Monday, June 03, 2013

Send in the clones

My God, “Orphan Black,” my good God. It’s hard to think of a show I became more quickly, completely and addictively engrossed in. A week ago I’d never seen a single episode and now I’m clamoring with impatient indignation for the second season to begin already. Spring 2014, really? I cannot wait that long for more Tatania Maslany. I will not. It’s wrong. It’s mean. I hate time and space.

Right, so let’s get right into it then. How about that finale, eh? WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD! (Side Note: Those who asked for legal viewing options can purchase the show on iTunes of Amazon Instant. Those looking for less legal options are welcome to search the previous and current comments for alternatives.)

The show has made something very dense and complicated like a sci-fi clone conspiracy seem so edge-of-your-seat thrilling yet so heart-breakingly human. And none of it would work without Tatania who, if I was an Emmy voter, would singlehandedly sweep the Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and best Guest Actress categories. One cannot simply talk about how thoroughly and convincingly she becomes each different clone – Sarah, Alison, Cosima, Helena and now Rachel. One must truly see it to believe it. What makes it even more dazzling is how much we care for each disparate clone. Sarah, the scrappy survivor. Alison, the desperate housewife. Cosima, the questioning scientist. Helena, just batshit homicidal maniac. Yet each becomes more than just her archetype, to become deeply human, flawed and worth saving in our eyes – well, maybe not Helena. And that’s what makes this show so amazing. We’ve become a culture that loves to pick sides. But to pick between Sarah, Alison and Cosima is beyond cruel.

Which is why Alison signing the contract we all know she shouldn’t sign with Dr. Leekie is so deeply affecting. We want this tighty wound, booty-burn cardio dancing, best frenemy non-life saver to have a happy life. But we know very bad things are on their way. Same goes for poor Cosima, who is coughing her way to a Fantine-like end in a race against corrupt genetics. Plus, while I may not fully trust Delphine yet, I completely buy their connection – blinded her with science, indeed. And then Sarah, oh Sarah – the key no doubt to this whole unraveling puzzle along with her oddly resilient and precognitiant daughter, Kira.

Few TV shows so fully embody the concept of a page turner as “Orphan Black.” It’s not that the show teases us with manufactured cliffhangers. It’s that the story, and its pacing, is like a thrill ride we never want to end. Each answer leads to another questions which leads to another emotion which leads to us screaming, “MORE!”

Of course I want Sarah to find Kira, Cosima to live, Alison to be set free. But more than anything I want to story to keep revealing itself in wonderful, twisty and unexpected ways. Spring 2014, hurry up dammit.


Anonymous said...

Helena deserves saving most of all. After Sarah freed her, it seemed all Sarah had to do was show a little kindness to have Helena on their side, but instead locks her in the trunk. And the scene with Helena and Kira was just so priceless (well before the accident). It shows there is something more to Helena than just being crazy.

Anonymous said...

The pacing of this show is second to none. All too often, television asks questions, then waits weeks to answer them. Orphan Black asks questions and answers them in the next episode, if not later in the same one, just to ask a brand new question all over again. I've never quite seen a show with such consistent payoff before.

Also, I'm madly in love with the friendship between Alison and Felix.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to be recapping OB for AfterEllen in the future ???

Karin said...

I watched On Demand this weekend. I was captivated within seconds (although, to admit, I love the topic of cloning). My wife was gone for most of the weekend and came home halfway through episode 8. I would not start over (i was close to the end!) so I had to pause every two minutes and explain things. She was hooked by the end of that episode. I will go back and watch the whole season again with her from the beginning because to see Tatania in her craft is just amazing. And maybe I can pick up some clues! But most of all is Mrs. S bad or good? And what about Kira's father. What if he's genetically enhanced too and that's how Sarah was able to have a kid. Lastly, I knew Allison's husband was still her handler and I am wondering if he's gonna die before she finds out? She seemed pretty wrecked over not saving the neighbor even though she thought that woman was her handler...I was really hoping they wouldn't make the husband the handler. That was the one thing they did that didn't surprise me. Ahh so many thoughts. Can't wait til next spring!

Fluff said...

I was reluctant to try it. As a twin, I try to avoid the "secret twin" movies/shows out there because they never fail to disappoint and always end up being a bad and unconvincing tale about how someone can just pass for someone else with their friends and loved ones, leaving no one the wiser, all thanks to the wonders of a pair of glasses and a wig.

My twin sister watched the show though and halfway through episode 2, she called and said "why aren't you watching this yet, you dweeb?" and I always listen to my sister (j/k) so I did.

Wow, am I glad I did. Not only do they *not* use that well used premise for soap but they actually delve into identity, nature v. nurture, self-determination, and all the issues that feel all the more personal when you were born with an identical twin.

To say that Maslany's performance makes the show would be an understatement because, not only does she manage to be credibly different when she plays several characters in the same scene (even her body language changes), but she turns in an incredible performance for each one of them.
To reduce the show to her performance though, would be disrespectful to the brilliant writing, which leaves no stone unturned and is both thrilling and deeply human, or to the direction which is nothing short of amazing considering the challenges involved.

Best show since Homeland. And with the potential to become much better in the long run.