the qualities he or she has rejected: Luke Skywalker chooses the light side of the force, and Darth Vader the dark. Closer yet are Harry and Voldemort, both half-wizard orphans with similar gifts who choose opposite paths. While Voldemort chooses sycophants and domination, Harry makes true friends and pursues the path of love – all the while aware that different choices would have made him “great.” He’s drawn to battle Voldemort, because when he does, he battles the evil impulse within himself and emerges stronger.

Jung writes: “The shadow personifies everything that the subject refuses to acknowledge about himself and yet is always thrusting itself upon him directly or indirectly—for instance, inferior traits of character and other incompatible tendencies” (CW 9, pp. 285).

Taking Beth’s ID, Sarah thinks in the comic, “A fresh start. Didn’t appreciate it when I was a kid. But right now? Nothing in the whole damn world sounds better” (The Clone Club #1: Sarah). Gould notes that changing clothes in a fairytale signals “a change of state, as if she were continually changing one skin for another” (44). Changing faces does the same, but more dramatically.

Archetypes scholar Carol Pearson contrasts the Innocent and the Orphan. While the Innocent believes people are essentially kind, and tries desperately to be perfect and lovable, the Orphan operates from a more traumatized and cynical place. “At some point, Orphans give up on failed authorities and take control of their own lives, and when they do, they become Rebels” (85). This rebel figure “works for justice and claims solidarity with all other oppressed, wounded, or suffering people” (Pearson 85).

Witnessing the death of this copy of herself stuns Sarah. The moment calls on her to take stock of her choices and priorities – leaving Kira, ignoring the effect her walking out has had on her mother as well as her daughter. It also provides her a literal opportunity to reinvent herself.

This fresh start is like a wish come true. Sarah takes the other woman’s purse and explores her house. On finding a paradise of expensive furniture, elegant clothes, and a fat bank account, Sarah claims this life for herself. It’s a shadow moment, discovering who she could have been with different choices, then trying out this lifestyle by walking in her double’s shoes. While Sarah is an outsider, from London, Beth is from East York, part of Toronto. To Sarah, Beth offers the perks of wealth and education, the warmth of a loving boyfriend, and the discipline of a cop – all things she’s never had, which as she samples them, evoke love, responsibility, and duty in herself. In her flat, Sarah is caught by the snapshots of the happy couple, with her lookalike snuggled up with an amazingly attractive man. With this, Sarah calls her, “A girl with a pretty nice life.”

Same-sex siblings tend to be both Shadow and ideal self for each other. As Jungian analyst Christine Downing puts it, “She is both what I would most aspire to be but feel I never can be and what I am most proud not to be but fearful of becoming” (“Sisters and Brothers” 111). All this is very true of Sarah and Beth, the first sister pairing of the show, and will follow for the other clones as well.

Sarah can no longer insist she isn’t capable of this kind of growth, so, having tried it, she continues to nurture these qualities within. However, with them come the threat of Beth’s addiction and despair, leading to suicide because she apparently couldn’t handle the persecution. These too are a mantle Sarah must inherit as she battles them. One of the central mysteries is what caused her death. Manson says of Sarah, “She’s investigating herself in a way, trying to find out what led to her suicide” (“Send in the Clones”). By doing so, Sarah addresses whether she might ever do the same.

For the individual, one of the major tasks in the process of psychological development is to recognize, acknowledge, and accept those rejected aspects of the self (the shadow). The process of integration through acknowledging and accepting the shadow aspects of our personalities gives us depth and access to a greater range of expression. Oftentimes the shadow will hold hitherto unknown powers and capabilities. (Von Franz, Individuation 170-171)

For instance, Beth was the force of responsibility, caring for the entire city and managing the clone conspiracy besides. Sarah, the poster child for neglecting responsibility, can learn much by walking in her shoes. Felix calls to warn her Vic wants his coke back and won’t stop, but Sarah insists Felix keep stalling him, as she fails to own her mistakes. She goes further and fakes her death as Sarah, while studying to become Beth – her accent, mannerisms, habits. In a montage to “Bad Girls” by M.I.A, she watches numerous videos of Beth flirting with her boyfriend, training for marathons. She practices her lookalike’s signature and dyes her hair to match. Playing at Beth melds into becoming Beth – as parts of Beth Childs’ life surface, Sarah gains a deep sense of respect for this woman so like and unlike herself, even as she must solve Beth’s problems as well as her own.

Using her go-to moves as Sarah, she scams the bank manager into helping clear out Beth’s account and starts ducking Beth’s responsibilities, not just her own. Her partner Art texts, “Have arrived. Must see you. Where are you? Still waiting.”

