I’m going to be honest, this has been sitting on my Drafts for quite some time now but I never really got the chance to finish it because I think, if I’m gonna make such bold claim, I’d need to be more composed, more relaxed; and more concise about everything I’m going to say.
And yet, here I am, just a few minutes after watching the Season 2 finale… and I am a mess.
I’ve always been fan of TV shows. I think, I am more into TV than I am into movies. I have seen a lot of TV shows, gave up on a few ones, and even then, none of the shows I’ve seen ever compared to Orphan Black. Not to say that the other shows I’ve seen are not good.
It’s just that ‘Orphan Black’ is in a different caliber on its own.
This is coming from a self-confessed dramatic herself but never in my years of couch-potatoing have I ever said, “Noooo,” out loud as I plead for the show to save a character’s life. But in the Season 2 finale of Orphan Black, I found myself saying, “Nooo,” the rest of the word trailing as I helplessly hope that Cosima is alive (in that scene where Kira is trying to wake her up) and that this whole thing is just the writers and producers playing tricks on me.
And I think, it’s one of the best things about this show. Orphan Black does such an incredible and compelling way of telling a story–a way that sticks and stays true to its nature and yet, it is brave to explore minute possibilities. It makes me wonder how no one has thought of these things before–but like I said, Orphan Black is an entirely different caliber itself. It’s a TV show about clones–and yet it’s something different altogether.
#1 Tatiana Maslany
This one–this goes without saying.
When I talk people into watching Orphan Black, I always go the route where I tell them that one actress plays nine, ten.. (11? I lost count) characters and that always works. Somehow, we’ve been so accustomed to TV shows where there’s a good character and a bad character–that it’s almost easy to miss how brilliant one person’s performance is. It’s not to underestimate other actors in their own elements but Tatiana Maslany’s work in Orphan Black is just so stellar.
She plays all the clones including the Unholy Triumvirate: Sarah “The Punk-rock Hoe” Manning, Alison “Soccer Mom” Hendrix, and Cosima “The Geek Monkey” Neihaus. She also plays the role of Helena, a Ukraine-raised assassin and Rachel Duncan, an uptight corporate high power. She also played tons of other clones that had short-lived appearances: Beth, Katja, Jennifer, and Tony.
I could go on all day enumerating reasons why Maslany should get all the awards but I think I can summarize it in a sentence: each clone has a different posture, accent, and mannerisms. Sometimes, you think you know that everyone is played by one actor alone but then you watch everything unfold in front of you and you just stare in wonder because…
how the eff did that happen?
#2 Kira, The Child Wonder
I don’t know about the rest of you but I think, one of the best things about this show is how it doesn’t treat anyone as if they’re stupid–and that includes Kira, Sarah’s eight-year-old daughter.
Caught up in a barrage of adult problems–in which she’s one of the solutions–Kira has an incredible sense of awareness about her environment. She knows when something is wrong and throws in a solution when she thinks of it. Yes, we are talking about an eight-year-old little girl.
She emerges best in Season 2 where she practically tries to save her Aunt Cosima’s life by pulling out a tooth on her own and agreeing to go into surgery to give her bone marrow to her mother’s sick sister. In the finale, she takes the nurse’s phone to call her father when she was locked up in a jail disguised into a nice-looking bedroom. It sends such a strong message but again, this show never fell short in taking on storylines that other shows wouldn’t even waste a couple of seconds on. She’s the youngest character in this show but she isn’t clueless; and it’s just so refreshing to not worry about a character because you just know that despite her innocence, she’s always going to be fine.
A side note on this is Kira and Sarah’s relationship as mother and daughter. I love the fact that Sarah trusts her child and I love how Kira knows her mother well. You don’t see that often–a mother trusts her child to let her make the decision about having her bone marrow transferred to another person. It would be creepy if this was any other TV show but every viewer knows Kira is not some stupid kid, and that makes it 10 times more interesting.
#3 The ‘Queer’ Arc
Where do I even begin with this angle?
While every other show is dedicating an entire episode and soundtrack into a character’s coming out story, Orphan Black is like: Cosima is gay, Felix is gay… so what? Some people are gay, deal with it.
I like how they didn’t make a big deal out of it, how they treated the Cosima and Felix’s sexuality as if it’s a normal way of life. It happens, and you have no choice but to take it in.
Orphan Black knows and it is a perfect example–that the world has bigger issues than any persons’ sexuality.
There are queer characters and I love how simple it is.
As per actual scientist Cosima Neihaus:
#4 Nature vs Nurture
It’s no secret–this show is nerdy than it is willing to admit.
Here you have genetically identical people raised in different ways and environments. They meet and you realized that despite the similarities in everything… they’re all different.
