'Orphan Black,' Season 2, 8 p.m. Saturday on BBC America
3 stars (out of four)
Stream Season 1 on Amazon Prime; buy it on DVD, iTunes or You Tube ($1.99 an episode)
You've heard about this show "Orphan Black." You know, maybe, that it's about a woman who discovers she's a clone, and that she — and all the other clones — are played by an amazing Canadian actress named Tatiana Maslany.
Now Season 2 is starting. Should you just jump in?
Ah, no. Not if you want to see what all the fuss is about, to understand why Maslany was nominated for a Golden Globe as best actress in a drama series and why the Television Critics Association honored both her and the show, naming it the outstanding new program of last season.
"Orphan Black" is a very dense show, and I mean that in a good way. I could start right now explaining everything that happened in Season 1, and by the time I finished, Season 2 would have started.
So I'll just tell you that in the first episode of the series, Sarah (Maslany), a grown-up street kid, was in a tough spot when she saw someone who looked just like her throw herself in front of a train. Sarah took that woman's purse, and that started her on a road of bizarre self-discovery in which she met many other selves, all the same but also strikingly different.
This is a science-fiction drama and an action drama, but it's especially a character drama, with all the charm and humor it needs to carry viewers through the grim times. Maslany is so good, so amazingly good, that when she plays the various clones, even when she's in a scene with herself, we quickly forget she's only one person.
But enough about Season 1, though. What about Season 2?
It's off to a busy start, as we're immediately plunged back into both the overall story of the scientific experiment that produced the clones and into their individual stories. We're heading, eventually, for more knowledge about how the clones came to be, but it's a twisty, turny trip.
Honestly, even the most faithful are unlikely to keep up with every step as we're confronted with Neolutians and Prolethians and monitors and assassins. ("Orphan Black" is ideal for bingeing, and all this probably makes perfect sense when you gulp down 10 episodes in a row.)
Even if we find ourselves a bit lost, though, as we might early on in Season 2, there are many rewards in "Orphan Black" that have nothing to do with its mythology. It's as much a soap opera as "Scandal" (or "Days of Our Lives"), full of jealousy, betrayal, mistaken identity, false alliances and scandalous affairs.
Watch to solve the mystery, root for (or against) the characters, or just enjoy the over-the-top action. But above all, watch to marvel at Maslany.