Season 2 of Orphan Black takes the series in some new and interesting directions but by the time the dust has settled, ultimately ends up in an awfully similar place to the one it started in.
When we last saw Sarah Manning, she was dealing with the abduction of daughter Kira and the revelation that – no matter what they say – the Dyad Corporation cannot be trusted. Season 2 sees once again Sarah on the run again, this time from Dyad itself, headed by pragmatic corporate-clone Rachel. The series second season did a good job when it came to pacing this plot and there was a clear narrative arc for Sarah’s escape (and later return) over the course of the series.
Fans of Orphan Black’s first series will be delighted with the revelations its second brings about enigmatic characters like Mrs. S and Kira’s father. In addition, there are a handful of fun new additions to the cast such as Ethan Duncan (Andrew Gillies), the creator of the clones. He does a great job as a Victor-Frankenstein-esque ‘man out of time’ and over the course of the season makes a lot of compelling addition to the series mythology.
On the other side of things, this season sees Cosima struggles to understand her genealogy and Alison struggle to live with the knowledge that she more or less killed Kinsley last season. Once again, Alison’s plot is more comic but Cosima’s shifts gears from sci fi-thriller to heart-wrencher – the closer she gets to the truth, the faster her health deteriorates.
Some of the first season’s supporting cast standouts like Art and Felix felt like they got shafted for screentime this season with their plotlines mostly treading water until Helena finds herself back in town.
Speaking of the Ukrainian sociopath, Helena actually finds herself one of the most compelling and hilarious of clone club with this season of Orphan Black. Although her early episodes this season didn’t exactly make her cheating of death feel any less cheap, by episode six or seven I was practically cheering every time she came on screen.
The debut of corporate clone, Rachel Duncan, at the end of the first season was a nice surprise and she makes for a great antagonist this time around. She’s cold and ruthless (though not without some sympathetic aspects) and her pragmatic attitude and calculating demeanor make a great contrast against the rest of clone club.
While Season 2 casts its net wide and comes home with lots of fun moments throughout the series, it doesn’t feel as smart or groundbreaking as the first season was. Great moments like the clone-club dance party are an alarming number of narrative hiccups.
Orphan Black continues to be a good show with a somewhat-strong second season but competition in the science fiction space is fierce and it needs to up its game if it wants to survive.