Orphan Black (2013) by Graeme Manson

I have been putting this show off for a long time but thank Covid I have a fair bit of anxiety to distract myself from. Going in, I knew that the show dealt with the lead character having more than one copy of herself but I wasn’t sure of the how and why. These two questions serve as the core conflict of the first season which follows Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning, uncovering this mystery.

Right of the bat, it is important to note that Ms. Maslany provides an incredible performance, embodying more than one character and being convincing throughout. It is like watching all of Gary Oldman’s characters in one room only to realise much later that it was him all along. Except Ms. Maslany does not benefit from the extensive prosthetics that Oldman’s characters usually need and of course, she is playing them all in the same story.

That said, the story itself is…so so. It is in no way bad, however it is not compelling beyond a point. While some questions do plague you like they plague the characters, on the whole, after a while, the mystery seems rather unimpressive and the threat posed to the characters seems forced at best.

This is the issue with shows that often have secret organisations at play. After a while, they beg incredulity. ‘Sense 8’ comes to mind, where a variety of characters were connected in a unique way and were hunted by a super-powerful secret organisation. The show did not shy away from escalating matters and as such, it saved itself from disbelief by always increasing stakes and changing settings. However, ‘Orphan Black’ stays in one city and three locations for so long that after a while it feels silly that it hasn’t all added up yet.

I have not seen season two yet so I cannot say if this is improved upon. I am curious to see where this show goes though if they continue to use the same stakes then I will be hard-pressed to remain invested.

All in all, a great performance undercut by a limited scale brought on either by a lack of budget or writer’s choice.

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