“Yeah, good luck with that,” she mutters, tossing the phone aside. However, he tracks her down in a cop car and hauls her away, unwilling to be put on hold forever. As it turns out, there’s an inquiry waiting about Beth’s shooting a civilian, Maggie Chen. Sarah postpones the inquiry by vomiting and then by begging her psychiatrist for leave, but it won’t wait forever. Her psychiatrist tells her, “Getting back on the job for you is about moving forward from a moment you can never take back.” While Sarah didn’t actually shoot the civilian, she needs to reclaim her family life after abandoning them. However, she ignores the advice.

After, Sarah gets 12 unread texts for Beth. “Where are you? What happened? Back at hotel, call. Still waiting.” Once more, she tries ignoring them all.

In Beth’s flat with Felix, she feels a closeness to her dead twin. Felix recalls Beth’s shooting. “So, your twin, all hopped up on cop tranquillizers, guns down an innocent Chinese lady holding a cell phone in her hand. Is that true?”

Sarah adds that she doubts the story. “Feels like she’s lying about something.” Clearly, it takes a grifter to know a grifter.

Meanwhile, Felix is stuck on Beth’s identical likeness to Sarah. “You’re related! This could be your story!” The phrasing emphasizes how Sarah is stuck in Beth’s pattern and must struggle a great deal to break free. This foreshadows much for the coming season. “Every foster kid dreams of their lost family,” Felix reminds her. “Deep down, we all think we’re special.”

Sarah retorts, “Yeah, the last thing I am is special.” Of course, with her biology, she actually is. This conversation is central to the heroine’s journey, emphasizing her destiny.

Meanwhile, Beth’s relationship with Paul Dierden was more problematic than it appeared to outsiders, as Sarah discovers. In fact, sterility can symbolize an undeveloped or immature relationship. “For it is when women and men in relationship, and feminine and masculine in the individual psyche, can bless each other and affirm each other that they effect the cross-fertilization necessary for a viral creativity and a fruitful culture,” explains Gertrud Mueller Nelson in Here All Dwell Free: Stories to Heal the Wounded Feminine (193). To avoid a conversation, Sarah aggressively seduces Paul when he returns unexpectedly. After, she must deal with her feelings over sleeping with her dead twin’s boyfriend.

Like Art, the clone Katja refuses to let Sarah avoid her and she dives into her backseat. There, she demands Sarah accept the briefcase of medical samples and take her to her scientist friend. “You are police, Beth. We need you,” Katja insists. Sarah refuses this terrifying summons from this copy of herself – the first she’s spoken with. Clearly, the moment is terrifying her, the moreso as Katja is coughing blood. Ironically, her name, likely short for Katherine, means pure, though she’s dying from damaged lungs.

Katja gives Sarah a threshold test, meant to challenge the hero from crossing over from the ordinary world to the magical one, with “Just one. I’m a few. No family too. Who am I?” a riddle Sarah fails. Gazing at her with the penetrating insight of the shadow, Katja realizes (unlike Art or Paul) that Sarah isn’t who she pretends to be. Before Sarah can deny this, a gunshot slams through the windshield and into Katja’s head. Horror-struck, Sarah speeds away. Once again, running won’t save her. When Katja’s pink phone and her own identical one ring, she finally answers. With this, she’s literally answering adventure’s call as the first episode ends.

Episode two begins with the phone call: “Did you meet the German?” the other woman asks. “I can’t get a hold of her.”

Sarah collapses against the hood of the car and tells her, “The German’s dead. Someone shot her right in front of me.” The other woman instructs Sarah to collect samples and then hide the body, talking her through the instructions like a guardian angel. Thus the phone voice is Sarah’s new mentor. This teacher offers insights the hero can’t yet find without help, but generally guides from afar, as in this scene, rather than holding the hero’s hand through the quest. Meanwhile, Sarah confuses Alison (whose birth certificate she finds) with Cosima, the voice on the phone, until they meet at the end of episode two. This stresses their fluid, shifting identities as each can become the other.

As Sarah faces the second corpse of herself, this one grislier and closer, the universe seems to be shouting at her to end her reckless choices and find a better life path. Katja is a herald summoning Sarah to the conflict of Clone Club. Maslany explains that Katja “kinda comes in to serve her purpose, to pull her into the clone world. And now she can’t get out of it. ‘cause now the killer knows where she is” (“Send in the Clones”).

Sarah ignores the warning, telling Felix her plans: She’s gotten the 75K, “enough to lose Vic, lose the twin sister weirdness, just get someplace safe with my daughter.” However, Detective Bell is holding her cash hostage.

In this episode, after Cosima orders her to get Katja’s briefcase, Sarah begins her second impersonation. A German cover of “These Boots Are Made for Walking” plays as Sarah/Katja saunters into the posh Carlsborough Hotel. She sports Felix’s flashy clothes and a German accent, but also finds herself trying out a new personality – she’s still seeking someone better to become.

