Take an Orphan Black refresher course before the season 4 premiere


Orphan Black may be one of the greatest shows on television right now, but that honour comes at the cost of it also being one of the most confusing. This sci-fi thriller has more twists and turns than the women’s hairstyles in Game of Thrones, which means that things can get lost along the way. With season 4 debuting this week, we thought it was important to refresh your memory on some of the show’s most important details. From names and identifiers to some easily missed or forgotten plot points, we’ve broken it down into what we think are the essentials.

Obviously, there are many spoilers for the first three seasons ahead.

The Clones

While it’s hard to forget the main cast of clones, which includes Sarah (grungy Brit), Alison (soccer mom), Cosima (scientist), Helena (scary Ukrainian), and Rachel (classy/evil Brit), many more of the Leda clones have come and gone over the past three seasons. Of those that are still living, we have Tony, a transgender clone who came to find Beth in season 2 with a message from his recently deceased monitor; Charlotte, an 8-year-old clone who has a physical disability and is the only survivor of the second batch of Leda clones and was being raised by Marion, a Dyad executive; and Krystal, the manicurist who long suspected something about her life just wasn’t quite right and was made self-aware in the season 3 finale. In addition to the 8 living clones, there are at least 13 deceased clones, including Beth, the police officer whose identity Sarah stole; Katja, the red-haired German that Helena executed; Jennifer, who died of the same respiratory illness that affects Cosima; and the six unnamed self-aware clones that were executed in Helsinki in 2006.

In addition to the Leda siblings, there are also the brothers of Project Castor that were revealed in season 3, but had a very high mortality rate. Of the five we met, only Mark (the Prolethean) remains alive. The others, which included Rudy (scarface), Seth (moustache), Miller (soldier), and Parsons (the one whose brain we saw) all died either at the hands of Helena or the illness that they all share. The illness can be sexually transmitted to others, and one of the side effects for women is sterilization. This is what happened to Gracie, Mark’s wife, though the two still ran away together at the end of season 3 hoping that the military may find a cure for Mark. The Leda boys were all raised self-aware as brothers by the military, whose overall involvement in the entire conspiracy beyond Caster remains unclear.

Both Project Leda and Project Castor’s genetic material was taken from Kendall Malone, a chimera who absorbed a male twin in the womb, and are therefore genetic siblings. Kendall is also the birth mother of Siobhan, Sarah and Felix’s foster mother.

Season 4 promises to introduce a new member of both the Castor and Leda programs, but time will tell if the families do indeed grow or shrink by season’s end.

The Neolutionists

The Neolutonists have by far been the most confusing group throughout the series. A group dedicated to advancing human evolution through technology, Aldous Leekie was the face of Neolution until Rachel fired him from Dyad and then Donnie, Alison’s usually mild-mannered husband, accidentally blew his brains out. Before losing his head, the “freaky Leekies” used to attend his lectures with silver hair and one white eye, emulating a “joking” comment Leekie had made about what the ideal human would look like. However, considering how Rachel wakes up looking towards the end of season 3, it may not have been in jest after all.

The Neolutionist movement is key to Project Leda and Castor and much of Dyad’s senior staff appear be members, with the only known exception being Ferdinand. Ethan Duncan, Rachel’s adoptive father and one of the scientists behind Leda, said that Neolution corrupted the project. Meanwhile, Susan, his wife who was supposedly dead and clearly a prominent Neolutionist, is very much alive and now has Rachel back in her care along with Charlotte.

The Proletheans

Far more straight-forward than the Neolutionists, Proletheans are a religious group that see the clones as abominations and aim to kill them all, though some believe the clones could be used for their benefit. They were the ones responsible for sending Helena off to assassinate clones in the first season, and were also the ones who harvested her ova in season 3. Their status going into season 4 is uncertain, considering the one woman war that Helena waged against them in retaliation. However, there’s a strong possibility that other factions of Proletheans exist and may come into play; it may not be the last time we’ve seen their fish symbol.


While being such a main focus of the series’ drama, the ways Kira furthers the plot beyond playing the role of kidnapping victim can often be forgotten. The only known offspring of any clone, Kira is far from your average little girl. She can tell the clones apart, even when they are pretending to be each other, and was capable of doing so even before she was aware of the clone’s existence. To this point, no other character in the show has been able to do this. She also appears to have an advanced healing ability, which Sarah and Helena may also share, as evidenced by her surviving being struck by a car at high speed, which should have been fatal. Treatments with stem cells from her teeth have also significantly improved Cosima’s condition, though when she donated bone marrow to help Cosima it was destroyed by Rachel. She’s also indicated that she’s suspicious of Mrs. S, despite her being her guardian, and has been able to warn Sarah about future threats. Overall, Kira’s abilities over the past three seasons have raised a lot more questions that have yet to be answered; especially considering the fact that the Leda clones are infertile by design, indicating that giving birth to a second generation of super humans was never the goal.

The Worm

The season 3 finale had so much going on, it’s easy to forget even the biggest details. Rachel got a new bionic white eye, there was a cute dinner scene with the sisters, and Delphine got shot and is most likely dead. However, something absolutely insane happened that even I had completely forgotten; there was a scene in the finale that involved a worm crawling out of a man’s mouth and towards another person in a menacing way. When Delphine confronted Dr. Nealon about Rachel’s disappearance, he pinned her down, began to bleed from the mouth, and attempted to spit a worm-like creature that appeared from his mouth into her. She got away, shot and killed him and the worm before it could reach her, and Nealon warned Delphine that she would be dead by morning. She said farewell to the main cast, gave Cosima and Shay’s relationship her blessings, and indeed didn’t see the sunrise (though we still don’t know who shot her). In a show that has included human brood mares and one guy that had a tail, it was still one of the weirdest things that’s ever happened. We know nothing about it, but if I had to guess, I would say that the most likely explanation is some kind of Neolutionist mind control. However, the origins remain unknown.

I, for one, am hopeful for some explanations in season 4. The season 4 premiere of Orphan Black debuts on Thursday, April 14th. What questions still have you scratching your head? What do you think people might have forgotten? Let us know in the comments!

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