TV Review: Orphan Black’s third season almost devolves into chaos before finding its feet

Throughout its excellent second season, Orphan Black was always in danger of tossing one too many balls in the air. In addition to exploring female identity through five clones (Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning, Alison Hendrix, Cosima Niehaus, Rachel Duncan, and Helena), the ever-expanding show introduced multiple shadowy corporations, corrupt religious institutions, scientific mysteries, conspiracies-within-conspiracies, and uneasy alliances. The season finale added yet another factor: a line of male clones known as Project Castor who were developed for, and controlled by, the military. The third-season premiere struggles to keep all those elements in the air as it reintroduces major players and key plots, but once the show settles into familiar patterns, it’s as good as it’s ever been.

Orphan Black explicitly explores the female experience through a sci-fi lens—adding male identity issues could have diluted that thesis statement, but the show thankfully keeps its focus on the …

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