Conspiracies and cloning may be new concepts to the uninitiated, but to the initiated we’ve been there and done that a million times before. The stories always begin with characters who discover that the normal lives they thought they had were a total farce; then, they begin a journey that usually involves a rising body count. While Orphan Black doesn’t offer anything new to the sci-fi genre in its first two episodes, it does give us a playful character in Sarah (Tatiana Maslany), whose accent-switching journey of identity theft and self-discovery is downright fun to watch.
In Orphan Black’s debut episode, we were introduced to Sarah, a British foster child with a punk rock style and coke-dealing friends. She saw a woman, who looked just like her, and stole her identity. It turns out that the woman, Elizabeth Childs, wasn’t Sarah’s only doppleganger. A dead Russian and a phone call later and Sarah soon learned that there were more clones floating around.
Episode 2, “Instinct,” explored the depths of the cloning, without specifically calling out the whole “clone” word. Apparently, there are Sarahs floating around in just about every country and sometimes multiple Sarahs within the same country. She may be an American Soccer mom, named Alison, or a cop, the latter being our deceased Elizabeth Childs.
Of course, the real question is who planted these clone all over the world and to what purpose. Apparently, they were all cloned from birth. Sarah’s memories are real and not implants. She also has a life-long friend in her foster brother, Felix (Jordan Gavaris). The American clones have been interacting with each other somewhat regularly and also reached out to their Russian clone, who unfortunately ended up with a bullet in her head in the back of Sarah’s car. The Russian had blood samples in her suitcase as well as x-rays and birth certificates of the other Sarahs roaming the world. The information got her killed.
Although the conspiracy hasn’t kicked into high-gear yet, we have had some chance to revel in the great characters played by Maslany. Each personality is “just” different enough to be believable. The soccer mom is total suburb living, even though when she held her orange-slicing knife I momentarily wondered if she’d use it as a weapon. The weapon-toting mom did come out to play later on, when she pulled a gun on Sarah. It looks like in Episode 3, “Variation Under Nature,” Alison will expose Sarah to the truth about their mutual origin. And, we’ll also get to see more of Cosima, the voice on the phone and the purported “tattooed geek girl” according to BBC’s character bio.
The quadrangle of identities has got a very United States of Tara feel to it, except we have Maslany juggling multiple roles instead of Toni Collette. One thing’s for sure, this role will catapult Maslany into the limelight for inspired versatility.
So, who was the original Sarah? And who made all the clones? Is there a group of evil clones lurking around? Who killed the Russian and ransacked her hotel room? And are these clones some kind of sleeper agents who will turn on and take over the world when their programming kicks in? These are the questions we’ll be looking for answers to as we enter the next eight episodes of Orphan Black. Plus, there’s got to be one clone that knows how to fight Jason Bourne style, right? Because… there’s always one.