On My Watchlist: Orphan Black

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Another show that has captured my interest! Orphan Black is a BBC America television show that is a science fiction one-woman drama that is brilliantly executed.

Orphan Black (1 season; Season 2 begins April 19, 2014)

Where to start… Starring Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black follows Sarah Manning, a small time con-woman who discovers that she is one of nine clones. When she witnesses the suicide of a fellow clone, Detective Beth Childs, Sarah makes the rash decision of taking over her life to steal her money. But she only gets sucked into the mystery of her doppelgänger when a German woman Katja, a suburban soccer mom Alison, and an evolutionary development scientist Cosima all start looking to her thinking that she has the answers. And they’re all her clones. Things get even more dangerous when another clone named Helena starts killing them all.

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And that’s not the end of it. When Sarah assumes the life of Beth Childs she gets wrapped up with Beth’s boyfriend and her detective partner. A murder case puts her detective partner hot on her (and her clones’) trail, while unbeknownst to her initially Beth’s boyfriend is actually a spy for Sarah’s creators. The clones are all being watched by someone close to them and they have to figure out if those “monitors” and their creators are friends or foes.

At the end of the series we discover there are nine existing clones, all of whom are apparently infertile except Sarah, who has a biological daughter named Kira. Her being fertile makes her extremely special to both the clones and to their creators. A few of them also have symptoms of a respiratory illness where they start coughing up blood, and if untreated they will die. Unless Helena gets to them first.

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With only ten episodes, it’s really easy to get sucked into this world because of all the mysteries that quickly unravel. Tatiana Maslany is also a brilliant actress and I believe this could possibly be her breakout role. While famous in a few Canadian television shows and independent movies, it seems she really became known more internationally with this show. She literally portrays all the clones in the show and gives them all different personalities and accents. How she manages to keep track of all of them is beyond brilliant, and she has said in an interview that everything is very technical and calculated. She must be on point for every cue because they can’t have variations in hand or body movements and speech pattern. There are moments when she has to portray three clones in one room (and they do use body doubles and then CGI Maslany all together), and manages to keep track of all their personalities. Sometimes she even has to portray a clone pretending to be another clone, and no matter what she somehow manages to infuse the personality of the original clone so that you know exactly which clone is doing what. It’s really amazing to see this woman work, and without her I don’t think the show would do as well.

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Of course, there’s also her supporting cast and an intriguing plot that also bolsters the show. Big points go to Jordan Gavaris, who plays Sarah’s gay foster brother, and Evelyne Brochu, who plays Cosima’s monitor and lover Delphine. Gavaris is absolutely spectacular with his British accent (which you’d think is real until you discover that Gavaris really has a North American/Canadian accent) and with his outrageousness. He’s so loving as Sarah’s brother and supportive even knowing that she is a clone. He is the one man that all the clones can actually turn to and trust, and he hilariously ends up being a brother to all of them and having to play a supporting role to the lies they sometimes must lead in their lives. Evelyne Brochu is compelling as Delphine because she finds herself at crossroads between love and loyalty. You can clearly see how much she wants to just help Cosima but at the same time is bound to the Creators. Not to mention she’s a striking blond Amazoness, and French. Freaking cool.

The plot in itself is not very difficult to follow despite an unclear antagonist and all these different “isms” that exist. Simply put, there are Neolutionists who support cloning and were the ones who cloned Sarah and others, and the Prolethians who are more religious and are against cloning of any kind. Neither of them are good, but neither of them are totally bad. It remains to be seen in season 2 what is really going to go down. Aside from that, Sarah’s immediate problem is finding out who the Neolutionists are without getting caught by Beth’s detective partner, without getting killed by Helena, and without getting the others in trouble as well.

It’s a solid show and I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet. I can’t wait for season 2!

Verdict: 8.5/10

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