It’s time to renew your Clone Club membership because Orphan Black is back, the breakout cult phenomenon about human cloning returning for a second series that, if last night’s episode is anything to go by, will be excitingly action packed with a perfectly paced, byzantine conspiracy that teases enough twist and turns to shake a transgenic tail at.
Nature Under Constraint and Vexed launches straight into the action, picking up mere moments after series one’s final cliff-hanger with Mrs S. and Kira gone and Sarah careening down a high street in hopeless pursuit.
A taut, breathless cold open, featuring some brilliantly disorientating slow-motion, in which Sarah is set upon by a couple of creepy cowboy goons, is just the start of the mayhem that abounds throughout this episode.
Sarah quickly reunites with bohemian artist Felix (Jordan Gervais) – who comically wanders about in ass-less chaps all night – and her two clone sisters, groovy lesbian biologist Cosima and tightly-wound housewife Allison in order to tackle the far reaching powers of ruthless businesswoman Rachel and Matt Frewer’s Dr Aldous Leekie. Naturally, this involved Allison contacting her pot/illegal firearms dealer, complete with hilariously incongruous small talk: “So, how’s your mother?”
Ever since the show debuted in 2013, Orphan Black has been the Tatiana Maslany show, with the Canadian actress rightly Golden Globe nominated for a multi-faceted performance as roughly half a dozen clones. What’s all the more impressive is that Maslany managed to make each clone specific and unique, her ability to play with the subtleties of character beautifully illustrated in scenes where she played one clone impersonating another.
It’s a trick she’s up to once again here, playing Sarah impersonating Cosima in order to infiltrate a glitzy Dyad shindig and get close to Rachel, using a perfectly timed slip into Sarah’s cockney drawl to add to the tension of almost getting caught.
With so much plot to get through there’s a risk the story could become bloated or overstuffed, but the writers adroitly weave the separate plot strands together, always choosing the right moment to switch gears and plough further into the mystery so that the tension never dissipates.
As for the rest of series two, it looks as though we can expect more attention to be given to the battle between science and religion this time out. The first series largely focused on the science with the neolutionists and Leekie’s Dyad Institute, thereby reducing the role of religion to that of a fanatical loony stereotype (Hi Helena!). However, the emergence of a creepy Prolethean cult – the ones who attacked Sarah at the beginning of the episode – suggests that religion will be given more of the spotlight this time around.
Nature Under Constraint and Vexed kicked off the second series with a bang, offering up a relentless stream of breathless action as the writers deftly weaved through multiple plot strands without ever letting the pace drop and still managed to tease viewers with a few clues that may yet help answer some of the show’s big questions. Add to this the final twist that Helena, presumed dead at the close of series one, is alive (well, just about) and series two is shaping up to be just as taut, inventive and action packed as the first.
Click here to watch the trailer for Orphan Black – Series Two