Does 'Orphan Black' Have a 'Homeland' Problem?
It may be early in its season but plucky clone drama Orphan Black has started down the same dark path that swallowed Homeland.
After a brilliant first season, Homeland outgrew its premise and hung on to some storylines and characters a wee bit too long. Eventually the whole thing came unglued and the show is nowhere near the quality it once was.
Orphan Black is starting to show wear in the same places.
The search for their origins was what brought the sisters together in the first place, but it’s the sisterhood that developed during the search that’s made the show appointment television for its fans.
With the introduction of the Castor clones (and the need to fill in their backstory and establish their world), the show has fractured the Clone Club into pieces.
The three of the core four clones are still somewhat connected despite everyone still doing her own thing. Sarah is trying to find Helena and Sarah will always need Cosima for advice and internet searches. Despite all the new developments going on around the rest of the show, Alison doesn’t fit in with any of it.
An independent Alison story would be all right if the suburban drug dealer angle hadn’t been covered in another show to near perfection. The stakes on the school board election don’t really mean anything to the audience. Is this other school that Alison’s kids would have to attend some inner-city nightmare school?
Even if it is, so far Alison’s children have existed to be herded into a car or shooed into another room soon after they come on screen. Substandard lunches pale in comparison to the threat of kidnapping and scientific experimentation that Kira faces on a daily basis. As great as Alison and Donnie are, it’s tough to care about what they are doing right now or hold out hope that it will connect with the rest of the show.
There’s got to be a better way of keeping this key character relevant. Isn’t there still a need for someone to impersonate Rachel at Dyad? Wouldn’t it be fun for uptight Alison (with Felix as her new assistant) to have to be the barracuda that Rachel is? There’s got to be something better than watching Alison slinging “mommy’s little helpers” every episode.
Fortunately there’s plenty of episodes left to prevent Alison from becoming the new Brody - an interesting character that doesn’t fit show’s new direction. It’s also comforting to know that BBC America is confident enough in what’s planned that it’s already picked it up for a fourth season.
In this age of short attention spans however, Orphan Black better get back to the Clone Clubbing everyone loves, or fans might move on to something else.
Craig Wack is a veteran journalist. Please follow his Twitter.