Orphan Black Season 3, Episode 1
“The Weight of This Combination”
Posted by Kayti
Editor’s Note: We’re thrilled to welcome back Kayti Burt to recap Orphan Black after she did a terrific job recapping Agent Carter this season. Be sure to subscribe to her newly launched site TV Feels which is “dedicated to the exploration and celebration of character-driven, youth-geared television and the feels-oriented fan culture that surrounds it.”
The Clone Club is back, baby! Orphan Black launched its third season last night with “The Weight of This Combination,” and it was so nice to be hanging out with Sarah (Tatiana Maslany), Alison (Tatiana Maslany), Helena (Tatiana Maslany), Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and their loved ones (aka the characters not played by Tatiana Maslany). Heck, I was even willing to go along with the Helena-Chats-With-Scorpion storyline this episode was peddling at me, so happy was I to see the faces of my favorite clones (and Rachel) again.
So how did the Season 3 premiere measure up? Well, much like the Season 2 premiere, I approached this season opener with tentative excitement. Orphan Black is a show that, so far, has managed to maintain its breakneck plot speed while also staying grounded in realistic character development and emotional beats. Frankly, most of the time, I can’t believe this show exists. It is too perfect. A show that takes on the monumental task of exploring the theme of the ownership and co-opting of women’s bodies and does it well? It’s a TV unicorn! I keep waiting to wake up from this feminist television watcher’s dream to discover that Orphan Black never really existed, that it was just a figment of my ambitious, optimistic, overactive imagination of what life as a feminist TV fan could be like without the qualifier — i.e. I really love Awesome Show, I just wish its representation of female characters was a bit, er, better.
Why am I going on this ramble? Well, aside from it giving me the chance to extol my love of Orphan Black, it also allows me to place what is to follow in a context. For me, the beginning of Orphan Black seasons tend to be a lot of set-up with not as much payoff. This isn’t a design flaw, nor does it make for boring television. Orphan Black trusts its viewers an incredible amount, and therefore spends its season openers throwing a heck of a lot of information at us. This can make for disorienting watching, but Orphan Black has rewarded my patience before so I will give it the benefit of the doubt again. I am willing to believe that what we learn in this first episode will pay off exponentially as the season progresses. That being said, I could have done with a wee bit more grounding in this episode. Here’s everything that went down.
Sarah. It’s amazing to see how far the clones have come in their relationships with one another. When Sarah first discovered the existence of her “sisters,” she didn’t see them as family, but rather potential threats to her existing family — i.e. Kira, Felix, and maybe Mrs. S. Now, Sarah would do pretty much anything to protect all of them, and they feel the same way. This intense loyalty manifested itself in the season opener in Sarah’s willingness to pretend to be Rachel so that she could convince the Dyad Group to help find and save Helena, who has been taken by the Castor clones led by Major Dearden (aka Hot Paul!!!). When Mrs. S. confesses that she made the deal to turn Helena over in exchange for Kira and Sarah’s safe return from the Dyad, Sarah tells her “You’re not my people.” Though I think Sarah still does consider Mrs. S. family, it says a lot about Sarah’s relationship with Helena (someone she once shot through the chest) that she does openly claim Helena as one of her people.
Sidenote: Mrs. S. was rocking a total Katniss braid in this episode, which led me to realize that she and Katniss are kind of the same person.
Cosima. Cosima didn’t get much to do in this episode besides babysit Kira and have her heart broken by Delphine, but her scenes were efficiently emotional and filled with more than a few reveals. First: the heartbreak. Oh, boy. I know that Delphine is trying to do the right thing by breaking up with Cosima so she can focus on saving all of the clones, but that didn’t make their hallway encounter any less heartbreaking. Watching Cosima tell Delphine that she loves her, only to have Delphine not return the sentiment (even though she obviously feels the same way) managed to be both awkward and heartbreaking at the same time — which are not two emotions you often see successfully played at the same time on TV. Though Cosima might not get as much overt action as Sarah, it is in moments like this it becomes obvious how brave she is. Not only is she dealing with her potentially imminent death, but she is willing to put herself out there emotionally again and again. In many ways, Cosima is the strongest and bravest of the clones. Can you imagine how Alison or Sarah would be handling things were they in Cosima’s place right now? Regardless of who is bravest or strongest (because that’s not really a conversation we need to have about one of the few shows that manages not to pit its female characters against one another), Cosima kills it in this scene.
Alison’s main action in this episode, however, came when she pretending to be Sarah while Sarah was pretending to be Rachel in order to convince the cleaner from Topside that everything was OK at Dyad. It was a suitably dramatic moment fueled almost completely by dramatic irony and Tatiana Maslany’s epicness. Yes, add this scene to the ever-growing list of reasons why Tatiana deserves all of the awards.
Helena. Helena spent this entire episode in a box talking to a scorpion that is probably (?) a figment of her imagination given her familiarity with the thing. (They may have met last time someone was keeping Helena in a box. Poor Helena…) We’ll have to wait until next week to find out what the Castor clones — and the mysterious woman guarding the box — want with Helena.
The Castor clones. To be honest, I’m still on the fence about the introduction of this line of male clones. Though the reveal in the Season 2 finale was intriguing, so far it’s hard to tell these dudes apart, which only adds to the disorienting feel of this episode. This lack of distinct identity (or, more accurately, identifying features) could be purposeful on Orphan Black’s part. Though we still know very little about Project Castor, we do know the experiment has ties to the military. Given this context, the uniformity of the Project Castor clones makes sense. Sadly, Mark — the only Castor clone we know after spending time with the Proletheans last season — did not make an appearance in this episode. This seems like a missed opportunity to ground the Castor clones in familiarity and to check in with Grace, who developed into quite the intriguing character last season. Oh, well. There’s always the rest of the season!
- “Oh, yeah, I’m like way better thanks to science.”
- “It’s Delphine. God, she looks good.”
- “You’re a legend, Sarah Manning.”
- “It’s hard to tell who’s who these days. I mean, what is The Wild One doing with Dyad?”
- “You had to come back. So Delphine could make you better with my stem cells.”
- “So you’re the new Rachel. Awesome.”
- “I am keeping my promise. To love all of your sisters equally. But to do that, I can’t do this.”
- “Look, we all have our part to play: me, Sarah, Alison. But yours is to cure. Yourself and all of your sisters.”
- “I love you.” “Scott is going to come to do a check up.”
- “You can’t run from numbers, Donnie.”
- “I will dig ditches for this family, but I’m not going to go back to work in my mother’s store.”
- “Yeah, Marcy’s gotta go. For the kids.”
- “Delphine’s got your number? Well, we definitely need new clone phones.”
- “Jesus, don’t these people know you never even finished high school?” “Piss off.”
- “Rachel Duncan, Uber Bitch.”
- “How’s your heart?” “I’m done with the French.”
- “With soldier clones running around and all of this lesbian drama, I’m not sure I want to work on the super secret shit anymore.”
- “I’ve learned from Dyad that secrets are power.”
- “Oy, oy, Rachel.” “Shut up.”
- “You have a face to fight wars for.”
- “Hey, I love you guys.”
- “He was my monitor. What do you think?” “I think he was your bitch.”
- “If you aren’t careful, Helsinki will swallow you, too.”
- “Who’s behind that face?”
- “Picture a box inside a box inside a box … Congratulations, you escaped the first box.”
And that’s our premiere! Leave your thoughts in the comments. And tell us who your favorite clone is because we KNOW you all have one.