Oh, boy! Another Series that Ends…Badly? Lilly’s Rant on Orphan Black, Season Developments, Audience and Narrative

It is Sci-Fi TV series ranting day boys and girls! Yeah! Sure you were waiting for this! What has got you ranting today Lilly, you may be asking yourselves? Well! Glad you asked! I am rather annoyed at the investment I have done in a couple of science fiction tv series and how their endings have been terribly underwhelming, almost making me feel like they might as well just try to push for another season and actually wait for the series to decline naturally because…What was that about?

I am talking about Orphan Black, yes. 5 seasons I have been attached to a screen following these clones and their stories. Not only that: I have even involved them in an academic paper I gave at a symposium at the University of Winchester just last year (March 2016). And…what for? Well for a very jolly ending, innit? I do not usually do spoilers, as you know, but today there is gonna be some of that so, from here on, please be aware *SPOILERS APPLY*.

Why have we made do with such a jolly cycle that ends with everyone being more of less happy and free, when we could have done that about 3 seasons ago? You know, when we had Cal, and Sarah had sort of her shit together and what not?Or why not wrap it up last season? It was perfect timing – yes some beloved characters may have died but, you know, it would have made sense. Instead, I feel this has been just the perfect season to do secondary character death central, without it having a terrible impact into the plot – and that bothers me endlessly, for that I go and watch GoT thank you. Did S really need to die? I mean at least hers is the one death that is properly timed and sort of thought off. But what about Gracey and Mark? They were utterly unnecessary, and so were they way they got killed off. Did we need to bring Ferdinand back just to kill him off? And so that S could kill him off? I honestly think that is something that should have ended with both him and Rachel dead, and giving the poor cow some closure, because, to be honest, I have now got a bit sick and tired of her coming back and forth on how good or bad she was. She had issues, the issues were interesting, the flip-flopping, not so much. Did we honestly need 10 episodes to deal with Mr Westmoreland’s crumbling empire? Like, I don’t get it. It seems and argument too long stretched. Yeah Okay, Cosima needed a cure, fine, we had that at the end of season 4, this all was just prolonging the inevitable – she was always going to get a cure, otherwise she would have been dead or dying getting the cure, etc, etc. Just feel that was a bit of lazy scriptwriting. Adele felt more secondary than ever, like why bother. We don’t get to learn jack all about what is really going on with Kira…Which I thought was the point?! And this whole New Alison thing…I mean, what did it add to the plot? Why wasn’t it pushed forward a bit more? I feel the only one of them that has had a meaningful storyline has been Helena because we have actually got to learn a lot about what goes through her head, and where it all comes from. That has been by far my favourite part of this season…and there was no need of 10 episodes just for that. I am rather upset that Art doesn’t get proper closure either: yeah okay, stopped this one bad guy and delivered some babies…but what about his job, emotional investment in these weird people and his dead partner? Rather superficial involvement once again. I do not understand why they bother bringing Susan back from the dead, just to kill her a couple of episodes later, when her attempt to kill Westmoreland could have been given to any of the other girls within context. I kinda get why Cody was brought back, and to be honest, I didn’t mind her: it all kinda required that general feeling of cut-throat disgusting human being to keep it all well-rounded. And once again, I feel like Felix has been underused…but that is something I have been feeling for the last season or so. So, my point is…what was all this for, what was it all about?

 

Because I thought it was about being heroes, about taking on things other people wouldn’t, fighting for lost causes and exposing the ugly side of science in the realms of what may become a plausible outcome of our own future. Yes, of course, there is also family, and unity – sisterhood and bonds that go beyond blood. Fine, all good in that respect. But what about The Actual Point? Completely seems to get missed in the actual depth of plot that it should have had. I don’t think it is enough with Rachel going, ‘yeah, alright, I’ll give ya what ya need to bring them down’. What about the consequences? What about how will these women live on? I just feel it has all been a bit sugar-coated and I do not really understand why. I don’t feel comfortable with any of that. I think they tried to explore many other aspects of the plot that were directly linked with the core event but not necessarily the main act, and it didn’t work out for me. It also really bothers me the direction they took with Sarah. They give everyone else the opportunity to move on and improve themselves but by allowing her to make such statements such as “there is nobody else to fight” or not turning up to her exam, is like they are happy with the fact she has “failed”, like she can’t change, when she has gone through massive developments and undertakings in the entire series and this should be reflected somehow. I think that is yet her weakest portrayal, and nothing like the Athena Felix tried to sell in his gallery.

Overall I feel cold footed about how this has ended. Very much how I felt when Falling Skies came to an end. Again, 5 seasons of massive argument and character development for a gentle pat in the shoulder at the end like, yay we won against the aliens, USA! Sort of thing. Now I would like to think this is not something endemic of the genre, but I wonder if perhaps it has something to do with the duration of the actual series as a whole. I mean 5 seasons of 10 episodes each, is a fair amount of plot. I wonder if both would have perhaps benefited for their consistency and coherent structural development from perhaps slightly longer seasons, but less of them? Or longer episodes and less episode/seasons? Just to keep things with the right cadence and pacing, and stopping things like derivative secondary plotlines from getting in the way of the actual core story. I feel this is something that is happening a lot in tv series lately, and I read something that made me think about it when Penny Dreadful ended unexpectedly. No one knew the third season would be the last, and it has been design in that way in order not to ruin the plot. The show creators did a press release when they stated the precisely wanted to avoid what I have just described, this looping cycle of other stories in a series where there are many characters that want to be explored. They wanted the consistency of a story well told, and that made sense from a practical point of view to the audience, delivering perhaps a sudden and bitter ending, but the ending that the series required.

This is something that I have noticed is a trend much more followed in Britain, with wat the BBC calls mini-series, which in fact, are nothing mini: just shorter in the terms of American tv standard format. In shows with plot and serious storylines, I personally prefer quality over quantity. It is not the same if we are talking about a soap opera or something light-hearted of the likes of The Big Bang Theory that just keep on going cause it is a bit like background music; it is there, people are aware, it is not a big deal (or not so much anymore) and occasionally it is enjoyable. I mean, please be careful and consider we can be guilty of doing the opposite like what Netflix just did with Castlevania – I LOVED IT. But why bother for just 4 episodes of no more than 30 mins?! What a waste of investment is that? On the other hand, some of you may probably think, “what like if things such as Buffy required 7 seasons”. I mean, require is not the right word – though please remember that Buffy was supposed to end with the ultimate sacrifice of the Slayer and then they come back for more. But at least every single episode brings something new to the story, and ALL arguments are closed in fairly coherent ways, with closures that are appropriate and that do not feel rushed. Also, you need to remember that Buffy is kinda of a mould breaker and it could be understood as an exception to the rule – the market, the media and the audience have evolved thanks to Buffy and do not require 7 seasons to obtain similar results. Narratives have taken new directions, move with the times, that is what I mean.

In any case, these are my thoughts for you, and now that it is out of my chest, well, I feel better 🙂 Once again, this is just my opinion. I know people who have loved every bit of everything I have mentioned, and other who have hated it with a passion unknown to mankind. So, at the end of the day folks, if you understood things differently, as always, we will love to hear from you and have a chat about it.

C U in the next one 🙂

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