Review: Orphan Black (S1E1)

In all honesty, I am not a huge TV watcher.  I’m a full-time college student with a part-time job, so following a show isn’t in the cards for me.  I have my shows, but I’m 100% on board with streaming.  I can watch shows on my schedule and I don’t have to be worried about spoilers because by the time I get to the shows, the spoilers aren’t relevant.

I might not get to watch shows on time, but I am a pop culture enthusiast. I consider myself pretty up to speed with what’s popping in our culture (lame, I know). I saw bits of the Emmys and read about an actress by the name of Tatiana Maslany who happened to score a huge award. Many writers were proclaiming that this win was “a long time coming.” Nice. So, I decided to check out her awarded work: Orphan Black.

I absolutely LOVE how drama series begin.  The first episode begins with a scene of Maslany’s character sleeping on the train (relatable) and waking just before her stop. She gets up and makes a call on a pay phone asking to speak with “Kira.” I’m assuming Kira is important since she makes this call twice.  The most captivating moment occurs seconds later when she approaches a woman who looks EXACTLY like her. All of a sudden, the woman takes off her shoes and coat and BAM. Dead. From the description of the episode, THIS is where everything really starts to get weird for Sarah (Maslany’s character).

Side note: the opening credits are stunning. I’m not even quite sure what the show is about, but the credits have me in awe.

The main character, Sarah, strikes me as an anomaly. This is a very common theme in these millennial-geared drama series. This reminds me of Elliot Alderson, the main character on Mr. Robot, who is very mysterious and the ultimate outcast.

This is legitimate can’t-look-away television.  We’re seeing this actress who apparently ends up playing SEVERAL characters playing a character who is pretending to be her deceased “twin”. She fakes her own death in order to change her life.  Beth Childs, the “twin”, is dead yet she, Sarah, is living her life. If that was confusing, here’s a summary: Beth is actually dead, but everyone thinks she’s alive. Sarah is alive and pretending to be Beth, yet people think she’s dead because her friend identified Beth’s body as Sarah’s.

As this is the first episode, the characters are still being introduced to the viewer and we’re learning who they are exactly. I am still not sure of the plot of the series and I can’t be mad at that. I may not watch TV often, but I like the mystery of not knowing what the plot is. It should be something that reveals itself as the series continues and Orphan Black does just that. It completely hooks you, which is what episode one did for me.

A very telling scene occurs at the very end of the episode. We meet another strikingly identical character who mentions something about a scientist. Their phones ring simultaneously and then the episode ends.

I’m beginning to really enjoy the acting.  Maslany has played three different women with three different backstories and three different accents. What’s insane is that she’ll be playing more. There are great actresses out there, but not many of them are playing different characters on the same show who somehow interact with each other. Doing that is a skill within itself, but she truly is great. The characters look so much alike and while they are being played by the same actress, you can’t tell. Her acting makes it possible to differentiate them.

I watched this show merely on a whim. I’m looking forward to continuing it and watching this Emmy award-winning show really evolve.



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