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Orphan Black: Season 3
When last we left Orphan Black Season Two, we saw the clones that the lead actor was portraying dealing with an interesting component in terms of corporate supervision, though in Season 3 said component disappeared from sight, so we were left to wonder what could take the place of antagonist over the course of the season.
In Season Three, Tatiana Maslany (The Vow) and the various clones she portrays attempt to keep their distance from the Dyad Institute. One of the clones, Sarah, has a friend named Felix (Jordan Gavaris, Curse of Chucky) whom she enlists the help of on occasion. Paul (Dylan Bruce , Unstoppable) helps her as well. The clones, and those who help them, try to get to the bottom of who is trying to ruin their lives, in the hopes that all of the clones get gain some measure of peace.
One of the big introductions in Season Three was of several Castor Clones, all played by Ari Millen (Hellmouth), all of whom seem to be dispatched with the hope of finding out what the clones (specifically Sarah) are up to and to try and identify the clones for the purposes of the Institute. One of main clones, Helena, has been imprisoned in a rendition camp, and is slowly growing crazy, befriending a desert scorpion as a friend and tries to get out of this camp and to reunite with her other clones and hopefully to safety somehow.
Some of the story arcs that occur in Season Three of Orphan Black with some of the clones are somewhat unbelievable, or at least as much as a show with a half dozen fully grown genetic clones would possess. While the ones involving Helena, Cosima and Rachel were, in varying degrees, good, the one with soccer mom Alison and her husband Donnie (Kristian Bruun, Play the Film) lifts so much in inspiration and execution from Season Two of Breaking Bad that it is downright shameless. It is cute and adorable in that Alison wants to overthrow the establishment on the school board, but once that feeling that this storyline is derivative sinks in, it comes off as an insult for fans of the show.
For me, Season Three of Orphan Black seemed to keep moving the ball forward with little in the way of substantive revelation to make a fan stop in their tracks. For example, the show finds Sarah and/or the clones bumping into their mother, or a Prolethean looking to capture her/them, but nothing resembling an overarching threat compared to the previous seasons that would leave a viewer invested in what the clones are going through. From a storytelling perspective it sacrifices that in some aspects for the sake of dealing with the clones. Speaking of the clones, while the Castor clones would presumably be set up to be an antagonist in Season Three, it does not come off as convincing or worth enough energy to carry the season as a big bad villain.
While there are some flaws in the way Orphan Black tells a story, the ensemble used to tell it still does excellent work in laying things out there for everyone. Maslany continues to turn in superb work, and was recently rewarded with an Emmy nomination for her work in what some would say would be not her best work on the show to this point. Gavaris and Bruun provide capable and often times hilarious work in supporting roles, along with Evelyne Brochu, who serves as Cosima's girlfriend and co-worker.
While Orphan Black lacks a symbolic or even tangible antagonist in this season, less so than in the previous one, they still manage to move forward in serve of the truth for their characters in a convincing manner, doing so in a way that for the most part, may be their best season yet. If there was a desire to combine a more conventional storytelling to put a face towards the source of all the clones' bad hoodoo, the show would be appointment viewing. As it stands, it is pretty darned close.
1.78:1 widescreen for all ten episodes, spread over two discs that your eyeholes will enjoy. Colors are used smartly and reproduced accurately without image issues, darker moments result in a nice black level that is consistent and presents an effective contrast during the viewing experience, and film grain is present during most of the viewing of the season as well. All in all the transfers are very loyal to the original high-definition broadcasts.
All of the episodes get a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that is pretty decent. When it has to, such as when Allison and Donnie do their twerking sequence in the bedroom in episode 6, the dynamic range of the soundtrack is ample. Dialogue is decent throughout the episodes and channel panning is present and somewhat effective, and low-end fidelity throughout the season is also convincing.
Several featurettes that are slightly longer and far more informative than their peers, starting with "The Look of Orphan Black," (9:15), which covers, well, just that, with the visua intent recounted and visual moments in the show of personal preference, along with examining the colors for artistic intent. It is a decent, cerebral piece, like most are. "Creating the Castor Clones" (8:10) looks at that aspect of the show, and how each clone was approached from a portrayal aspect. "The Rendition Camp" (8:42) looks at the set for the show, walking the viewer around the set, and pros and cons of same. "Team Hendrix" (6:17) examines the Allison and Donnie dynamic, while "Dissecting the Scenes" (11:30) looks at scenes in the season where multiple clones are employed. "At Home with the Hendrixes" (1:53) looks at the infamous dancing scene from episode 6.
It should be noted that final packaging for the season had not been received, and grades are based on product that DVD Talk had as of this writing.
The third season of Orphan Black finds the viewer with a notable investment in watching, but there remains a hole where a perfectly capable, "love to hate" bad guy would fit for the show to be amazing. The cast still does excellent work nonetheless. It looks and sounds nice for television, and while the extras lack in terms of time compared to other releases, in terms of substance they are quite good. Definitely worth checking out if you have not checked out the show yet.