Ended, the Clone War has
TV’s very own Clone Saga comes to a conclusion. Did it deliver?
Who would’ve thought that a Canadian sci-fi show with one actress playing a huge range of roles would have lasted for five years, much less become a fan-adored, Emmy-winning sensation? Orphan Black’s success was down to many things – intelligent writing; a cheeky sense of humour; a desire to shock; feminist themes – but you can’t argue that most of it rested on Tatiana Maslany’s tiny shoulders.
Rarely has an actress ever been given such a smorgasbord of characters. Using a kind of acting alchemy, Maslany was able to inhabit the bodies of at least 10 (and counting) clones and give them individual identities. Some of the work was done by hair and make-up, of course, but Maslany’s extraordinary talent for accents, movement and mannerisms made all of them seem distinct and believable. And from them, Orphan Black grew into a fascinating, traumatising, often hysterically funny beast.
The show’s fifth year, ironically, is probably its most tame. Much of it is spent on a chilly “Island of Doctor Moreau” headed by an (allegedly) immortal genetic meddler named PT Westmoreland. It’s a solid performance from character actor Stephen McHattie, but even he’s no match for the women who surround him – which means that as this year’s Big Bad (alongside evil corporation Dyad) he ends up sadly lacking. Still, as Cosima struggles to finish her cure for the disease killing off all the clones, Sarah goes up against Rachel, and Helena has her miracle babies, the season is as solid and compelling as ever.
The final few episodes are where things really hit their stride, as the plot strands of the last five seasons are tied into a beautiful bow (albeit a rather tear-stained one). The concluding episode is cathartic and, amazingly given the subject matter, realistic, with Maslany yet again knocking it out of the park. It’s such a relief that the showrunners haven’t fumbled the ball at the end; instead, they reward viewers with everything they want. The demise of Orphan Black should be a tragedy, but instead you leave it feeling joyous – and thankful. Jayne Nelson
The tea had manuka honey in it. Yuck!