My life is ten times more lonely without BBC America’s Orphan Black, which ended its second season on Saturday night, though I can’t tell if it’s just one massive chunk of loneliness or ten types of lonely with different personalities and hairstyles. One of our favorite new shows of 2013, Orphan Black deftly twines genres together like DNA strands, mixing a science fiction concept with a conspiracy thriller and imbuing it with dark comedy, suspense, action and every different kind of a romance you can think of. And holy Tilda Swinton, the shocking twists!
Anyone who thought that Orphan Black might suffer in Season 2 by bringing in more characters and clones was almost undeniably proven wrong by creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson, along with their talented team of writers. They dove deeper into the Dyad Institute and its various employees, and simultaneously upped the ante on the antagonistic religious sect. We learn more about Cosima’s illness, Alison’s marriage and Sarah’s gigantic clusterfuck of a family life, with the stellar Tatiana Maslany pulling off even more astounding transformations than the first time around. And during all that, Orphan Black gave its fans some truly delicious and ridiculous shocks, so we’ve gathered up five of the most memorable reveals. I really hope I don’t have to tell you that there are major spoilers from here on out.
Enjoy this lovely picture of Alison and that numbskull Donnie and head to the next page.
Helena Lives!If Season 1 had a real downer moment, it was when the wildly random Helena took a bullet and appeared to be killed off of the show. Sure, anyone in their right mind knew that the fan-favorite character would probably make a surprise return in Season 2, but for it to happen in the very first episode was a delight. My pessimism allowed me to assume she would be kept sectioned off from the rest of the plot until she was needed for something big, but she was completely enveloped in everything from the beginning, as the teacher’s pet test subject of the somewhat modernized Prolethean sect.
A Helena-free season of Orphan Black may not be the worst thing in the world, but the show would lose so much charm, humor and madness. Her scenes with Peter Outerbridge’s Henrik Johanssen were filled with bizarre complexities, and few sequences gave me more awkward joy than her bar hookup with Suits star Patrick J. Adams. Her adorably cringe-worthy approach to slow dancing was only beaten out by her violent moves during the season finale’s slumber party dance session. And just so the producers know, Cinema Blend is fully behind a web series that consists of nothing but Helena and Sarah on an oldie-singing road trip. Somehow, the Cosima fake-out death didn't bother me quite as much. I love Helena.
Tony Also Lives!Fans of actress Tatiana Maslany have made assertions that she could play any kind of character written for her, and the eighth episode “Variable and Full of Perturbation” certainly tested those claims. Viewers were immediately introduced to Tony Sawicki, a post-op transgender clone that basically amounted to “Maslany wearing a mullet wig on her head and pubes on her chin.” The concept of male clones had of course crossed everyone’s minds, but I don’t think this is what anyone was expecting. Tonyyyy!
It’s a shame, too, since Orphan Black is so interesting when it tackles gender issues. But instead of exploring the ins and outs of what it means to be a trans-clone, Tony is used mainly to give Felix (Jordan Gavaris) a chance to live out some strange fantasies by making out with someone who is essentially his non-blood sister. And instead of building upon the muddled "Paul/Beth" connection that Tony has to this plot, he's completely left out of the last two episodes, making me wonder if they should have just waited to introduce him next season when he can be fleshed out as a character. Still, rarely have I “whooped” out as loudly as I did after first seeing that goofy little goatee on Maslany’s face.
Mark, the Male Clone WarriorTony’s introduction actually forced me to reconsider the inclusion of a separate strain of male clones showing up this season, but leave it to Orphan Black to try anything and everything. Luckily, this shocker had more layers than just someone looking into a manila folder and then hollering out, “They done made some men clones, too, y’all!” right before the credits. While the whole clone experiment started with females, whose intended barrenness seemingly undercut the use of women in the first place, the male clones were introduced as a military tactic, fitting into a more defined stereotype. I believe the second Star Wars trilogy taught us something about using clones to fight wars.
The twist-within-a-twist here is that we’d been watching one of these male clones all season: Mark Rollins (Ari Millen), the smarmy-looking underling within Henrik’s new Prolethean squad. His main professional goal involved bringing Helena to Henrik for fertilization process, while his personal goal was trying to win the attraction of Gracie, the girl whose mouth was sewn shut. Gracie may possibly be carrying Helena’s clone babies, and I’m not even sure whether or not Mark knows that he’s a clone; suffice to say, their running off to get married makes this one of the wackiest relationships on TV, and will no doubt be a major starting point when Season 3 begins.
Donnie Blew Leekie’s Head OffOne of the most pleasant aspects of Orphan Black’s Season 2 was watching Alison and Donnie’s relationship roller coaster. Though Donnie is largely played for buffoonish laughs, the show swiftly handles the character’s opaque moral values, keeping everyone at bay from his true intentions. That is, until he finally revealed that he has indeed been monitoring Alison since they met, only under the impression that it was this long-lasting social experiment, and he had no prior knowledge of the clones at all. It was admittedly a clumsy and unbelievable admission, but his overall confusion was genuine enough, and it wasn’t too out of the ordinary for him to cross the line and demand answers from Leekie at gunpoint.
It also wasn’t out of the ordinary for this bumbling bastard to accidentally blow the head off of one of the few people who actually know what’s happening in this show. Leekie’s death doesn’t pose a threat to the Dyad storyline, because now Michelle Forbes’ Dr. Marion Bowles can stand in as the morally-wavering science-based baddie. Plus, Orphan Black is rarely as good with character work as it is during Donnie and Alison’s garage burial. Nothing says matrimonial reconnection than having sex on top of a freezer that until recently contained a bagged corpse. Everyone has their own ideas about what actually happened to Leekie, but only two people know the truth.
Kira has a Dad and an AuntFor all of last season, I kept expecting Orphan Black to rely on some kind of loopy sci-fi logic when revealing the identity of Kira’s father. Never did I expect Cal Morrison (Michiel Huisman), a hunky tech guru whom Sarah used to con and have sex with. She reconnects with him in desperation, but he flows into the story so naturally that it’s nowhere near gut-punch territory when it’s made clear that he is, in fact, Kira’s father. What’s more, he’s comfortable not being told the giant conspiracy, and only wants to keep Sarah and Kira safe. It seems a little too cookie-cutter and drama-free to be just that, but Huisman sells the compassion.
On the opposite end of controversial family members, it’s a big old slice of WTF pie whenever Dr. Bowles brings out her adopted eight-year-old daughter Charlotte, the lone survivor of around 400 attempts to reclone Sarah & Co.’s DNA. She has a disabled leg, but otherwise looks just like the other childhood-era clones that we’ve seen in the show so far. I think the bigger jaw-dropper here isn’t that Charlotte exists, but that there were 399-ish experiments that didn’t work out and had to be disposed of in some way. I wonder if we’ll get to see that massive graveyard in Season 3, or if we find out that the Dyad Institute has a crematorium on site.
Let us know in the comments which Orphan Black scenes shocked you the most, and don't spare the puns.