Television: Orphan Black (Series 1, Episodes 1 – 3)

Posted 14 April, 2013 by Lianne in Entertainment / 2 Comments

A streetwise hustler witnesses the suicide of a girl who looks just like her and falls headlong into a deadly mystery.
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I found out about this series because the SPACE channel over here was promoting it heavily in one of the subway stops. The posters didn’t say much but while I was catching up on this series half of Doctor Who (which btw, I will post my thoughts on the episodes at the end of the season as one entry; been sort of marathoning them as I go along so my thoughts aren’t long like last time), I saw the trailer. My brother and I were intrigued and checked it out–and now we’re hooked, lol. No, seriously, this is the best sci-fi show I’ve seen in a while.

Contains major spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen episodes 1.01 – 1.03–because, you know, serious, major FEELS

This show, man, this show. The first episode not only draws you into this world and introduces the mystery of what is Sarah’s relation to Beth Childs, her look-a-like who walked right into an incoming train, but it just builds from there. It’s fast-paced and it’s not afraid to throw its audience into the fray of WTF. It’s complication after complication (especially with each episode) and a lot of the suspense not only hinges on not knowing what turn the story is going to take but just from Sarah’s adoption of Beth Childs’ identity and life. It feels as though any moment Sarah’s going to be discovered and everything will just be screwed. Like, seriously, episode 3 was just like “OMG, she needs to act like a real cop now, can she do it?” So intense.

I love how character-driven this show is. Each clone has her own backstory: Cosmina and her science/geeky ways, Allison and her soccer mom image and fiercely trying to protect her family, Beth had a number of major issues that seem to tie in with her death and there’s Sarah and her own complicated backstory. The audience is guided through the story through Sarah, who is perfect because her time on the streets has made her a chameleon; she’s smart at reading people, she’s good with accents and she’s managed, for the most part, to get away with taking on Beth’s character. But she’s also flawed, as she had started off using Beth’s life as a way of getting away from her own troubles. The deeper she gets into the mystery–and taking on Beth’s life–the more she can’t get away just as easily as the stakes become increasingly higher. I also love how much of her motivation to do these things is derived from wanting to get her daughter, Kira, back, whom she left behind some ten months ago to her foster mother.

It’s quite a juggle to balance and weave through these various personalities and Tatiana Maslany is just perfect for the role, her handling of the various accents have been pretty flawless, I really thought she was an English actress at first. Apparently she’s pretty big here, how come I haven’t seen any of her work until now? But anyways, I’m glad that she’s getting a lot more attention for this role, she really does inhabit all these different characters quite effortlessly.

The other characters in this show have also been flawless. Jordan Gavaris is hilarious and amazing as Felix, Sarah’s foster brother who not only has the best reactions to the situation and is in the know (for the most part) about what’s going on but he’s also a great stabilising force for Sarah. I love the sequence in episode 2 where Sarah is uber-pissed off that Mrs. S found out about Sarah’s “funeral” and started wrecking his place but when he told her not to wreck his artwork, she didn’t. It was such a great friendship moment there. I also feel like Felix in a way serves as the voice of the audience, it’s just great. He also has some of the best lines in the show so far.

Other characters like Art (Kevin Hanchard), Paul (Dylan Bruce), Vic (Michael Manno) and Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) make up the rest of the cast, representing the different facets of the lives that Sarah is juggling as the series progresses. They all present complications and I’m glad that we’re slowly getting to know more of some of them; like, I didn’t really trust Art at the start as he was such a hard-ass to Beth/Sarah–granted, Beth was in a very bad situation when Sarah came in and he had every right to be concerned but man was he menacing!

So was the way that Paul’s scenes with Sarah were shot (though, hello! HBO time, lol; at least the nudity is balanced between men and women?); I can’t help it, he’s pretty and I wish he had more scenes in these past few episodes. Though I can’t help but chuckle a little that Paul’s been distracted how many times from his observations of Sarah through sex. But in all seriousness, I am curious to see their dynamic explored further; so far of all of Sarah’s dealings in Beth’s life, she seems to be handling Paul the worse (for lack of a better word). Like, why would she tell him things like to try the “schizophrenic, hot-and-cold attitude” out? Compared to the quick-thinking way she dealt with the banker in the pilot?

