Orphan Black: The Best Sci-Fi on Television

The show follows its genius first season by turning the plot twists up to 11

SISTER ACT: Tatiana Maslany's Sarah (top) and Rachel face off
BBC America
By Rob Sheffield
May 07, 2014

The story begins in an unnamed North American city, with Sarah Manning, a streetwise con artist, noticing a woman on a train platform who looks just like her – they could be twins. Then she sees the woman commit suicide by jumping in front of a train. Sarah steals the stranger’s purse and assumes her identity, hoping for a quick cash score. But as she slips into her doppelgänger’s life, she discovers they’re both clones. And that’s just where Orphan Black starts to get weird.

Orphan Black was one of last year’s slept-on surprises, a Canadian sci-fi drama coming out of nowhere – well, BBC America – to scare up a fervent cult following. Each hour packs in about six movies’ worth of plot twists, and after raising the stakes all through the rookie season, Season Two jumps back into Sarah’s story at warp speed – a punk heroine battling evil scientists and religious fanatics. The new episodes are basically Blade Runner meets Kid A times The Winter’s Tale starring a riot-grrrl Joan of Arc.

Over the 10-episode debut season, Sarah Manning set out to crack the mystery of her identity, discovering that she’s one of a breed of clones, all born in 1984. They’re lab rats engineered by the sinister Dyad Institute as part of a secret DNA experiment. Soon Sarah meets a few of her clone counterparts: Cosima is the Daria-esque lesbian scientist, Alison is the uptight pill-popping housewife and Rachel is the icy corporate operative. The Institute has patented the clones’ DNA and watches their every move. As Cosima says, “We’re property. Our bodies, our biology, everything we are, everything we become, belongs to them.”

This is an extract. To read the full story, pick up a copy of Rolling Stone Middle East

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