Sunday, August 20, 2017

Final Season Post Mortem: “Orphan Black”

Well Clone Club, it’s been a little over a week since “Orphan Black” aired its final episode and boy was it a hell of a ride. From the start, this show has always blown me away with the storytelling and the technical effort it took to put many of the scenes together. If you don’t know, “Orphan Black” followed a group of women who discovered they were clones and as time progressed, we saw them learn about their history and fight tooth and nail for their autonomy. For BBC America, the ratings weren’t huge but given it was a co-production with Canada and the UK, I’m glad it made it the 5 seasons we got. And in this day and age, getting that many seasons is a blessing, even for a cable show.

The breakout star of this little, quirky show is of course leading lady Tatiana Maslaney who has only garnered one Emmy for her incredible work portraying so many of the Leda sisters. The caliber of her acting was so high that I often had to remind myself when watching the show that she was all of the clones and they weren’t played by different actresses. She was just that good. I’m going to miss seeing the lives of all of these women going forward but I am beyond excited to see where Tatiana’s career goes from here.

Much like with “Grimm” (which I covered a few months ago), the writers came into this season knowing it was the end and therefore tried to answer a lot of the lingering questions the clones and the viewers had. I think on some fronts they were successful and on others they fell a little flat. We got the final takedown of Neolution, the creepy science movement behind their creation in the first place and it was pretty spectacular. Seeing Helena stab Virginia Coady in the throat while in labor was pretty epic and fitting for the murderess turned lovable meathead. And Sarah went very Mrs. S and took out P.T. Westmorland with an oxygen canister to the face. I also loved seeing Sarah help Helena through delivering her babies. To see where these two women started in season 1 as adversaries to where they ended up was beautiful. The one thing they never really fully explained (at least to my satisfaction) is why Kira is the way she is. They sort of explained her rapid healing abilities, attributing it to some gene mutation. But they never 3explained how she could be so in tune with all of the Ledas. Why could she eel their emotions and sense when they were dead? That’s the one loose end I wish they’d definitively cleared up.

I will say throughout the final season, there were characters I wanted to see again that we didn’t, like Kal (Kira’s dad). I realize it was all down to scheduling conflicts, what with him being on Game of Thrones and everything, but even a mention of him would have been nice. Given that this show is not shy about killing people, I wasn’t surprised when we lost a lot of characters. But the one that hit the hardest was of course, Mrs. S. There was always the possibility of losing her and maybe it was needed for Sarah to complete this journey on her own but it was so heartbreaking to see her go. The only consolation was that she took Ferdinand with her.

I will say it is a testament to the writers that the final episode had me on the edge of my seat the whole episode, even though taking down Neolution was over pretty quickly in the episode. The rest of the episode showed us the sisters settling back into their normal lives or at least trying to figure out what that meant for them now that they were truly free of their creators. I’ll be honest, given how all of the other seasons have ended, I wouldn’t have put it past the writers to make this a dream sequence or have something nefarious pop up at the very end. But it didn’t and our sisters were so settled in their lives together. Cosima and Delphine went off to cure the rest of the Leda clones (all 274 of them) while Donnie and Allison continued their suburban life with Helena and her baby boys (whom she named Donnie and Arthur—which was really beautiful and touching as well) in the garage/guest house. And Sarah was learning to be a mother on her own without Mrs. S. It was truly wonderful to see all of them thriving after the level of trauma they’ve all endured for the last five seasons.

Overall, I thought this was a really strong way to end this wonderful series about strong women and how being together made them better. I loved how the men who were on their side weren’t afraid of their strength and it didn’t make them seem like they weren’t “real” men either. I really am going to miss watching these characters grow and thrive, but I’m glad the creative team was able to go out on their own terms. It’s always better when they are given a chance to know it’s the end and they can prepare for it that way. Just getting cancelled on a giant cliffhanger is so damn frustrating as a viewer and I suspect for the writers and cast, it can be equally as frustrating. And aside from some amazing storylines that really made you think about all kinds of important issues, I have found several new actors to follow, which isn’t a bad thing. I will follow Tatiana’s career with rapt attention as well as try to keep tabs on Jordan Gavaris. So now I must say farewell to this brilliant little Canadian show. The only good thing I can say is, thank goodness for the DVD boxsets so a trip down Clone Club memory lane isn’t that far off if I ever need to revisit these characters.

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