Orphan Black: Hint of Sci-fi, Lots of Thriller

Borrowed from bbcamerica.com

I just watched the first season of Orphan Black (in like, two days). And wow, does it starts off great and keeps its momentum–accomplishing more in ten episodes than I’m used to seeing from most full series (hint: I’m thinking of Revenge). So verdict: I thought it was great. 

This feels like a thriller tinged with a bit of sci-fi.

The show follows street-tough Sarah Manning, who by complete coincidence meets a woman who looks exactly like her at a train station. Right before her doppelganger commits suicide. Being an…enterprising young woman, Sarah recovers from her shock in time to grab the woman’s bag and flee the scene. Whether due to curiosity or greed, she decides to find out more about her lookalike. And quickly realizes that she’s stumbled into something she can’t get out of as easily as she got into it.

This show doesn’t hold onto its secrets for dear life, teasing us with the possibility of them getting revealed–it gradually reveals more information to the viewers and the characters. The secret of Sarah’s actual identity comes out in waves, with different characters learning it at different points in the season. Things keep changing, and the plot keeps moving forward at a surprisingly fast pace (though the shorter season probably helps).

If you don’t want me to spoil the secret behind Sarah’s doppelganger(s), stop reading now and go watch the show. I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler, and it’s probably pretty high on your list of guesses already, but just in case.

Personally, I went into the show knowing where the look-alike came from. I wouldn’t have watched it if I didn’t have confirmation that they weren’t playing the twin card. Too cliche. So I went in knowing that these women were clones of each other, because that was a more interesting premise to me.

And guys, Tatiana Maslany. She plays several characters on the show, and plays each of them very differently. I actually forget sometimes that these characters are portrayed by the same actress. And to add to the fun, she gets to portray the characters pretending to be each other, and manages to make that characterization distinct, too. Oh, and the clones all interact with each other, and it feels like 2+ people are in the room together, but it’s all Tatiana Maslany.

The rest of the acting is also really solid, and the actors get interesting characterizations to work with.

Borrowed from taylorholmes.com

As for the characters–they aren’t all particularly nice people and they don’t always do the right thing. Many of them have their own secrets or their own thing going on. But they are really fun to watch, and I can’t help but root for Sarah, after she grows beyond some her more…unsavory qualities. It probably helps that while she’s quite the grey character, the bad guys are unquestionably bad.

Clone-wise, Cosima has to be my personal favorite–her attitude, the entire way she holds herself. I liked her immediately, and never stopped. I can’t bring myself to like Alison at all, but she’s entertaining in a walking-train-wreck sort of way.

For nitpicks, I never really understood why the girls felt like they couldn’t reveal what they were to anyone, to the point where they helped hide information from the police. It wasn’t as if they’d done anything wrong (Sarah’s unrelated crimes notwithstanding). Maybe there would be complications with telling the truth, but I’m surprised no one even brought up the idea.

There was also one subplot which was a little too silly–Sarah and Alison switching out during a potluck at Alison’s house. They were wearing different clothes and had different hairstyles, but they were supposed to pass as the same person? Multiple times? But while it stretched my ability to suspend disbelief, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the rest of the show.

As for science, I thought it was a little funny that two biologists were trying to decrypt a hidden code in a DNA sequence, but I didn’t catch anything that really bothered me. Oh, maybe the thing about fingerprints–I think that even identical twins can be distinguished by their fingerprints. And also, the police should probably have a cop’s fingerprints on file. Other than that, nothing stuck out to me, though I’ll admit I wasn’t really looking for anything.

So anyway, I enjoyed it. The show was dynamic and things kept changing, which I really like. I’ll be watching the second season.


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