All good things come to and end, but endings to good things are rarely good.
That’s not always so as it comes to television, as is being proved out in this fifth and final season of Orphan Black. Three episodes in and Tatiana Maslany, Kristian Bruun, Jordan Gavaris, and Kevin Hanchard continue to deliver the best science fiction series in years, a sci-fi series cloaked as thriller, drama, and dark comedy.
You can’t say enough about Tatiana Maslany, last year’s Emmy winner for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama, and poised to be this year’s chief contender for the Best Actress Golden Globe award. Her series promotes female empowerment more than any show. The double, triple, quadruple, etc. message of a story about the bond among a small army of clone sisters is found in the singularity of a lead actress performing in every scene while also playing multiple parts in every other scene. Viewers can’t help but attach emotionally to each of her characters. Even last week’s exit of a minor character viewers barely got to know drove the show to a shocking halt.
As the series’s long-time protagonist, Maslany’s Sarah Manning, continues her battle to protect her daughter, the other sisters have broken out to reveal a key message of the show: In a future world of manipulated genetics, we’ll see many individuals with common traits but who are very much individuals. It’s still the environment that determines who the individual becomes.
If you had to pick one standout to represent the best of the series it is Maslany’s take on Alison, a character who would have lived out a normal existence in Bailey Downs had Maslany’s Beth Childs not have driven her into the sestra, turning Alison chemical dependent, then leading her to become a drug dealer, a killer, burying all the bodies in her garage, and who knows what next. But this weekend’s episode showed just how far Alison has come, with flashbacks to scenes that filled in the blanks of her past and told us ultimately you can’t take the quiet ones for granted as she positions herself as the best manipulator of them all.
But behind Alison was always the giant bundle of energy and over-the-top antics of Kristian Bruun’s Donnie. Alison’s husband, despite his initial collusion with Dr. Leakey’s people, tried to prove his loyalty to Alison in every appearance. And Bruun must be the ultimate good sport as the writers put him into bizarre situations again and again.
Will we see Alison again this season, and if she returns, will she return as a warrior, a ninja, something else? We’re thinking the writers can’t keep a great character away for long.
On a personal note, and speaking of sestra, our own four-legged support team member Jade, who you may have met on her 16th birthday two months ago here, passed away this weekend after a stoic battle with several old age issues. Jade was one of six sisters and three brothers, and their genetics as coonhound and German Shepherd came through to reflect many similarities especially in their youth. But each also showed a profound individuality as they grew into their own personalities–as varied as the differences between any people you know, and as varied as the sestra of Orphan Black, a show Jade watched along with us for the past four years (Jade’s favorite character was Helena). Jade’s family and friends will miss her love and fierce loyalty.
If you haven’t climbed aboard the Orphan Black train now’s the time to binge watch the first four seasons and be part of what is turning out to be a banner, final, season for the series. New Orphan Black episodes air Saturday nights at 10 p.m. Central following Doctor Who on BBC America.