Orphan Black, Season 3 Episode 1: “The Weight Of That Combination”

In its first season, Orphan Black was this show that came out of nowhere (I think it was BBC America’s second foray into original scripted programming) to dominate the cultural conversation before it was swallowed up by The Red Wedding. I listed Orphan Black as a show to follow on my Netflix guide, and I don’t like everything about the show, but I still love watching it. There’s definitely room in everyone’s schedule for some fun sci-fi about clones, particularly when they’re played by Tatiana Maslany. Before I continue with the review, I’d just like to point out that in Australia, Orphan Black will be available on SBS On Demand immediately after it airs in the United States at midday AEST. You can watch it legally, guys. Don’t screw that up. The episode then airs on SBS 2 on Tuesday nights at 9:30 pm AEST.

The third season premiere of Orphan Black picks up not long after we left Sarah Manning and her discovery that Project Castor was a military project where male clones were created. At this stage we don’t know much about the Castor clones, except that they’re killing machines and that they’ve captured Helena. Meanwhile, at Dyad, the surgeons are operating on Rachel; Sarah did such a good job of stabbing her in the eye with a pencil that the eye is gone. The only problem is that Topside (I’m still trying to get ahold of all the names of the various institutions involved, I care less about the mythology than the character moments) want to do a security sweep of the Dyad Institute, and they need to pretend that Sarah didn’t stab Rachel in the eye.

Delphine is the new Rachel, and she’s called upon Sarah to be Rachel and Alison to be Sarah. One of the delights of watching Orphan Black is watching Tatiana Maslany act and be more than one of the characters in any given scene. She’s also really good at being one clone pretending to be another, and whenever these scenes happen, it’s basically fanservice, but I’m okay with it. For a little while I was wondering why they didn’t just have Alison pretend to be Rachel so that Sarah could play herself, but then I realised that since Alison was off having her own storyline last year in rehab (this was one of the worst things about the second season, because everyone benefits from having Alison in their story), she didn’t spend as much time at Dyad as Sarah and Cosima. And Alison being who she is, she wouldn’t be able to pull of Rachel as well as Sarah could.

What Delphine and Sarah discover during Ferdinand’s visit (Delphine from Rachel and Sarah from Ferdinand), is that Rachel had tried to activate ‘Helsinki’ and have the Clone Club eliminated. We know that’s not going to happen, because if Alison, Sarah and Cosima (and Helena, but she’s off having conversations with a scorpion) are dead, there is no show. So Delphine manages to get Ferdinand to call off Helsinki, but this is Topside and the Dyad Institute. He’s going to be back, and he’ll probably find out the truth about Rachel eventually. If he knew her so well, I wondered why Sarah was able to fool him; I thought that the scene in the elevator indicated he knew it wasn’t Rachel, but I guess he had other things on his mind.

One thing I’m really happy about is that Alison has taken control of her life. She’s driving the soccer bus (I didn’t know that this was a thing), and her relationship with Donny seems to be better than ever, now that he knows that she’s a clone. There’s also a really great scene that demonstrates why these two people would have been attracted to each other in the first place; Alison wants to run against the incumbent in some sort of local government election that has something to do with schools because the incumbent lady wants to redistrict the school zones that would move her children into a different school. Alison and Donny are mad about it, and they have a joint determination to win this election, and at the end Donny says “It’s for our kids,” and Alison replies “Of course”. They care about their children, but they have a joint love of putting people in their place, and the show is improved by having Donny aware of the clones.

Other thoughts:

  • In Australia the curriculum is determined by the state and federal governments and zoning is only really an issue for larger high schools, so I have no idea what’s going on with this election storyline except for the fact that I really want Alison to win.
  • Delphine broke up with Cosima, which is good because Cosima deserves better, both in terms of girlfriends and character development. It’d be nice if we had more character development for Delphine as well, maybe I would be more invested in her relationship with Cosima that way.
  • Cosima and Scott (I think that’s his name) are going to work on deciphering Professor Duncan’s code.
  • Helena’s dream at the beginning of the episode was fanservice in the way that the clone dance party was at the end of last season, but it was Helena’s best scene of the episode; she ate food AND she called the others ‘sestra’.
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