TV Review | Orphan Black | Season 3
Season summary: Highly trained, identical male-soldiers raise more questions than answers. Who are these new clones? Who created them? And more importantly, why do they exist? (Orphan Black Wiki)
I have to admit that I wasn't looking forward to much to continuing with Orphan Black after the second season, which felt like it had about three episodes of actual content in a ten episode season. While this season doesn't solve all the problems there were, at least each episode felt like it had something to make it worth watching.
Not only that, there were at least four episodes that were better than season two's best, with the other six not too far behind. I began really enjoying the series again and was actually looking forward to each episode, although I still felt the need to space them out a bit - Orphan Black's nature as a weekly television show is still a little too apparent.
The biggest issue remains having some characters doing very little, either because they're being saved for future storylines or they're just not needed anymore. I was reminded of what George R.R. Martin said about Game of Thrones and how there were some characters who stayed alive or were given larger roles because they were popular, not because it made sense in the story.
That definitely feels like the case as far as Allison goes, with a season-long story-line that only seems to be there to give her something to do to keep her in viewers' minds. There is some humour to be had, but too much of the 'comedy' doesn't really work and there's just far too much screen-time devoted to something so inessential to the ongoing central plot.
Unfortunately, the plot does seem to be taking over at the expense of the characters too. A lot of the cast, and even a number of the clones played by the always incredible Tatiana Maslany, feel like they exist to service the plot or to push events forward. Even the central character of Sarah Manning feels less like a real person and more distant from the audience.
I think a huge part of the problem is that the plot twists and turns feel a little too contrived for their won good. It's almost like the creative team behind the show want you to appreciate just how clever they are, but don't actually have faith in their audience to keep up and stretches things out longer they should - this seems like an issue inherent to the show at this point, with only the first season not suffering.
Those 'twists' also eventually to be annoying and resulted in me rolling my eyes at yet another secret organisation inside another organisation, or someone having different allegiances to what we have been led to believe. I'd be interested to know how much of Orphan Black's story was planned out in advance, because it does often feel like they're making it up as they go along.
The strange thing is, this actually works in the show's favour, because at least there's always something happening. Season two was far, far too slow and there long stretches of time that made me feel like I wasting my time. Here, the quality might not be particularly amazing, but each episode did more than enough to keep my attention.
It was almost like suffering from Fear Of Missing Out, as I didn't want to not pay attention to a scene in case it led to something better. And pleasingly, it more often did lead to something good. Even ignoring that, the show felt like it was actually moving, and at a decent pace too - a lot of the episodes felt a lot shorter than they were because of how much was happening and I enjoyed that immensely.
Tatiana Maslany remains the star of the show, even if each character she's playing seems to be reducing in depth and complexity with each season. I don't think she was as good this season as she was in the last, but when an actress is as good as Maslany, I think you can forgive her the odd 8/10 performance instead of the usual 10/10 she provides.
This season was definitely a step in the right direction and left me eager to continue on with the story, something I honestly never thought I'd feel about this show after season two. I do hope that there's some thinning of the cast though, or at least allowing the characters time to breathe without bringing events to a standstill. Although there was one scene in the finale that left me a little worried about where things might be heading...
Orphan Black's third season is something of a return to form after season two. There's still some moments of time wasting with less important characters, but there's at least some kind of impetus driving the story forward in each episode. Tatiana Maslany remains a phenomenon and it's good to see the material finally getting somewhere close to the level of quality she provides.