Hey you! Watch Orphan Black!
Hey you! Are you watching Orphan Black? No? Well you should! It’s great. And here’s why…
So it’s about clones. Yes, I know, but stick with me here. There’s so much more to it than that. If you saw the trailer you’d know that already, but if you dived into the show without any forewarning you wouldn’t even hear the word ‘clone’ until the third episode. And you know what? That’s a good thing in my opinion. Instead of being thrown into an insane plot without warning, we’ve been introduced to Sarah, a character who’s appealing just as much for her imperfections as well she is for her sheer force of will. I don’t agree with every decision she makes, but I still find myself rooting for her anyway. Seriously, take away the science fiction and mystery and I still just want to see Sarah move through life and be awesome.
The show begins when Sarah witnesses Beth jump in front of a train. Since this woman looked exactly like her, she decides to investigate and finds that her twin has $75,000 just sitting in a bank account ripe for the taking. She ends up planning a con to steal the money and nearly gets away with it, but the whole clone thing starts to surface and mucks up her plans. She meets another clone, a German, then another and another and eventually Sarah starts shifting her focus to unraveling the mystery that surrounds her own genetics. She’s scared, but she keeps going and tackles every challenge thrown in her direction (and there are quite a few).
Tatiana Maslany is kind of amazing for not just playing all these different roles, but for playing Sarah playing these different roles. Sarah’s drifter lifestyle allows her to disguise herself as both Beth and Katja (aka “the German”) easily. Sarah doesn’t know what’s going on, but these girls look like her and they each have something she needs so she does it. She even manages to convince those closest to them (Beth’s husband, for example) that she’s the real deal. That’s a pretty damn good talent to have when you discover you’re one of many identical looking people.
Also, can we take a moment to appreciate Felix? In the first episode he was interesting in his offbeat way. In the second episode I developed a soft spot for him after seeing him interact with Sarah’s estranged daughter, Kira. Now here we are on episode three and his antics with Alison’s children have placed me firmly on Team Felix. Adios, dragsters! But it’s ultimately his heart that’s won me over. He cares for Sarah. He sits in the car for her as she contemplates snatching her daughter from her foster mother. He plays her backup when she confronts Clone Club (and yeah, ok, he gets a bit impatient, but still). Hell, he helps her stage her own death. I really just love Felix, okay? Their love for one another is really beautiful and one of the main reasons I tune in every week.
Okay, now that we know these characters and care about them, let’s throw them into the plot, shall we? So clones. We don’t know much about the why, but Sarah is one of at least nine identical clones scattered across North America and Europe. There’s Sarah, Katja the German girl, Alison the soccer mom, Cosima the quirky scientist, Beth the cop, three more Europeans, and a crazy blonde with an unusually high pain tolerance. Yeah, this is some crazy stuff. It’s taken three episodes to get to the plot, but it’s been enjoyable every step of the way.
So you, yes you should go watch Orphan Black. Like right now. Laundry and that paper you have to write can wait. We’re only three episodes in. Catch up now while everything is still fresh and new. Most importantly, form an active fandom, people! We need fan works and discussion. Come on guys.
Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.