Do we really not have a thread on this series? Let's fix that!

My wife and I just started watching Orphan Black on Amazon Video and are really impressed. We gobbled up season one in two nights and are now deep into the second. Mr. Google informs me that four seasons have been filmed, and that a fifth -- and last, alas -- is coming in 2017.

If anyone is unfamiliar, the premise is this: A twentysomething English grifter named Sarah Manning is in a New York subway when a woman who looks just like her walks by, neatly stacks her shoes, purse and jacket, and jumps in front of a train. Shocking, yes, but the grifter sees opportunity, and snatches up the woman's purse -- and, given that they are virtually identical, her life. She poses as "Elizabeth Banks," but almost immediately people around begin to notice that something's not quite right with Beth -- who happens to be a police detective and is the object of an investigation for shooting a civilian.

Then things get really strange, as the woman discovers that there are multiple iterations of herself, some in a loose network, who inform her that she, and they, are all clones. And someone's trying to kill them.

Then things get worse, as it turns out their makers and the killers aren't they same, and everyone is after them as they try to find out the who, what and why of their origins.

Needless to say, Orphan Black would suck if it didn't star an actress capable of -- and I'm quoting a review here -- "Olympic-level acting." Not only does star Tatiana Maslany have to develop distinct performances for each of her clones, she has to, on occasion, act as one clone masquerading as another. She pulls this off with astonishing mastery, shifting posture, vocal performance and mannerisms for each character. Sometimes I forget that, say, Cosima and Helena are clones, because they appear and act so differently they may as well be two different actresses. And Alison's masquerade as Sarah was priceless, all Cockney exaggeration and punk-rock swagger -- that is to say, a prim suburbanite's idea of a blue-collar Londoner.

But I'm also impressed with the writing. Orphan Black genuinely progresses; there is no status quo to speak of, as each new discovery and mystery solved puts Sarah one more rung up the ladder -- or maybe, one step down the rabbit hole. I was a little concerned when all the powerful forces arrayed against Sarah somehow never found her step-brother Felix's garret apartment, but they eventually did (and I accepted that the show's budget required some sets for re-use). 

And that the powerful forces did find the apartment (as well as Sarah, wherever she goes) is another plus for the show -- powerful forces really ARE powerful, and aren't temporarily stupid or clumsy or forgetful so that the heroes can survive. That they do survive is because Sarah and her friends aren't stupid either; the first time someone is given a big, fat clue they quickly puzzle out that there's a problem and quickly act on it, as most of us would. This is rarely spoon-fed; a character may see a photo or hear a phone call that gives something away and they twig to it and act on it without exposition. In this way the writers not only respect the characters and story, but also the audience.

And yet, none of this is confusing. The narrative is so compelling, the acting so tremendous, the daisy chain of action and reaction so plausible that I've never missed a step as a viewer. That's just outstanding storytelling.

At first I was a bit concerned about Felix, the cliched "funny gay friend." But he turned out to be a great character, all heart and iconoclasm, and with less sass than I feared. And just when I wondered, "Why is Felix taking care of Sarah's life at the expense of his own?" he abruptly asked the same question -- and went home. I'm sure he'll be back -- he's too vital to the story -- but once again the writers refused to rely on stock situations and had the characters act like normal people.

I was also concerned early on that Sarah's Beth's police partner didn't catch on to the impersonation when Beth's significant other did, but he eventually did and I think that was a plot point -- that the partner just isn't that bright, or wrote everything off to Beth's drug and alcohol abuse. Since being high doesn't explain a girl abruptly transforming from a "cold fish" to a wildcat in bed, the bf figured it out first.

So, is anyone else watching this show? What do you think?

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Interesting, I've never seen this, but there've been promos for it on some of the Doctor Who DVDs I've bought.

Maslany finally won a well-deserved Emmy in 2016.  One of my favorite current shows.

