The crazy science strikes again. 

Orphan Black: Echoes is poised to take AMC by storm this summer. Set within the original universe of sci-fi cult hit Orphan Black, the series promises to deliver a captivating mystery. Does it measure up to its predecessor, though? 

About Orphan Black: Echoes Season 1

Lucy wears a light blue t-shirt with gray sweatpants and running shoes. She walks through a dimly lit lab on Orphan Black: Echoes.

Krysten Ritter as Lucy in Orphan Black: Echoes. Photo Credit: Sophie Giraud/AMC

Here’s a synopsis of the series per AMC Networks: 

“Set in the near future, Orphan Black: Echoes takes a deep dive into the exploration of the scientific manipulation of human existence. It follows a group of women as they weave their way into each other’s lives and embark on a thrilling journey, unraveling the mystery of their identity and uncovering a wrenching story of love and betrayal.”

The show stars Krysten Ritter, Keeley Hawes, Amanda Fix, Avan Jogia, Reed Diamond, Jaeden Noel, Zariella Langford, Rya Kihlstedt and James Hiroyuki Liao. Anna Fishko serves as showrunner, while John Fawcett, co-creator of Orphan Black, is an executive producer. 

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Big Shoes to Fill 

Lucy follows Jules on a city street. Jules wears white headphones and doesn't see Lucy on Orphan Black: Echoes.

Amanda Fix as Jules, Krysten Ritter as Lucy – Orphan Black: Echoes – Photo Credit: Sophie Giraud/AMC

Let’s get this out of the way: there’s no filling the big shoes Tatiana Maslany left behind. Maslany blessed us with a masterclass as she played dozens of clones to perfection. A significant reason why Orphan Black was so successful was because Maslany is an acting tour de force. 

Orphan Black: Echoes is at its best when it doesn’t attempt to imitate what came before it. Unfortunately, it tries too often to emulate specific stylistic elements—even narrative structure—and falls short. 

There’s not as much mystery and intrigue as in the original series. We get a lot of exposition, especially early on in the season. Instead of letting us figure certain things out along the way, we’re spoonfed the bulk of the central mystery. 

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Performances

Keeley Hawes wears a lab coat while standing in a dimly lit lab on Orphan Black: Echoes.

Keeley Hawes – Orphan Black: Echoes – Photo Credit: Sophie Giraud/AMC

Despite leading the series, Krysten Ritter is severely underutilized as Lucy. She feels like a Sarah Manning-type character instead of someone original. We know Ritter has range—look at her performances in Jessica Jones, Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 and Breaking Bad. She injects her characters with depth, nuance and humor. Amanda Fix delivers solid work as Jules, but it’s Keeley Hawes who steals the show. While I can’t reveal her character name, she soars in Season 1 of Orphan Black: Echoes. Her character’s episode is also the best of the season.

I finished Season 1 feeling like I didn’t really know Lucy or Avan Jogia’s Jack. Perhaps this lack of knowledge aligns with the show’s exploration of identity. Maybe it’s intentional. But this series doesn’t dive deep enough or truly commit to these themes — bodily autonomy, scientific manipulation and identity — for it to be deliberate. 

The Narrative and Tone 

Charlie and Jack sit on a couch in a dimly lit living room while looking pensive on Orphan Black: Echoes.

Zariella Langford as Charlie and Avan Jogia as Jack – Orphan Black: Echoes – Photo Credit: Sophie Giraud/AMC

Tonally, it’s similar to Orphan Black. However, the humor and levity that made OB so special are missing. What little humor it does have doesn’t quite land. There’s also a prevalent dramatic device that Season 1 relies on too much. (I’ll let you figure out what that is.) Additionally, it leans heavily on certain storytelling tropes. 

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Orphan Black: Echoes lacks the original’s heart, depth and “crazy science.” The pacing is somewhat inconsistent. At times, the narrative feels rushed; other times, it slows to a crawl.

That said, some aspects it shares with the flagship show really work. We get a few OB cameos, callbacks to beloved characters and even that gorgeous piano-driven melody (you know the one). 

In a Nutshell

Overall, the bones are there. There’s so much potential. Season 1 ends on a cliffhanger with plenty of loose threads for exploration in a second season. It can definitely improve with more time. As long as the series commits to expanding this universe and its compelling story components and digs deeper into the characters, Orphan Black: Echoes will step out of its predecessor’s shadow. 

Orphan Black: Echoes premieres on June 23, 2024, at 10 PM on AMC and BBC America and will be available to stream on AMC+. 

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Melody McCune
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