As she discovers, Katja (or someone) has wrecked the place and has a fully-stocked credit card to cover the damage. Sarah the screwup must envy this heedless life. On the other hand, the fact that the woman’s room was trashed and she ended up dead is another warning sign for Sarah to straighten up.

The brutal shooter from the first episode has left traces, with a decapitated magenta-haired Barbie doll to match Katja, and the word TRUTH scrawled in blood red across the page of an open Bible. Ironically, Sarah, like the shooter, is pursuing a path of lies, linking them.

In the briefcase, she finds more sisters – from Austria, Italy, and France. Hair designer Sandy Sokolowski says of the dead Euro-clones that they were in a big rush so the clones “weren’t as polished – we did think them through, but they were never going to be characters that would be onscreen” (Berstein 85). Unlike some of the clones, all these share the Beth/Sarah coloring, with just different hairstyles. They even have similar neutral expressions. Thus looking at them for Sarah really suggests looking at herself. When only one side of the personality is nurtured, the heroine’s “secret longing also to develop the other side within her still remains, and very often a kind of unsatisfied restlessness and depression overcome her” (Von Franz, The Feminine in Fairy Tales 94). Once more, they summon Sarah to the quest….and once more, all have been brutally murdered.

Armed with the still-living Alison Hendrix’s address in Scarborough, Sarah goes to meet the closest copy. Ironically, Alison the perfect soccer mom rejects her, quite violently. When Sarah admits that Beth has killed herself, Alison idly picks up the enormous knife she was using to cut the oranges and slashes at her. In a tight, over-calm voice, Alison denies that this is possible. As she dismisses Sarah, she demands that she scrunch down in her dark hoodie and hide her “ugly face.”

When Sarah returns and insists on answers, Alison gets in Sarah’s face. “Fine, she wants in?! We’re clones! We’re someone’s experiment and they’re killing us off!” (“Variation Under Nature,” 103). As Sarah is alerted to the show’s central conflict – people targeting her and those like her, she’s crossed over into a science fiction world – one of cloning and hidden corporations. At the same time, she meets living, healthy copies of herself – not just Alison but also the visiting Cosima Niehaus.

Alison’s in white, Sarah in black, and Cosima in red, polarizing them all. As Jung adds, “Once one has experienced a few times what it is like to stand judgingly between the opposites, one begins to understand what is meant by the self” (CW 10, 872). Siblings in real life tend to polarize, half-consciously dividing attributes like “I’m the bright one and she’s the pretty one” (Downing, “Sisters and Brothers” 111). These siblings are no exception – encouraging growth through their differences.

Within moments, Alison and Sarah discover how different they are. When Felix crashes into her yard, Alison pulls a gun on him. At this, a threat to her family, Sarah turns Mama Bear. She stands between them and sweetly coaxes Alison to lower the gun. However, when she does, Sarah smacks her across the face. Alison bursts into tears. “You point a gun at my brother again, I will kick the living shite out of you!” she shouts. Co-creator John Fawcett says, “The other fun thing about Alison is that she’s so completely opposite Sarah,” calling them “street urchin” versus “white picket fence” (“Send in the Clones”).

“Soccer mom Sarah? Dreadlocked, science-geek Sarah? Arguably more attractive than the real Sarah,” Fee mutters.

“Yeah, I was there, thank you!” (“Variation Under Nature,” 103). His calling them “Sarah” sets up an identity crisis for the heroine with more shadow selves – these copies Felix finds prettier are once again the possibilities she never seized for herself. Co-creator Graeme Manson explains, “Every time you meet a clone, you create another identity crisis” (“Send in the Clones”). Back at the townhouse, Sarah puts on Beth’s lipstick and stops, starring at the reflection that’s becoming more “Beth” by the minute. “Am I going insane?” she wonders (“Variation Under Nature,” 103).

After Alison tells her that she provided the 75K, Felix is skeptical: “So what are you gonna do now? You gonna rip off your new sis and abscond with Kira?”

Sarah replies: “She’s not my sister. And…yeah.” Flight is still her goal.

Meeting Cosima in a bar, Sarah is weirded out by her “twin” in the mirror. “Hey. Don’t worry, you get used to it,” Cosima insists, but Sarah is unconvinced. She’s still struggling with who these revelations make her, and how she’s different from the others. As they sit together, Cosima finally gives her the Clone Club origin story. Six months prior, Katja contacted Beth with a crazy story of her “genetic identicals” being hunted across Europe. Beth tracked down Cosima and Alison. Cosima adds, “Yes, but, who is the original? Who created us? Who’s killing us?” These excellent questions set up much of the story as the pair play cop together. Cosima adds that they lost their cop, “so, however you managed to get into her [Beth’s] shoes, we need you to stay there.”

