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He Said, She Said Review Site

Orphan Black: Season 2

What She said:

She

As you’ll recall from my review of the first season of the show, Orphan Black tells the story of protagonist Sarah and her identical clones as they explore their origins and try to escape the threat of physical harm. Season 2 picks right back up where Season 1 left off, with Mrs. S.’s home ransacked and Sarah’s daughter, Kira and Mrs. S. missing.

If you watched the first season, you’ll know that Dyad has signed agreements with many of the clones that define their level of involvement in each clone’s day-to-day life. Cosima has taken up work at the company, heading her own lab and investigating some of the genetic flaws that stricken the clones. During Season 2, we watch her own health decline steadily has she falls victim to chronic lung tumors, which seem to happen consistently with the clones. The search for a cure is desperate, and sadly, Kira may actually hold the secret to an effective treatment.

Orphan Black

But Kira is nowhere to be found and Sarah is frantic. She goes straight to the person she believes is the culprit, the evil clone Rachel, who sits high in the Dyad org chart. However Rachel doesn’t seem to have knowledge of Kira’s whereabouts, so we hit a bit of a dead-end. Eventually, Sarah finds out that Mrs. S. staged the kidnapping and ran off with Kira to what she believes is a safe house. Sarah retrieves the young girl and attempts to flee. She ends up visiting a man who seems to live largely off the grid. His name is Cal, and it turns out that he’s Kira’s father. Sarah broke his heart years ago, when she ditched him, and he was totally unaware that he even had a child. That said, he’s willing to step up to help care for Kira and immediately takes a genuine interest in her and her safety. Sarah ends up leaving Kira with Cal for safekeeping while she handles other matters.

In the meantime, Helena is going through quite a lot. She’s been severely injured and winds up in the hospital. But she’s stolen away from there by a group led by a man named Henrik Johanssen. He seems to be working independently, leading some sort of cult. He’s very interested in Sarah, actually, because he knows that she has managed to have a child, despite the fact that the clones are infertile by design. However, he sees promise on Helena because he knows that she is Sarah’s identical twin. He hoodwinks Helena into going along with his plans, and winds up taking eggs out of her. He fertilizes said eggs with his own genetic material and then starts implanting them into hosts so that he can create his own half-clone offspring. Yeah, he’s a pretty sick fella. Eventually Helena is able to get away and reunites with the other clones.

Orphan Black

You may be wondering what’s going on with everybody’s favorite soccer mom clone, Alison. Well, after watching neighbor Aynsley die, Alison decides to try to move on with her life. She thinks she has severed ties with Dyad, and immerses herself in the day-to-day, which includes replacing Aynsley in a local community play. Of course, what happened with Aynsley haunts Alison, and so she ends up turning back to prescription drugs and alcohol. She also begins to suspect, once again, that husband Donnie has been monitoring her. Her suspicions are all but confirmed when she has a breakdown and winds up in rehab. She believes Donnie has put her there, in a move to keep her locked up. Well, it turns out that Donnie has been helping Dyad, but he didn’t realize his role or exactly what was going on. He did NOT know Alison is a clone, and thought he was just participating in a long-term study. Donnie winds up with his own regrets, and this brings him and Alison closer together than ever before. Who would have known that the experience would help their marriage?

Season 2 wraps up with Dr. Leekie meeting his demise and Dyad getting their hands on Kira. Sarah has a showdown with Rachel, and ends up being taken prisoner as well. Cosmina sets a trap to free Sarah, and she’s able to flee with Kira to the home of a helpful Dyad exec, Marion. It is then revealed that there is also a male clone out there, and I’m sure that will be the subject of Season 3.

So that’s where we wind up. Season 2 is absolutely filled to the brink with action. It’s hard to keep everything straight, but it’s also one heck of a ride, so get on board. Now that we have gotten to know the clones, it’s easy to understand each and their motivations in Season 2. There is still some backstory to tell, but a lot has already been revealed and so the writers decide to roll with the action instead. It’s really great to watch, and there is always a feeling that a lot is at stake.

Orphan Black

Of course, one of the surprising strengths of Orphan Black is its comedy, and Season 2 seems to build on the momentum of Season 1 in that regard. The show is so wickedly humorous at times. Sarah’s brother Felix is an oddball, but also very funny, especially when he teams up with Alison. They are unlikely friends and partners in crime—sometimes literally—and they are two of my favorites to watch on screen. It’s also great to see what they did with Donnie’s character this season. He’s such a buffoon, and they actually made him somewhat likeable.

