After months of binge-watching, decoding clues, and spearheading awards campaigns for Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black fans have finally gotten what they’ve been waiting for: a look at the upcoming second season. The first full trailer was released on Monday night, and it promises nothing but trouble for the remaining members of the Clone Club. Sarah, who is desperately determined to get her daughter back, has decided to hit the road and go after Rachel herself. Meanwhile, Alison is attempting to piece her life back together, and Cosima’s mysterious illness is getting worse. Luckily, Felix (Jordan Gavaris) is still around to provide plenty of advice and comfort, which we’re all going to need until Paul (Dylan Bruce) finally decides which side he’s on.
But the most interesting thing that the trailer has revealed — yes, more interesting than multiple kidnappings, a second psychopath for the ladies to deal with and the dead clone who appears at the very end — is that the Clone Club appears to be splitting up for the second season. It’s a surprising choice for the writers to make, considering how much of the first season was dedicated to Sarah, Alison and Cosima learning to accept and trust one another, and we expected them to take on Rachel together this season. If Rachel’s line about Cosima getting worse “until Sarah comes to heal,” is any indication, though, it seems as if most of the upcoming episodes will feature the clones on their own, individual journeys.
On one hand, this could be bad news for the three of them, as they have proven themselves to be stronger together than they are apart. Each of them has their own, unique strengths, whether it’s Cosima’s knowledge of genetics, Alison’s ability of plan and manipulate or Sarah’s determination to fight her way out of any situation, and together, they were able to discover more about themselves and their origins than one of them would have been able to alone. They also help balance each other out, which is needed whenever Sarah becomes too reckless or Alison freaks out, and so without the other two around to temper their actions, the Clone Club could find themselves in a great deal of danger. Well, more danger than they’re already in.
However, Orphan Black has always placed a great deal of emphasis on the fact that even though these three women are clones of each other, they’re all individuals — just like Sarah says in the trailer, “There’s only one” of her — and because they’re all different, they each react to their situation in different ways. Sarah’s main priority is finding Kira, and so she charges straight for Rachel, gun at her side, rather than attempt to formulate a plan. She’s the wild, reckless one, and she’s willing to do anything and everything for her daughter. Alison, meanwhile, attempts to rebuild her family, in order to find a much needed sense of safety and structure. She’s also looking out for her kids, but she does so by protecting and hiding them from the whole affair. And since Cosima’s main priority this season is her health, she’s going to dive back into her work, and attempt to solve the problem from the inside out.
Dividing up the Clone Club allows the show to keep moving the plot forward while at the same time, preserving the idea that they are their own people. If they were to all run head-first at danger or hide in their work or their house, it wouldn’t be true to who they are as individual characters, and would instead turn them into one homogenous group. It also means that we might get the chance to learn more about Rachel, since she is, after all, a clone herself, and so she is going to have her own personality traits and behaviors that don’t show up in the other girls. The show has always been about these women protecting their individuality and regaining control over their own lives, and so allowing them to divide and (hopefully) conquer keeps the idea of each person and each clone being unique at the forefront.
It also allows the writers to tell more compelling, interesting stories. While some of the first season’s strongest scenes involved Sarah, Alison, and Cosima bonding, it was when we got to see them on their own, reacting to the knowledge that they’re clones in their own ways, that were the most revealing stories. Having them set out after Rachel together would probably still be entertaining, but it means that the character development that the first season spent so much time building would stall, along with the plot. Splitting them up allows us to see what Sarah is like without Felix by her side for the first time since we’ve met her. It lets us see how well Alison is able to hold things together without the other two to step in when things go wrong. And it gives us the chance to understand how Cosima’s relationship with Delphine affects not only the two of them, but also the impact it has on Rachel’s plans. If the Clone Club were to physically stay together, we’d lose all of these extra plots, and the new episodes would suffer as a result. In the end, it’s not just the characters who need to spend some time being individuals; the plots do too.
Orphan Black returns for a second season on April 19.