Sarah protests that she can’t really be a cop. Besides, “Being Beth is what got me into this mess in the first place.”

Cosima tells her, “But you can’t run away from her.” If Beth represents growing up, taking responsibility, fulfilling obligations to the city and to the clones, the line gains much more nuance. Smiling at Sarah’s awkward jokes as she leaves, Cosima advises Sarah to hold on to her sense of humor. “Beth couldn’t,” she reminds them both soberly. Beth remains a cautionary tale for them all, the ever-looming reminder that someone with the same genes, the same face, stuck in the same conspiracy, ended it all.

At work, Sarah is summoned to investigate a murder…actually that of Katja’s. Meanwhile the shooter calls the department on the speaker phone, with a processed voice over a Slavic accent. Sarah/Beth listens with horror as the killer twists the clones’ code: “She was just one of a few. Unfit for family. Now she’s horse glue.” The killer tells Art that “Jane Doe” (Katja) expired at Allenside Park and hangs up.

Continuing to solve her own body-hiding, Sarah joins Art in tracking the killer to her flat. There, Sarah discovers a Bible containing a copy of Katja’s passport. She pockets it, but is creeped out to find a dead copy of herself staring out of the book. Sarah reads from the page, the Book of Psalms. “For you formed my inward parts. You knit me together in…” Art picks up the recitation from what he’s discovered on the wall. “…my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” he finishes. All this, according to Art, suggests deep spiritual problems, though it’s also a reference to cloning.

He of course functions as a helper and support system in Sarah’s many quests. Arthur Bell and fellow cop Angela DeAngelis (angel of angels) have heroic names, casting them as the “good guys” in this struggle of ideologies. Ironically, by standing for the law, they may be the only characters not aligned with one of the shadowy groups battling each other. In season one, Sarah as Beth keeps secrets from both. The next year, Art is a reluctant ally, taking on her secrets, while Angela spies on the respectable clone, Alison, eager for dirt.

Sarah sees movement outside the window and shoves Art out of the way before he can get shot. Since she’s protecting him from a clone of herself, there’s a suggestion she and the shooter are already atuned. She races after the figure, but she, hidden beneath a cloak, knocks her over the head and menaces her with a fish-handled knife. Sarah’s only defense is to yell “I’m not Beth!” As she reveals her true self, the shooter yanks back her own hood, showing her her own face again, though with blonde curls. Sarah stabs her with a piece of rebar, and she flees.

“The Madwoman rises up inside us when we are oppressed by rigid order and control” (Leonard 16). Struggling with all she is to fit into Beth’s life, part of Sarah metaphorically rebels and takes her in the complete opposite direction, evoking her rage and disregard for society’s rules. This pushes her back to her center.

After this confrontation with the mad, raging, murdering side of herself, a new darker shadow, Sarah is steeled to accept responsibility. Her daughter Kira, the beacon in her life, remains a goal for Sarah. Her smiles and laughter suggest the innocence Sarah has lost in herself and wants to reclaim. Her empathy also suggests another symbolic goal for Sarah – finding commonality. “With consciousness, you make the effort to understand exactly how other persons see things – how they think, what they feel, what makes them anxious and why this is so” (Nelson 96).

“If the Self appears as a young person in a woman’s unconscious productions, it means the newly and consciously discovered Self” (Von Franz, Feminine 170). In fact, children represent one’s potential as well as one’s innocence, “a higher transmutation of the individuality, the self transmuted and reborn into perfection” (Cooper 35).

Kira’s drawings, mostly smiling women, flowers, and suns, suggest an optimistic outlook. Combining this with her startling prophecies suggests everything really will turn out all right. Her name might come from the Hindi and Sanskrit for “beam of light” or the Irish Gaelic “dusky or dark-haired” – all true. Sarah spies on Kira with Felix but finally concedes, “Bloody Mrs. S. She’s right. What kind of mother am I if I snatch my own daughter?” With this, she joins the fight. She will not escape with money and daughter but will win back her life piece by piece.

Meanwhile, Kira’s drawing of her mother in episode four has a jagged, dripping red mouth. While the drawing appears kindly meant, it’s a violent image that echoes the lies Sarah has been telling and the violence Kira will soon experience. There’s also a suggestion that Kira senses her mother’s power to destroy and devour, emphasizing that Sarah must learn the cruel savage side of motherhood before the story ends.

Though Sarah tries to avoid it, she’s told to question the boy who saw the shooter. Trevor describes her as an “angry angel,” and, when asked what she looked like, he points at Sarah. Sarah, the rule-breaking delinquent and now the well-behaved cop, has never been a good angel or a truly evil one. This moment introduces another shadow, one she will find herself facing within herself and exploring.

