‘Orphan Black:’ Unbreakable Tatiana Maslany

Orphan Black

BBC America’s Orphan Black returns with Tatiana Maslany’s tremendous, Emmy-nominated performance front and center

“The Collapse of Nature” is the perfectly poised title for the brand new episode of the science fiction feast of the senses Orphan Black – also known as The Tatiana Maslany Show. The credible TV awards body Emmy finally came calling last time around with a Best Actress nomination for the volcanic, versatile Maslany. Third time is not much of a charm, more a serious lagging in consideration of one of the best, simple best, acting turns on any channel of television. We’ve come a long way, baby.

And with season four of Orphan Black finally arriving, the depiction of nature’s unraveling is a technical torrent of intelligent, compelling TV. Surprised, I am, how this still seems to be slipping under the net of audiences. Where are you, and where have you been? Side-note, Orphan Black is now instantly available to Netflix subscribers in the UK on a week-by-week basis. No binging this time around.

So then, creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett continue to enlighten us with this gem, picking up where we left off in season three both in story-telling prowess and production tone. I say that, but as narrative plot goes this season opener actually takes us back to Beth Childs and her pre-train-jumping antics. Without spoiling it however, there is no Beth demise in this forty-five minutes. This is less about what happens next, but rather what happened before. The heavy breeze that sweeps through the premier of season four feels like the same gust of captivating wind that carried us through the first three seasons. A welcome relief.

There are also snippets of the likes of Maggie Chen and Dr Leekie – in separate story strands of course – familiar names of those characters we have long since learnt of their expiration. Like Paul, remember him? Delphine is not present in episode one, but she can’t be too far away if the show-makers want to (smartly) dig up the past. We may well then be just as gripped by the back-stories as we are about the upcoming events. “I know there’s a shitload you’re not telling us” is uttered in one scene, and I was nodding my head in realization this could be us, the audience, addressing the Orphan Black writing team.

This chugs along nicely, a reliable train indeed, aided and abetted by snappy scenes, punchy dialogue, and dark music beats. Orphan Black‘s kinetic production values hold their own once more, continuing to provoke our own psyche in second guessing what might be awaiting around the next corner. Even with the influx of plot points and character cameos, though, I was starting to crave a bit of plain and simple bonkers Helena amidst the playing God and Neoloution mentions. The fuzzy-haired misfit is not far away I suspect, only adding to my mouth-watering anticipation of the season’s second chapter.

On the fresher side, Maslany finds even more depth and dynamic in yet another new clone, clad in sheep mask to dangle yet another carrot in front of our nose. This is M.K. as she claims in the episode’s revelatory final moments – a tactical and wily beast with a fittingly high-fringe haircut. She does not claim to have many friends, but poses plenty of intrigue. Obviously. Her imploring words to Sarah, still laying low with daughter Kira in Iceland, is that “You need to run, right now.”, echoing the ambiance of the show’s stamina, perseverance, and alluring pace. The clone club have been rubbing their sweaty palms for far too long to not want more of the same please.

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