When Clone Clubs go to war
he kick- ass cliffhanger ending of Orphan Black’s second season dropped a huge twist into a show that already staggers under the weight of at least three good twists per episode – that there are male clones as well as female ones. Gasp! And for the majority of this third year the Castor clones ( all played, with steel, by Ari Millen) wreak exactly the kind of havoc you’d expect them to wreak, as Sarah and the rest of her sisters struggle to figure out where they’ve come from and what they’re for. Once you’ve thrown an unhinged US military wing into a mix that already includes at least two shadowy organisations, you’re definitely into some serious conspiracy theory territory.
But, sadly, this ramping up of the arc plot, while admirable, doesn’t always work. The first two- thirds of the season brilliantly feature Helena – and later Sarah – stuck in a devilish internment camp, going through trials that could have been too dark and unwatchable if it hadn’t been for Helena having amusing hallucinations of a talking scorpion ( as you do). But sequences like these contrast harshly with the enjoyably silly plotline that has Allison running for school trustee, or Cosima’s rather dull plot- arc that sees her do nothing except strike up a new relationship with Shay ( Lost Girl’s Ksenia Solo). The first two seasons of Orphan Black managed to combine “domesticity” with “conspiracy” beautifully, but once the stakes get this high, realism starts to lose out.
Still, that’s a small quibble and the rest of this season has many highlights – whether they be the unlikely scenario of Helena and Donnie bonding over a few murders, or Tatiana Maslany having a whale of a time, albeit briefly, as yet another clone ( let’s hope we see more of Krystal in the future!). It’s just a pity that the whiplash between the dark and light elements of this series has been so severe this time around; hopefully that will be smoothed out a touch when we rejoin our favourite clones next season. Jayne Nelson
tv reviews and opinion An orphan. On a black background.