MINOR SPOILERS ALERT!
Orphan Black (created by John Fawcett and Graeme Manson) stars Tatiana Maslany as Sarah; a streetwise grifter with a questionable past. Whilst waiting on a train station platform one night, Sarah sees a distraught woman jump in front of a train- the strange thing is she looks exactly like Sarah.
Sarah, wanting to untangle herself from her problematic past and current situation, (which involves her drug dealing ex boyfriend Vic , played by Micheal Mando) , decides to become her doppelganger. She discovers her name was Beth. After faking her death with adopted brother Felix (Jordan Gavaris) identifying Beth’s body as Sarah’s, She has a plan: clear Beth’s savings account and then disappear with her daughter, now in the custody of an old acquaintance due to her mixed up past.
However after answering a phone found in Beth’s handbag Sarah arranges a meet up to try and figure out just what she finds herself tangled up in and why Beth looked like her . The owner of the voice on the other end of the phone is a sick German woman who also looks exactly like Sarah who is then shot in the head by a sniper somewhere within seconds of their meeting.Things get even more complicated when it turns out Beth was a cop connected with a fatal shooting of a civilian.
Sarah soon discovers much to her complete disbelief that she is actually a clone.
Orphan Black doesn’t have space ships, it doesn’t have amazing special effects, alien worlds or any of the other tropes usually associated with sci-fi TV. It’s a far more grounded affair. What it does do though is explore the very real implications of genetic experimentation and has one of the best performances you’ll see in a TV show.Orphan Black recently premiered in the UK filed away on BBC 3 after airing in America earlier in the year and gaining plenty of critical acclaim.
As the story progresses Sarah( pretending to Beth) becomes involved in the investigation of the German woman’s death and has to stop Beth’s police partner Art (Kevin Hanchard) and Beth’s boyfriend Paul (Dylan Bruce) figuring out she’s not actually Beth whilst also trying to figure out exactly what the hell’s going on.
One of the things which stands out is the great characterisation. This isn’t just a case of connecting with one character, things aren’t as black and white as ‘good’ and ‘evil’ either with both antagonist and protagonist equally as sympathetic and Gavaris is great as the acerbic Felix.
The main theme running throughout Orphan Black is one of identity and the moral and ethical implications of human cloning. You might think that clones has been done
before but there’s a deep exploration of nature versus nurture that is at the heart of the show.
In a refreshing change (especially for anyone that watched Lost) this story isn’t just about piling an enigma on top of a mystery and hoping nobody figures out that really the writers have no idea what anything means or where it’s going. The story brings questions but it also brings answers in a well plotted story arc which leaves you wanting more and makes what could have been a confusing mess compulsive enthralling viewing.
There isn’t a weak link out of the cast with even supporting characters impressing. What really stands out though is Tatiana Maslany’s talent as an actress. One actress playing several completely different characters all with peculiar mannerisms, personalities and appearances is unheard of in a TV show.
Every episode of Orphan Black usually features at least one scene which will genuinely make you wonder how they filmed it as Sarah/Beth meets alternate versions of herself, often more than one in the same frame, and discusses the latest developments in their story. This is done so well and Maslany is so good you completely forget she is actually talking to herself.
Orphan Black rattles along like a freight train dragging you along in its wake as Sarah and Felix try and uncover the secrets behind her origins whilst Art starts to question who his partner actually is.
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