TV: Orphan Black season 4 (2016)

orphanblack4[spoiler alert]
Creators: Graeme Manson & John Fawcett
Language: English
Length: 10 episodes, about 44 minutes each
Finished watching on: 17 June 2016
Previous seasons: 1 | 2 | 3

I was a bit nervous about this show because season 3 had been a bit of a let down, but my fears were very quickly allayed when I watched the first episode – the writing, at the very least, is back on form, and the atmosphere of the show is darker than ever – in fact, compared to the previous seasons, I was surprised at how much dread I felt in each episode.

Fortunately, Allison doesn’t have a ridiculous, irrelevant side plot in this season, and the writers manage to find other ways to make comedy out of the situations – and Donny, since mid-season 3 a member of clone club, plays a much bigger part in the story this time.

The other character Krystal now plays a bigger part too, and I was glad to hear that her character is directly based on the comedy characters in ”PubLIZity”, which has some kind of meme status on the internet and is very funny.

The show also manages to partly redeem itself (and this is a massive spoiler) for making us think that Delphine had died a horrible death – presumably having seen the backlash against the constant murder of lesbian and other LGBT characters, they somehow brought her back to life at the end of the season.

As before, the season leaves off on a massive cliffhanger, as Sarah is I think left for dead having been attacked by Rachel, and as I mentioned, the atmosphere is very dark. But it was miles better than the previous season, and I definitely welcome this return to form. Tatiana Maslany is at the top of her game. Still wondering where they will go from here, though – it has still been getting weirder every single episode!

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TV: Orphan Black season 3 (2015)

orphan-black-season-3-premiereCreators: Graeme Manson & John Fawcett
Language: English
Length: 10 episodes of about 44 minutes
Finished watching on: 21 June 2015

It’s the third season of this show now. I feel like it’s losing the plot a little – that’s not to say that I wasn’t avidly viewing it week-by-week, though. I feel like every season Sarah and her clone buddies defeat the big baddie – in the first season, it was the weird cultists, and in the second, it was the pseudo-Amish – and at the beginning of the next season, there’s a few episodes’ lag while the new season finds its feet and we work out what the protagonists are supposed to be doing.

And this season took a little while longer to get going than its predecessors had. Helena is banished to the Mexican desert under the supervision of creepy “boy clones” (notwithstanding the one transgender male clone that we’ve already met in the previous season, making this moniker factually inaccurate), part of some army experiment. But it’s unclear who they’re working for, at this point. A large portion of the season concerns Sarah trying to work out how to bust her sister out of the prison.

Meanwhile, Alison’s antics – running for local school board elections and starting a drug racketeering business – feel even further removed from reality than they had in previous seasons, and I was getting whiplash whenever the story cut from a more relevant and poignant scene to Alison’s.

Most distressingly, the series has become more openly willing to shake things up from the status quo established in the previous season, and the most notable of those situations was the decimation of Cosima’s relationship with Delphine. Perhaps this is necessary to demonstrate character development of some kind, but it rings hollow in a world where lesbian relationships are regularly not allowed to survive on TV or in movies.

That said, I understand that TV can’t stay in a status quo, or it would stagnate. It’s also good that the season starts to pick up again towards the end, and the climax is satisfactory, if a little strange. Tension still ran high right at the end, even if the ending itself came out of left-field.

There are a few directions in which the show could go from here, next year, and I hope they choose the right one. I’d hate to end up with a show that I couldn’t suspend disbelief for anymore, which (let’s just say) is a distinct possibility. I hope they sort out the relationships of the characters and start answering more of the unanswered questions. I hope that they don’t send Alison careering away from the main arc just for comic relief, as that felt like lazy writing. I hope that there’s more focus on Tatiana Maslany’s clone characters, rather than the new “male clones”. But most of all I just hope to watch it soon! I hate having to wait almost a whole year between doses of shows!

If you got to the end of this review and are looking for a recommendation, you’re looking in the wrong place. It’s the third season, and this review already gave away loads of spoilers for the previous seasons. You’d better go back to those reviews, or just go find it online to watch it from the beginning. Mind you, that sounds like a good idea, to be honest. I don’t want it to sound like I’m completely trashing this season, but the first one was written much more tightly than this one, so rewatching it from the beginning sounds like a nice plan.