Season 3, Episode 1: “The Weight of This Combination”
Helena is held captive, Sarah and the Clone Club are left to deal with an associate of Rachel; as well as Delphine, who has taken over Rachel’s position.
Whew, the season’s just starting and already it feels like we’re in the deep end without a life preserver. There’s so much catchup and so much new going on that it’s hard to get an accurate feel for the episode. Orphan Black has always been a show with a certain level of (absolutely justified) intellectual demand. Thinking is required. The showrunners have seriously done their homework as far as the ins & outs of the cloning science, which is only one of many startling achievements they’ve cleverly hidden as typical science fiction television. These folks are doing incredibly detailed work and sneaking it right passed us in every episode.
If you are among the poor souls watching for the first time who were treated to two seasons of intrigue and plot twists in two minutes; God help you. You must be so lost. And if you’ve been a devoted follower since the very beginning, you’re probably still catching your breath and puzzling over this season premiere. Welcome back to the trip.
What We Know:
Sarah is learning of a second clone project, “Project Castor”, featuring male clones (all played by Ari Miller). One of the Castor clones, who we’ll call Scarface, has been captured. Scarface is 50 shades of crazy sauce.
Rachel got a pencil shot into her eye. She’s not dead, but she’s probably not very happy about that. Rachel also seems to be losing control of Dyad, which may now be on Sarah’s side or trying to get her on their side. Either way, someone above Rachel is pulling the strings.
Helena’s been handed over to Paul’s military group by Mrs. S. Another Castor clone, who we’ll call Camo, has infiltrated Paul’s military outfit to get to Helena.
Cosima and Delphine are having some of the first signs of relationship issues. Cosima is sick but may have the secret to the clones’ genetic makeup within Ethan Duncan’s book. And the last thing Cosima saw was either a vision or a dream, which isn’t fitting into her logical and scientific mindset.
Alison is sober and working out her marriage issues successfully for the first time. Apparently, “burying dead bodies therapy” is a real thing. Donny is no longer in the dark about Clone Club, and he is behind Alison 100% now that he realizes what’s been done to her.
What We’ve Learned:
Helena talks to scorpions. And they talk back. It’s both terrifying and fascinating. A very intriguing concept that will hopefully recur often.
Scarface is scary. Like, Helena scary. Scarface knows things that Dyad only learned weeks ago. Cosima, Alison, Helena, Sarah, Kira; where is he getting this information? Furthermore, Castor knows about Mrs. S., and the non-military, non-crazy clone with a mustache can take out Mrs. S. That is genuinely alarming. Mrs. S. has secrets within secrets, as well as a lifetime of experience escaping surveillance and handling herself in a rough world. Castor has a source somewhere; it’s the only possible way they can know so much. But who?
Rachel is alive, but she’s been knocked down quite a few pegs since her “accident”. The cold, ruthless bitch who exercises domination over every word she speaks and every breath she takes is now almost helpless in her hospital room. Also, Rachel had a backup plan, “Helsinki”, which effectively meant wiping out all known clones for safety. Worse, “Helsinki” has apparently been done before.
Delphine has undergone an enormous transformation in only a single episode. From the cute French monitor of the last two seasons, she has become the new Rachel, and she may actually be scarier than the old one. It’s a startling transformation, but there’s still enough of the old Delphine in there to ground things. She didn’t just suddenly become evil, she is adjusting to her new position and new responsibilities with renewed vigor. Along the way, she may be losing everything she’s fighting for.
Clone of the Week: Sarah Manning
While Sarah is often outshined by her sisters, this week belongs to her. A meeting with an associate of Rachel’s requires Sarah to undergo her most uncomfortable transformation yet. Sarah has played as her sisters before, including Rachel, but in that case she only had to do her voice, and only briefly. Diving into the cold, controlling mind of Rachel Duncan proves to be a daunting challenge. This struggle shows through in how they make up Tatiana Maslany. The easy and obvious method would be to simply put her in her Rachel makeup, lest we forget Rachel and Sarah are in fact played by the same (extremely talented) woman. The trick here is to stop just short of that. Going 9/10s of the way to Rachel, but stopping just short of actually being her. Enough to convincingly fool the necessary characters, but without making the audience feel cheated. It’s without doubt the most dramatic and thrilling clone switch of the series.
Episode Score: 7.4