Kathy loves the show, and has burned through all the seasons available with Amazon Prime so far. I'm two seasons in; it's one of the shows in rotation while I walk on the treadmill. (There are certain shows I don't allow myself to watch unless I'm exercising.) I'll be starting Season 3 once I wrap up Season 4 of House of Cards. 

Maslany is amazing -- she really sells that these are entirely different people. And yeah, when she's playing one clone pretending to be another, it's so good on so many levels. (I think I got the first glimmer of how much fun the show would have with that when Helena walks into the police station posing as Beth (as Sarah had been doing till then). Great stuff. 

One thing I noticed -- check out all the spider imagery around Michelle Forbes's character. Her first costume has an hourglass cutout, like a black widow spider. The place she lives as these intricate windows that suggest a spiderweb pattern. So when her daughter showed up, and she introduced her as Charlotte, I thought, "Of course that's her name."

Another Easter egg: Beth's partner is Arthur Bell, who's pretty obviously named after this conspiracy/paranormal radio host.

One of my favorite bits from (I think) the first season was when Sarah went to a party disguised as Cosima. I knew who it was before a word was spoken because Maslany gives the two very different body language (and not in a cartoony, overdone way).  That's  when I REALLY knew that Maslany had something special going on.

I love the show, too. Especially the first couple of seasons--things start to get increasingly complicated after that, and I don't always feel like thinking so hard to follow the action. But I'm definitely in it to the end. Agree that Maslany alone is reason enough to keep watching it.

Series Finale tonight.

I have a bad feeling that Helena isn't making it out alive.  Dramatically, that makes sense.  But I love this character so much, it's gonna hurt.  Especially after the close call last week.

Yes, my wife yelled "NOOOOO!" at the TV during the close call.

You're right that story structure calls for Helena's departure. But when has this show ever followed the rules? I honestly don't know who will make it out alive -- and we've lost so many already.

I was a little disappointed by the first few episodes of this season. The story had veered so far away from the plots of previous seasons that it seemed like a different show. (Also, the clones were all separated, so the fun of seeing them interact was gone.) But it seems to have recovered in a big way.

OK, the finale. Kind of gentle, wasn't it?

I think the writers were loathe to kill off any of the popular characters -- they grew too fond of them. An interview I read leads me to that conclusion, but it is really just speculation.

But I think so because Helena should have been on the chopping block as a popular character who wasn't the lead. Art, too, was a combatant who wasn't the lead, and had no real reason to exist after Neolusion is gone (story-wise). Even Sarah would die in the hands of many writers, and then the survivors would be shown soldiering on in her memory.

Anyway, I found it refreshing not to have a third-act bloodbath, and to spend some time with the characters after the plot is over with. Nice to see what happens to the survivors "after the movie is over," to lift from Robert Kirkman.

Some other bits:

* "You were a shit Mom," echoed later with "You were a shit partner."

* The names of Helena's children. I'm a little surprised one wasn't Felix, but I guess she had more interaction with Art and Donnie. Who were good men, from her perspective, and just about the only good men she'd ever met.

* Coady was a tough ol' bird, wasn't she? Also a psychopath and fascist. I read some words of sympathy for her on the Internet because she briefly showed some human emotion last episode. Those people must be daft, because that one glimpse of humanity was the only one she showed -- the rest of the time she was killing or trying to kill everyone else. She put down her "son," the last remaining Castor, like a dog. She had his wife executed. She was going to execute Helena. She was going to harvest Helena's babies. Shit Mom, indeed.

* I was glad to see that Rachel was redeemed to a degree, but was not accepted in the sisterhood. She had done too many vile things for forgive-and-forget. But she had her freedom, if not her family, which is just deserts, because she had always valued the former and not the latter.

* 172 sestras? Wow. They could make a bunch of sequels, and Tatiana Maslany could star in all of them!

* Did you know Donnie was supposed to die in the first season? But Kristian Bruun made himself indispensible with his performance.

I have a couple of questions, too. Whatever happened to Paul? I don't remember him getting killed. I guess he was written out -- which happened a couple of times -- and that time just never came back. I expected him to, though. Anyone remember?

