TV: Orphan Black season 2 (2014)

orphanblack2creators: Graeme Manson & John Fawcett
language: English with a bit of German and Korean in the first episode
length: 10 episodes of 44 minutes
finished watching on: 22 June 2014

This is the TV series I’d been waiting for all year, after it being by far my favourite of 2013, and it didn’t disappoint. It starts off strong, and keeps going in every episode, constantly feeling under pressure and with many dramatic turns happening constantly.

I can’t remember if I mentioned that last year, but it’s even more prominent this year that this is a direct result of the more “British-style” production of making a smaller number of episodes with a dedicated team of two, who can give the episodes a consistent level of writing throughout and manage to completely avoid useless filler, except for an indulgent scene in the final episode. The balance between comedy and drama is also maintained to some degree, although increasingly it seems that some episodes are deemed mostly comedic or vice-versa, instead of having a mixture of scenes within each episode.

Tatiana Maslany’s acting has also come on by leaps and bounds this time. I still look at all the different performances and can’t believe they’re the same person: even though her appearance changing between the clones is mostly superficial, the performance really influences my mind to believe that they genuinely are different people. That and the visual effects team, presumably – I’ve seen some very fascinating on-set pictures of Maslany interacting with her double. It’s much more naturalistic than predecessors such as The Parent Trap or Austin Powers, where the characters almost didn’t interact at all, and when they did, it was visibly with a double hiding their face from the camera. Here they brazenly put both faces on the screen together and have one messing around with the others’ hair, or as in the picture above, lying right on top of each other with a gun in hand.

Storywise, the plot is getting ever more complicated as the series goes on – for instance, by the end of this season, there are many new characters and (spoiler alert) a whole new set of clones introduced. The new Amishesque religious characters introduced here are probably even creepier than the ones from the first season in the darkened rooms. The full role of some of the characters has yet to be realized even now – for instance, we still don’t really know where Mrs S comes from or who she supports in the whole debacle.

A lot of the first half of the season takes place out in the countryside, away from the city, which makes a nice change of pace from the first season, totally set in a claustrophobic metropolis. The characters feel more vulnerable out there, perhaps unable to find help so easily. I quite liked this change of pace, and it helped to mentally distinguish the new storylines from the old.

The background theme and discussion of personal identity and female empowerment is much stronger in this season, too: there is the newest clone, Tony, who is transgender, as the most notable of all the additions, cementing the creators’ quest to include LGBT characters more and explore those kinds of identities, but there’s also Cosima, vehemently defending her right to make her own decisions about what happens to her body, or Rachel, getting violently upset when she discovers that the clones were deliberately made infertile.

The ending was much more low-key this year than last. Last year there was a huge cliffhanger, but this time, although we don’t know what will happen next, I don’t feel such a sense of urgency to find out. Nevertheless, I’m going to have to wait until next April to find out what happens next, and I can only hope that the creators manage to add in some more episodes next time; even just a couple will make it less difficult to wait for the next time.

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One Response to TV: Orphan Black season 2 (2014)

  1. Pingback: TV: Orphan Black season 4 (2016) | reuoq

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