TV: Orphan Black – Season 1


Rating:

As Sarah would say: Fan-bloody-tastic!

Except I’m not being sarcastic.

A truly thrilling wild ride of conspiracies and spies. The intense suspense of the finale had me on the edge of my seat screaming “Nooooo!” when the credits ran.

Orphan Black is a Canadian science fiction television series starring Tatiana Maslany as several identical women who are revealed to be clones. The series focuses on Sarah Manning, a woman who assumes the identity of her clone, Elizabeth Childs, after witnessing the latter’s suicide. The series raises issues about the moral and ethical implications of human cloning and its impact on issues of personal identity. [Source: Wikipedia]

Conceptually, the theme of ownership and copyright of intellectual property is frightening. Are clones property of their creators? What happens to free will and human rights? Would it be legal slavery? Is terminating a clone still murder? Ethical, legal and religious implications are messy and vague.

As the old adage goes, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”.

Before this I’d never heard of Tatiana Maslany, now I’m an ardent fan. I was positively blown away by her performances as seven clones thus far, displaying distinct personalities, idiosyncrasies and movements. I absolutely believed I was watching many different women, shaped by nurture, having grown up all over the world in vastly different circumstances.


From left: Sarah, Helena, Alison, Cosima, and Beth

Sarah
English rock chick orphan mysteriously delivered to a London foster home for refugees and illegals as a child, and miraculously has a young biological daughter. All other clones are infertile. She’s a rough tough petty criminal close to her gay foster brother Felix but estranged from her foster mother, with whom she left her daughter for a year.

Beth
Cop being investigated for an apparently dirty shooting commits suicide-by-train in front of Sarah in the opening episode. Stunned at their similarity, Sarah decides to steal Beth’s identity which came with the problematic job, a suspicious partner, a distant boyfriend, and a crazy conspiracy that involves working with her clones, as Beth was, to discover their origins.

Alison
Tightly wound suburban “soccer mom”, mother to mixed-race adopted children, but when she lets go she really goes wild. Watching her is a joy and always entertaining [read: hilarious].

Cosima
Confident evolutionary biology student scientist and lesbian. Style-wise, she’s my favourite. I love her hairstyles.

Helena
Mentally disturbed Ukrainian assassin manipulated by parental figure Tomas the religious zealot pulling her strings. He’s told her she’s the “original” and her clones are satanic monsters to be eliminated. Whenever she’s “bad” her punishment is a small cage on a concrete floor, although she also self-harms. Having never known love or acceptance and deprived of “normal” experiences she looks and acts like a strung-out junkie, craves new sensations; eating like she’s starving and gently touches anything and everything of interest. And though she feels connected to Sarah and shows regret for her actions towards Sarah’s daughter, she is unpredictable and dangerous. Rehabilitation and redemption is no doubt impossible, and no prison could safely contain her.

Katja
Referred to as “the German”, she was suffering from a respiratory disease similar to tuberculosis that saw her cough blood, which may be genetic. Killed by Helena in the first episode.


As part of the experiment, each clone is being monitored by an unknown someone close to them. Paranoia is warranted. I couldn’t help imagining myself in Sarah’s position, who would be my monitor? Three people immediately come to mind. Hmm.

In short, I loved this series. There aren’t many that I feel this strongly about so tuning into season two is guaranteed.

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