The latest season of Orphan Black is easily superior to Season Two for one reason: more Tatiana Maslany. Where the previous season got derailed by far too much exploration of the newly introduced male clones played by Ari Millen, these episodes wisely keep the focus on Maslany’s many delightful guises. That’s not to say the overall arc for the season makes much sense, but at least we’re consistently entertained by Maslany’s clone characters.
As the new season gets underway, deranged and unstable clone Helena is locked away in a secret military compound, left so isolated that she begins having conversations with a possibly imaginary scorpion. Yes, a scorpion, and their interactions are a delightful high point of the season. Meanwhile, scientist clone Cosima seems to be recovering from her illness and finding new love (Ksenia Solo), housewife clone Alison and her hubby Donnie (Kristian Brunn) get involved in a risky and illegal business venture, diabolical clone Rachel suffers through handicaps and memory loss incurred in the previous season, and prime clone Sarah investigates the source of their original DNA while staying on the run from baddies also on the hunt. Oh, and there’s a new Sarah clone thrown in for good measure too. Sure, the Castor boy clones are still around too, but their plots are limited and make even less sense than the Sarah clones, so are mostly inconsequential.
Maslany continues her chameleonic mastery of seamless shifting between characters, prowess that finally led to a well-deserved Emmy nomination this year. She’s a treat to watch in all of her incarnations, although psycho Helena is hard to top. Straight-laced suburbanite Alison makes a run at it though as she breaks bad with Donnie, leading to the funniest moment of the season when they celebrate their new illicit wealth in a ridiculous bedroom dance scene. I got much more enjoyment out of simply watching the Helena, Alison, and Cosima scenes each week rather than trying to unspool the seemingly dense conspiracy plot consuming most of Sarah and Rachel’s time. While there are other actors on the show, and they’re fine on their own merits, especially Brunn and Sarah’s adopted brother Felix (Jordan Gervais), there’s no denying or resisting Maslany’s supernova star power that outshines every other actor and confusing plot point of the show.
The Blu-ray set includes all ten episodes spread across two discs, along with bonus features that highlight the origins of Millen’s clone characters, provide a tour around the impressive prison camp soundstage, examine the magic of creating the interacting clone scenes, explore the distinctive look of the show with its cinematographer and director, and dissect the humorous appeal of the Alison/Donnie episodes with Maslany and Bruun.