Sunday, 16 October 2016

TV - Lost Girl seasons 4 and 5, and Orphan Black season 4

After 77 episodes, Lost Girl concluded with its fifth season. As this is the last we'll hear of it, I'll repeat some of the comments I've made before.

Lost Girl is a contemporary urban fantasy featuring Bo Dennis (Anna Silk) a bisexual young woman who is rather different from human. By touching other people she can make them do whatever she wishes; by having sex with them she feeds on their life force and kills them – usually unintentionally, but she can't help herself. She lives a nomadic life, forever moving on and leaving a trail of victims behind. At the beginning of the series she rescues Kenzi Malikov (Ksenia Solo), a streetwise young thief, from a rapist. The two become friends and partners. But Bo has come to the attention of other non-humans and discovers that she is a succubus – a member of a population of Fae with varied supernatural powers living as normal people.

Bo learns that the Fae are divided into light and dark factions and, after passing a test, she is expected to join one of them. She refuses to choose and sets up as a private investigator in partnership with Kenzi. She forms a liaison with werewolf Dyson (Kris Holden-Ried) who works as a police detective; she discovers that she can have sex with him without killing him, and that by doing so she can rapidly recover from any injuries. Her principal aim – and a plot thread running through the first season – is to discover her origin, as she was abandoned as a baby and given to human parents to bring up.

As well as the common threads running through the series, each episode contains a self-contained story. These vary considerably in nature (but usually involve some Dark Fae or other supernatural being causing problems), keeping the viewers interested.

Season 4 started on an unusual note, the succubus heroine Bo being nowhere to be seen, and none of the other characters apparently noticing her absence. The spell gradually breaks down and the characters take action to recover their lost memories before searching for Bo. The main thread in rest of the season concerns why Bo, previously determinedly refusing to join the Light or the Dark Fae but with leanings towards the Light, has apparently joined the Dark during her absence – something she cannot recall and refuses to accept.

There are lots of other novelties including a mysterious train which appears to contain the secret to her disappearance; the formidable Una Mens; Fae with a range of strange new powers; humans pretending to be Fae; a prominent Fae being turned into a human, and the departure of two of the principal characters in dramatic fashion.

The final season has more new characters and threats to be faced by our depleted band of heroes, particularly Bo's father, revealed at last. It wraps up the story neatly enough and has an ending which is satisfying without being over-emotional.

To sum up; this series is an original and entertaining fantasy, often amusing, sufficiently varied to retain interest, and heavy on interpersonal emotions and LGB relationships. As I concluded in a previous review; it has no pretensions to being anything other than engaging (if rather silly) light entertainment – at which it succeeds very well.


Orphan Black is a darker, science-fiction, story concerned with secret human cloning. It is based on a novel premise: Sarah Manning (played by Tatiana Maslany) is a young woman who is down on her luck when she meets her double, who turns out to be genetically identical. When her double dies, Sarah takes over her life. Then she meets another double, and another, and realizes that they are all clones. This is a constantly intriguing and frequently amusing drama as the clones try to figure out their history while being faced with an acute danger – someone is trying to kill them. By the end of the first season, it becomes clear that being hunted is only one of their problems; they are also under covert observation and their future hangs by a thread. Maslany has great fun playing the various, and very varied, clones and the constantly evolving plot gripped my attention from the start, with one unexpected twist after another.

The next season sees various additional threats facing the clone sisters, not least a lethal genetic illness: the efforts to find a cure to this become the principal plot thread thereafter.

The third season features the emergence of a second line of clones – this time men (played by Ari Millen) – providing more complications for the band of "sisters" as they try to find a way out of their multiple problems, with competing organisations taking an uncomfortably close interest in them. The drama is as good as ever, as is Maslany whose performance has rightly won awards (including an Emmy very recently). Her pony-tailed Alison made me smile every time she appeared – a wonderful portrayal of an obsessively conventional suburban "soccer mom" who develops criminal tendencies and of course does her best to justify them. As the tension increases in the first few episodes of this season, the dark humour which previously added to the entertainment is scaled down, although the seventh episode switches mood and returns to the original form, with a lot of laugh-out-loud scenes (mostly involving Alison, naturally). The finale sees the core of the mystery of the sisters' origins revealed and some problems solved – but others still lie ahead.

The fourth season is the most confusing of all, as it hops around the timeline without any warning. The first episode jumps back to before the beginning of Season 1, revealing what drove Beth the detective to commit suicide (the event which kicked off the whole series), and subsequent episodes keep returning to this time or slightly afterwards, filling in the story with a lot more detail. These scenes alternate with those showing the latest developments, keeping the viewer alert in order to stay on top of what is going on. There are new villains to deal with, in the form of Evie Cho (Jessalyn Wanlim) the head of the organisation responsible for the cloning programme, and a police detective under her control.

The finale of Season 4 is packed with the unexpected. I have no wish to spoil anyone’s enjoyment, but if you expect a nice, cosy, conclusion, you’d better brace yourself. I was under the impression that this fourth season was the last, so was shocked by the ending, but fortunately another season is coming along next year!

Overall, the result is a multi-layered, constantly developing and gripping plot which puts Orphan Black among the very best SF series. What makes this so entertaining is that, while it certainly isn't a comedy, there is enough humour in it to balance the drama.