Roush Review: Clones Are Now Printouts in ‘Orphan Black’ Sequel ‘Echoes’

Krysten Ritter as Lucy and Zariella Langford as Charlie - Orphan Black: Echoes _ Season 1, Episode 1
Sophie Giraud/AMC

Orphan Black: Echoes

Matt's Rating: rating: 3.0 stars

Send in the clones? They’re already here.

In the TV world, they’re called spinoffs. Also reboots or remakes or sequels, the latter applying to Orphan Black: Echoes, which updates the Emmy-winning sci-fi cult hit about a cloning experiment and related conspiracies. Echoes reverberates with callbacks to the previous series (2013-17)—although you will only hear references to, but never see, its principal character, Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) and her scientific offshoots. I’m sure she’s not at all surprised that by the 2050s, where Echoes is set, science has advanced to 4D printouts of vital organs—great for humanitarian transplants!—and, as we soon learn, capable of duplicating full-scale human beings, albeit with fuzzy memories of their source material.

One such creature, enduring the most extreme of existential crises, is the disoriented Lucy (an understandably woebegone Krysten Ritter), who declares, “I have to find out who I was to protect who I am.” Her quest, which takes the form of a violent chase thriller, eventually teams Lucy with fellow “printouts” including the irreverent teenager Jules (Amanda Fix, a standout with Jenna Ortega vibes), with whom she shares a haunting connection.

The twist-filled story contains familiar echoes of Frankenstein (visionaries playing God) and “The Monkey’s Paw” (wishing loved ones back from the dead, regardless of consequences). And par for the genre course, there’s a well-meaning scientist (a subdued Keeley Hawes) with deeply personal reasons for printing out people, and a mad-genius billionaire (James Hiroyuki Liao) eager to pervert this breakthrough for his own nefarious purposes.

The original Orphan Black was more fun, with a sense of playful discovery as Sarah Manning met her colorful clones and sometimes even swapped personas. Echoes’ manufactured beings are for complicated reasons less interchangeable, and if the sequel is a more dour meditation on loss, mortality and the possibilities and pitfalls of rebirth, the first season builds to some shocking climactic jolts, begging for renewal.

Orphan Black: Echoes, Series Premiere, Sunday, June 23, 10/9c, AMC and BBC America