Boy clones! Boy clones! Boy clones!
Let’s bitch it out…
Alright, so Orphan Black is back for a new season and the status quo has been decidedly interrupted in between seasons. We left off with the discovery that there was a boy clone organization named Project Castor that had been operating alongside our gals in Project Leda and it seemed as though Orphan Black was heading for a gender Battle Royale.
‘The Weight Of This Combination’ makes it clear that a confrontation is coming, but the season premiere is actually less interested in the boy clones than it is about reconfirming the familial relationship at the core of the series. If anything this episode is about how much the clones have come to rely on each other for support as the ladies share several scenes and chat on the clone phone frequently. It’s nice to see everyone interacting, especially since one of the primary criticisms of last season was that everyone seemed off in their own orbit and rarely engaged.
Naturally since this is Orphan Black, the world is still fraught with conspiracy and madness. I found the focus on an internal threat from within Dyad – as opposed to Castor – an interesting choice, as the remaining threat from Rachel (Tatiana Maslany) serves as a connective thread to bridge S2 and S3. Although the dominatrix bob-haired clone spends the entire episode in the infirmary, her plans remain very much the center of attention as a Dyad cleaner named Ferdinand (James Frain) arrives to execute a localized Helsinki move and exterminate all of our girls.
The question about what Helsinki is and who is in danger drives the episode, inspiring not one, but two character impersonations (Sarah as Rachel and Allison as Sarah). This is always fun because Maslany makes it look so effortless. Still, despite the technical wonders and Maslany’s talent, these conspiracy histrionics are not the main reason to watch the show. I find myself, now more than ever, living for the small moments with these characters I’ve grown to know and love, such as Cosima playing with Kira (Skyler Wexler), Sarah sitting by the river with Felix (Jordan Gavaris), yet more relationship drama between Cosima and Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) and the dangerous domestic life of Allison and husband/sap Donnie (Kristian Bruun). Even as we already have hints of lurking malice in the scenes involving the Castor clones (all played by Ari Millen), it’s nice that the season premiere takes some time to reinvest in the “seestra” relationship between the girls. After all, they’re going to need each other when the shit hits the fan.
- Sarah’s sexual and physical torture of Ferdinand is a nice callback to the uncomfortable domination sex scene between Rachel and Hot Paul (Dylan Bruce, sadly absent in the premiere) last season.
- Also absent: Art (Kevin Hanchard) and Cal (Michiel Huisman). Not sure I missed them, though.
- It’s time once again to praise Maslany’s unique ability to slip into each of the clones and make them distinct. Sarah’s Rachel is slightly uncomfortable with the walk and clothes, but when she needs to step up the physical force, that’s 100% Sarah. Meanwhile, Allison as Sarah almost manages to convey the Brit’s sass and devil may care attitude, but she’s clearly scared when Ferdinand gets too close.
- The jury is still out on Millen’s multiple Castor clones. Thus far they’re not very distinct, which prompted me to give them nicknames (based primarily on their hair): mohawk, pornstache, military, etc. My question: where’s Mark, the Prolethean who ran away from the fiery compound and was last seen marrying Gracie in the finale?
- I struggled with the timeline a fair amount. The gang have only just noticed that Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) sold Helena out to Paul and Castor, which suggests it’s not long after S2. And yet Delphine looks completely different following her return from Germany and she acts like a stone-cold killer (exhibit A: that gasp inducing ocular torture of Rachel for info on Helsinki). So…Delphine got a personality transplant and she’s diamond-tough now?
- Also: I am super unimpressed that Marion (the awesome Michelle Forbes) has randomly gone to Europe. I appreciate that it is difficult to secure big name guest stars for arcs, but bringing Marion in for a single episode and then using Delphine to do the dirty work feels dissatisfying.
- Speaking of Helena, I don’t have a good read on her conversations with a scorpion. Leave it to the crazy Ukrainian clone to make friends with a deadly creature and give it a voice as a coping mechanism to help her survive being tortured.
- Side Bar: I love the sugary pastel world of Helena’s hallucinatory baby shower at the start off the episode. All of the Clones have their distinct identifiers, including Allison’s pearls, Sarah’s Clash t-shirt and Cosima’s…well whatever that was.
- Allison’s new domestic challenge this year appears to be running for school trustee. Every year it’s like Orphan Black overdoes the conspiracy stuff and then tries to compensate by having some bland suburban storyline for Team Hendrix. I love the character and think she and Donnie are great, but do I care about seeing her challenge dull incumbent Marci Coates over school district lines? Nope.
- Finally, now that it looks like Rachel will survive, can we begin speculating on what kind of eyepatch she should wear?
- Felix (when Delphine arrives looking fabulous): “It’s Delphine. God she looks good.”
- Sarah (when Delphine suggests she impersonate Rachel): “Oh piss off”
- Ferdinand (as Sarah begins choking him): “Remember our safe word?” Sarah as Rachel: “No”
Your turn: what did you think of the premiere? Are you glad that the girls are spending more time together? Were you hoping for more boy clone action?
Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 9pm EST on BBC America. Next week the boys are back: