REVIEW: ‘Orphan Black: The Next Chapter’ Season One

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Orphan Black: The Next Chapter Season One

Orphan Black: The Next Chapter is published by Serial Box Publishing, written by Malka Older, Madeline Ashby, Michelle Baker, Heli Kennedy, E.C. Meyers, Lindsey Smith and is narrated by Tatiana Maslany. Ever since But Why Tho?’s EIC Kate Sánchez got to interview writer Kennedy about Orphan Black: The Next Chapter season one, I was supremely excited to get to spend some time with the sestras again. With all ten episodes now available, I can say that this continuation of the original series was the perfect mix of everything I wanted, and things that I never knew I needed from my favorite group of renegade clones.

This new series takes place nearly a decade after the original series. The clones have moved forward with their lives while still keeping the secret of their existence hidden from the rest of the world. Most of the sestras are right where we’d expect them. Cosima has married Delphine, Allison continues to rock the suburban lifestyle with her family, and Helena has devoted herself to raising her twins. The characters who have undergone the biggest changes since the end of the TV show would have to be Kira and Charolette. Having grown into their own in the intervening years, they have found themselves chafing under the constraints placed upon them by their unique DNA. This is especially true of Kira. Having inherited her mother’s need to rebel and test boundaries, she struggles the most with the continuing secrecy she must keep parts of her life in.

Orphan Black: The Next Chapter Season One
Orphan Black The Next Chapter sees all the familiar faces return

The mundane lives of our favorite genetic identicals is shattered when Cosima attends what seems like a run of the mill job interview at a government research site. That is until the site blows up shortly after her visit. With Cosima’s face on camera shortly before the explosion she is instantly drawn into the ongoing investigation. But just like all things to do with the clones, this leads to a much larger scenario, one who’s implications could change the lives of every person on the planet.

Orphan Black: The Next Chapter season one does a marvelous job of capturing everything that worked wonderfully in the original show. Deep scientific concepts made manageable by a cast of memorable characters who one can’t help but root for delivers the same energy and love I experienced with the original show. Everything from that amazing title theme to the unique style of episode names shows the length the creative team went to recapture the feeling that made Orphan Black so unique.

Orphan Black: The Next Chapter Season One
Just some of the many personas Maslany reprieves in this sequel.

But perhaps the most critical element to Orphan Black: The Next Chapter season one capturing that sense of familiarity is in  Maslany’s narration. Hearing her slip back into each of her iconic characters, especially my personal fav Cosima, was a sublime treat. She does an equally splendid job with the various new additions to the cast. Each new character is given their own life and energy.

And while everyone you would expect to show up eventually does, I loved that there was no rush to get characters storytime before they had something to do. This was an aspect of the series I felt is actually handled better than the original program. The original series, like most television shows, always felt compelled to try to get every major character into every episode, whether they have an actual reason to be there or not. Orphan Black: The Next Chapter season one foregoes this, introducing characters when they are relevant, or allowing a character to miss episodes after being introduced. Thereby not wasting time within the compact ten-episode run time on side plots that don’t really serve a purpose.

The other great aspect of this series is the impact it ultimately has on the main characters. Anyone worried that Orphan Black: The Next Chapter season one is just a pointless cash grab will be pleasantly surprised. By the end of the series life for our protagonists has changed drastically and seeing these changes fully explored leaves me incredibly hopeful for season two.

Orphan Black: The Next Chapter Season One
It wouldn’t be Clone Club without the brother sestra.

Lastly, I’m happy to report that while the events of the original series are referenced here and there, no deep understanding of them is necessary. So if like me, you struggle to remember where certain events fell in the timeline, or you are a little foggy on terms like Neolution, Project Leta, or Dyad, you aren’t going to be completely lost returning for this series. That having been said if you have never watched Orphan Black before I would highly recommend you do so first. The writing very much presumes you have at least a baseline familiarity with its characters and concepts.

Orphan Black: The Next Chapter season one is everything I could’ve asked for from a follow up to one of my all-time favorite shows. It dives back into the world of science and conspiracies I lost myself in for those original five seasons beautifully. The only possible negative I could level against the show is that if the original wasn’t your cup of tea this is definitely not going to win you over. But doing the same great thing you did before can’t really be called a fault in my book.

Orphan Black: The Next Chapter season one is available now.

Orphan Black: The Next Chapter
5

TL;DR

Orphan Black: The Next Chapter season one is everything I could’ve asked for from a follow up to one of my all-time favorite shows.