I apologize for being late with this post once again, but I needed the extra day to get caught up on Orphan Black (and I’m so glad that I waited to post this until I did).
This week in television started off with a penultimate episode of Game of Thrones that was possibly a little too heavy on the action sequences but somehow managed to strike a good balance with plenty of strong (and especially tragic) character beats as well. Sunday also featured a Tony Awards ceremony filled with incredible performances and plenty of deserving winners. The rest of the week’s TV offerings included another round of auditions on So You Think You Can Dance and another hilariously entertaining episode of Hollywood Game Night. The sports world also offered plenty of excitement in the form of NHL and NBA Finals, World Cup soccer, and U.S. Open golf. And Saturday’s episode of Orphan Black was filled with the plot twists, character development, and phenomenal acting that has made this show one of my favorites on television.
It was easy for me to pick the best TV episode I watched this week (that title belongs to Saturday’s Orphan Black), but it was far more challenging to pick just one moment from that episode as the single greatest one. Instead, I’m going to cheat a little bit and say that the best thing I saw on TV this week was a pair of moments that reminded me exactly why Tatiana Maslany is the greatest actress on television right now.
Sometimes we all get so wrapped up in talking about Maslany’s ability to seamlessly shift between clones that we fail to mention the real reason she’s such a good actress: Even if she only played Alison or Helena or Sarah or Cosima, she would still be deserving of critical recognition. She makes us care about each character on their own. Yes, sometimes I sit back in awe of the quantity of roles she plays, but this week, I was reminded that her true gift is in the quality she brings to each role. Watching Maslany, as Sarah, sit at Kira’s bedside as her daughter’s bone marrow was taken to give to Cosima, I found myself crying harder than this show has ever made me cry before. There was such real fear, love, and self-loathing in Maslany’s performance, and it was all shown with a subtlety that only the best actors possess. In that one moment, I forgot that there were other roles she plays on this show. I was so caught up in Sarah’s genuine and grounded emotions that everything else fell away, which is a hard thing to achieve on a show with as many plots as this one.
While Sarah’s bedside vigil reminded me that Maslany has a gift for making me care about each clone independent of the others, her turn as Rachel impersonating Sarah reminded me that the thing that really sets her apart from any other actress is the way she links so many independent characters together. From the slight changes in Sarah’s accent to the tiniest differences in her posture and gait, Maslany used her gift for subtlety to reveal to those paying attention that it wasn’t Sarah going up to see her daughter. Rewatching it again after the twist was revealed, I noticed all of those quirks, but in the moment, I was left with such a delicious feeling of eerie anticipation and total surprise. No other show gets the kind of visceral reactions out of me that Orphan Black does, and so much of the credit for that has to go to Maslany.
What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?