Also: Hell Wizard. Where did he come from? He seemed to be the guy running the Rabbit Hole comics shop, and therefore giving the team access to the "secret lair" in the basement. But in the finale he said he used to work at Dyad as security, and that seemed familiar. I seem to remember a couple of guys being introduced with the Rabbit Hole, and then suddenly there was only one, and he was suddenly an important team member who was loyal and never questioned orders. What? Anyone remember?

It was never stated how S knew how to do all the things she did, or why she had a network of covert agents, but every time any of that happened my brain said "Irish Republican Army." Is that what everyone else thought?

I should have had more faith in the writers that they wouldn't do the obvious.

But I think so because Helena should have been on the chopping block as a popular character who wasn't the lead.

Not only that, but it would have tied off her story line and character arc in a tidy bow.  She entered the story as a victim of horrific abuse, unloved by anyone her whole life, and a clone killer.  Literally the first thing we saw her do, even though we didn't yet know it was her, has to kill another clone. Sacrificing herself to save her new-found family of sestras would have been a by-the-book ending.  Glad they didn't go there.

Art was saved by the grace of the writers. 

Like you, I liked the fact that we got to see a little of "what happens after that."  Sarah was a grifter who stumbled into leading a war.  Of course she was having a hard time dealing with where she fits in now that the war is over.  And of course the answer came from her sisters -- we're all struggling, we all feel inadequate sometimes, and we're in this together.

FYI, Paul died at the end of Season 3, helping Sarah and Helena escape from Cody's Castor camp in the desert.  We didn't see the body, but he was badly shot and I assume he went BOOM with all the Castors.

One of the best SF shows of all times, with some stunning acting, especially by the actors playing the Leda clones. Heck, I'm surprised Felix got away with his stunt at the art show. Someone should have figured out those were all different women.

But it lost its way here and there after the first couple of seasons, as it started improvising its mythology.

And I wish they hadn't taken until the last season to acknowledge that the-city-that-was-obviously-Toronto was, in fact, Toronto.

Well, we knew it didn't take place in the U.S., because in the first season Art chased off the Castor and his buddies from the farm by asking if they had permits for their long guns. In America, anyone can be better armed than the police, and don't have to explain it.

Thanks, Doctor Hmmm?, for the Paul explanation. Now that you've said it, I remember the scene.

I've been thinking more about Hell Wizard. I think he was, in fact, a Dyad security guard in his introduction, and one of the three D&D players in the first season (one of the others being Scott). So that's how he knew Scott, and how he knew how to get into Dyad.

But I'm still wondering why he was so willing to risk his life over and over for the sestras, whom he only knew through Scott. He was an utterly loyal soldier, but I don't recall any reasons for that. I don't recall his reaction when being confronted with clones, either, which makes me wonder if that happened "off panel" -- which, again, raises the issue of his motivation.

Also, what happened to the two men we were shown as owners of the Rabbit Hole? Was Hell Wizard one of them? And if so, why did Hell Wizard need a job as a security guard? And iI so, what happened to the other one? And was he the third D&D player?

These questions, like the one with Paul, were probably answered and I was out of the room or not paying attention or just forgot. Anyone know?

Some day when less is happening, I might try to collect all of the non-Canadian or this-isn't-necessarily-Canada elements that we saw until the most recent seasons. Even the show's producers, initially, said the show was set in a generic-verse city, while making the few British and American references actual British and American references. So, so many American movies and TV shows are filmed in Canadian cities, it's just nice when a Canadian city gets named as a Canadian city.

A small point, I suppose. It was a great show.

Fun fact: Central City, Riverdale, National City, and Star City are all Vancouver-- sometimes blatantly so, and sometimes CGI-altered.



Captain Comics said:

Well, we knew it didn't take place in the U.S., because in the first season Art chased off the Castor and his buddies from the farm by asking if they had permits for their long guns. In America, anyone can be better armed than the police, and don't have to explain it.

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