Orphan Black: By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried

Posted on June 23, 2014

Orphan-Black-Season-2-Finale-Review-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLOTatiana Maslany in BBC America’s “Orphan Black”


Oh, great. It looks like we’re going to have to be the ones to be jerky about the much-loved dance scene, aren’t we? Fine. Get your ripe tomatoes out now, but let us plead our case first.

We’ve been rewatching Lost this month, from first episode to last. We started out simply curious to see whether the story still held up. Turns out? It totally does, even knowing how it ended. But as well-crafted as the show was, there were still plenty of episodes where everyone seemed to be running from one end of the island to another, for no discernible reason. And when it came time for some exposition to explain things to the audience, we tended to get long stares and silence, when any normal person would’ve just started talking. It was the Number One complaint about the show (before it became supplanted by the avalanche of complaints over the series finale) and we were reminded of those complaints more than once during this episode. We once jokingly called Orphan Black  “Feminist Lost,” but we’re starting to fear that it’s picked up more of that show’s predilection for terrible plotting than its facility with genre storytelling layered over relatable characters.

We’ve noted once or twice before that this season appears to have been put together in order to secure Tatiana Maslany an Emmy. And hey, we’re all about that, because she’s been doing truly impressive, truly unique work that deserves recognition. But it took us all season to finally come to the conclusion that the creators’ “Let’s give Tat the spotlight” plan for the season resulted in a right mess of a story. We have absolutely no idea what happened during that finale. Or more accurately, we can watch the scenes unfold (as we have three times now) and note exactly what occurs, but once it was all over, we couldn’t tell you a thing about the story. Not really. Is Dyad neutralized? Is Rachel out of the picture? Who knows? What exactly is Paul doing? Who is Marion? Are Henrik and his Prolethean cult done? Are Angie and Arthur completely extraneous to the story now? What’s the deal with the baby clone and the boy clones? Sure, it’s a good thing to have questions. That’s how you keep an audience hooked. But we’re not even sure what the questions are supposed to be. Even Lost knew to throw out answers every now and then, even if it just meant showing you a polar bear cage and asking you to figure it out. We don’t know what we expected from this finale. We certainly didn’t expect it to wrap anything up, but it would’ve been nice if it had felt like an actual story was being told here.

Yes, things happened. Sarah turned herself into Dyad and shot Rachel in the eye in a scene so unlikely and impossible to believe that it took us right out of the story for a second. Paul and Cal met … for some reason. And then Paul… did something? Marion? Duncan kills himself because…? Cosima kinda dies, and then … doesn’t? We don’t know. If felt like all of the creative energy of the finale was poured into that dance scene – which is why we didn’t enjoy it.

Okay, that’s not true. It brought smiles to our faces for a minute. Then it went on for another minute. And seemingly several minutes after that. It’s not a crime to indulge in a scene like this. Certainly, the audience wanted and probably needed to see the clones all together like this. But instead of using the opportunity  of this meeting to at least hash out what’s going on, they opted to show off Tatiana’s character-building skills as an actress. And as much as we’ve been singing her praises as an actress since last season, it’s time for the creators to stop being so impressed with her and start telling a story worthy of her talents. When we look back at season 2 as a whole, we just see a mish-mash of plotting dotted with a few great scenes of Tat showing off her skills. That’s not enough, no matter how impressive those skills are.



[Photo Credit: Steve Wilkie for BBC AMERICA]

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