It spurs such a beautiful discussion about whether or not people are defined by their pre-determined characteristics or are we driven by our cultivated personalities.
Trust me. This show has led me to dozens of lunch conversations that turned into something else entirely. I had an officemate who also watches the show and we somehow ended up talking about the nature vs nurture side of things–that led us to talking about whether or not people change or do we just become the person we really are.
Needless to say, it was one of the most insightful conversations I’ve had in my life. Yeah, this show… I know,
#5 The Clone Inception
Of course, it was expected. One clone will pretend to be another clone… of course, it’s a show about people who look alike. What’s the big deal?
Well, let me tell you this… it’s an amusing sight to see and also, in certain circumstances terrifying (Rachel as Sarah, anyone?). Maybe, it’s just me but the way these characters occasionally pretend to be the other simply blows me away.
It’s the idea of using this clone thing as an advantage. In Season 1, Alison pretended to be Sarah to meet with Kira as the real Sarah meets Rachel to save all of their asses. In season 1, we also saw Sarah pretending to be Alison.
It would be so funny if it wasn’t so brilliant.
#6 You’ll Love Everyone
In two seasons of watching this show almost religiously, I’ve noticed that despite it’s many twists and turns, Orphan Black has somehow managed not to make anyone… hateable.
Everyone in this show comes in with an agenda or at least develops one after quite some time (Angela Deangelis, anyone?). Yet, there’s no one in this show that you’ll resent.
Sure, you’ll grow some sort of dislike for some characters like Vic and Donnie but even these characters have redeemed themselves from time to time. In my case, I really haven’t grown fond of Delphine in two seasons and yet, that je t’aime scene just really got me.
In Season 1, it was Helena. If this was any other show, a character like this is designed to give the viewers someone to hate, to resent. She kills ruthlessly and is incredibly misunderstood and yet, after quite some time, the show narrates why she is like that and eventually reveals her soft side.
In Season 2, it’s Rachel Duncan–the incredibly uptight and influential corporate tycoon. She chases after the clones, kidnaps a kid, forces Sarah to surrender.. and yet, some people still root for her. Some people still admire her strength to function despite knowing her story. All the clones were kept in the dark about their origins but Rachel knew it all along and yet she pushed through. Sure, the turn out in the finale doesn’t exactly make Rachel an ally but you now know why she is like this.
The backstory is nowhere an excuse to killing people and kidnapping a kid but it’s an explanation nonetheless–something other shows wouldn’t even bother to give you. It’s nice to see a show try and make their characters human; it kinda makes you more connected, more engaged.
#7 The Uncanny Sisterhood
In Season 1, Sarah has so rightfully said, “She is not my sister,” pertaining to one of the clones.
In Season 2, the word “sister” or “sestra” (as per Helena) has been thrown around a lot.
It’s nice to see a story development like this especially since it surrounds a peculiar kind of sisterhood. They’re genetic identicals… does that mean they are sisters? To dig deeper into that, does this whole ordeal make them a family?
Throughout both seasons, you’ve seen Cosima, Alison, and Sarah work together. In Season 2, Helena has become an ally, too, as well as some other people like Paul (although, he is shady), Cal (Cal!!!), Detective Bell, and Mrs. S.
It kinda defies the layman’s definition of a family which is true to the show’s nature because to have clones isn’t exactly your idea of a life.
It is, I think, one of the most wonderful things about Orphan Black–how these people with different upbringing and personalities have come together to survive.
In Season 1, Sarah was so eager to runaway. In Season 2, you’ll hear her say, “I can’t do this without you, Cosima,” and if you think that’s not beautiful character development, you’re doing life wrong.
It’s a little victory for me, personally, everytime the clones address the other as “sister” or “sisters,” I just get really, really emotional. I’m not even sorry.
#8 This Scene
This is somehow related to #7 but this scene is just so great that it needs to stand alone in this list.
It’s just so amazing because Helena was a serial killer and Sarah was a girl that gives no flying frack about anything… but they’re twins and they are on a road trip. Helena starts singing and Sarah tries not laugh.
I mean, I just… Lemme just cry in the corner.
#9 THAT Finale.
As I’ve said early in this entry, I’m writing this minutes after I’ve seen the Season 2 Finale. So, to grasp this ninth item, you’re gonna have to see it to believe it.
For those who aren’t watching it (why?!), just cling to this statement: it is the best, most haunting finale I’ve seen in my entire life. I cannot tell you how I was a sobbing mess when Helena met the other clones and how I screamed, “Noooo,” out loud when Cosima won’t wake up when Kira was talking to her.
After seeing that finale and you still don’t think Orphan Black is the best show on TV right now, you’re wrong.