US actress Tatiana Maslany must be an expert in mental compartmentalisation, as surely if she wasn’t she’d be responding to fan mail from a padded cell.
As the star of Orphan Black, she’s a one-woman Olympiad, switching skillsets with every new clone, whether virtuous or villainous or somewhere in between. If Emmy’s were awarded based on sweat and elbow grease alone, then by now Maslany would own multiple Best (and Supporting?) Actress statuettes.
Though, unless she’s blessed with a Rain Man-like memory, we’re sure even she struggles to keep every spinning plate in the air. Playing almost forty characters over three seasons of television has gotta take its toll.
So for both Tatiana Maslany’s and our sakes (and to prepare all of us for season 4), here’s a handy guide to the clones of one of SBS’s favourite finds - Orphan Black.
Our orphaned protagonist - your everyday (though suspiciously clean) London punk with a daughter in her care, a skeleton in her closet, and nothing in her wallet. Oh, and she just happens to be one of a bunch of identical clones.
Initially venturing into the “clone conspiracy” purely for potential financial gain so as to return home to her daughter and relatively normal life, Sarah develops an undeniable compassion for her mirror images, until her loyalties and morals split down the middle.
If Beth didn’t meet the front end of a domestic train, then Sarah’s life may never have turned. We didn’t learn much about Beth, only that her first-episode demise was somehow the result of the conspiracy. Season 3 revelations reveal an insight into the nature of her pre-suicide despair.
An archetypal “soccer mum” that only knows family life. Alison is one of two to reveal the existence of clones to our heroine, but after discovering the extent of the truth, falls to paranoia. Luckily, Sarah is on hand to keep Alison from losing control.
The other to first talk cloning woes with Sarah, and along with Alison as a third, the original members of the “Clone Club” – a trio bound by a need to know the truth behind their situation.
Shares “unmonitored” status with Sarah; primarily due to the fact they’re twin sisters. While Sarah was orphaned, Helena was shipped off to a convent in the Ukraine. The belief that she’s the original clone has turned her into a trained, child-like killer.
Nicknamed a “pro-clone”, which basically means she’s a rabid servant of the ominous powers-that-be, Rachel is a major season two plot, stopping at nothing to force a close bond with Sarah.
A down-to-earth but ailing school teacher whose fate is placed in the hand of the sketchy Dr. Leekie – a man who promises to help relieve her strange physical symptoms.
The mysterious German enters Sarah’s orbit with an air of femme fatale. Not much is known but much is rumoured about the en vogue European clone.
We’d like to say that Charlotte is Maslany’s most transformative role, but that’d be a lie. While this wee one is technically a clone, she’s portrayed by an actual child – Cynthia Galant.
It’s pretty cool the O.B. creators wrote a transgender clone into the show, and even cooler that they we’re consciously tackling the issue rather than appeasing through tokenism. Tony zips in and out of Sarah’s orbit, and we have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of Orphan’s sole “transclone”.
While this widowed manicurist does question what the hell is going on in her life, naivety gets in the way of comprehension, making her the perfect pawn for anyone set on messing with Sarah.
What about the other roughly thirty clones?
If we included any more than the prominent characters, we’d be here until season four debuts and renders this list incomplete.
Starting from 15 April, new episodes from season 4 will be available on SBS On Demand every Friday at 5pm (AEDT), just hours after the US broadcast. Those new episodes will then broadcast on the following Tuesdays (starting from 19 April) at 9:30pm (AEDT) on SBS 2.
Need to catch up? Seasons 1 and 2 are available on SBS On Demand. Season 3 will air on Friday 15 April from 10:40pm (Episodes 1-5) and Saturday 16 April from 10:20pm (Episodes 6-10). On Sunday 17 April, the entire season will be available on SBS On Demand.
In addition to announcing when new episodes will be available on demand, The Guide will also be featuring a variety of exciting content about the show, including interviews, essays and more so check in frequently.