Tuesday, 25 October 2016
Orphan Black, Season 1 (2013)
Ten months after running out on her life, Sarah Manning returns home with only one thing on her mind: getting custody of her seven year old daughter Kira. A task that, given her 'colourful' past, may not be possible within the confines of the law.
Her quest gets rapidly derailed though, when a woman commits suicide right in front of her. Because if seeing someone deliberately step in front of a train wasn't shocking enough by itself, there's also the fact that the woman and Sarah share the same face.
Sarah grabs the woman's discarded handbag and gets out of the station. Initially her main thought is to impersonate the woman just long enough to clear out any bank accounts her doppleganger might have possessed. However, there is an old military adage that plans rarely survive contact with the enemy, and Sarah is about to discover that she has a whole bunch of enemies she never even dreamed about. Fortunately, she may also have some friends: her foster brother Felix, for instance. And well ... if there are two women who share the same face, should Sarah really be that surprised to discover that there are more?
Orphan Black is a fine work. The scripts in this season are fast-paced and engrossing, and do a good job of handling the balancing act between maintaining the sense of mystery and providing a sense of progress. Whether they'll manage to continue that into future seasons is yet to be seen, of course, but at least for this one, they do it very nicely.
And then there is Tatiana Maslany, who plays Sarah, and the suicide victim, and several other characters in the show. Her work here is astonishing: her voice, attitude and even body language change depending on who she is portraying, and every time - whether she's being feisty punk Sarah, or tightly-buttoned soccer mom Alison, or tightly-buttoned soccer mom Alison doing her best to pretend to be feisty punk Sarah, or someone else again - she owns the role.
Frankly, Orphan Black would be worth checking out purely for Maslany's performance: it's that good. But on top of that the show also offers a great mix of action, intrigue and humour. Recommended.