Back at her office, when Sarah answers the phone “Detective Childs,” she’s startled to hear the accented retort: “No, you’re not.” Once again, her opposite self shuts down her constructed identity. Later the new clone even calls her “a terrible detective” (“Effects of External Conditions,” 104). The Shadow “shears us of our defenses and entails a sacrifice of easy collective understandings and of the hopes and expectations of looking good and safely belonging. It is crude, chaotic, surprising” (Perera 33).

The shooter identifies herself at last, giving Sarah a new tension with “Helena.” Helena also confuses them, telling Sarah, “You’re doing police work but how long can that last? When the real police find me you are me and I’m you. We’re both the victim and the cop” (“Effects of External Conditions,” 104). Helena even begins the episode repeating “I’m not Beth” – presumably to copy her nuances, but this gives her yet another identity, Beth’s, to try on and reject. Soon, Helena infiltrates the police station as Sarah to plant a confession of murdering Maggie Chen. While this is leverage, it’s also Sarah’s worry – that Beth turned evil and unstable. The cops call the murder victim “Jane Doe” and the murderer “Jane Death,” paralleling them in episode four even before they discover their identical features.

Helena, disguised clumsily as Sarah-as-Beth, for three layers of complexity, slips into the police department while Sarah is out. Symbolically, it’s like having Sarah-on-a-bad-day come into work instead of normal Sarah (as Sarah’s intern friend observes). Helena, representing Sarah’s dark side unleashed, devours the muffin on her desk like a wild animal and studies the murder board – emphasizing Sarah’s status as criminal since she’s the actual murderer.

Helena considers the framed snapshot of Beth and Paul – like Sarah, she envies this love she’s never had. However, this needy voice from within Sarah is loving and encouraging connection where Sarah rejects it – Helena picks up Paul’s call and actually asks him for help. “I got beat up. Please come get me outta here.” When he comes, however, the real Sarah rejects him and says she doesn’t need him. Here, Helena enacts Sarah’s buried impulses: all she wishes she could say, Helena says.

That night men in white coveralls slip into Beth’s bedroom in a complete intrusion into her personal space. Worse, they hook her up to machines and insert an electrode, on which she chokes. Sarah is experimented on in her sleep, resembling the medical tests Helena is undergoing in juxtaposed scenes. Film of fragmented body parts conflates the two women, making it even less clear who is who. When she wakes, Sarah rushes into the bathroom and coughs up one of the electrodes she choked on. Clearly it wasn’t a dream. The electrode in her mouth and puncture mark in her arm are both penetrations of her soft, malleable body at its most vulnerable, and thus terribly disturbing. After, Cosima reports that it’s an EGG – that the mystery men were monitoring their subject.

One might notice Beth and Sarah’s different paths – Beth commits suicide after facing enemies on all front – DYAD and the Monitors, murderous Helena, a deadly clone illness, and Paul’s spying. In the comic, she adds in a video diary, “How can I trust him? How am I supposed to trust anyone ever again?” (The Clone Club #1: Sarah). Sarah, faced with the same information, doesn’t despair but confronts Paul and finally gains his love and trust. She trusts Art and finally tells him all her secrets, discovering he’s completely reliable and unwavering. Further, she makes the clones into a true sisterhood and fighting force. Alison says of Beth, “Truth is, I barely knew Beth. She was all business, but I admired her. She didn’t pry. She was discreet. She didn’t bring her foster brother to my house” (“Variation Under Nature,” 103). However, Sarah drags her entire messy life, from Felix to Vic, over to Alison and makes her deal with them. Further, she insists Alison get involved, whereas Beth let her contribute money and stay hidden in suburbia. While Sarah’s strategy is more annoying, it eventually makes them all sisters in truth. Arguably Sarah is stronger than Beth, or her tougher background has given her the tools to cope.

The female hero is neither the traditional helpmate rescuer, who “saves” others by immolating herself, nor is she like the male superhero seen in such works as Frank Herbert’s Dune and Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, who leads while others only follow. She saves by teaching others that they have the power to be heroic. They do not become her followers, but are coequals in a community of heroes” (Pearson and Pope 263).

The Sarah/Beth situation continues to get tangled with her two other clones – one the murder victim she hid, the other the murderer. In “Parts Developed in an Unusual Manner” (107), Art discovers dead Katja’s DNA matches Helena’s.

As Sarah prepares to climb into Paul’s Range Rover, Helena’s reflection superimposes next to hers in the window. Not only is she startled, but she’s struck by their twinishness once more. “Shit!” Sarah exclaims.

Helena raises her hands and promises a truce. “I have an offer for you. But we must talk. And eat. Let’s have lunch” (“Parts Developed in an Unusual Manner,” 107). Such a straightforward offer from the murderer Sarah’s been tracking and evading is jarring. However, the quest is one of learning to live with one’s shadow, learn from it instead of endlessly battling. Sarah accepts.

