Orphan Black is a science fiction series from creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett through BBC America, with a storyline of many competing plot lines. It stars Tatiana Maslany as British ex-drug addict Sarah Manning who, upon seeing a woman suicide, takes her bag in the hope that it’ll give her a way out of her current predicament.
What could be a simple crime drama is turned on its head by the fact the the suicide victim is a dead ringer for Sarah. Is she a long-lost twin?
She convinces her half-brother Felix (Jordan Gavaris) to identify the corpse in the morgue as her own. Sarah’s drug supplier boyfriend Victor Schmidt (Michael Mando) insists on a wake, which further complicates the situation and Sarah’s hope to take custody of her daughter, Kira (Skyler Wexler) from Siobhan (Maria Doyle Kennedy).
In taking on Beth’s life, she has to run the gauntlet of boyfriend Paul Dierden (Dylan Bruce), and her police partner Arthur “Art” Bell (Kevin Hanchart). She achieves a passable accent by watching home videos but has some initial difficulties with simple things like where the car keys are. A more complex situation unfolds when Sarah has to impersonate Beth in a shooting enquiry. Beth has been suspended for killing an apparently unarmed citizen during a botched arrest.
And just when things couldn’t possibly get any weirder, Sarah as Beth is intercepted by Katja, another identical sister. But before she can reveal much more, she is killed by a sniper’s bullet. A phone caller tells her to find Katja’s case and hide the body.
And that’s just episode one.
Orphan Black is a complex tale with many plot lines to work with and deserves a second watch to make sure you haven’t missed anything. It can sometimes appear over-complicated, but that’s more because in a run of 10 episodes, there’s a lot of plot to deal with. You may consider a map for this purpose.
Tatiana Maslany plays six identical sisters, giving each a unique personality and personal quirks. Sarah is the head-kicker, the woman who keeps everyone moving. Cosima, the scientist, the sister who delves into the mystery of their shared heritage. Alison is a homemaker, adoptive mother to two children and wife of the bumbling Donnie; these two act as occasional comedy relief and have their own parts to play in the plot. Finally, Helena is a nutter, brought up by a fundamentalist religion to assassinate her sisters as abominations. There are more, but to speak of them is to give away plot details.
Orphan Black was renewed for a second and third season, and it’s latest season is currently airing on SBS.