Entertainment Television

'Orphan Black' review: Time to join Clone Club

Consider me a loyal member of the Clone Club—the name "Orphan Black" (8 p.m. Saturday, BBC America; 3.5 stars out of four) fans gave themselves last year as their passion turned this sci-fi thriller into a cult hit.

The BBC America series about a woman who discovers she is one of several clones was more than just a genre show. It remains one of TV's most compelling series, period. Creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett—watch for an Easter egg from them in the Season 2 premiere—have created an intricately plotted, intelligent conspiracy thriller.

Much of the show's success can be credited to breakout star Tatiana Maslany, whose awe-inspiring performances as Sarah and Alison and Cosima and Helena and three other clones can't be overpraised. She was, in a word, brilliant.

It's through Maslany's performance and the well-written, nuanced relationships between her characters and others that Manson and Fawcett were able to humanize "Orphan Black," making it relatable despite its sometimes convoluted mythology and complex themes of identity, individuality and free will.

Most remarkably, Maslany made each clone super specific. Sure, changing hairstyles and clothing is part of that, but Maslany varied everything from body language to accents to quirky traits. Each clone was a fully fleshed-out individual with a unique personality.

Sarah Manning remains the center of the story, a single mom who watched her doppelganger Beth Childs commit suicide in the series premiere. Sarah assumed Beth's police detective identity and began unraveling the clone mystery. Her investigation led to uptight housewife Alison Hendrix and Ph.D. student Cosima Niehaus, as well as murderous whack-job Helena X, dangerously ill Katja Obinger and Rachel Duncan, a cold-blooded exec at the Dyad Institute, which created the clones.

Maslany gives these clones—those who survived—more colors in Season 2 as "Orphan Black" explodes out of the gate, picking up right where Season 1 left off.

The ever-impulsive Sarah launches herself and her "sisters" into an all-out war against Rachel, whom she believes has kidnapped Sarah's daughter, Kira (Skyler Wexler), and the surprisingly resourceful Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy), foster mother to both Sarah and Felix Dawkins (Jordan Gavaris, who with the too-little-seen Doyle Kennedy, match Maslany onscreen).

Along the way she crosses paths with Dr. Aldous Leekie (Matt Frewer), whose work may have created the clones; Beth's former lover Paul Dierden (Dylan Bruce) and former police partner Art (Kevin Hanchard), who could be friends or foes; Cal Morrison (Michiel Huisman), a man from her own past; and Henrik Johanssen (Peter Outerbridge), the leader of a creepy group that may or may not be part of the Proleatheans, a religious cult chasing the clones.

You can expect to meet a few new clones, too. Maslany has lucked out in a TV world lacking strong female roles; she's playing several of them on "Orphan Black."

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Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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