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Parker Diaz
Parker Diaz

Orphan Black - Season 1

Orphan Black is the newest original drama for BBC AMERICA. It features rising star Tatiana Maslany (Cas & Dylan, Picture Day) in the lead role of Sarah, an outsider and orphan whose life changes dramatically after witnessing the suicide of a woman who looks just like her. Sarah assumes her identity, her boyfriend and her bank account. But instead of solving her problems, the street smart chameleon is thrust headlong into a kaleidoscopic mystery. She makes the dizzying discovery that she and the dead woman are clones... but are they the only ones? Sarah quickly finds herself caught in the middle of a deadly conspiracy and must race to find answers about who she is and how many others there are just like her.

Orphan Black - Season 1

The second season of Orphan Black starts this weekend, and it's almost impossible to contain our excitement. We've already seen quite a few teasers, and the most recent preview makes it seem like we're dealing with an all-out clone war. Before we get to the new episode, though, let's refresh with all the insane things that happened last season. Keep scrolling to jog your memory.

In perhaps one of the most brutal moments of the entire series, MK met her unfortunate end at the hands of Ferdinand in Felix's loft at the end of Episode 2. It was a heart-breaking moment: and even though it was framed as a hail mary meant to save Sarah and the rest of the clone clan, it struck me as largely unnecessary. Hopefully the rest of the season will tease out the repercussions of MK's shockingly violent death. I'd hate to see one of the clones snuffed out simply for the sake of plot.

Season 1 of this very much missed series was going along just fine, and I was loving it. The writing was bold, and as the inaugural season progressed, I became more and more amazed by the work of Tatiana Maslany, the Emmy-winning actor who portrayed every clone. I loved following the intrigue and mystery of Sarah, Allison, Cosima, and the mysteriously murderous Helena. Allison and Cosima were early favorites, and I also felt right at home with our lead clone, Sarah. I didn't know what to make of Helena. None of the characters did, either.

The super-shady organization known as "Neolution" played a big part in the first season (and would take on greater significance later), and one of the things that this group does is genetically alter their own bodies with pointless cosmetic additions like tails. The why of it doesn't really matter. Why not have a tail, I guess? All that matters is that Neolution flunky Olivier has one (a tail, that is), and he offers to show it to Sarah at some point in the episode, with a sly-smiley pride that makes you want to rip your own feet off.

But the show's ambition got the best of it in last year's third season. New villains kept popping out of the woodwork like nefarious Whack-a-Moles. A line of male clones (played ably by Ari Millen) brought a whole new world of possibilities that almost immediately collapsed, as the series had almost no time to properly delve into their stories. The "previously on Orphan Black" segment stretched with every passing week, hurrying to bring confused viewers up to speed before trying to blow their minds minutes later by throwing everything out the window.

That's why it's so promising that the fourth season premiere takes a deep breath and a significant step back from Orphan Black's preexisting, overlapping stories. In a risky move, "The Collapse of Nature" holds off on forging ahead from where the show left off to travel back in time, all the way back to the beginning.

We've heard about Beth before, since much of the first season depended on Sarah pretending to be her in order to exploit her police department access. (Beth was a clone, too.) Still, we've never really spent time with the character outside of anecdotes from fellow clones Allison and Cosima, or scraps of home videos.

Maslany's deft performance of any given handful of clone characters is Orphan Black's one constant, and that still holds true for this fourth-season premiere. She not only plays Beth, Cosima, and Alison, but MK, a mysterious and reclusive clone we've never met who seems to have intimate knowledge that present-day Sarah and company desperately need.

Over the show's previous three seasons, Neolution vacillated wildly between hard sci-fi and convoluted, "what if?" flights of fancy. So by the time we got to the end of the third season, and it became clear that Neolution was going to be the series' Big Bad going forward, it was more of an exhausting reveal than an exciting one.

Watching Beth and MK circle the root of the madness in "Collapse of Human Nature," I found myself wishing the entire season could be a prequel. It's not that I don't love Sarah, whom we returned to by the episode's end as MK warns her to run from her Iceland safe house. It's not even that I'm reluctant to see what's going to happen now that all of the characters' backs are seemingly against the wall.

Orphan Black lost some viewers last season as it kept burrowing ever deeper into its own mythology. When the show is off its game, it's a confused jumble of sci-fi nonsense and good intentions. But when Orphan Black is good, it's a laser-focused, hyper-imaginative gem. If this fourth season can sweep aside some of the clutter and find its surreal, fiercely intelligent core again, there's no reason to believe it will be anything other than great.

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The show's most pivotal clones (Sarah, Alison, Cosima, Beth, Helena, and Rachel) were all introduced during season 1, as were other key members of Clone Club (Art, Delphine, Scott, etc.). Still, the series managed to find ways to debut some of its best and most intriguing characters in season 2 and beyond, including new clones.

The majority of Orphan Black season 2 saw Rachel Duncan take on the role of the main antagonist. When she was put on the sidelines due to injury, the show needed a new villain and someone who stepped into the role was Virginia Coady (Krya Harper) but in a totally different way.

At the end of season 3, Sarah left with Kira, Mrs. S, and Kendall to live off the grid but Felix chose not to go with them. While they were away, Felix looked into finding his birth family, feeling especially left out after finding out that Sarah was related to their foster family.

It was later revealed that Mark was actually an undercover Castor agent who genuinely loved Gracie. He ended up helping most of the Leda clones and seemed to have a good relationship with Gracie despite his sickness until they were killed in season 5.

Although he wasn't part of season 1, one of the most important characters in the entire story was Ethan Duncan (Andrew Gillies). He's one of the first Leda scientists and Rachel's adoptive father, making him pivotal to her and every other clone in some way.

His return to the main storyline in season 2 allowed the lore to expand and helped lead to Cosima getting better from her sickness. Ethan had many faults but he legitimately loved Rachel and he even took his own life to prevent Dyad from getting his science. 041b061a72


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