Orphan Black: “The Weight of This Combination” Review

orphan black season 3And we’re back, Clone Club! Our first year we were treated to episode titles from Darwin’s Origin of Species. Last year they were taken from the collective works of Sir Francis Bacon. This year they’re phrases from President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell address. Want the SparkNotes version? If the episode titles are any indication, this year we’re going to spend a lot of time playing with themes of war and military.

The premiere of Season 3, much like Season 2, hit the ground running right out of the gate. If you haven’t watched Orphan Black since last year’s Season 2 finale, it might be a bit difficult to keep up with all the ins and outs of clone club. But on the flip side, this means uberfans won’t have to worry about spending most of the premiere re-introducing familiar faces and plots. So let’s get down to it. Spoilers after the jump!

Cosima in traditional Ukranian clothing FTW

Cosima in traditional Ukrainian clothing FTW

We open the episode with Helena dreaming of her sestras throwing her the perfect baby shower, only for her to wake up inside a cramped crate (with a few air holes drilled in the sides for good measure) inside what I assume to be a Project CASTOR military compound. She hallucinates a friendly scorpion, but its cutesy voice just makes it more unsettling. At the end of the episode, we find out she’s been in the crate at least two days. We also discover that Rachel survived Sarah’s “pencil trick,” but she’s definitely losing the eye and probably suffering from some amount of brain damage. She’s out of commission, at least for now.

Meanwhile, it looks like Delphine is taking over Rachel’s role at DYAD with Project LEDA. She slides into the position rather easily; we see her torture Rachel for information and quickly (and painfully) break up with Cosima. Delphine tells Cosima that it’s so that she can love all of her sisters equally, but I still find it hard to trust her. Cosima is living with Felix and spending time with Kira. Cosima seems to be doing okay, even walking around a bit without her cannula. She tells her adorable assistant Scott that Ethan Duncan’s key to their genetic code, hidden in a copy of The Island of Dr. Moreau, will be their little secret. Alison’s out of rehab, fully reunited with her husband, and has set her sights on running for a position on the school board. My guess is that she’s going to continue to be a major source of comic relief this season.

Now that Sarah’s met Marion Bowles of Topside, DYAD’s parent company, we meet up with her, Felix, and Kira enjoying some time by a river. Sarah’s hoping to take a few moments to breathe after all the intensity of Season 2, but it looks like Delphine has other plans. She brings Sarah to a detention facility to meet with one of the Project CASTOR clones, who cryptically tells her to “count your sisters!” Sarah realizes that Helena’s missing, and she and Felix confront Mrs. S. Mrs. S admits that she traded Helena to Project CASTOR in exchange for Sarah and Kira’s safety. Sarah’s furious, and demands that Delphine help her find Helena. Delphine agrees, but they’ve got another problem to deal with first: Topside is sending a “cleaner” to investigate DYAD, and they can’t find out about what happened to Rachel.

Sarah as Rachel, Allison as Sarah. Right.

Sarah as Rachel, Allison as Sarah. Right.

Our solution? Clones pretending to be clones! I always love getting to see the nuances of Tatiana Maslany’s character acting. Sarah impersonates Rachel, and Alison impersonates Sarah (who’s still supposed to be in captivity awaiting her oophorectomy). What was supposed to be a one-and-done “Hi I’m here gonna go catch a plane!” encounter between Sarah-as-Rachel and Ferdinand the cleaner quickly unravels. It seems like Rachel had her own plans (and relationship) with Ferdinand. After Rachel kidnaps Kira, she was to give the go-ahead to Ferdinand to kill all the clones within twenty-four hours, just like what happened in Helsinki (six clones, 32 collateral casualties). Sarah desperately tries to call and warn Alison just as a mysterious hitman approaches her house. Ferdinand suspects something’s up, so Sarah goes full Rachel on him, attempting to strangle him with his own belt in an under-negotiated BDSM scene (at least from Ferdinand’s view of things) when Delphine bursts into the apartment and breaks it up. A thoroughly confused Ferdinand is led away by Delphine’s security and Sarah tells Delphine about Rachel’s “Helsinki 2.0” plan. Delphine insists that Sarah sit tight on her search for Helena until they know more about Project CASTOR.

Overall, we’ve got a great Season 3 premiere. I was a bit worried that with the addition of a whole new cadre of clones, Orphan Black was going to get too convoluted, but I think the writers are handling it well. It seems like we’ve pretty much dropped the religious cult storylines and military establishments are taking their place. With a few throwaway lines about the Project LEDA clones having a “face to fight wars for”, it’s even more apparent that we’re loosely following Greek mythology’s story of Leda, her children, and the Trojan War. The Trojan War supposedly began when Paris kidnaps Helen of Troy (daughter of Leda and Zeus). Helen’s supernaturally beautiful face “launched a thousand ships”. Homer, Euripedes, and even the Roman Virgil all talk about the events of the Trojan War, so we’ve got a lot of potential source material to play with. I’m also looking forward to potentially examining themes of masculinity in light of war, the military, and male stereotypes with the CASTOR clones. We’ve already spent a lot of time examining femininity and motherhood with the LEDA clones, and I hope the writers handle the new themes just as well.

What are you looking forward to most in Season 3? Let me know in the comments.

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4 thoughts on “Orphan Black: “The Weight of This Combination” Review

  1. The thing I find most interesting is how the male clones and their experiences with will differ to the female clones especially when it comes to making their own choices regarding their bodies for example this has only come up in interviews(http://thinkprogress.org/culture/2015/04/14/3646388/male-clones-maiming-murder-orphan-black-showrunners-talk-season-three/) so far but we know that all the male are self aware, have grown up together and seem to have more access to information then the female ones. It seems to me that the male clones are more in control of their own paths. Also all the female clones other then Sarah and Helena are infertile but I think the male clones maybe fertile for example Mark really wanted to have kids with Gracie and probably will after the baby she is carrying is born, it’s never implied he can’t father a child which make me think he could have children. This would mean the male clones would be in control of their own reproductive functions unlike the female clones. This for me mirrors real life, in my country a woman cannot have an abortion in any situation and it is really impossible to get surgeries such tubal ligation(doctors simply refuse to do it especially with young women) whereas a man can get vasectomy very easily even on public health insurance, just like in the show men have the freedom to choose but women do not. This could be wrong of course because all I’m going off is one interview and what I’ve seen in show so far.

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