Orphan Black came in under the radar last year; as a low-budget Canadian-made science-fiction show, expectations were not particularly high. Before long, the twisty storytelling had fans wrapped around its finger, and word-of-mouth began to spread. The show became a cult hit, thanks in no small part to the powerhouse lead performance of relative newcomer Tatiana Maslany. Maslany’s performance is astounding, because she plays not just one, but no less than seven different characters. The series is about a group of clones, and Maslany plays each as a completely realized character, with a different accent or voice and a different posture and physicality distinct to each woman. As if playing that many characters was not difficult enough, she often has to play one of the characters impersonating another, or act scenes opposite herself. The performance was so astounding that she won the Critic’s Choice Award and Television Critics Association Award for performance in drama, as well as snagging a Golden Globe nomination. The second season premieres Saturday, April 19, and if newcomers are looking to jump into the fray, here is a rundown who each of the main clones are and everything fans might need to know about the clones heading for season two.
Sarah Manning is Orphan Black’s lead character. Feisty, cunning, and fast-thinking, Sarah grew up a British orphan, and was then taken by her foster-mother to the United States. Once there she began to spiral out of control; she had a child, Kira, who she left with her foster-mother when she began a thriving career as a con artist. Her whole life changed, however, when she discovered that she was part of a series of clones created by a scientific initiative known as the Dyad Institute. The Dyad Institute’s representative, Rachel Duncan, offered the clones freedom from the constant surveillance they were under, as well protection and security for Kira, who as the daughter of a clone is a precious scientific commodity. All of this was only in exchange for occasional check-ups and testing… so they claimed. When Sarah found out Dyad’s true secret – that they have included a patent in the very DNA of the clones, thereby “owning” them – Sarah rejected Rachel’s offer and raced home only to discover that Kira had been kidnapped.
Who are the other clones fans need to know for the second season? Allison Hendrix is as far removed from Sarah as possible… she’s Orphan Black’s resident soccer mom. A high-strung suburbanite, Allison was devastated to discover her true origins. Angry, stressed, and paranoid wondering who in her life was a monitor from the Dyad Institute, she began turning to self-medicating with pills and wine before rebelling against her constraints by having an affair with her best friend Aynsley’s husband and rocking their quiet neighborhood. Desperate to be rid of the whole situation, she believed the Dyad Institute’s offer to free her of surveillance and agreed to their terms. She confronted Aynsley, who she was certain was her monitor, and stood by did nothing to save her as Aynsley choked to death. Unfortunately, her true monitor has been her husband Donnie all along…
Cosima Niehaus is Orphan Black’s scientist. A PhD candidate in microbiology, the sweet, earthy Cosima is fascinated by the Dyad Institue and their scientific breakthroughs. She began finding other clones throughout the world and investigating the strange illness that seemed to be killing some of them, hoping to find a way to protect her other clone sisters. Along the way she fell for the alluring Delphine, an alluring woman and fellow researcher… who turned out to be working for Dyad as Cosima’s monitor. Hurt and betrayed, Cosima poured herself into her work, discovering the patent in her DNA. Tragically, she began coughing up blood… a sign that she too is being affected by the mystery illness.
That covers most of the details fans need to know about the clones for the second season. Orphan Black’s three main characters a rich, engrossing women. Whereas a lesser show might pit this women against each other, this series really examines the twisted sisterhood these women share. As the second season opens, fans can hope for answers to several of the show’s ongoing questions. Who has taken Kira? Will Allison discover the truth about Donnie? Can Cosima find a cure in time? The second season of Orphan Black will surely give all those answers and more.
Commentary By Alex Warheit