Helena devours food at the diner, and also tells Sarah of the connection she senses: “I dreamed we were friends,” she tells Sarah who retorts that they are not friends. Helena studies her spoon as she shrugs. “We will be. I’ve seen it.” Though Sarah rejects connection, Helena embraces it. Helena, the dark savage killer, is also the feminine side Sarah has mostly rejected in herself, as the “punk” who never visits her mother or daughter. Helena is a killer of innocent women, but she has much to teach her new sister.

Just as the heroine represents life-giving and creative power, the witch figure murders and destroys the new life. Worse yet, she seeks to cast her own shadow over the heroine, blaming her for the destructive deed. And yet, this forces the heroine to face her ordeal: to descend into death but also to acknowledge the child-killing, death-dealing rage within her virginal heart. (Frankel, From Girl to Goddess 273)

The villain on the heroine’s journey is the killer of the innocent, what Helena calls “sheep.” It’s the life-giving heroine who quests to protect them all and disarm the force of evil. Helena requests her knife back and each reminds the other she nearly killed her. Helena ends their standoff by writing down her number and demanding a name or she’ll kill Sarah. By doing so, she throws Sarah into conflict, forcing the other woman to choose between protecting her new friends and herself.

After their lunch, Helena breaks into Sarah’s empty condo. The imagery suggests she’s Sarah’s dark side, only allowed out at night. Echoing Sarah in the season premier, she eyes a photo of Paul in the kitchen and prowls through the house. “As a personal shadow figure, the Bag Lady symbolizes the freewheeling female survivor and bountiful female nurturer…the rejected side of the feminine that is characterized as offbeat, peculiar, crazy, or mad, and that has been scorned by our white, patriarchal society” (Leonard 171). Helena offers exactly this kind of insight and strength.

When Paul is kidnapped, Sarah calls in Helena for help, giving her Olivier’s name – one of the exploitative spies, not the innocent clones. Astrid, Olivier’s assistant, puts a hood over Sarah’s head, zips cuffs her hands, and leads her down the basement corridor.

Helena comes, knocks out the assistant, and lovingly caresses Sarah, requesting her name. Since Sarah is still hooded, she might be any of the clones in this moment, and she’s just been masquerading as Beth and mistaken for the killer. She chokes Sarah next, as Sarah watches Helena as a blur through the hood. In fact, all the lines between clones are blurring, even as, in this moment, Helena comes to save her sister, her first act on the side of goodness. Visually, she’s switched over her allegiance, even if she’s still teetering between choices.

When Olivier sees Astrid has been knocked out, he goes down to where Sarah is tied and yanks her hood off. However, Helena has snuck in to take Sarah’s place as tied-up hostage. Instead of a sheep as Olivier plans, he discovers a wolf awaiting him. This dark vicious side of Sarah, suddenly invoked to take her place, indeed turns savage, snatching back the fish knife he’s taken. Still acting as Sarah’s other half, Helena takes Olivier’s offer that he made Sarah to “see his tail” and brutally slices the artificial augmentation off in a “message for your master” (“Parts Developed in an Unusual Manner,” 107). By phrasing it this way, she treats him as the object, reversing their roles. It’s also a castration moment as she slices off his wiggling appendage. Helena ends the episode joyously dancing in the club, knife in her hand. She apparently tells Olivier she was the one to kill Beth and take over her identity, protecting her weaker side, Sarah, who goes into hiding with Paul.

Soon enough, Helena calls her for help. Sarah comes, but as she faces this reflection of herself, trapped in a brutal cage, she still fears and distrusts this savage side of herself. She raises a shaking gun. Helena, meanwhile, drops her head so the barrel presses against her forehead. “Do it,” she says flatly. If her light side rejects her, she truly has no one. Sarah can’t do it and frees her, even while denying she cares. Though Sarah keeps the gun on her, Helena embraces her and cries “I love you.” This vulnerable, wounded shadow holds her tight, insisting on being part of her life. Symbolically, Sarah has already reclaimed her family: Felix and Paul as well as S. and Kira. With them comes this last piece of wholeness, the tortured, abandoned dark side.

“By choosing to confront the Madwoman and the source of her strength, the situations or frustrations out of which she emerges, and by choosing to acknowledge, work with, and transform them, we learn to recognize and honor the Madwoman’s dark feminine energies as part of a greater whole” (Leonard 283). Acknowledging her as a sister, a gradual process for Sarah, means acknowledging the dark side within herself. This is a vital step in individuation. “Whether the shadow becomes our friend or enemy depends largely upon ourselves…the shadow is not necessarily always an opponent. In fact, he is exactly like any human being with whom one has to get along, sometimes by giving in. Sometimes by resisting, sometimes by giving love – whatever the situation requires” (Von Franz, “Individuation.” 182).

