Orphan Black is one very clever show.
It has managed to do what many shows before it have failed to do, mixing together edge-of-your-seat action, strikingly well-defined characters – largely thanks to the uber-talented Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany who, to date at least, has played almost all the characters in the show – and an intelligent, nuanced exploration of the ethics of genetic experimentation and technological advancement into one unfailingly compelling show.
No dry recitation of academic ideas here.
What we have instead is the helter-skelter evolution of one woman, Sarah Manning’s (Tatiana Maslany) quest to find out who she is, into a global conspiracy seeking to push the boundaries of what it means to be human, and what it takes to make who we are, by using cloned versions of one woman and now one man, spliced and diced a thousand different ways, both physical and cultural, in one grand hidden-from-the-world genetic and social experiment.
It’s breathtaking in its breadth but also quite humanly intimate as we get to know all the various women of what we have come to know as Project Leda, all of whom may look startlingly alike but who, thanks to upbringings both good and bad, have grown into markedly different people, their trajectory to adulthood playing havoc with the nature vs. nurture debate.
But thanks to their grand adventures in season 1 and 2, which have seen them in mortal and emotional peril more than once, they have become a family, each watching the others’ backs as they try to find out who they are, why they exist at all, and who is behind their puppet-strings-pulled-like existence.
It’s the ultimate identity crisis, one which which thanks to the end of season 2 introduction of the male Project Castor clones just got a whole more complicated, and undoubtedly dramatically hair-raising.
So far there’s not a lot we know about the just-revealed in all their glory male clones, played by Ari Millen, beyond the identities of two of them – one time Prolethean cultist Mark, and mad-as-a-cut-snake Rudy who, as Hypable reveals, know a worryingly large amount about Sarah and those closest to her, including flamboyant gay foster brother Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and the daughter who shouldn’t exist Kira (Skyler Wexler), a revelation that doesn’t go down well the most sanely feisty of the Leda clones.
“… it turns out Rudy knows all about Sarah and her life. He knows about Kira, Mrs. S., the other clones and way more. Sarah doesn’t take this information so well and threatens to kill him, which is when Marion decides to remove her from the room.”
For all his cockiness though, one thing we do find out very early in the third season is that the Castor boys are in rather worse genetic shape that their “sisters”, making them a whole more unstable and hence dangerous.
That, of course, opens a whole host of new narrative possibilities, underlining that there is plenty of life left yet in Orphan Black, something that doesn’t surprise me given that the show’s whose creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett, have shown a real gift for creating storylines that never go where you expect them to while giving the plots and characters plenty of room in which to move.
It’s clever, breathtakingly good writing, acting and directing in one consistently excellent package and it’s going to be exciting to see what happens when Project Leda and Project castor finally meet.
The third season of Orphan Black kicks off on BBC America on April 18.
Now for your clone-loving viewing pleasure, here’s firstly a trailer for season 3, followed by a sneak peek from the first episode (spoilers ahead in the synopsis):
“Sarah pursues the missing Helena who is held in a faraway compound. Sarah must use her wiles – and acting chops – to deter a Topside investigator who threatens the Leda sisters’ lives. Meanwhile, Cosima appears to be rebounding from her illness, while Alison and Donnie face newfound financial woes. But when the menace of Castor rears its head once more, Sarah and her entire family must come together to survive.”
And here’s a panel interview with the cast courtesy of Nerd HQ …