The first season of Orphan Black seemed to come out of nowhere. The hugely ambitious, hugely entertaining BBC America production blazed a trail straight into nerd culture and put star Tatiana Maslany on the map. The question was, could the show recreate the magic for a second season?
Season Two picks up right where the first left off, with Sarah (Maslany) hunting for her daughter Kira (Skyler Wexler) and the clones caught between the creepy Proletheans and the sinister Neolutionists. As they continue to hunt for the truth about their identity and their own safety, we get to know each of the clones better and Maslany’s multiple performances continue to impress.
To be honest, the biggest thrill of Orphan Black isn’t the labyrinthine conspiracies. It’s watching Maslany bring these different characters to life with such skill. Season 2 does a good job of fleshing out the warring factions that have a vested interest in the clones, as veteran character actors Peter Outerbridge and Matt Frewer put in solid work as the cult leader of the Proletheans and the celebrity face of the Neolutionists respectively.
Like Season 1, it still creaks in places plot-wise, and potential romantic interests for Sarah only ever slow the show down.
But then we have soccer-mom Alison reeling from committing murder and finding herself in rehab. Brilliant Cosima’s having to confront the fact that the only way out of her terminal illness might be working for the enemy.
There’s an icy new villain clone in Rachel Duncan, but Season 2’s MVP is the still-quite-terrifying Helena, who’s discovering the world as a free woman for the first time. Maria Doyle Kennedy also deserves a mention for her sterling work as Mrs S, overcoming some of the show’s weaker plotting to make her character both ambiguous and likeable.
For the most part, Orphan Black continues to be gripping, funny and compulsively watchable. There’s still a misstep every now and again (the introduction of a transgender clone for one episode is misjudged and a wasted opportunity), but this remains must-see television. Bring on Season 3.