Back at the precinct, Sarah is having identity confusion with the murderer and victim they’re investigating, as much as she is with Beth. In “Entangled Bank,” (108), Art decides dead Katja (based on her fingerprints) was Sarah Manning, who to his shock looks like Beth. Sarah, however, was reported dead by Beth’s train crash. As Art and Angie debate about twins or triplets separated at birth (considering how much Beth resembles Sarah they actually have it about right), they keep digging. They confront Sarah-as-Beth with Sarah’s photo and ask if she’s seen her before. “Yeah, in the mirror,” Sarah as Beth snarks, having fun by telling the precise truth. However, Art rewatches the photo of Beth’s suicide and figures it out. In “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” (110), he confronts Sarah.

After a season of hiding, she is finally vulnerable, stripped of her hidden identity. She resumes her real accent at last, and, done with lies, only insists in what Felix might call her “truth voice,” that she didn’t kill Beth. “No, you watched her commit suicide and then you went straight for her wallet,” Art retorts, making her take responsibility for her real actions at last. Further, Katja’s face has surfaced, and Art makes her face this too. Confronted with all these selves she tried to bury – the grifter, the dying woman reaching out to her sisters, the killer, Sarah must reclaim them one by one. “You wouldn’t believe it,” Sarah tells him with conviction. He invites her to try him.

Resuming their talk after an interruption, Art takes the seat across from Sarah. “Sarah, my partner killed herself, and I didn’t see it coming. Help me. Help Beth. I know you care.” With this appeal to help Beth, the weaker sister who killed herself, whom Sarah is coming to love, Sarah finally cracks. She confesses there’s a reason they all look the same and begins to cry. However, before she can confess, Neolution intervenes.


On the heroine’s journey, the men around her echo her undeveloped masculine side. This Animus, as Jung called him, “evokes masculine traits within her: logic, rationality, intellect. Her conscious side, aware of the world around her, grows, and she can rule and comprehend the exterior world” (Frankel, From Girl to Goddess 22). The Animus is the mediator between the ego and the deeper, complete self. The most primitive Animus is a force of brute strength and power. As the heroine grows, her Animus matures, or is replaced by a series of cleverer figures when she’s ready for more developed stages: initiative and planning, rule of law, and wisdom.

Jungian analyst Marie Louise Von Franz’s model works in Sarah’s story too. Sarah’s first relationship mentioned onscreen is with Vic the Dick, a petty drug dealer she hit and stole cocaine from. The most primitive animus offers “mere physical power – for instance, an athletic champion or ‘muscle man’” (Von Franz, “Individuation.” 206). He pursues Sarah through season one, with intimidation and bullying apparently his only tools. In the comic Orphan Black: Deviations, Sarah calls him “a violent, whiny man-child struggling with ADHD” as she insists on his lack of planning ability (#3).

She replaces him with Paul, suggesting that she’s leaving the drug dealer for a healthier relationship – a successful man who can commit. In their relationship, however, she quickly discovers Paul has let people come in an experiment on her in the dead of night.

Sarah starts investigating and gets spy equipment, only to find out her tougher, more cynical sister Beth already did so. Channeling Beth’s toughness, Sarah revolves to find out the truth. Thus Paul is a master of planning and scheming, so to defeat him, she develops the same qualities in herself. His name is also Biblical – there, Paul was the greatest enemy of Christians, soon converted to their greatest disciple. As Paul joins the Clone Club and sacrifices himself for Sarah, the hero, he echoes this pattern.

Paul confronts her in “Conditions of Existence” (105). “I knew,” he says. “I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew. It was that day you were supposed to be at the hearing. First time we’d had sex in months.” There’s the Clash t-shirt, the disappearing scar, and finally, pictures he’s taken of Sarah with Kira. “This little girl? I was there when Beth found out she couldn’t have kids.” Apparently, this is another aspect of life Beth ran from, which Sarah-as-Beth is finally reclaiming. Paul adds that he worries Sarah killed Beth.

Sarah turns the tables, revealing she knows his secrets are just as big. “You observe her,” Sarah continues. “You let people into her home. Like last night. Doctors came and medically examined her in her sleep. And she knew. You’re a plant.” She flings Beth’s letters at him, voice rising. “And she killed herself because the man she loved turned her whole life into a lie. She knew you didn’t love her and she couldn’t understand why you wouldn’t leave. And now she figured it out.” When Sarah whispers, “She trusted you,” and “How could you do that to her?” she clearly doesn’t mean Beth but herself. Channeling and defending her weaker sister, Sarah finds herself perfectly in her shoes.

