If you were one of the privileged few that discovered this gem of a television series last year when it first aired on BBC America, then you are a bone fide member of Clone Club. But, hey, anyone who subsequently discovered the series online or through the DVD’s also qualifies, because Clone Club welcomes all members to the ORPHAN BLACK universe as the show returns for its second season. As fans are already well-aware, it is going to be a global social media party as Clone Club rises up to dominate on Twitter, Facebook and all other social media venues on April 19th.
So what does Season 2 of ORPHAN BLACK have in store? The answer is obvious: more clones. That’s right – plural. In a nice twist at the end of the first season, ORPHAN BLACK’s hero Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) came face-to-face with the original clone Rachel Duncan. Rachel joins the ranks of the known clones: Sarah, Beth, Cosima, Alison, Helena, Katja, Danielle, Aryanna, Janika and Rachel. The other new clone that viewers will meet in Season 2 is Jennifer.
That’s right – there are now 11 clones, with 5 (possibly 6) already deceased. Beth’s journey ended in the first 5 minutes of Season 1; Katja lasted only minutes longer as she barely made it end of that first episode. Then Aryana, Janika, and Danielle are all presumed dead from events prior to the series; and it remains to be seen if Helena is officially dead. She sure looked dead after Sarah shot her in the Season 1 finale. But I suspect Helena is too juicy a character for the show to have killed her off forever.
That leaves alive and kicking: Sarah, Cosima, Alison, and Rachel to face off; with perhaps Jennifer jumping into the fray at some point in Season 2. What is hard to remember is that each clone is fabulously and phenomenally portrayed by one actress: Tatiana Maslany. That is the trick – remembering that all these clones are the same actress. Think about it too hard and your brain will just about explode. That’s television magic for you. Each scene where Sarah is talking with her sister-clones, whether it be Alison, Cosima or Rachel, it is all due to masterful performance of Tatiana Maslany and the brilliant producers and crew that make it all look so real.
So Season 2 of ORPHAN BLACK will be back with more magic, more clones and more mystery. As fans/viewers will recall, at the end of Season 1, Sarah’s daughter Kira (Skyler Wexler) was kidnapped right out of her bedroom. The race will be on to find Kira and get her back before any of the nefarious organizations can turn her into a human guinea-pig, all for the sake of science. The other horrifying reveal from Season 1 was Sarah, Cosima and Alison finding out that as clones, they are considered “property” and not wholly independent, free-willed persons. Imagine that: to one day find out that you are property and someone can have ownership over you. It’s insulting and very scary.
Being a clone has its pros and cons, and not having ownership over oneself definitely falls into the con category. On the pro side, it can really come in handy looking exactly like someone else. You can literally be in two places at once, and people are none the wiser. It was a ploy and perk that Sarah used fully to her advantage in the first season. It allowed Alison to pose as Sarah when Sarah couldn’t be there to visit her daughter; though it was pretty hilarious how fast Sarah’s daughter Kira saw through that ruse. That girl knows who her mommy is, and Alison was not her mommy.
But most other people were easily fooled, whether it was Beth’s boyfriend Paul (Dylan Bruce), Alison’s husband Donny (Kristian Brunn), Alison’s nosy neighbor Aynsley (Natalie Lisinska), Sarah’s foster mother Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy), or Beth’s partner Art (Kevin Hanchard). But there were usually time limits on how long you could pose as someone you did not know or do not know very well, and it was hilarious and nerve-wracking to see how long Sarah or Alison could pretend to be each other, or step into the shoes of one of their sister clones.
Interestingly, the one faithful ally that Sarah had in Season 1 was Sarah’s foster brother, Felix (Jordan Gavaris). From the start, the only person Sarah trusted and loved was Felix. He was her sanctuary and refuge from the chaos of her life and all the crazy clone conspiracies. He was also one of the few who had met all the (living) clones and could easily pick them out from each other. Felix was the clones’ confidante extraordinaire. He would rush to their aid (any time of the day), deliver dubious supplies and hardware, he would provide backup in times of turmoil, and he could instantaneously throw a fabulous party or funeral. Best of all, he never judged. He accepted from the start every crazy thing Sarah told him and unquestioning had her back no matter what. That kind of sibling love and loyalty is rare to see, and even more beautiful to behold when he extended that love and devotion to Sarah’s sister clones, Alison and Cosima. Felix’s instincts and unflinching support was impeccable. Plus, his ready quips made ORPHAN BLACK’s outrageous adventure all that more fun simply because Felix knew exactly how to sum up a situation or skewer someone with a devastating comedic one-liner. (Felix, we have missed you!)
