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‘Orphan Black: Echoes’ is Essential Sci-Fi Television

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When Orphan Black premiered in 2013, there was nothing like it on television. The science-fiction series follows the story of Sarah Manning, who assumes the identity of someone who looks exactly like her. In doing so, Sarah discovers that she is one of many clones who look exactly like her, tied to a giant conspiracy with a biotech corporation called the Dyad Institute. What made Orphan Black so unique was the sheer number of roles that star Tatiana Maslany played, each with a unique identity that she nailed perfectly. Spanning five seasons, a comic book series, and a continuation audio drama, the impact of Orphan Black is extensive, eventually leading to the newest spin-off, Orphan Black: Echoes.

Orphan Black: Echoes, a new chapter in the Orphan Black universe, boldly departs from the clone club and Maslany’s characters. Instead, it introduces a new protagonist, Lucy, in a story set 37 years after the original series. Created by Anna Fishko (Fear the Walking Dead, The Society), Orphan Black: Echoes continues the thematic legacy of John Fawcett and Graeme Manson, signaling an exciting evolution in the franchise. 

This new series stars Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad, Jessica Jones), who also produces, as someone who has no recollection of her past and stumbles among a mystery with deep personal ties. Should you be watching Orphan Black: Echoes? Continue on to find out!

[Warning: Light Spoilers from Orphan Black: Echoes are below!]

Lucy’s life is a big question mark in Orphan Black: Echoes

Set as the spiritual successor to Orphan Black, Echoes moves on past Sarah Manning and her clones, focusing instead on Lucy (Ritter), a woman who has no idea who she is. With only one flashback that she can recall, Lucy’s past is entirely blank, leaving her to feel lost in her own life. When you don’t know who you are or where you’ve come from, can you truly be at peace with who you are? This is the mental space where audiences find Lucy doing her best to move on to some future.

Leaving behind whatever baggage, or lack thereof, behind, Lucy’s created a life with her hot former army medic boyfriend, Jack (Avan Jogia), and his teenage daughter, Charlie (Zariella Langford-Haughton). This makeshift family might not have much, but they have each other, which should be enough. However, their lives are thrown into turmoil when she stumbles upon teenager Jules Lee (Amanda Fix).

Orphan Black: Echoes- Lucy and Charlie
Lucy (Krysten Ritter) and Charlie (Zariella Langford-Haughton). Orphan Black: Echoes (AMC).

Why exactly does a random 16-year-old have such a significant impact on Lucy? Well, it’s not every day that you find someone who looks exactly like you. It gives new meaning to one in a million, as there seems to be something odd going on, with Lucy and Jules smack-dab in the middle. There’s a race between intimidating agents, mysterious scientists, such as Keeley Hawe’s character, and the imposing Darros Foundation, led by the powerful billionaire Paul Darros (James Hiroyuki Liao), to get to these two. Can Lucy get to the bottom of what’s happening and save herself from doom? You’ll have to watch Orphan Black: Echoes to figure that out!

Echoes of the original series bring the universe alive

Orphan Black: Echoes has a precarious job of finding the balance between attracting new fans to the franchise and welcoming back fans of the original series. The goal is not to alienate either party, but instead create a project that can appeal to both, which Orphan Black: Echoes does incredibly well. 

At its core, Orphan Black: Echoes is its own show that could survive without the brand recognition of the franchise. It’s a fantastic sci-fi show about a woman who doesn’t know who she is and the lengths she goes to find her identity. That message is strong, as even with our memories, most people feel lost in their own lives at some point or another. However, Echoes takes it a step further, adding in the ideas set up in the original series and continuing on the journey of human DNA manipulation. The story is intriguing, and the cast is strong, delivering some incredible performances throughout the ten episodes.

None are stronger than Krysten Ritter, who makes this series what it is. Ritter has always been a fantastic actress in my books, having loved her in Jessica Jones and other series such as Breaking Bad and Don’t Trust the B* in Apartment 23. She can vary between serious and comedic roles, which isn’t a skill that every actor has. As Lucy, Ritter can blend the two styles seamlessly as Orphan Black: Echoes continues the beautiful mixture of a serious sci-fi thriller with plenty of jokes to lighten the mood.

Orphan Black: Echoes
Lucy (Krysten Ritter). Orphan Black: Echoes (AMC).

While the series can exist independently, there are elements and connections to Orphan Black, which are exciting Easter eggs for those who watched the original series. Some bits are more significant than others, but throughout the ten episodes, you are frequently reminded that this is the same universe. If you haven’t watched Orphan Black, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything, as Echoes does a good job of explaining what’s important, and if something is just a callback, it isn’t necessary to know.

Orphan Black: Echoes excels at building on the mythos of its predecessor without making the original show necessary viewing. Would you enjoy Echoes more if you watched Orphan Black? Absolutely, as every episode has some reference to the past. Some callbacks made me chuckle, while others made my jaw drop. It reinvigorated my love for the original series, making me want to go back and watch it, but also excited to share the new show with those in my life.

It feels like Echoes captured what made Orphan Black great and continued in a way that honors its past and looks toward the future. The franchise is alive and thriving in ways I didn’t know it could a decade later. If Orphan Black: Echoes teaches us anything, it’s that franchises can continue without their main stars as long as the concept is strong and the story is engaging.

Orphan Black: Echoes is a must-watch television series

Whether you’re a fan of the original or looking for your newest science-fiction obsession, look no further than Orphan Black: Echoes. This sequel series carries on the tradition of fantastically written female-led series, which is always a plus in my books. Echoes also pushes the boundaries for representation, highlighting deaf characters, the normalization of ASL, which is used and learned by many people in the show, and neurological disorders and those who have loved ones who help care for them.

Unfortunately, the series ends on a major cliffhanger, which will leave viewers feeling unsatisfied if season 2 doesn’t get commissioned. When the last scene played out, I assumed another episode had to provide some closure or conclusion to the major storyline they dangled in front of our faces. My biggest hope is that second season confirmation is around the corner because I desperately need more from the world of Orphan Black: Echoes.

Orphan Black: Echoes currently airs Sundays on AMC, BBC America, and AMC+. Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus if you are enjoying this series so far!

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Brian Kitson

Working hard to bring you the latest news and thoughtful analysis of all things nerdy!

Brian Kitson has 368 posts and counting. See all posts by Brian Kitson