Orphan Black: Season Two Blu-ray Review: Attack of the Clones 

Here’s some breaking news: Tatiana Maslany is amazing. Although the Emmys don’t seem to recognize her existence, or the existence of sci fi in general, she continues to impress as the star who breathes credible and distinctly individual life into her multiple clone characters. Unfortunately, the show writers are running a bit ahead of themselves this season, concocting an occasionally confusing and overly ambitious season that is less effective than the first.

Maslany’s fiery lead character Sarah starts the season in a desperate search for her young daughter, Kira, who has been kidnapped by the icy, evil, mastermind clone Rachel. Meanwhile, scientist clone Cosima is slowly dying from a clone-related defect but still finds the energy to deepen her romance with lab co-worker Delphine. As for repressed housewife clone Alison, she spends much of the season in a rehab facility but still gets out in time to assist her husband with a  murder cover-up. And then there’s deranged Ukranian killer clone Helena, presumed dead last season but still kicking. And biting. And stabbing. She winds up hostage in a shadowy rural facility where scientists are conducting some unethical experiments on their captives. But wait, there’s more: we get a new Maslany clone late this season, and it’s a very surprising and polarizing choice that stretches credibility to the limit, barely pulled off thanks to Maslany’s talent.

Those are just Maslany’s roles. The rest of the growing cast members contribute their own plot threads to this convoluted tapestry as well, such as Sarah’s foster brother Felix, evil urban scientist Dr. Leekie, evil rural scientists, that cop and Sarah’s boyfriend from the first season, Alison’s conflicted husband Donnie, Sarah’s fierce foster mom Mrs. S., Sarah’s ex-boyfriend and Alison’s new foil Vic, and Sarah’s baby daddy. Frankly, it’s all just far too much, a narrative top that is ultimately spinning wildly out of control as the season wraps up, especially given the confines of its brief ten-episode length. The writers desperately need to pare things down and focus next season, eliminating many of these peripheral characters and arcs and delving fully into a surprising new clone development unveiled in the finale.

Story aside, the best reason to watch this show continues to be Maslany, as she is simply incredible in her multiple roles. Even when you can’t really follow the plot, her ability to craft wholly unique characters is so complete that it seems completely natural to watch scenes where she plays two or more roles, with each role a fully realized individual. She is a delight to watch in any of her character incarnations and is very clearly the sole reason for the continued existence of the franchise.

The Blu-ray set compiles all ten episodes on two discs in sparkling 1080p HD video and immersive DTS-HD 5.1. Bonus features are led by The Cloneversation with Wil Wheaton, a lively 40-minute talk show with the cast aired earlier this year on BBC America. Elsewhere, the Blu-ray package includes brief making of segments called Clone Club Insiders, deleted scenes, and behind the scenes looks at the impressive hair/make-up work, clone fight, clone dance party and the process of converting script to screen.

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Steve Geise

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