Season 3, Episode 2: “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis”
Secrets and weaknesses are revealed in the increasingly dangerous Castor Project.
Now this is more like it. The problem with the premiere was that the season 2 finale left a lot of people gasping and confused and unable to follow what they had just seen. And the premiere, rather than help sort it all out, instead dove deeper into shocking revelations and unanswered questions. Piled questions on top of questions, so to speak. This week covers much more familiar ground, almost like a second beginning to the series.
In truth, this episode bears a striking number of similarities to the beginnings of Orphan Black. A headstrong/callous lead character, a sex scene pushing the boundaries of cable TV censorship, strained family tensions, a mysterious mother figure, a dead lookalike, hints at a shared weakness, and even a direct callback to Felix’s funeral painting of Sarah. This time, however, everything is about Project Castor. For the first time, we’re seeing it on equal ground as everything else.
A big part of Castor’s menace is the sheer mystery of it, its seeming omnipotence and untouchability. Ari Millen and his brothers seem to be everywhere at all times, breaking through secrets & barriers without effort. They’re strong, they’re organized, they’re smart, they’re adaptable, they’re even crazy. Comparatively, Tatiana Maslany and the Leda sisters seem like middle schoolers dropped into high school. Now we’re seeing the individual parts that make it up. Like Project Leda, every piece has assets and vulnerabilities; some personal, some psychological, some genetic.
One of the elements heavily played up this week is a familiar one; family. The show’s creator, John Fawcett, has explored the concept many times throughout the series, as well as in his 2000 film Ginger Snaps. It’s no coincidence that Alison lives in the same neighborhood as the Fitzgerald sisters, Bailey Downs, or teaches at a soccer field just like the one the sisters frequented. And of course, the dog tail. Both works explore relationships between siblings, and the lengths one will go to protect the other. More even than the bond with her sisters is Sarah’s bond with Felix, which has been tested many times under extremely challenging circumstances and persevered. The relationship among Project Castor is a new one. Raised and trained together for the purposes of working together, each clone is a dedicated part of the whole; almost like a hive or legion. Threaten one, you threaten all.
That sense of coordinated unity has been stressed repeatedly by the showrunners during the wait for Season 3. SciFi series have a reputation for guarding secrets very closely, and yet even with the small amount that’s been revealed and built up, episode two has managed some remarkable twists. You won’t see this coming.
It’s a great episode.
Clone of the Week: Rudy, aka “Scarface”
Rudy, aka Scarface, combines the instability of Helena with the iron resolve of Sarah. He is a nut from a military background who doesn’t care who gets hurt as long as he gets what he wants. He represents the dark side of both characters simultaneously. Like Helena, he is both working as an asset for his organization as well as on a personal crusade. And like Sarah, when it comes to family, there is nothing he will not do. That is what you call a scary individual.
Episode Score: 9.0