Orphan Black S2: Character Development and Motherhood

Premise: In S1, Sarah Manning found out that there were people who looked just like her, and that they being monitored unknowingly as part of some experiment–except that she had someone fallen through the cracks. Unfortunately, coming across these women exposed her to the Dyad Institute. And exposed the existence of her daughter.

In S2, Sarah knows why there are other women running around with her face, but now the Dyad Institute wants her and her daughter in their custody. Sarah has to protect her daughter, figure out whose side her foster mother is on, and hit Dyad where it hurts.

Genre: Sci-fi/thriller

Tatiana Maslany is so good that the only reason I know all these characters are played by her is facial recognition. My facial recognition is spottier than that of some, so I frequently forget that it’s the same actress, the characters are so different.

They all dance differently, too!

Borrowed from ladygeekgirl.files.wordpress.com

This series is still kicking ass, with absolutely fantastic characters, and plotting that always moves forward–and always has room to move forward, because there’s so much too the story. As always, my least favorite bits are the ones with Allison, since her part of the story always somehow devolves into ridiculousness. That said, towards the end of the season, even her arc got better.

The characters are varied and complex, with growth that makes sense. Helena is going through quite a transition–she’s still a psycho, but she elicits sympathy with how she came into it. She’s certainly a brutal character. Cal is a new arrival, and seems to be a great father figure despite a few less than legit skills. Rachel is also a brutal character, though in a different direction than Helena (sociopathic rather than psychopathic, maybe?). She’s controlled and rigid, but repressing emotions too much means sometimes she just explodes. I can’t say it isn’t interesting to watch her unravel.

And Kira is coming into her own. This is a good way to write an interesting kid. Instead of just existing to cause problems for the other characters, she manages to be clever and compassionate in her own right. Not often, since it’s mostly the adults handling the situation. But she doesn’t do stupid things just to mess up their plans. She understands some things that the people around her don’t expect her to know, and she even manages to be resourceful when need and opportunity arise.

Borrowed from static2.hypable.com

This show doesn’t throw away characters, which is something that I tend to be fond off. Even after a character has fulfilled the role the show had for them, they keep existing, and they might fit into new roles. Even after their lowest points, their lives continue. It’s nice, because we get to see them as people instead of archetypes. Love them or hate them, forgive them or don’t, they still exist and this is how they go on with life.

This season also portrays several very different kinds of mothers, all of whom love their children. There’s Sarah, who makes for a terribly unstable parent, with long absences during Kira’s childhood. Even now, when she’s improved drastically, circumstances are dire enough that Sarah frequently disappears, ostensibly to protect Kira. But despite that lack of stability, Sarah is arguably the most emotionally available mother on the show (when she’s available at all, that is), and is willing to go to great lengths for her child.

Borrowed from nerdophiles.files.wordpress.com

There’s Mrs. S. In contrast to Sarah, she is very stable, taking care of Kira when Sarah disappears. She genuinely cares about her kids, but she’s also a hard person. She’s more emotionally closed off, and more calculating. Allison is very uptight, and follows the idea of what she should do as a mother to the letter. Helena and Rachel, of all people, both want to be mothers, as terrifying as that concept is. I have no idea how differently the normally repressed Rachel would act with a child. And Helena’s just mentally unstable, though she does seem oddly good with kids even so. What kind of mother Marion makes remains to be seen.

They all care about their children, but they all go about it in radically different ways, some better than others–I don’t usually see a spectrum of different kinds of parenting portrayed. Here, the parent is a person first, and that affects how they deal with raising a child. It’s kinda refreshing.

Borrowed from thegeekiary.files.wordpress.com

It’s hard to talk about the great things in this series without sounding repetitive, so I’ll just say that it’s as awesome as ever, then talk about a few caveats.

I thought that what Rachel did to Paul should at least have been acknowledged somehow–maybe that’s coming in the next season, when Sarah and Paul finally have a chance to talk. But if so, it needs to be more than a point of contention between Paul and Sarah. It happened, and it’s kind of a big deal.

The last episode, with the result of the force = mass*acceleration gimmick, was just plain silly. Counting on Rachel to deliver that picture at exactly the right time? How on earth did no one notice a very inappropriately positioned fire extinguisher in an operating room? It’s the only red thing in there. And having Rachel stand in the exact right position? No. Just, no. There was absolutely no way that could have been planned. It counts on way too many uncontrolled variables that could have easily been off.

Otherwise, great show. I’ll be waiting for the next season.

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