Article originally published as Blu-ray Review: ‘Orphan Black – Season Two’ on Blogcritics.
BBC America’s Orphan Black is a hidden gem that many have not yet discovered. Starring criminally-snubbed-by-the-Emmys Tatiana Maslany as Sarah, Cosima, Alison, Rachel, and others, the clone drama is worth watching for her performances alone, giving the best multi-role acting in memory. Season one took a bit of time to get us into the mythology and lay out the framework, but season two hits the ground running, taking us deeper into this world and exploring the various personalities in all new ways. It’s a terrific series that deserves more attention than it’s getting, so I definitely recommend checking it out.
When season one ends, Sarah is desperately searching for her daughter, Kyra (Skyler Wexler), who is last seen with Sarah’s former foster mother, Mrs. S. (Maria Doyle Kennedy). Sarah is pursued by Rachel and the Dyad Institute, which is striking deals with each of the clones as it further researches its creation. Alison agrees to participate in the organization easily enough, wanting to get her life back on track. Cosima is a tougher sell, but faced with a deadly illness that is killing her, she reluctantly accepts their offer of lab space and equipment, putting the three central ladies on different pages.
From here, the story veers in a number of interesting directions. We get to see what makes Rachel tick a little bit, and we also see the sisterly bond that connects the women made from the same DNA. More new clones are introduced, at least peripherally, and a character I thought we’d seen the last of (I can’t spoil who) returns in a surprising and significant manner. There are subplots involving Kyra’s father, Cal (Michiel Huisman, Game of Thrones, Treme), and a crazy cult that wants to breed one of the girls. Toss is hanging threads such as Cosima’s romance with Delphine (Evelyne Brochu), Alison’s crumbling marriage to Donnie (Kristian Bruun), Art’s (Kevin Hanchard) continuing investigation, another delicious TV part for Michelle Forbes, a healthy dose of Sarah’s brother, Felix (Jordan Gavaris), and a shocking capper, and it’s a very full year.
More than the action, though, I really dig the character and story development in Orphan Black. It not only poses the moral question of cloning, but also shows us the human side of the results of such an experiment. Then it asks, is the product, which is actual people, owned by a corporation? Where would the line be drawn in this new schema? Issues of trust are explored, and the differences between the various clones are at least as enticing as the similarities.
This two-disc set contains all ten episodes of the recent run, as well as a good number of extras. The most interesting is probably the ‘Making Of’ the four clone dance scene, which, despite being the only scene in the series so far where it’s obvious that the camera is trying to trick us and Maslany hasn’t really been copied, is still quite enjoyable and touching. There are also deleted scenes of Alison and Donnie, a script-to-screen featurette, a look at the hair and makeup in the show, “The Cloneversation” special with Wil Wheaton (The Wil Wheaton Project), and more. It’s enough that most fans should definitely be satisfied.
Orphan Black is a show that screams to be watched in high definition. There is a dark color palette, and the lu-ray version is crisp and detailed. Colors are nicely contrasted, and the shadows are layered. The sound in high definition is also excellent. The rear speakers are not used as much as one might like, but are better utilized than in many television releases. Dialogue is clear and effects are well mixed. It’s a very immersive viewing experience.
I cannot stress enough how excited I am by this release, and if you have not been watching Orphan Black yet, please, please check it out, because it deserves the eyeballs. Just make sure you start with season one, as Season Two is not stand-alone.
Orphan Black Season Two is available now.