Just One, I’m a Few, No Family Too… Who Am I? Introducing the Orphan Black Rewatch

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Ruven Afanador for Entertainment Weekly

I’m a fan of endings.

By that I mean when I hear a favorite show is getting a final season (not canceled, mind you), I’m actually pretty excited about it. Oh, sure: I know I’m going to miss seeing that show on my screen every week. I’m going to miss seeing those characters and speculating on the story. However, the excitement to see where the story finally wraps up overwhelms any sadness I have about a favorite show ending.

In 2017, Orphan Black is entering its fifth and final season.

The funny thing about starting a ‘zine: I was so wrapped up in getting the blog on its feet and making sure all of my contributors knew what they were posting that when I got the alert that my own rough draft was due? I had no idea what to write. But I am something of a television nerd, and I have a spot-soft for re-watching my favorite shows when they’re going into their final seasons (something I did, albeit accidentally, with Hannibal last year). Casey Price was the one who suggested a re-watch in order to prep for Orphan Black‘s last season.

I started doing the math: four seasons, ten episodes a piece. If I’d gotten my act together sooner, today’s post would include a re-watch of the first five episodes of the first season, but as it stands, I think it works out better this way. If you’re already a fan of the show, you know what to watch before I come back in September; if you haven’t watched the show at all, this gives you time to get your hands on the first season and START WATCHING.

Why should you?

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When Orphan Black first premiered in the spring of 2013, the BBC America show was being overlooked and dismissed as a knock-off due to the failed Sarah Michelle Gellar vehicle Ringer, which featured Gellar playing twin sisters. According to IMDB, the premise was:

A young woman on the run from the mob poses as her wealthy twin sister to try and evade them, but soon discovers that her sister has a price on her head as well.

People were SO EXCITED for this show, but it wasn’t well-done or well-received. It was canceled after season one. So when Orphan Black premiered less than a year later with the following premise:

A streetwise hustler is pulled into a compelling conspiracy after witnessing the suicide of a girl who looks just like her.

People were like, Whatever. Been there, done that, it sucked.

And so there was no great marketing push, no features around the inter webs… until there was. People started watching the show and fangirling about the show, which boost its profile. When it got featured on sites like Tor.com, and this blogger’s curiosity was piqued. When iTunes offered the pilot episode for free, I couldn’t resist. I told my husband, “Let’s just see if we like it,” and nearly an hour later, we were purchasing the full season from iTunes, and we’ve been purchasing each season ever since.

Orphan Black is a mystery, yes. It’s got conspiracy, it’s got crazy science, but what it has most of all is talent and heart. Talent not simply in the supporting cast, whom I adore to pieces, but in its lead actress Tatania Maslany. People aren’t kidding about her deserving an Emmy, but I’m here to tell you that an Emmy isn’t near enough to recognize her awesomeness in being able to play multiple people through Orphan Black‘s run to date, and often multiple people in the same episode, in the same room. Her talent is absolutely amazing, and trust me when I echo what others have said: that when you see her playing three different characters in the same scene, it’s easier to imagine that BBC America stumbled upon an excellently talented set of triplets than to believe it’s one woman playing them all. Maslany not only has different hair, makeup, and accents depending on whom she is playing, but she even smiles differently, and that…. that is just awesome.

There’s of course the technical aspect of the show. A lot of SF television and especially film get so much credit for bombastic special effects, but Orphan Black‘s special effects are so good you don’t even realize that’s what you’re watching, but of course you are, because it’s one woman playing multiple people in one scene.

As we go through the re-watch, I’ll talk about this is some detail, more or less. Don’t expect a recap, because actually writing recaps bores me. Don’t expect some serious, academic critical analysis, because, well, I’m far from academia. My goal with the Orphan Black rewatch is to prep myself for the final season, to re-familiarize myself with the story that’s being told and to absorb all the little details that I missed the first time around. It’s a chance to admire anew and to recognize the flaws I missed.

The goal is, each month, to discuss the five episodes starting September 21st. I hope to finish the series to date by April, and by then, we’ll have new episodes to chew over and discuss.

238550-orphan-black-orphan-black-posterSo have you watched Orphan Black? Are you looking for an excuse to watch or rewatch? This is it! This is a show about the here and now, but with a few futuristic tweaks, and an examination of where science can take us (for better and for worse), and what it means to be an individual when someone else owns your identity. It’s not a perfect show, but it’s an awesome show (one that passes the Bechdel test in freaking spades), so if you want to watch along, here are the episodes you need to get under your belt by September 21st:

Episode 1.01: Natural Selection
Episode 1.02: Instinct
Episode 1.03: Variation Under Nature
Episode 1.04: Effects of External Conditions
Episode 1.05: Conditions of Existence

Will you join me? I’m not here to simply fangirl all over the place and stick my fingers in my ears if someone criticizes the show. So get yourself that first season, start watching, and join me when we start discussing the first five episodes on September 21st!

7 Comments

  • steelvictory August 17, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    I am just jumping on the Orphan Black bandwagon (first four episodes watched so far), so I’m eager to come along for the ride!

    Reply
  • Casey August 17, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    I am SO GLAD that you’re doing this! Like I needed an excuse to watch S1 again (this will be hmm…the third time).

    Reply
    • Shara White August 17, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      Have you been able to watch past season 1? There’s a fan song I want to share!

      Reply
      • Casey August 17, 2016 at 4:53 pm

        I started S2 but I’m pretty sure I’ll restart it with Jay. He saw S1 and liked it.

        Reply
  • Nancy O'Toole Meservier August 17, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    I am so on board for this!

    Reply
    • Shara White August 18, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      Excellent…. the more, the merrier!

      Reply

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