From the very beginning, BBC America's Orphan Black has been a very risky TV show. Aside from the fact that it was trying to cement itself as quality sci-fi television, it also had to balance multiple different clones all played by the same actress. Not only does that require enormous amounts of effort and precision in the technical departments, but the series needed to find a lead actress with enough talent to balance all the different roles (which Golden Globe-nominated actress Tatiana Maslany knocked out of the park) and be able to tell each clone's story just as well as their counterparts.
The upcoming third season of the series is about to double its difficulty though. With the introduction of the Project CASTOR clones (all played by Ari Millen), the series is not only doubling the number of clones already onscreen, but also the number of storylines. Whether or not it will be able to successfully balance all of these characters and their personalities is yet unknown, but it's a daunting idea nonetheless.
In a recent interview with Variety, Maslany recently teased some of the new developments fans can look forward to seeing this time around. When asked what differentiates season 3 from the past two (aside from the addition of the CASTOR clones), the actress responded with the following:
"The clones start out separate and we see them in very different circumstances, all of them. They’re not in a unit at the moment, and there’s this breaking up of all of them which is counter to how we finished off the season where there was a dance party and this unity as a sisterhood, and this kind of coming together. Now they’re all forced apart, so it’s about that and about how if the sisterhood can handle this separation."
One thing the series has done so well has been giving each of the sister clones a solid identity. While other shows might have made all the other clones besides Sarah archetypes, Orphan Black was able to give dimension to the soccer mom or the nerdy girl that audiences might not have expected.
This new season looks to be putting each of the sisters through the ringer and Maslany was able to tease what each of the clones' individual arcs might look like this season:
"The last time we saw Helena, she was kidnapped and taken somewhere that seemed to be some sort of a military base, and so she winds up waking up in a box somewhere, somewhere hot, and we’re not sure exactly what’s going on there.
"And Alison and Donnie (Kristian Bruun) have come back together as a unit and we see them as a team for the first time in the series and kind of understand why they are a couple, why they love each other, and they’re on to new adventures. I won’t say exactly what, but they’re definitely unified in that.
"And Sarah’s facing some really difficult decisions… she doesn’t know what Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) did [handing Helena over to the military] and when she discovers that, there’s a lot of betrayal, obviously, and she has to recalibrate her life and what she’s going to do now.
"And Cosima had this near death experience, it appears at the end of the second season, and so she’s continuing to face her mortality and the betrayal of her body — getting sick, and the science being her, now. It’s not something she can look at from the outside anymore, she’s actually living it, so it’s a different perspective for her."
When it was revealed that the series would be introducing a whole new brotherhood of clones, one of the biggest questions that came to fans' minds was - will he be able to match the stunning performance(s) by Maslany?
While the answer to that question is still unknown, it certainly looks like Ari Millen has done his homework. When asked if she was able to give any kinds of pointers to the newcomer on balancing all the different roles and personalities, Maslany responded with the following:
"He was so keen to get a handle on the clone scenes and the challenge of it. I know he came and watched the clone dance party to get a sense of how we do the technical dolly stuff because… I think he knew around that time that it was going to happen and it wasn’t like he had a lot of prep time, so he had to really just dive in. I didn’t really give him any advice except to just make it his own process and enjoy it. It’s such an absolute treat as an actor to get to do this kind of work, so it’s just about enjoying it and not killing yourself over it — just having the most fun you can with it."
Season 3 seems to be putting characters who haven't had much interaction together in a substantial way for the first time. While two of the strongest supporting characters have been Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and Cosima, they haven't had much banter with each other. Part of that might be because they just don't trust each other, and part of it might be because the situation hadn't called for it... until now.
Maslany teased what fans can look forward to seeing between the two characters this season:
"I think Cosima and Felix had, weirdly, the least chemistry, in terms of being a little suspicious of each other… they weren't super on board with each other for some reason, but they both have this unapologetic command of their sexuality and no qualms about that kind of thing. I think there’s something inherently that is a shared experience and a shared knowledge, and so that’s a fun thing — that they’re both lonely characters. We don’t get to see a lot of Felix’s heart, because he’s always this sounding board for the clones, but we definitely get to see that a bit more this season and that’s really interesting territory to mine."
One of the more mysterious characters throughout the whole series up until this point has been Paul (Dylan Bruce). His allegiance has never been made completely clear, and while fans can hope he'll end the series on the side of the sisters, it doesn't look like audiences can be too sure.
When asked to discuss or tease Paul's arc this season, Maslany carefully avoided spoilers with the following:
"I won’t speak too much to that, because it’s a nice mystery and Paul has remained this enigma in the show — we don’t know where exactly he stands and he seems to have alliances to totally opposite sides of the game. We get some amazing storylines that revolve around Paul, and Dylan just really ripped it up this season. His work is so exciting, and yeah, I’m just excited for people to see it."
Well, it definitely looks like this season of Orphan Black will not only be gaining an even larger cast of characters than ever before, but also diving deeper into the individual histories and minds of some fan-favorites as well. Despite the numerous possibilities for the series to trip over its own ambition, the writers haven't given fans a reason yet to believe they won't succeed with their new endeavors.
BBC America is making a major ratings push this season with the premiere episode not only airing on BBC America, but all AMC outlets in hopes of increasing the show's exposure. While the series has been a critical success since its debut, the series has never been able to capture very high ratings.
It will be interesting to see if this season is deserving of the major promotional push and whether or not it will be able to hold up against its previous seasons or just end up being a nice lead-in to season 4. Well, if the show gets a season 4.
Orphan Black season 3 is set to premiere April 18th, 2015 @9pm on BBC America.