Oh, okay, wow so this quote is basically amazing and here’s why:
“The whole sad point is nobody would notice if I died.” That’s it. That’s Sarah and what she thinks of herself at the beginning of the show. No one would notice. That’s why she left [insert fictional city name] at the drop of a hat - she thought so little of herself that she figured leaving wouldn’t affect anyone. And, I suspect, she went with Vic because she thought he was the only one who did care, and put up with a lot of his shit because of this belief.
But people did notice, a fact that comes crashing back down on Sarah when she sees Felix, Kira, and Mrs S again. She’s cast herself as a loner, but she does have people who love and care about her, and it’s in incurring the wrath of their anger/hurt/disappointment that she finally starts to figure this out. Her existence does matter, it is unique to the universe and there are people out there who would notice if she disappeared.
AND THEN. AND. THEN. (this is where the show starts to blow my mind)
IT TURNS OUT SHE’S A CLONE.
“Nobody would notice if I died.”
If you’re a clone - one of god knows how many - it’d be so easy to come to this conclusion. What’s tragic about Sarah is that she decides this before she finds out she’s a clone (Alison, on the other hand, comes to this after, “I’m not even a real person!”)If Sarah dies, someone else who looks exactly like her could theoretically step into the void. No one would notice.
Except people do notice when Sarah’s clones try to take her place. Look at Kira. She knew right away that Alison wasn’t Sarah. And though it seemed the wool had been pulled over Mrs S’ eyes, she noticed too.
Sarah believes her life’s interchangeable with any other human on the planet. Orphan Black has set out to prove the exact opposite, by giving Sarah foils who are literally interchangeable with her. Even though there are maybe hundreds of people who share her face, the world would notice if Sarah Manning disappeared. It has before, and every interaction, every time a clone impersonates another clone, it becomes clearer. No one is like Sarah and everyone knows it. This show is proving Sarah wrong by using people who are genetically identical to her. Holy shite.
And now for something tragic – let’s take a look at Beth. Oh, my dear Beth. No one notices that she dies. Paul. Art. Cosima. Alison. None of them notice that Beth isn’t Beth right away. These are arguably the people closest to her and they don’t have a clue. Yes, they do catch up eventually. The fact that they don’t notice might be more of a testament to Sarah’s mimicry skills than anything else; then again, Alison did a pretty great job mimicking Sarah and it still didn’t fly. Sarah’s Beth ruse doesn’t end because people notice – it’s because she gets tired of it, or she messes it up in a way. Mind you, the way she messes up isn’t related to not being Beth. It’s related to being Sarah. The Clash. The accent. Fingerprints. For fuck’s sake, Helena walks into the precinct pretending to be Beth and no one can tell. At most, they think she’s had a bad day.
Whereas Sarah thinks no one would notice if she died, for Beth it’s actually true. Ow. Ow ow ow.
It’s a specific choice to have Sarah slip into Beth like this, then. Because as the show’s trying to prove to Sarah that, yes, people would notice if she died, it’s also presenting the opposite scenario to her. She’s the one proving that no one noticed Beth leaving. So can you blame her for thinking the same of herself?
TL;DR This show isn’t about clones at all. It’s about wondering if your existence matters to the world.
In relation to that last paragraph, I also think is very telling the way Sarah reacts when she realizes both Beth and Alison were being undermined by the people in their lives. Like how she tells Donnie not to ever speak down to Alison again, or how personally offended she is when she finds out Paul never really loved Beth but he also refused to let her go because he needed to stay close to her. So when she says “There’s only one of me, just like there was one of Beth”, it’s a whole turning point for her in which she finally realizes her existence matters and she’s gonna do something about it, because she starts off the series completely lost, without origins nor a single idea of what to do with her future, and it takes precisely finding out there are more versions of her, for her to finally start wondering who she really is and what’s her role in the world, and that’s, ironically, the essence of the show, I think: finding yourself, figuratively and literally.