One of the
many pleasures of Orphan Black is discovering how many distinct people the
talented actress, Tatiana Maslany, can portray in a single scene. If you want to watch
this show without spoilers, I will tell you only that it is a fast-paced,
nail-biting thriller about human cloning, and urge you to stop reading immediately and go
watch season one.
summary of season one: Sarah Manning is on the run from her criminal past when
a woman who looks exactly like her commits suicide in front of her eyes.
Stealing the woman's identity on an impulse, Sarah ends up in more trouble than
she could have imagined.
In a world
where human cloning is considered science fiction, one bioscience company
thirty years ago created a number of genetically identical embryos, hired
surrogate mothers to bring them to term, and then hid the children amongst the
general population as orphans. Their purpose: unknown. But three of the
children, now women, have found each other, and they want answers.
Sarah and her
'genetic identicals' — no clone progenitor has yet been identified — are all
very different women who share only intelligence, competence and a quick
temper. Some, like brittle 'soccer mom' Alison, only want a safe life. Others,
like dreadlocked scientist Cosima, want to understand why they were created,
and are willing to compromise ethics and safety to get information. Although
they are genetically identical, Sarah, Alison and Cosima's different priorities
test their alliance to the limit. Sarah is however the only one of the eight
clones so far encountered who can have biological children: a significant plot
As the series
goes on it becomes clear that the 'cloning' process is not without
consequences. Some of the clones are falling ill, and nearly all are infertile.
There are some hints that this infertility may be a deliberate act of control -
when your genome is someone else's intellectual property, reproduction is a
dangerous infringement. The science behind the plot is carefully plausible, though
advanced (and illegal).
eugenics institute that created the clone-siblings clashes with an even more
terrifying group of religious extremists in a battle for control of the clones'
lives. The women have a choice between enemies who treat them either as
experimental subjects to be monitored or as unholy abominations. The plot
raises questions about agency, consent, control of personal genetic
information, the harms of non-invasive research and the nature of family:
biological, adopted, found or absent.
enemies and lost trusted allies, Sarah is now fleeing these powerful forces,
trying to find her kidnapped daughter and avoid both the company that created
her and the extremists who want her dead. The second season of Orphan Black will
be one to watch.
The second season of Orphan Black is now showing on BBC