Channel: BBC America
Recurring Cast: Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, Kevin Hanchard, Dylan Bruce, Michiel Huisman, Evelyn Brochu and Maria Doyle Kennedy
The mystery deepens, as the second season of Orphan Black swings into full throttle straight away. To no one’s surprise, Dyad are struggling to keep the deal they made with the Clone Club. Rachel Duncan, the pro-clone and high up in the Dyad hierarchy, has an emotional attachment to the investigation, frustrated that she was designed infertile, while Sarah has the ability to give birth. She will stop at nothing to make sure that the Clone Club aren’t let off the hook too easily. Cosima, her illness slowly destroying her, is forced to turn up to Dyad for treatment from Dr. Leekie and Delphine, becoming the perfect leverage for Rachel’s desires to get her hands on Kira. Meanwhile, Alison tries to get herself away from any memory of the clones, while a volatile figure clocks herself into a hospital, suffering from several gunshot wounds.
As much as I love Orphan Black, Season Two sadly isn’t at the same quality of story-telling. The problem with conspiracy shows is that while the first season has fun building up this massive mystery, the following seasons need to offer enough answers to satisfy the viewer, while keeping us in the dark. This leaves Orphan Black a little lost at where to go. This show always threatens to make the wrong choice and leave the entire show trapped at an uninteresting place. Sarah Manning hides out with Ms. S’s old smuggling unit, the Birdwatchers, the Proletheans get their hands on a clone in a weird religious cult hideout or two of the clones end up going on a goofy road trip. Thankfully, the show never fully embraces any of these ideas, so the mistake is always short-lived. Staying in a single location will almost definitely ruin Orphan Black, cutting out the fast pace that made the first season so amazing to follow. However, it still highlights the fact that Orphan Black didn’t make a decision on what to do. Like the characters, we are trapped in a stalemate between the good guys and the bad guys, meaning that the action only really gets us at certain moments. The show is continuously stuck in limbo, which hurts the overall story.
Not that this is a bad season. In fact, despite the writers not knowing what direction they want to go in yet, they do manage to keep the general fun ticking over. The humour is still there, some scenes bursting with black humour. The conspiracy still hangs over everyone and it still keeps us intrigued and wondering what will eventually happen. The most fun Season Two gives us is making us wonder where everyone’s loyalties lie. Ms. S and Paul become the X Factor of the season, none of us quite sure who they are going to help out next. Delphine is always kept on the fence, so while she wants what is best for Cosima, the moment a promotion comes her way, we are unsure if she will end up helping Rachel take down the clones. No one can be trusted and that is the thing that makes all of these characters so fun. Yes, it does mean that one of my favourites, Paul, is kept in the background for far too long, but at the same time, the unknown factor of the character keeps him interesting. Yes, I can punish Orphan Black for not choosing a particular direction to take the show, but the transition between plot points is quite fun and not particularly upsetting to spend time in.
Then of course there is Tatiana Maslany, who remains phenomenal. When this series eventually comes to an end, I hope she gets a lot of film work, because she really needs to be shown off to a wider audience. She is incredible. I could rave about how she can play all of these different clone characters and make them so individual. But that is under-selling the more subtle acting tricks. The highlight of her performance on this show is when Sarah Manning is, in one episode, captured and interviewed by scientists. She is asked questions about her life, her child, her abortion, and you can see her breaking underneath. Maslany puts everything she has into this show and is the fire that keeps it running. However, this time some of the non-clones get their foot in the door. Donnie, Alison’s husband, finally grows a backbone. Michiel Huisman joins the show as a past lover of Sarah and it is always great spending time with him. The surprise fan favourite will probably become Kira, Sarah’s little daughter, who, despite being younger than ten, is one of the bravest, smartest and most adorable person on the show.
Final Verdict: Orphan Black stumbles a little trying to keep the mystery going, yet it still remains a great way to spend an evening watching TV.