When I “cut the cable,” and started streaming most of my television, the one show I missed was Orphan Black. The BBC America sci-fi show was a personal favorite, and I talked it up to as many people as I could. Once I dropped the channel, I fell behind.
Well, this project helped get me through The Wire. Why not do that again?
Orphan Black starts off with some well-done twists and turns to the plot, and it’s anchored by a strong performance by lead actress Tatiana Maslany as…well, a few different characters. Yes, I know why that is, but the pilot episode doesn’t say, so I won’t just yet either. For now, she’s Sarah Manning, a British-born young woman who is used to living on the wrong side of the law. She’s returning to an unnamed city (Ontario plates on the cars, and apparently it’s Toronto’s skyline if you know what it looks like, but the show never exactly identifies the city). She’s been gone for a year and wants nothing more than to see her daughter Kira. Her only real ally is her foster brother Felix (“Fe” for short), a flamboyantly gay artist with a loft that becomes something of a primary headquarters for the show. Her ex-boyfriend Vic the Dick, a somewhat dumb drug dealer, is looking for her since she stole some coke from him. Sarah, a con artist, is one big score away from getting herself, Felix, and Kira out and away from all her troubles, including her foster mother “Mrs. S.”
As she exists the station, Sarah sees a distraught woman take off a nice jacket, remove her shoes, and put down her handbag. As Sarah comes up to her, the two come face to face.
They have the same face.
And then the other woman jumps in front of a train and kills herself.
Sarah, being Sarah, takes the woman’s purse and makes a run for it. She may have a way out by becoming her lookalike Beth Childs. Beth lives in a nicer part of town, has a handsome boyfriend, a big bank account, and Sarah can easily copy Beth’s lifestyle, accent (thanks to some home videos), and signature (thanks to Beth’s credit cards).
There are some problems. It turns out Beth was a cop. Her partner Art has been looking for her.
And she’s under investigation for a shooting.
And Felix is telling the coroner that the mystery woman killed by the train is Sarah.
And Beth’s boyfriend Paul has some questions about how his girlfriend seems a bit different now.
Sarah’s smart. She can get out of most of those things, and that means silencing Paul by throwing herself at him for a bit of sex.
And hey, Vic thinks she’s dead too.
But there are other issues. Why did Beth have two phones? Why did she look like Sarah? Were they related?
And why did a German woman–also with Sarah’s face– coughing up blood confront “Beth” only to get a sniper shot to the head. And then one of those phones starts ringing and Sarah answers it…
And that’s where the first episode ends. Man, I missed this show.