Tomorrow night, one of the most passionate fandoms of the last decade will gather around the TV one final time to bid farewell to the sestras of Clone Club. After five brain-melting, ground-breaking seasons, Orphan Black – and the tour-de-force performance(s) of Canadian national treasure Tatiana Maslany – is ending.
Nearly everyone was taken off-guard – in a good way! – in 2013 when this science fiction thriller about a conspiracy of cloning debuted, and word of mouth grew virtually overnight. Over the course of 50 episodes, Orphan Black has been one of the most fearless and breathless shows on the air, treating its fans with a rich, female-centric cast of characters and heaping doses of brain-candy, as it questioned the moral implications of cloning and what it means to each of us to be unique individuals. And SCIENCE! So much crazy science.
The show’s distribution– including BBC America, and Space in Canada – very early on embraced the enthusiasm for Orphan Black and have maintained a committed social presence between the creative team and the fans. No other show in recent memory has been as blessed to have the perfect lead to make its premise work, either; Maslany, who finally won an Emmy in 2016 after years of praise from both fans and her peers, has played well over a dozen clones on the show to date, including no less than five who are principal characters. If you haven’t seen any of it yet, trust us; it’s beyond just great accent work, you completely forget these women are all the same person. All hail T-Mas.
That said, if you haven’t seen the show you should also GO AWAY, NOW! (And start watching, of course; the first four seasons are available on Amazon Prime, by the way.) But we’re about to give Orphan Black a Friday Five send-off by discussing a favorite episode from each of the five seasons so far; needless to say, SPOILERS ABOUND! You have been warned.
Season One: “Parts Developed In An Unusual Manner” (Episode 1×07)
Season Two: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried” (Episode 2×10)
Season Three: “Ruthless in Purpose, and Insidious in Method” (Episode 3×08)
Season Four: “The Collapse of Nature” (Episode 4×01)
**Current season SPOILERS extra-double-plus warning:
If you’re not caught up, turn back NOW!**
Season Five: “Guillotines Decide” (Episode 5×08)
No clip here, as it’s less than two weeks old so not many available… just a word. The one word that broke an entire fandom’s heart! If you are of a certain age, you probably saw Maria Doyle Kennedy first as one of the backup singers in the musical-comedy classic The Commitments; since then, she’s continued to record and tour and acted pretty consistently, but Siobhan Sadler in Orphan Black is surely her finest work. As Sarah and Felix’s foster mother, “Mrs. S.” started as a stern but loving mum with words of wisdom and endless cups of tea at the ready. By the end of Season One, we learn that S knows a lot more about Project Leda than we imagined, and she’s pretty handy with a shotgun too (!!). How deep her connections go was so entertaining to discover as was Doyle Kennedy’s fierce performance, becoming a mother figure to all the clones really.
In this final season, most of us knew there would be casualties; there had to be. But seeing S go head to head with vicious villain Ferdinand (James Frain) in the third-to-last episode, take a bullet to the heart and still deliver a fatal counter-shot, neutralizing the threat to her brood… it was a lot, man. Cradling a photograph of Sarah and Felix, the now-grown urchins she called her “chickens” – not since Jack Bristow in Alias have we bawled this hard watching a bad-ass parent make the ultimate sacrifice for their kids. Slán leat, S, you were one in a million.
BONUS!: Okay, we couldn’t resist. There was one other moment in Season Three…
…that stood out so we’re including it as a bonus. Remember when suburb-queen Alison and devoted hubby Donnie (Kristian Bruun) decided to make a buck on the side as drug dealers? HOW COULD YOU FORGET THE MAKE-IT-RAIN TWERK? Complete with bewildered child. Oh, Hendrixes. <3