Tatiana Maslany is getting a break this season. Well, if you can call playing a quintet of clones a break.
BBC America's cult sci-fi addiction "Orphan Black" made a triumphant return to the TV critics' winter press tour today, following a highly acclaimed first season that saw Maslany (a Golden Globe nominee) play no less than seven clones, all with wildly different personalities (and accents). Rather than piling on more roles for Maslany to play, though, Season 2 (debuting in April) will instead go deeper into the clones we know.
"It's not a clone-of-the week show. We take a lot of care and time developing our clones," says writer/co-creator Graeme Manson, who joined Maslany and co-star Jordan Galavis (Felix) on today's panel. Season 2, he says, will concentrate on the five (still living) clones we met last season (all played by Maslany), led by single mom Sarah Manning, who discovered she's one of at least ten genetic clones spawned from a top-secret biotech conspiracy. Although Manson does leave the door open for more wigs and accents down the road: "We haven't said how many [clones] are out there."
Season 2 picks up right where we left off, with Sarah learning that the pro-clone conspiracy has kidnapped her young daughter Kira. In a sneak peek screened for critics, we see Sarah running through a driving rainstorm and placing a frantic call to Felix. She takes refuge in a diner and tries dialing her fellow clones, only to find their numbers have all been disconnected. Finally, she gets a call from pro-clone executive Rachel, telling her to give herself up if she wants to see Kira again. Then a pair of sinister dudes enter the diner, and... well, you'll have to wait until April for the rest.
The other clones are plenty busy, too: Dreadlocked scientist Cosima (Manson's favorite clone, by the way) is still stricken with a mystery illness, coughing up blood while conspiring with monitor/lover Delphine to expose the pro-clones. Maslany says Cosima is the clone who's "the most fascinated with life, so it's interesting to see her facing her own mortality."
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Then there's Alison (our favorite clone, by the way), the tightly wound soccer mom who ended up watching her nosy neighbor die in an ugly garbarge-disposal mishap. "The secret she's keeping is going to eat at her in an interesting way," Manson teases. "She's got some explosions coming up." Maslany admits that Alison was the hardest clone for her to play at first: "I wasn't willing to admit that she's so much a part of me. And now I love her."
Sarah's gay foster brother Felix (Galavis) is still there to help Sarah unravel the mystery (and drop quotable bon mots), but he's forging his own path in Season 2. Galavis says he's excited this year to "establish him outside the clones, as an individual." And he adds that things aren't all lovey-dovey between Sarah and Felix, either: "His relationship with Sarah will come to a head… it's not going to be easy." But he laughs off any talk of Felix possibly being a clone: "I think the world can only handle one Felix."
But how many seasons of "Orphan Black" can we handle? Manson says he and co-creator John Fawcett have sketched out a three-season plan already: "We have a long-term plan that's pretty elastic, conceptually." But he doesn't want to rely on the formula they established last season: "We are going to take some risks with our premise… and push what we did in the first season." In other words: Hold on to your wigs, Clone Clubbers.
Get your first taste of "Orphan Black" Season 2 with this teaser:
Season 2 of "Orphan Black" premieres Saturday, April 19 at 9 p.m. on BBC America.