To sum it up: Tatiana Maslany and every single writer on the show.
Let me set the scene for you: Orphan Black is the story of Sarah Manning, an orphan, a con artist and a thief to boot, who one evening sees a woman commit suicide by train. Sarah is the only witness and the only one to see that Beth has her face. It makes her pause, just barely before she steals Beth’s identity and as the show progresses, her life. Beth is a cop, she’s successful and she has everything Sarah doesn’t.
When Katja is assassinated in front of her, Sarah meets Alison and Cosima, who are both clones too. They had been working with Beth to try and figure out who they are, and who made them. Added to the mix, in season one, is Helena, a killer and a clone. She is convinced she is the original and her mission in life is to destroy the other clones.
So, the story grows, with Tatiana Maslany playing six live clones in season one. She’s made each character distinctive, even when she’s pretending to be one of the other clones and rightly earned (and was robbed) a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress last year.
The writers, with Maslany, have made each storyline and each clone matter, and each one wonderfully unique. They have woven a conspiracy with care, never letting it take over the story of the clones and their lives. I think, the conspiracy can only matter to the audience, if the audience is invested in the clones, their lives and the effect of the conspiracy on them. The clones appeal to different types of viewers, ensuring a diverse audience for the series as a whole.
The season expands, drawing in a shady group seemingly responsible for creating the clones. Each of the clones has been assigned a monitor from the group, someone to observe them in their lives and report back on their progress. Beth’s boyfriend, Paul, is identified as one, but even though he falls in love with Sarah, and wants to help, getting his freedom is far more complicated – he has a past too, and it’s left him caught in this web of clones in the present.
By season’s end, the group has closed in on Sarah, and another clone, Rachel, is revealed. Rachel is working with the group that created the clones and offers Sarah and her daughter a safe haven if she gives herself up. Sarah almost agrees, but changes her mind at the last minute. The catch? Kira is missing, along with Mrs S, Sarah’s foster mother. Did Rachel kidnap them? Or, did Mrs S go on the run with Kira? Yeah, Mrs S, isn’t what she seems either.
That’s the beauty and the skill of the writing on this show – it’s a conspiracy, but it isn’t taking over the show, and every reveal is done with care, for the greater story being told.
Season two will start April 19 and Maslany says Sarah is in a state of desperation. She’s lost, it seems – is it a bad thing to be excited for that?!