One of the travesties with the latest Emmy nominations is the absence of Tatiana Maslany.
Orphan Black fans will agree with me. The talent Maslany displays in any given episode of this fantastic sci-fi series dwarfs nearly anything on television today. Portraying the personalities, quirks, accents, and body language of ten (so far) different characters, all clones, is a stretch for anyone, but Maslany pulls it off and makes it look easy. So, if you have a barrier to jumping on a sci-fi show, come for the wonders of her performances and get hooked without realizing.
Orphan Black’s second season continues the berserker speed and pacing set by its first year, complete with jaw dropping twists and turns. We hardly had time to catch our collective breaths and process everything that went down in the first season. Season two takes the next step into that world, developing the different sides at work, or war really. We learn more about the Dyad Institute, especially Rachel’s background and relationship to Project Leda. We get a tantalizing look at Mrs. S and the Birdwatchers. The creepiest of all is the expansion of the Proletheans and their religious take on the clones. The world of the show definitely gets more complicated.
Still, Orphan Black doesn’t stop much to rest. There’s plenty of mysteries at play here still. The mysterious sickness that plagues the clones is understood, even solved, but there’s still plenty of questions left to answer. We learn how Sarah was able to have children. The show even introduces a new take on the female clones’ sexuality. Even more intriguing is the season closing introduction of a new development about the clone experiment.
In its heart, Orphan Black is still grounded by its relationships. Felix and Sarah continue to be the big draw here, with Alison and Helena gaining more story ground. Alison’s stint in rehab helps to check in with Vic, a blast from Sarah’s past I thought was gone. Helena dispatches some exciting justice in the Prolethean camp, and she remains the show’s best lethal force. However, this season goes a long way to show us Helena’s maternal side, both literally and with those for whom she feels true affection. In Sarah’s corner we also meet Cal Morrison, a former mark and also Kira’s biological father, who seems like a granola eating, guitar strumming hippy.
There are moments in this season where the wealth of story information the show needs to deliver to the audience comes close to overwhelming viewers. I had a few times where I needed to re-watch episodes and consult the internet to verify or correct what I thought I understood. Fortunately, this isn’t par for the course, but isolated. It’s no easy task juggling all the action, character work, and mythology on a show like Orphan Black.
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