Tag Archives: Jordan Gavaris

Orphan Black returns with more head-spinning twists

'Orphan Black' returns to BBC America starting tonight.

Tatiana Maslany stars in multiple roles, including Sarah Manning, and Jordan Gavaris plays her madcap gay friend and foster brother, Felix, in ‘Orphan Black,’ which begins Season 2 tonight on BBC America.

Single mom Sarah Manning and her “sister clones” continue their desperate search for answers as the critically acclaimed thriller Orphan Black returns for its second season, tonight on BBC America.
Produced in Canada, the series moves at a breathless pace as it chronicles Sarah’s (Tatiana Maslany) dangerous adventures, which began the night she watched in horror on a nearly deserted subway platform as Beth Childs, a woman who looked just like Sarah, calmly threw herself in front of a speeding train.
Destitute, Sarah decided to steal the dead woman’s identity, not knowing that Beth was a local police detective. Worse, and far more puzzling, Sarah eventually discovered that there were many more women out there with her face, laboratory-engineered clones produced for an unknown purpose by unknown persons.
By the end of Season 1, Sarah had befriended two of these clones: Cosima Niehaus, a graduate student doing medical research in a bid to identify and cure the mystery malady that has hit her and many other clones, and Alison Hendrix, a very uptight suburban soccer mom. Their joint investigations eventually led Sarah to the Dyad Institute, the company that created them, which is partly run by icy “pro-clone” Rachel Duncan, the only one of their number who was raised self-aware of her genetic identity as a clone.
Tonight’s season premiere picks up where last season’s finale ended, with Sarah’s terrifying discovery that her young daughter, Kira (Skyler Wexler), and Sarah’s foster mother, Mrs. S. (Maria Doyle Kennedy), are missing from the home they were sharing. Sarah jumps to the conclusion that they’ve been kidnapped by the ruthless Rachel as part of her strategy to force Sarah to cooperate with the ongoing research at her institute.
Cosima, meanwhile, experiences failing health as she studies more and more medical data concerning the condition that killed the other clones. Elsewhere, Alison is struggling to keep her fragile emotions in check since realizing that she let a close friend die last season, thinking that the woman had some sinister connection to the Dyad Institute.
As if all this didn’t provide enough jeopardy for these primary female characters, Season 2 also introduces a bizarre group of religious extremists under the leadership of a charismatic rancher (Peter Outerbridge), who is utilizing yet another clone in some bizarre ritual. Other newcomers this season include Michelle Forbes as a formidable new power player at the Dyad Institute, Dutch actor Michiel Huisman (Nashville, Game of Thrones) as a man from Sarah’s past and Patrick J. Adams (Suits) as a gutsy, good-natured guy.
But can Sarah, Alison and Cosima trust any of these people? That’s one of the most pressing questions that keeps popping up in every episode. Certainly Sarah had grown to trust Paul Dierden (Dylan Bruce, Arrow), her confidant and sometime lover last season, only to discover that he works for her Dyad nemesis Rachel. Cosima badly wants to trust Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu), who has taken a very personal interest in Cosima’s case. While Delphine is looking fairly trustworthy at the moment, her boss, Dr. Aldous Leekie (Matt Frewer) definitely seems to be working his own secret agenda, which may or may not be helpful to the clone trio.
Clearly, Orphan Black doesn’t skimp on story, but for fans, the real kick of the show is watching the stunning Maslany so convincingly embody all the very disparate clone characters. It’s a true tour-de-force, since the actress has come up with distinctive looks, accents, physical tics and personal styles for each of these characters. Orphan Black also utilizes state-of-the-art computer techniques allowing Maslany to occupy the screen as several different characters simultaneously, even appearing to physically touch and otherwise interact with one another. Even as part of your brain is nudging you, demanding to know how Maslany is pulling it off, another part is fully accepting the fact that you are seeing multiple females instead of just a single incredibly gifted actress.
If you missed Season 1, it’s probably not a good idea to try to jump into this new season of Orphan Black cold, but Season 1 currently is available via a number of On Demand services, as well as free streaming to Amazon Prime members. But I do wholeheartedly recommend this audaciously original series. It’s like nothing else on television right now.
Dylan Bruce stars as Paul in 'Orphan Black.'

Paul (Dylan Bruce), Sarah’s former lover, may still have her back, but he’s also working for someone who definitely does not have Sarah’s best interests at heart in ‘Orphan Black.’

‘Orphan Black’ adopts a riveting premise

Orphan Black, a very promising new thriller premiering tonight on BBC America, opens with Sarah (Tatiana Maslany), a young woman with a working-class British accent and a punk attitude, on an urban subway platform, engaged in a heated cellphone argument. In just a bit, we’re going to start to piece together her story: Sarah grew up in English orphanage and bounced around from one home to another until she and her foster brother, Felix (Jordan Gavaris), were adopted by a “Mrs. S.” (Maria Doyle Kennedy, The Tudors), who brought her charges as teenagers to North America, for to-be-determined reasons. Since then, Sarah has given birth out of wedlock to a daughter, Kira (Skyler Wexler), and the testy phone conversation is, in fact, with Mrs. S. over visitation rights.
Soon, however, our attention shifts to another slender brunette nearby, who slowly, almost ritualistically, begins taking off her outer garments and placing them neatly on the concrete platform with her handbag and shoes. As she turns, Sarah is stunned to notice the woman is her doppelganger, who gives her a brief, sad glance just before she hurls herself into the path of an onrushing train.
In the ensuing pandemonium, Sarah furtively snatches the victim’s handbag and flees. Discovering that her ill-fated double, Beth, had a well-stuffed bank account, Sarah – a petty criminal who rarely thinks in the long term – decides to adopt Beth’s identity long enough to empty that account, then grab Kira and flee for parts unknown. That rash decision swiftly sends Sarah down the rabbit hole, as she discovers to her dismay that Beth was a cop under investigation for shooting a civilian. Beth also had what appears to be a turbulent relationship with her boyfriend, Paul (Dylan Bruce, As the World Turns), as well as a safety deposit box that holds the birth certificates of a number of other young women from around the world … women with the same face as Sarah and Beth.
Beyond that, we have to stray into serious “spoiler” territory, so suffice it to say that this clever new mindbender appears to be splendidly constructed and executed, at least based on the four episodes BBC America provided for review. Sarah, still posing as Beth, keeps stumbling upon more and more riddles and enigmas, yet the scripts maintain a striking clarity so we don’t get hopelessly lost. We may not know where the story ultimately is going, yet we generally know at any given point what is going on in Sarah’s mind.
While Orphan Black is fairly dark, it’s leavened with humor, chiefly through the character of the flamboyant Felix, but also as these identical women start to interact and cover for each other in various dangerous situations. Of course, it helps immeasurably that Maslany, whose work I’ve never encountered before, is quite the chameleon, deftly slipping between these multiple characters clearly delineated by accent, hairstyle, attitude and even degrees of sanity. It’s quite a showcase performance, abetted by state-of-the-art special effects so transparent that when we see a scene with three Maslanys in a room together, it looks very credibly like three separate women interacting.
High-concept shows like this one are a risky business, and Orphan Black may well fall apart as the complicated story unfolds, but based on the first four hours, I can recommend it very highly for fans of this genre.