But going back to the actual plot, just some random thoughts (as at this point I’m very close to just flailing and it’ll be a mess, LOL):

  • I’m glad that the revelations are kicking in on episode 3 with Sarah learning that they are all clones. Again, this series is moving quickly, but with every revelation there’s also a new twist: in this case, OMG crazy killer blonde Ukrainian clone. I wonder if she’s the original? But yeah, she’s tough and she’s crazy and she’s definitely a wildcard. Did she find out about the whole cloning business before all of her “sisters” and just snapped, making her kill them all? I guess we’ll see.
  • The discussion between Cosmina and Sarah at the bar in episode 3 in a way confirmed what I was thinking about regarding Beth’s suicide in episode 1. We learned from the pilot that she was taking a lot of different prescriptions and was in such a state from what Paul said about their relationship. She had that hearing about a shooting of a civilian and was on suspension at the start of the show. And with the whole clone issue, I wonder if everything just pushed Beth to the edge or whether something else had happened on top of it all that caused her to do what she did. She seemed pretty out of it in the pilot, so I’m guessing she took a lot of pills or something before she stepped over.
  • I love that we’re peeling back the layers on all of these characters. Alison for example is so uptight and a control freak but her discussion with Sarah reveals something more to her character, her desire to keep things normal, to protect her family. I love it and I love how the actress brings it out through her actions and the way she works with the lines. I can’t wait to see whether we’ll get more characterisations through the other clones.
  • Vic has sort of been out of the story since early episode 2, probably because Felix has been hanging out more and more in Sarah/Beth’s world lately. I’m so worried that he’s going to suddenly drop in and cause a heck of a lot of trouble to the current situation because, you know, =S Or it could be if he show up again, it’ll be contained in the Kira plotline =S Though with the way everything’s moving, all of the stories are going to mesh sooner or later. *braces herself for that impending collision*
  • Ooh, Paul’s going to have a bit more screen time judging by the trailer to the next episode. As distracting as his looks are (I admit to this =P), I don’t wholly trust him because he might know something about…something. Or at the very least we don’t know much about him to rule him out (like, where does he work? He seems to be in a well off job).
  • I’m so scared that Kira’s going to be pulled into everything soon enough. I’m guessing that Allison’s kids are adopted or something (they definitely look different from Allison and her husband’s white so…) so I wonder if Kira might have something in her DNA (because MAJOR SPOILERS? it looks like from the SPACE trailer that she can figure out the difference between Sarah and the other clones). Either way, I feel like it would be best if Sarah stayed away for now to sort the whole clone business out before getting Kira back but it’s tough, her daughter’s growing up pretty quickly and she’s already missed so much.
  • I also wonder whether Mrs. S. knows a bit more about Sarah’s background or about the Orphans. This show pretty much makes me question every single aspect; it could be that she’s self-contained in Sarah’s story arc of trying to get Kira back but having been Sarah’s foster parent, I wonder if she knows more

And four final notes (three nitpicks (couldn’t help but notice the following), one random comment):

  • Nitpick #1: Sarah, oh Sarah, why would you leave $75 000 in the truck of your car?
  • Nitpick #2: I’m surprised no one has commented that there’s a Jaguar parked around Felix’s neighbourhood. It’s just so out of place.
  • Nitpick #3: I wish the show would outright just say that it’s set in Toronto as opposed to leaving critics and the audience thinking it’s some no-name city, lol. The Toronto skyline was shown a few times rather prominently (the CN tower really gives it away here), the money featured is Canadian, Beth’s driver’s license (however covered up it was) is the Ontario license and the license plate on Beth’s car says Ontario ^_~ Oh, and Alison lives in Scarborough, lol. So I’m just going to start referring to this show as being set in Toronto, even if they won’t say it out loud.
  • Random comment #1: I love Beth’s wardrobe: the trench coat, the sweaters, the blouses. Can I have her closet?

Overall, Orphan Black has definitely caught my undivided attention here. It’s been quite a long time since I’ve really flailed over a television show. I’m especially happy that it’s a Canadian production featuring a prominently Canadian cast. Some of the details of the plot itself can be a little shaky at times but otherwise it’s a pretty solid show and I’m pretty much invested in the characters at this point. There’s no doubt in my mind that the series is going to take another crazy turn or two in the next few episodes–and you’ll read all about my flailing in the next post ^_~

Edit: I may have missed a thought here and there…if so, will have to catch up next time xP Like I said at the start, too many feels.

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2 Responses to “Television: Orphan Black (Series 1, Episodes 1 – 3)”

    • Yes, doooooo it! πŸ˜‰

      In all seriousness though, it’s pretty mad awesome–and it was filmed here in Toronto too, which is pretty cool πŸ˜€ Hope you enjoy it! Can’t wait to hear what you think of it πŸ™‚

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