Orphan Black is a bit of a strange story. Way back when it first started, I decided I didn’t want to watch it. A story about clones? Didn’t sound interesting to me so I entirely ignored the first couple of episodes, at least until I went to a convention and sat through a panel on the series and decided it was something I wanted to check out. I was really glad that I did because the first season was really amazing, especially Tatiana Maslany’s ability to play multiple versions of herself so unbelievably well, she deserves to win every award television has to grant and it’s a crime she hasn’t gotten any so far. But that said, as the second, and now the third season progressed, while I am still impressed with Maslany’s performance, the rest of the storyline isn’t exactly blowing my skirt up and that’s why I figured I had to talk about this latest season. So here goes Orphan Black season three.
We started with Sarah Manning learning about the existence of a handful of clones after she stumbles, literally, on another version of herself just as she’s committing suicide. Soon, Sarah finds out that she has a half-dozen other selves that came from a secret illegal cloning project called Leda and at the end of season two, we found out that there was another project, called Castor, that provided male clones. As large as this has gotten, as strange as this has gotten, we’ve never really gotten back to the basic question, why are there clones in the first place? It’s now hinted that we’ll find out that answer in season four, but I really want to know why it’s taking so long.
It really feels to me like show creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson might not really have known where the show was going to go after it took off in the first season and that’s a very common problem in television today. Nobody ever plans beyond the first season because most shows get cancelled after a couple of unsuccessful episodes. It’s always a shock when something gets really successful as Orphan Black did so when it went virtually viral, I’m not sure anyone really had any clue what to do with it.
They started with this very small and intimate Clone Club, just a few members and a mystery to solve and it grew to what have really become absurd proportions. It went from a secret project to what is now a massive conspiracy that is absurd to think that it’s remained secret all this time. Yet as they bring in more and more plot threads, I find myself lacking any real interest in any of them. I don’t care about Castor. I don’t care about the Neolutionists. I don’t care about Virginia Coady and Rudy. It just doesn’t matter to me. All that I care about is the Clone Club. I care about their story. Well, some of their stories anyhow. What I didn’t care about was Allison and Donnie becoming drug dealers. I didn’t care about the school council nonsense. I didn’t care about Cosima’s new girlfriend possibly being a spy. All of that just served to distract from the real story of why are there clones and how can the Clone Club solve their problems and live normal lives. The bigger this gets, the more plot lines they introduce, the less I care about any of it because it just gets in the way of the only thing I actually do care about. It’s another case of “we have to keep this going so long as there’s money in it” television and I hate that. Tell a decent story and be done with it.
So I found myself really not caring that much about what happened this season. I thought they could have ended the entire season on episode 6 and skipped the last four. There didn’t seem to be the kind of high stakes action that we saw in previous seasons. It just kind of happened. I want more than that. I want to get back to what made the show great in the first place, before it all got diluted. It’s coming back for a fourth season, let’s get back to basics. The rest ought to just go away.