Paul’s two-faced behavior evokes another quality traditional for the lover on the heroine’s journey – the shapeshifter, straight out of fairytales.

In the game of love, the hero and heroine each view their partner as a shapeshifter. This “other half” they must cleave to like themselves has frightening mood swings and unpredictable desires. Hence, many tales appear about enticing swan maidens from the sea or taming beastly monsters into Prince Charmings. (Frankel, From Girl to Goddess 76)

Sarah notes, “Trexcom Consulting. Fake Paul, fake company. I bet you money there’s nothing there.” She walks into a gutted building, but this moment messes with the audience as Paul’s coworker notes, “We downsized, remember? Paul’s office is over here now” (“Conditions of Existence,” 105).

She has believed him a prince, but here he’s more like a Bluebeard. This too is a common pattern for the heroine, trapped in the home with a monster she must outwit. “The predator exists in everyone—the force that longs to devour the world, the insatiable greed that will take the entire psyche for itself. The demon lover, or killer animus, lures his victim out of life. He seduces her, shrouding her in lies, trying to convince her she’s helpless” (Frankel, From Girl to Goddess 80). He may succeed in this, unless she has the courage to bring his predator nature into her consciousness, coming to understand and accept it.

The Bluebeard tale is a challenge for the psyche. Will the girl come to realize that her lover is a murderer before it is too late? If she does, she survives, and learns not to be fooled by charming manners masking a murderous heart. If her hidden instincts don’t emerge in time, if she cannot use the one key of perception to open the door blocking her knowledge of who Bluebeard truly is, her body will end up dismembered in his trophy room. (Frankel, From Girl to Goddess 82)

As she struggles through these psychological barriers, Paul’s lies are a devastation for her. In a similar piece of symbolism, Paul is spying for the enemy, but is also falling for Sarah and truly does want to help her. His plan that they run away to Rio reflects her own escape fantasies, showing how they’re not so different. In episode six, Sarah and Paul finally speak honestly:

PAUL: My problems didn’t start in the military. They started out of uniform, as a private contractor. Understand? I’m not doing any of this by choice.

SARAH: All right. So, they forced you to be Beth’s monitor for two years without even knowing why.

PAUL: Are you some kind of hustler? You understand leverage, right? The difference is you chose to infiltrate Beth’s life, to screw her boyfriend right on this counter.

SARAH: And you weren’t even you.

PAUL: And you aren’t you either.

They thus find more commonality. Here each must accept the other is not the perfect prince or princess but a flawed human being. By the look on her face, Sarah doesn’t appreciate being called out on her grifting, something that only Fee usually does

With this understanding, however, they can proceed more honestly. “Changed by this encounter, the heroine realizes that her male “protector” is not an omnipotent god worthy of her blind devotion. He can be her equal, but he no longer commands her every thought or desire. Thus she understands she need not rely on her father, or men at all, to rescue and protect her (Frankel, From Girl to Goddess 80).

Sarah discovers Paul doesn’t know about the clones and tells Cosima, who replies, “See, it’s a double blind. Um, the monitors are unaware of the purpose of the experiment. That way they can’t skew the results” (“Variations Under Domestication,” 106). This reveals Paul as more of a pawn than a mastermind here. At episode end she tells him about the clones, wanting to be honest about her life and trust someone, even as Alison and Cosima are retreating from their own romantic partners. They echo her fears even as she ignores their cautions and throws herself into closeness.

As his handler Olivier interrogates him, Paul answers defensively, much as Sarah might, as their relationship is picked apart. He tells her after that Olivier instructed him just to watch “Beth” closely, “protect her; make sure she’s not aware.” Sarah paces. “Aware of what?” Paul stands and speaks through a clenched jaw. “Of me. Of us. This is high-level shit, Sarah. An illegal human-cloning trial. Aren’t you the least bit worried that someone might be trying to kill you?” Sarah admits she is, “but at least it’s not you.” He voices the fears she’s not dealing with and helps her solve them, in the traditional animus helper role.

In turn, Paul picks up more of Sarah’s sneakiness as he plays Oliver for information about the killer of clones, who he knows is a clone too. Olivier, however, insists he bring Beth in, and as the helper voice from within, Paul warns her of the danger: “They know you’re not Beth. Run!”

Olivier captures him and knocks him out. This leaves Paul the damsel in Sarah’s story, helpless and unconscious as he awaits rescue. “It’s probably my fault he’s in there in the first place,” she tells Felix, and drags him off to save him. Of course, Felix is another animus, helping with her crazy plans even as he tries to talk her out of them. Co-creator Graeme Manson explains, “He’s totally irreverent, he’s super bitchy, sometimes he’s her biggest problem. And yet, at the end of the day, he’s got her back, no matter what” (“Insiders: Felix”).

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