As the first season continued to unfold, the clones and Felix found themselves embroiled deeper and deeper into a bio-genetic world where religion and science were literally at war over the right to clone people and who had the right to own or destroy them.
Vying for the clones were: the Neolutionists (scientists) vs. the Prolethians (religious zealots). On the side of science for the Neolutionists were Dr. Leekie (Matt Frewer) and Delphine (Evelyne Brochu); then on the side of the religious extremists Prolethians were Brother Tomas (Daniel Kash) and Helena. Then there were the “monitors” – people assigned to keep watchful eye over each of the clones. Sarah figured out that Beth’s monitor was Paul; Alison thought her monitor was either her husband Donny or her neighbor Aysley; and Cosima figured out that her monitor was her lover Delphine. All the “monitors” worked for the Neolutionists and the Dyad Institute, run by Rachel Duncan – a clone herself.
Unbeknownst to the Dyad Institute, Neolutionists and Prolethians, Sarah and Helena were the clones that slipped through the cracks. Mrs. S had taken Sarah and Helena when they were babies and smuggled them to safety – she placed one with the church (Helena) and one with the state (Sarah). Season 1 had revealed that Mrs. S was part of Project LEDA, which carried out the artificial insemination of women back in the 1970’s of the clone embryos. But her conscience got the better of her and she rescued two of the cloned babies – though it is hard to say she did a good job of securing better lives for them as Helena was raised by religious radicals that taught her that she was an abomination and brain-washed her into hunting down her sister-clones and killing them as an Act of God. Then Sarah was raised in the foster-care system and quickly became a juvenile delinquent with a long record of miscellaneous petty crimes.
Regardless, twenty or so years later, destiny had other plans when it brought together the paths of Sarah and Beth that fateful day on the train station platform, when Sarah saw Beth jump to her death and then had the bright idea of impersonating Beth. Impersonating a cop was not exactly the brightest idea that Sarah ever had, but it sure proved useful as she quickly found herself hunted by both the Prolethians and the Neolutionists.
So Season 1 was all about finding out what was really going on and who to trust. Now that Sarah, Cosima and Alison know exactly what they are up against, Season 2 is all about extricating themselves from the science vs. religion battlefield. Unfortunately, that will not be so easy to do. For one, Alison signed over her rights to the Neolutionists and the Dyad Institute thinking it would bring her peace and her normal life back. Second, Cosima has contracted the same exact illness that was killing off some of the earlier clones and it will be a race to find a cure and save her. Third, Sarah is not going anywhere until she gets her daughter back and heaven help anyone that gets in her way.
As for Felix, he knows better. Sitting on the sidelines and watching the grand clone-show is not an option; not when his unique skills are so handy and can really be helpful in a pinch. Plus, what fun is it just to watch, when you can play the game?
However, whether Delphine and Paul will continue to be clone allies remains to be seen. It was easier to in Season 1 for Delphine and Paul to protect the backs of their charges, but now that the lid has been blown off the secrecy element and their loyalty called into question by their employers, it will be a struggle to seem like they are on the right side. It will be a question of whether they can be clone-protectors as well as clone-monitors, or will that be too heavy a burden and may put them smack in the middle of a deadly bulls-eye if they are not careful.
Oh, and dare we forget, police are sniffing around too. That’s right. Beth’s partner Art has a lot of unanswered questions about why Beth killed herself and what Sarah was really up to when she was impersonating Beth. Art’s detective nose has caught the whiff of some major criminal enterprise and he is not giving up until he finds out what it is and who he can arrest over it.
That’s life in a nutshell in the ORPHAN BLACK world. Season 2 has its work cut out for it as it tries to unravel all these tangled webs. With a little luck, Sarah, Cosima and Alison will make it through the season, but all bets are off. ORPHAN BLACK is a television show that likes to surprises its fans and is sure to have a few devastating surprises in store.
So be sure to tune in for the Season 2 premiere of ORPHAN BLACK on Saturday, April 19th at 9:00 p.m. on BBC America.