So you missed out on the astonishing first season of "Orphan Black"? Don't beat yourself up.

After all, how could you have known that a trippy little under-the-radar clone-conspiracy drama, airing on Saturday of all nights, would be so mind-bendingly wild, weird and wonderful?

And, really, how could you have imagined that a virtually unknown 28-year-old bundle of human dynamite named Tatiana Maslany would pull off the equivalent of an acting Olympics by blowing through seven different roles with ardent, rock-your-world precision?

OK, so now you know. And now, there is no excuse to not be all over "Orphan Black" when it returns for a sophomore season that, if all goes well, could push this sci-fi series from the pop-cultural margins into the zeitgeist.

"Orphan Black" tells the story of Sarah Manning, a streetwise single mom who is horrified to learn that she is one of several clones (all played by Maslany) developed and monitored as part of some ominous top-secret science project. The show drew a lowly average of 661,000 viewers for its 10 Season 1 episodes, but they were a passionate bunch who took to social media to rave about how edgy, witty, unpredictable and enthralling the whole experience was.

Even after the season was over, the buzz continued, prompting 5.2 million people to see "Orphan Black" on demand.

Now comes Season 2, and Maslany promises that the story will deepen the characters and their worlds.


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"We left them all at very tense, high-stakes places, so there was so much to work with," she says. "Now, it's about challenging them and stretching them to their limits. That's what keeps me obsessed with the show."

Chances are you'll be obsessed as well. So we've prepared the following intel to help viewers become full-fledged members of the Clone Club:

The setup

Our saga begins when Sarah, a drifter and con artist, spots a woman who looks just like her on a railway platform. Moments later, the woman leaps to her death in front of a moving train.

The suicide victim, a police detective named Beth Childs, has left her wallet behind. Sarah snatches it and assumes her identity. The plan is to drain Beth's bank accounts, retrieve her daughter Kira (Skyler Wexler) from foster mom Siobhan Sadler (aka Mrs. S), and run away to start a new life.

Instead, Sarah is pulled into a labyrinth world of deceit, murder and tantalizing secrets. Helping her to make sense of it all is her fiercely loyal foster brother -- and dependable provider of comic relief -- Felix Dawkins (Jordan Gavaris).

Tatiana Maslany in ORPHAN BLACKEPISODE 101/102
Tatiana Maslany in ORPHAN BLACK EPISODE 101/102 ( Steve Wilkie )

Double trouble

The clones are caught in the cross hairs of two very creepy warring factions: the Neolutionists of the Dyad Institute, who created them, monitor them and want control over them; and the Proletheans, a group of religious extremists who view the clones as abominations against God and want them eradicated.

The Dyad Institute has been attempting to get the clones to sign a contract that would allegedly free them from their monitored life. Sarah, however, is suspicious of the whole plan and has refused to cooperate.

Where we left off

After playing cop for a while with Beth's partner, Art, and having run-ins with several clones, Sarah discovers that Kira has gone missing. Also gone is Mrs. S, who might know more about the cloning operation than she has let on.

Sarah thinks they've been nabbed by a mysterious "pro-clone" named Rachel, who was raised by the Neolutionists. Devastated but determined, Sarah is hellbent on payback. A "war" between Sarah and Rachel is about to begin.

The shape-shifter

Even if you're deathly allergic to dystopian sci-fi dramas, you owe it to yourself to check out Maslany, the hardest-working woman in television.

"Orphan Black" would unravel into a laughable mess if the Canadian actress were not able to shift from one character to another with no crunching of gears. She's so insanely good that it's easy to forget the same actress is playing all of these wildly varied roles -- at times, two or even three in the same scene.

Critics have unleashed a torrent of raves, calling her performance, among other things, a "tour de force of versatility and nuance." We just keeping saying, "Wow!"

The clone lineup

Can't tell the look-alikes without a score card? Here's a quick rundown of the roster:

  • Sarah: The story's tough, rebellious protagonist. She's the only clone known to have procreated, and she is eager to get to the truth of who -- or what -- she is.

  • Beth: A cop who was under investigation for a suspicious shooting before committing suicide. Her boyfriend, Paul, was secretly assigned to monitor her.

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    Katja: A redheaded German who was gunned down by a sniper. She left behind a briefcase full of files and blood samples that have aided the clones in their genetic investigation.

  • Alison: An uptight, pill-popping, gun-toting soccer mom who stood by and watched her monitor, Aynsley, choke to death. Oops. Aynsley wasn't really her monitor. That would be Alison's husband, Donnie.

  • Cosima: A funky-geeky former UC Berkeley student now completing her Ph.D. in biology and studying the science behind the clones. She's afflicted with a respiratory disorder that Katja also had. She has fallen in love with her monitor, Delphine.

  • Helena: Sarah's highly disturbed biological twin was raised separately in a Ukrainian convent until the Proletheans brainwashed her into killing other clones. After Helena murdered their birth mother, Sarah shot Helena and left her for dead.

  • Rachel: Briefly introduced toward the end of Season 1, she's an icy, seemingly evil "pro-clone" who holds a position of power within the Dyad Institute.

  • Jennifer: A new clone debuting this season. She's a high school teacher and swim coach who sought Dyad's help after developing respiratory problems.

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    'orphan black'

    When: 9 p.m. Saturday
    Where: BBC America

    The clone lineup

    Can't tell who's who without a score card? Here's a rundown of the roster:
    Sarah: The story's tough, rebellious protagonist. She's the only clone known to have procreated and is eager to get to the truth of who -- or what -- she is.
    Beth: A cop who was under investigation for a suspicious shooting before committing suicide. Her boyfriend, Paul, was secretly assigned to monitor her.
    Katja: A redheaded German who was gunned down by a sniper. She left behind a briefcase full of files and blood samples that have aided the clones in their genetic investigation.
    Alison: An uptight, pill-popping, gun-toting soccer mom who stood by and watched her monitor Aynsley choke to death. Oops. Aynsley wasn't really her monitor. That would be her husband Donnie.
    Cosima: A funky-geeky former UC Berkeley student now completing her Ph.D. in biology and studying the science behind the clones. She's afflicted with a respiratory disorder that Katja also had. She has fallen in love with her monitor, Delphine.
    Helena: Sarah's highly disturbed biological twin was raised separately in a Ukrainian convent until the Proletheans brainwashed her into killing other clones. After Helena murdered their birth mother, Sarah shot Helena and left her for dead.
    Rachel: Briefly introduced toward the end of Season 1, she's an icy, seemingly evil "pro-clone" who holds a position of power within the Dyad Institute.
    Jennifer: A new clone debuting this season. She's a high school teacher and swim coach who sought Dyad's help after developing respiratory problems.