‘Orphan Black: Echoes’ Season 1 Recap And Review

In 2013, Orphan Black broke onto the scene with an exhilarating, unputdownable first season. It was an instant sensation, and so was lead star Tatiana Maslany. The show eventually fell off the wagon but still managed to go on for four more seasons and spawn a cult following. Eleven years after it was introduced to us, we now have a spin-off titled Orphan Black: Echoes. Does the new show have the same intensity as the original one? Let us take a closer look and find out.


Spoilers Ahead

What Happens in the series?

A woman waking up with no memory of who she is is probably the most intriguing way to start a show. It’s only normal for Lucy to react in an aggressive way and take her flight from the Additive HQ, despite Doctor Kira Manning trying her best to calm her “creation” down. Doctor Manning is the daughter of Sarah Manning, the lead character of Orphan Black. In fact, we have seen Kira as a kid in the mother show. Given what her mother went through, the obvious question is: why would Kira do such a thing? We will find the answer later, but for now, let’s get back to Lucy. Two years have gone by, and Lucy is living in her trailer in the countryside. She might not remember anything, but she has found a family in ex-army vet Jack and his daughter Charlie. Sadly, that doesn’t last long, as Lucy’s still being hunted by people who believe Doctor Manning’s creation is dangerous. 


The show doesn’t take long to clarify that Doctor Manning has no intention of hurting Lucy. There’s this other guy, rich billionaire Darros, who’s funding Additive, and also after Lucy. Darros appears to be a goody-two-shoes, but of course, a show like this needs a proper villain, and this guy fits the bill. Anyway, when one of Darros’ men comes to Lucy’s door, Charlie shoots the guy in order to save Lucy. Realizing they’re not safe there anymore, Jack and Charlie go to Jack’s friend Tina’s place. Lucy, meanwhile, goes on a quest to search for her origin. She comes across Jules, a teenager who resembles her so much that she almost feels like a teenage version of her. The two of them get off on the wrong foot thanks to Lucy kidnapping Jules, but eventually they start working together, thanks to their identical scars. They are aided in the mission by Lucy’s friend Craig, who’s a man with a dark past who runs a shelter for people who either need some help in life or have fallen off the grid. Like Lucy, Jules also has no memory, although she’s told that she had an accident where her real parents died and then she got adopted. Her adoptive mother seems like a good person, but the father isn’t fond of her. 

Both Jules and Lucy’s confusion over their origins gets cleared when Doctor Manning finally reveals everything. She is a pro at printing technology, which she was using only to help people—by printing healthy organs and transplanting them for those who are in need. But human printing came only from the place of a personal tragedy. Her wife, Eleanor, was a patient with Alzheimer’s who died, leaving Doctor Manning heartbroken. That’s why she went on to create Lucy with a younger scan of Eleanor. Yeah, we get to see Krysten Ritter as Eleanor in the extended flashback, which explains how Eleanor and Kira got together. Anyway, Doctor Manning’s plan didn’t work out, as Lucy failed to remember anything and broke free. She should have stopped there, but grief is a terrible thing, so she had to try again, and this time she succeeded in printing Eleanor (the older version) with all her memory intact. Of course, Doctor Manning used a scan from the time when Eleanor was not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. However, all she wanted to do was bring her loved one back. Once she was done, she disabled the machine—or at least that’s what she thought. Darros got hold of the machine thanks to Doctor Manning’s assistant Josh, and together they did a test print—that was Jules. Darros went further ahead and printed out a teenage version of himself, which he named Xander.


By the halfway mark of the season, everyone’s origin is clarified. So all that is left is the Team Darros versus Team Eleanor-Lucy-Jules and Doctor Manning showdown. Darros’ sort of right hand, Tom, is inarguably the most irritating character in the whole show, and unsurprisingly, dude is a typical entitled white male. Anyway, Darros may be the villain, but he’s not the usual kind. His big plan does come from him actually wanting to make the world a better place. But how does he plan to do that? By printing out the greatest geniuses from the last generation—as teenagers—so that they can all start from scratch. This obviously involves a lot of secrecy and brainwashing. Jules was actually a part of Darros’ plan, but thanks to her loyalty to the “good team,”  Darros has no reason to harm her anymore. The season ends with Darros shooting Jules dead in front of a horrified Lucy and then introducing a newer version to Lucy right away. We’ve talked extensively about the ending here, if you’re interested. 

Final Thoughts

Back in 2013, Orphan Black was no less than a revolutionary thing, if we’re talking about the genre. Sure, Charlie Brooker came up with Black Mirror before, but that was only two years old. Cloning as a concept was nothing new, but the way the narrative was built around it was exceptionally cool. The writing was fluid, the editing was crisp, and Maslany’s performance in five different roles was phenomenal. If we compare Orphan Black: Echoes with all of that, then it falls quite short. At best, it’s a pale shadow of the original, and at worst, it’s an extremely generic science-fiction show, trying to piggyback on the success of another show that was one -of-a-kind.


However, as a standalone show, Orphan Black: Echoes is alright. It’s not anything great, but not too bad either. The mystery is intriguing, and the villain comes up with an interesting dilemma. While the show follows all the usual genre tropes, it is also very watchable and enjoyable from start to finish. That, of course, has a lot to do with the performances. Both Krysten Ritter and Keeley Hawes are solid actors, and they’re expected to be very good as Lucy and Doctor Manning. But THE performer of Orphan Black: Echoes has to be Amanda Fix, who is fantastic as Jules. It’s also nice to see Jordan Gavaris returning as Felix, especially for fans of the original show.

In conclusion, if you’re a sci-fi nerd who doesn’t like to miss out on any genre content, then Orphan Black: Echoes should not disappoint you. But if you’re either a fan of Orphan Black or want to watch well-crafted, meaningful science-fiction content, then this show is probably going to end up underwhelming you.

Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra Majumdar
Rohitavra likes to talk about movies, music, photography, food, and football. He has a government job to get by, but all those other things are what keep him going.

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