I can list many reasons to be watching Orphan Black: its compelling sci-fi, it dares to present a fascinating protagonist with almost no altruistic motivations, the character of Felix, the almost constant mood of dread, the fact that it follows Dr. Who (so just wipe the tears away and settle in for another hour), but really, all these reasons just pale in comparison to the one real reason to watch Orphan Black…Tatania Maslany.Maslany sells the heck out of this role. She has to change characters like other actors change shoes. Take this week’s episode for instance, she has to start out as Sarah, the main character and our guide to the show’s complex web of intrigue. From there, she plays Sarah pretending to be Beth, then she must play Sarah pretending to be the German clone (not to mention earlier in the episode she had to play the German’s girl’ corpse), and finally she Maslany must play Alison, a newly revealed soccer mom identical. Maslany adds nuances to each character and then has the complex task of having to play Sarah as Sarah steps into her twins’ shoes. It’s all very hard to explain, so imagine how Maslany must feel as she is the one person who can differentiate the characters for the audience. As mentioned last week, Sarah is complex character. She is a broken street girl, abused by life and most recently, abused by her drug dealing ex-boyfriend, Vic, played by Michael Mando. Vic is an unneeded complication in Sarah’s life, as he now believes Sara is dead and wants to atone for his past abuses. Sarah faked her own death and has tried to step into the life of Beth, Sarah’s identical who killed herself in the first episode, so Sarah can drain her savings account and use the money to run away with her estranged young daughter. The only problem is, Beth shot an innocent woman in the line of duty while she Beth was high, her partner Art, played by Kevin Harchard, is covering for her, and withholding her money until Beth can clear her name. Of course, Sarah has no clue what really happened, and the whole thing is complicated by the fact that someone is hunting Sarah and there is an unknown amount of identical running around. Whew, it’s easier to explain the history of the throne of Westros (no it isn’t) than keep track of the layers upon layers of lies and intrigue Sarah is caught in. Maslany doesn’t blink though, and the narrative flows through her as her acting skills keep the entire thing grounded in Sarah’s toughness and human vulnerability. This episode, viewers get to witness how capable Sarah can be as she is able to disguise herself as the dead German identical and fool a hotel staff so she may retrieve a mysterious briefcase, and figure out a way to clear Officer Beth of a shooting that Beth actually did commit.I think I’m hooked. Maybe it’s the post-Who afterglow extending my good will, but this show has me riveted. Whenever Sarah finds her way out of a seemingly unsolvable predicament, the show throws her another curveball. It seems like the premise will stay fresh as the show’s creators can always introduce other identicals to help Sarah or act as foils. I find myself rooting for Sarah, and I’m not sure why. She’s a user, a liar with sociopathic tendencies, but this is balanced with her loyalty to her foster brother, Felix, and the adoration for her daughter. The show is going down two potential paths, whether a path of punishment for Sarah as her lies will eventually catch up to her, or a path of redemption as Sarah will learn to put aside her own selfish appetites to help other versions of herself. A theme of the show seems to be overcoming weakness. Officer Beth is portrayed as a weak drug addict who cost an innocent woman her life. Seemingly, this is why she killed herself, although this is also in question as Beth knew about the identical, because she was unable to figure out a way to cover what she had done, despite the assistance of Art. Sarah was able to overcome her idendical’s weakness by facing the inquiry clear headed something Beth was clearly unable to do and, perhaps, the reason Beth tried to catch a train with her face. Sarah is trying to prove herself innocent in the shooting, and she is. She needs Beth’s name clear so she can meet her ultimate goal for herself, her daughter, and Felix. This is where things get ambiguous as in trying to attain her goals she is completely using Art and making a shambles of Liz’s boyfriend’s life.The show has a bleak tone but there is some comedy. Sarah’s reaction to one of her identical’s being a soccer mom is hilarious, as is just about anything out of Felix’s mouth. The show also portrays the most accurate description of the punk scene I have seen in a mainstream show. Sarah and Felix’s friend are a motley collection of modern punks, rockabilly boys, artistic punk rock homosexuals, and Goths. They don’t seem to be pretty actors with piercings; they have the swagger and anger down of the punk rock scene down, and serve as a grounding element to the fantastic plot.The show promises future challenges for Sarah, as she delves deeper in the conspiracy and into being Liz. It seems Sarah will soon have to play cop as she tries to uncover the truth about her herself and her identicals.
The good:FelixWeepy drunk VicMaslany as a bitchy soccer momSarah’s fake German accent
The bad:Liz’s weak chinned codependent spineless boyfriend
The ugly:Felix’s attempt in being back-up.The fact that I called Beth Liz this entire review and just spent the last twenty minutes editing the whole darn thing to catch each Liz.
It sounds confusing but the whole show works visually, trust me.