Whether you've already fallen under the sway of BBC America's Orphan Black or you're just wondering what all the rumpus is about, you're in for a treat this week. The series returns for its third season 9 p.m. Saturday, April 18 and as a lead-in to the premiere, Amazon is making the first 10-episode season free to stream all day Friday, even for non-Prime viewers.
The series centers on Sarah Manning, a Gothy grifter whose sees the suicide of a woman who looks just like her — and then steals her identity, her boyfriend and her purse (not in that order). Eventually Sarah is convinced that she and the dead woman are clones, then she begins to realize that there are more of her — a lot more — and gets trapped in a creepy, rapidly devolving multinational conspiracy.
On Friday you can stream the epic first season, and acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself in which the awesome force of nature that is lead actress Tatiana Maslany. (Lili Loofbourow's profile of Maslany in last week's NYT magazine was especially compelling.) Maslany embodies not just protagonist Sarah, but all of her clone sisters; I think by Season Three, and counting the dead ones briefly encountered in early episodes, she's up to about a dozen. Seeing Maslany in a scene with three, four, or even five characters talking, arguing and interacting physically is a mindfuck: It's almost impossible to believe that she is playing every character. And it's seamless. Some of it's down to the skills of the director, DP, wardrobe/makeup, and post-production crew, but Maslany's characterizations — a dozen different voices, appearances, body language — remain distinct from clone to clone.
So, no Prime membership required: Friday's your day for a refresher on the origins of the super-tangled plot, and Saturday night we'll find out what's happening with Sarah, Alison, Cosima, Helena, Rachel, and — let it not be too much to hope — maybe even Tony. You've got 10 spare hours, right?
[Warning for newbies: The below recap trailer is full of spoilers]