Ah there’s no one like Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) – the young punky mother and small-time hustler Orphan Black introduces us to. No one that is except for the distraught woman standing opposite her on the railway platform. The woman is exactly like Sarah. Why, they could almost be twins. It would be fun to swap stories, maybe date the same guy at the same time, build a billion-dollar brand like the Olsen twins but before Sarah can start drawing up a contract her doppelgänger walks in front of an oncoming train. SPLAT. It’s a shock beyond belief for Sarah who waits a good 10 seconds before stealing the dead chick’s purse and jetting off. Well you would wouldn’t you?
You would if you’re Sarah anyway. Turns out the woman was police detective Beth Childs and in a moving tribute to her memory Sarah resolves to steal her identity, her job, occupy her flat and empty her bank accounts so she can regain custody of her daughter Kira (currently living with a foster carer). Foster brother Felix is roped into Sarah’s plans and that means risking a kicking from her coke dealing boyfriend Vic who she swiped a key of coke off. It’s pretty obvious by now that if it’s not nailed down Sarah will nick it.
The only thing she can’t nick is a quiet life because her plans of riding into the sunset with her daughter are thwarted as it becomes apparent that she is just one of several human clones. There’s dead Beth who we’ve already met and mysterious German Katja – she gets it from a sniper quite shortly after we meet her. In a scene we don’t see Sarah rifle through Katja’s, retrieves a zippo lighter and some chewing gum and says “score!” Seriously, that chick will nick anything. That indisputable truth aside, it looks like this being-a-clone business is a dangerous one.
Still, Sarah steals our hearts like a pallet of unattended collection boxes in this spirited opener. Tatiana Maslany is titanic throughout this season in a series of very different performances encompassing different accents, mannerisms and styles. She’s soccer mom, scientist, psychopath – whatever they throw at her she bats it back with venom. The show itself is daft, of course, but far from stupid. It’s very confident in the territory and with a bit of luck might become the show Dollhouse could have been – a half-decent one.