Orphan Black Echoes
Keeley Hawes - Orphan Black: Echoes _ Season 1, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Sophie Giraud/AMC

Orphan Black Echoes Review: Clone Club Membership Denied

If you loved Orphan Black, the Canadian sci-fi thriller that aired on Space in Canada for five seasons from 2013 through 2017, you may be excited to check out the spin-off series Orphan Black: Echoes. But if you’re expecting more of the same, you won’t get it. This is a very different show that marginally ties to the original. It doesn’t offer the same level of excitement and intrigue, and it’s missing the secret sauce that made Orphan Black so watchable: Tatiana Maslany capturing the individual essence of numerous unique clones so well, you almost forget they’re all played by her. But the new show has its moments.

What Is Orphan Black: Echoes About?

A female scientist in a dark lab in a scene from Orphan Black: Echoes
Keeley Hawes – Orphan Black: Echoes _ Season 1, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Sophie Giraud/AMC

Before knowing what Orphan Black: Echoes is about, it’s first crucial to look back at Orphan Black. That series follows the story of Sarah Manning (Maslany), a rebellious young woman who happens upon another who looks just like her, just before the woman dies by suicide. Sarah assumes the woman’s identity so she can dig deeper into why they share such an uncanny resemblance. In the process, she uncovers a sinister plot involving a biotech corporation that’s conducting illegal human cloning experiments. Sarah and her clones, who she eventually meets along the way (all played by Maslany), work to discover the truth, save themselves, and stop the company from its unethical and morally corrupt work.

Lucy from Orphan Black: Echoes looking worried.
Krysten Ritter as Lucy  – Orphan Black: Echoes _ Season 1, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Sophie Giraud/AMC

Orphan Black: Echoes ties loosely to this plot. It’s set 35 years in the future, centered around a female scientist connected to the original in a logical way, played by Keeley Hawes. She has revolutionized the transplant industry by devising a way to print replacement human organs. She saves lives, but Paul Darros (James Hiroyuki Liao), the philanthropic billionaire who funds her projects, has other ideas in mind.

The plot oddly twists to the woman re-opening the human cloning project, though in very limited fashion and for a specific reason that audiences are asked to understand and sympathize with. The plot thickens from here. You’ll just have to watch to find out how.

Orphan Black: Echoes Review

Orphan Black: Echoes two women looking at one another with reflections in a mirror.
August Winter and Krysten Ritter – Orphan Black: Echoes _ Season 1, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Sophie Giraud/AMC

Orphan Black: Echoes is a decent show, though it likely won’t be winning any awards like the original. Krysten Ritter shines as Lucy, a woman who has undergone the procedure, unclear about who she is and where she came from. Through a series of events, she learns the truth and all the trauma and repercussions that come with it.

I initially feared that Ritter, who also serves as an executive producer of the show, might be trying to replicate Maslany’s on-screen magic. But it quickly becomes evident that she is doing nothing of the sort. That’s a good thing. While she’s a clone, the situation is very different in this show, and the presentation makes the handling of the subject unique. Hawes is convincing in her role as well, though she comes across less and less favorably as the series progresses. Despite the storylines suggesting that viewers should be on her side, you’ll weirdly feel more annoyed with her as time goes on.

Lucy standing with a fur coat in Orphan Black: Echoes.
Krysten Ritter as Lucy – Orphan Black: Echoes _ Season 1, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Sophie Giraud/AMC

Orphan Black: Echoes takes the story in so many directions, with reveal after reveal from one episode to the next, yet interest begins to wane towards the end. There are a lot of aspects that don’t make sense as well. Why, for example, would human cloning be considered so scientifically revolutionary when a company was doing it 35 years+ prior, the byproduct of which was Sarah and all her sisters in Clone Club? The Dyad Institute might have had a different methodology and used different scientific and technological methods, but the outcome was largely the same: people created from host humans.

The absence of meaningful tie-ins with the original also creates a sense of disconnect. There are a few surprises, but it’s nothing more than fan service. The storylines could have easily been achieved without these seemingly forced links to the original.

Kira sitting on a chair talking to someone in Orphan Black: Echoes
Keeley Hawes – Orphan Black: Echoes _ Season 1, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Sophie Giraud/AMC

Like the original, Orphan Black: Echoes does a deep dive into the ethical and moral ramifications of human cloning, though it tackles the question from its own creative angle. It also explores the same nature versus nurture theory as Orphan Black did with Sarah’s clones. Despite all being created from the same host, they ranged from a high-strung suburban soccer mom (Allison) to a terrifyingly unhinged assassin (Helena). At times, Orphan Black: Echoes feels like it could even be an episode of Black Mirror.

If you’re hoping for some type of resolution, the ending also leaves much to be desired, as if existing on the presumption of a series renewal. For its sake, hopefully there will be a second season to keep the story going.

Should You Watch Orphan Black: Echoes?

Lucy and Jules running down a hallway in Orphan Black: Echoes.
Krysten Ritter as Lucy – Orphan Black: Echoes _ Season 1, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Sophie Giraud/AMC

If you’re looking to extend your love for Orphan Black a little longer, you might be disappointed with Orphan Black: Echoes. Aside from similar theme music and a story that’s lightly driven from the original, the show doesn’t exist in the same orbit.

You could easily watch this show never having watched Orphan Black and not feel like you’re missing anything but for the occasional passing reference. It’s a show that stands on its own, Orphan Black in name alone. Is Orphan Black: Echoes a must-watch? No. Will you find yourself pressing play at the end of each episode to see what happens next? Yes.

Orphan Black Echoes
Keeley Hawes – Orphan Black: Echoes _ Season 1, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Sophie Giraud/AMC

The reason? It’s one part morbid curiosity, one part wanting to explore the heavy existential questions the series will have you pondering about love, loss, and what it means to truly live and be human. Given how far we have come in the technology space, with everything from lifelike AI robots to coding and autonomous gear, Orphan Black: Echoes is also, in a way, a cautionary tale as much as it is escapist entertainment. Truly revolutionary technology can be game-changing, but also terrifying if in the wrong hands.

As a tale of being careful what you wish for and dealing with the aftermath when you get what you want, Orphan Black: Echoes has some deeper underlying themes that will satisfy and spark conversation. But it’s not of the same calibre as the original and isn’t for fans of Orphan Black. It’s a decent sci-fi thriller, but it’s not going to rank among the best you’ve seen this year.

Watch Orphan Black: Echoes in Canada on AMC and Orphan Black on Crave.