OR­PHAN BLACK

Ended, the Clone War has

SFX - - Contents -

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!

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