Cosmina’s character is strikingly complex, because she ends up working for Dyad and researching her own origins. In one sense, she’s working for the big, bad enemy, but at the same time, she is doing it with her own kind’s interests at heart. While I sometimes find myself torn on whether or not she’s really doing the right thing, she also proves her allegiances by the end of the season. She is both the rational scientist, but also a humanist at the same time who wants what’s best for Kira and the other clones.

I didn’t really mention it before, but Season 2 does introduce us to a new clone named Tony. He’s a transgender clone, who doesn’t seem fully aware of what he is. He’s kind of only in the picture for a brief moment and does not appear to be an impact player, at least not at this point. But it’s worth noting that he does pop up and kind of has a thing for Felix; however wrong that feels.

And while I’m discussing a new clone, I should once again give a shout out to actress Tatiana Maslany. She plays every single clone with precision, and does a marvelous job in giving them each their own identity and personality. It’s possible for the viewer to forget that they are all genetically identical, because each clone has its own mannerisms and characteristics that make them unique. And that really speaks volumes to Maslany’s talent as an actress, that she’s able to achieve this.

While this show is far from perfect, it continues to serve as an intriguing sci-fi and psychological thriller. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep all the elements straight, particularly because there are so many characters, but if you can make heads and tails of it, then it’s worth your while to indulge in. At only ten episodes long per season, the show is very easy to watch, and will pass by in a blip. I really enjoy watching it.

Thumbs up.

Orphan Black

What He said:

He

The previous season ended with the police raiding Mrs. S’s house and arresting Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) in connection with the disappearance of police officer Beth Childs. Beth killed herself at the beginning of last season and Sarah was posing as her – since they are clones of one another and look identical. Beth’s partner Art (Kevin Hanchard) figured out Sarah was not Beth and took it to his superiors.

Orphan Black

The Dyad Institute, the company behind the cloning project, decides to bail Sarah out, because they are attempting (or is it pretending?) to play nice with their experiments now that several of them have discovered what they are. They ask her to sign a bunch of paperwork. They claim they will leave her and her daughter alone, but big corporations are always suspect, at least in TV and the movies. Sarah rejects their offer, but one of the people in charge – another clone named Rachel – seems unwilling to let it go. Sarah leaves, but you can tell Rachel isn’t going to let it go. Rachel is the epitome of a ruthless bitch. She is cold, all about business, and seemingly void of all morals or ethics.

Sarah’s first goal is to get back to Mrs. S’s(Maria Doyle Kennedy) house and reunite with her daughter Kira (Skyler Wexler). There is a major problem with this seemingly simple goal – neither Mrs. S (now going by Siobhan) nor Kira are there. Sarah assumes  Dyad is response and confronts Rachel, which only furthers the friction between the two of them.

Orphan Black

It turns out Kira is at a safe house with Siobhan, who knows more about the clones origins than she leads on. It’s not revealed exactly who she is or what she knows, but we come to find out she is with a group that is not on Dyad’s side, nor the is she with the Proletheans (the religious zealots and enemies of Dyad).

Speaking of the Prolethean’s, they pop up again, but in new and different ways. If you remember from last year, a man named Tomas (Daniel Kash) uses one of the clones (Helena) to hunt down and kill the rest, whom he considers to be an abomination. He thinks the clones are against God’s will and all that.

Both the Proletheans and Helena get expanded roles this season. Tomas ends up going to a compound somewhere in the countryside. A man named Henrik (Peter Outerbridge) runs a group of Proletheans that have broken off from the rest. They are still creepy religious, but also believe in science. Tomas views the clones as an abomination, Henrik and his followers seem them as some kind of miracle or even messiah.

Henrik initially convinces Helena to stay with them, after she feels misled and rejected by Tomas. Tomas had previously told her she was the original  and all the rest were clones, but when she discovered that was untrue, no longer wanted to be associated with him.

She eventually leaves Henrik’s farm/commune/cult and seeks out Sarah. Helena has killed other clones and even tried to kill Sarah, but she comes to realize that Helena was pretty much raises in a cult and not totally responsible for her own actions. Helena was brainwashed from childhood to believe all the clones are horrible beings that are against God’s will. Tomas convinced her that she is doing God’s will by killing them. Though reluctantly, Sarah brings Helena into the group and it makes for some very amusing misadventures.

