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Your Toronto 2014 Issue Navigator

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culture

Reel Toronto: Orphan Black — Season Two

Tatiana Maslany is back for a second season of clone adventures in and around Toronto.

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

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When we profiled the first season of Orphan Black it was something of an ascendant cult show. A year later and it’s still a cult show but one with a much higher profile and a dedicated fan base that gets all riled up when lead actress Tatiana Maslany gets her annual snub from the Emmys.

It’s a curiosity for all sorts of reasons, not least of which is the show’s puzzlingly ambiguous setting. It seems to be set in Toronto, and includes occasional undisguised glimpses of the skyline and even (as we saw in the first season) documents that explicitly mention the city. And yet locations rarely play themselves; the notion that we’re in Toronto is never openly addressed—it just sort of is. We’re okay with that, we guess.

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Because it’s not so concerned about hiding/faking its locations, Orphan Black really gets around town, even in a short 10-episode season. The season hit the ground, running (literally), with Tatiana Maslany bolting past this barely disguised Danforth Avenue CIBC branch

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…and into this diner…

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…the nearby landmark Bus Terminal Diner.

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We get an even better view out in the sunlight the next day.

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The first episode alone lays out a whole bunch of new locations but probably the most important this year is the Dyad Institute…

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…which is pretty obviously actually the Bridgepoint Health building, perched above the Don Valley…

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…with its combination of new and old architecture (the latter, the Old Don Jail) perfectly on display.

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Further uptown, suburbanite Alison goes to buy a gun out of the trunk of a car at this “Econo Mart,” actually a Don Mills Valu-Mart.

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Hey, see, we said you can see the CN Tower! This is just south of Queen Street East (which is the show’s geographic spine), where detective Art Bell apparently lives; his car pulls into this spot here.

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A key sequence takes place on the very distinctive Puente de Luz bridge…

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…the shape of which evokes DNA strands, a symbol central to the show’s mythology.

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Maslany watches from the south side…

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…and then crosses the nearby Bathurst Street Bridge.

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Alison lives up in “Scarborough” (it’s filmed in Markham) but when she starts rehearsing for a community theatre production…

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…it’s at North York’s Jubilee United Church.

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And the play, which seems made up, is actually Blood Ties, one of our favourite shows from SummerWorks 2012.

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The lovely church itself appears a few episodes later, in a funeral scene.

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We start venturing outside the city in the second episode; a major new location, the Prolethean farm…

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…is actually the lovely and historic Scotsdale Farm, out in Halton Hills.

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This motel is in Mississauga…

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…the Green Acres Motel.

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Hey, it’s local actor Julian Richings, who is always awesome at being sweet while looking scary!

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His character takes Maslany way out to this distinctive house…

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…actually Valley Halla, which we are seeing more and more, in everything from Hannibal to Nikita.

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A road trip takes our heroes out to this general store, in Cheltenham.

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This parking lot is back in town, putting Alison in actual Scarborough…

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…specifically the Burrows Hall Library and Chinese Cultural Centre, at Sheppard Avenue East and Progress Avenue.

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See, here’s an obviously-in-Toronto skyline shot! And, hey, by the way, can you imagine that people used to have to watch TV without either hashtags or watermarks? We can barely remember what it must have been like but we’re guessing it was just ghastly to have to pay attention to all four corners of the screen at the same time. Sigh.

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Anyway, if we’re in actual Toronto what’s the deal with this weird licence plate?

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A key thread this season is Alison’s trip to rehab, at the New Path Wellness Centre. This lovely ravine setting is actually just across the valley from Sunnybrook Hospital, at the old Donwood Institute, which was a rehab centre taken over by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

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Evilish clone Rachel has a very modern, fancy condo…

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…which we’re going to guess is in One King West.

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When Helena tries to kill her she builds a sniper’s nest…

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…that actually almost makes sense geographically, in the old ballroom at the top of the King Edward Hotel. (The same location served as Nikita’s loft.)

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Trying to stop her, Sarah pulls up outside the hotel too.

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Another road trip takes Helena and Sarah out to this church…

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…which is actually Streetsville United Church, in Mississauga.

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Helena gets into trouble across the street in this bar…

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…which is really the nearby Franklin House.

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Sarah’s old boyfriend Cal parks his RV out in the Port Lands…

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…on Cherry Street.

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The eighth episode opens with a car chase that goes…

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…under this CN bridge…

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…and past this helpfully signed storage facility on Eastern Avenue.

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We are most sorry that we forgot to mention this one in the first season, but Mrs. S’s house, to which we make a return visit, is actually at 156 Morse Street.

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Hey, it’s Tom McCamus as a cop!

And, phew, that about it does it for Season Two. We take pride in our detective work, but some credit on this one definitely goes to the dedicated fans at the Orphan Black wiki who filled in a few blanks for us. We’ll see ‘em all again for Season Three.

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