See, Helena is barely functional. She is extremely deadly – she has weapons, survivial, and combat training – but she doesn’t know how to behave at all. She acts like an animal that just happens to look human and have the ability to speak. To say she doesn’t have any manners would be putting it lightly. This makes for many very funny moments. She is a homicidal religious maniac, who wants to turn over a new leaf, who is very rough around the edges. She’s one of the most entertaining characters on the show.

Orphan Black

Sarah also spends part of the season on the run from Dyad. During this time, she visits a former lover named Cal, who also happens to be Kira’s father. Cal (Michael Huisman) was not aware he had a daughter. He and Sarah had a bad break up, but finding out he has a daughter diffuses the situation a little.

So what’s going on with the other main clones?

Cosima has recently taken a job at Dyad. She believes that she can help find out more about the clones – who apparently are susceptible to the same illness – origins by working from the inside. She takes a job with Dr. Leekie (Matt Frewer) and her lover/lab partner Delphine (Evelyn Brochu). This is a very complicated and dynamic trio of people. Dr. Leekie is a scientists who wants to examine his company’s pet projects, however he seems to be being honest with Cosima. He’s seemingly given her full disclosure – along with her own lab. Delphine is her monitor (all known clones have one) and also her girlfriend. Cosima is not sure she can trust either one of them, but loves Delphine, and the scientist also wants the exposure to the technology, research, and innovation taking place at Dyad. I agree with the She that Cosima is quite complex.

A quick side note: Dr. Leekie and Rachel are currently involved in a power struggle at Dyad. Rachel is a clone, and has been aware she is a clone since a very young age. She doesn’t seem to care and only wants to climb as high as she can to get there. Her and Leekie work together, but also work behind each other’s backs to further their own agenda. Much of this involves a woman named Marion (Michelle Forbes). She is a member of a board of directors or some other kind of group that runs Dyad.

Ok, back to the clones. So what’s nutty ass Alison up to? She signed a deal with Dyad, that was pretty much the opposite of Cosima’s. Alison’s deal severs ties with Dyad….or at least it claims to. Her monitor is still watching her after all. Alison eventually figures this out and ends up abusing pills and alcohol again. This results in her husband Donnie (Kristian Bruun) putting her in rehabd. If you know anything about Alison, you know this results in a lot of laughs. In rehab, Alison runs into Sarah’s ex, Vic (Michael Mando). Scared, she calls Felix, who despite being the exact opposite of her, is her partner in crime. I cannot say enough about how entertaining the dynamic between Felix (Jordan Gavaris), Alison, and Vic is as it unfolds. Alison and Felix alone are hilarious, but throw in Vic and it’s even more comedic gold.

Orphan Black

Beth’s former monitor Paul – who also had an affair with Sarah when she was posing as Beth – is still in the mix too. Since Beth is dead, he has been reassigned to Rachel. Rachel knows she is eing monitored, she just doesn’t care, and also uses her monitor as her personal errand boy (as well as other things). Paul doesn’t really want to be involved with Dyad anymore, but is being blackmailed because of a mysterious history from his time in the military. Much like a lot of other people involved with Dyad, he’s trying to play both sides. He wants to help Sarah and Kira, but Dyad has something really juicy on him.

I feel like I haven’t talked much about Felix, who continues to be fabulous and hilarious, there’s just a lot going on this season. His relationship with Sarah is strained at times, as she becomes more involved with in this conflict, which involves corporate espionage, religious fanaticism, and possible even the military.

I also have to bring up a new character named Mark (Ari Millen), who is a henchman of Henrik’s. This dude is crrreeeppppyy. Besides being the enforcer for a cult leader, he just has one of those perverted, demented, nasty looking faces. I’m not saying the actor is an ugly person, but just that he has the face of a villain, and an unsettling one at that.

I’m just going to go ahead and say it – this show is fucking rad. It’s dark, trippy, tense, action-packed, and surprisingly funny. Stylistically, it reminds me a lot of Farscape. The shows have two completely different settings and storylines, but the mixture of humor, action, and science fiction make them feel like cousins.  I can’t wait for season 3!

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on March 16, 2015.