Season 3 of Orphan Black has kicked off with a hell of an opening episode, though perhaps a bit of an ambitious one. Continuing on almost directly from last season, The Weight of this Combination throws us straight into the action. The episode opens with Helena dreaming about sharing a baby shower with her beloved sestras. It’s a great scene because Helena is happy, surrounded by her family and eating Babka while relaxing. Of course, because this is Helena, the truth is undeservedly harsh. There’s no joy here as we find out she’s actually locked in a box, hallucinating about a talking scorpion.
As for the other clones, they all have their own problems. In true Orphan Black fashion, Tatiana Maslany shows us what an amazing actress she is as she, yet again, must take on roles withing roles. With Rachel out of commission (recovering from the pencil to the eye), it is up to Sarah to impersonate the “über bitch” as Dyad is investigated. Maslany offers us slight variations in persona that perfectly shows the character beneath the pretense. The scene where Sarah is acting as Rachel and Allison is acting as Sarah (it makes sense in the show) beautifully shows how uncomfortable these characters are in the skins of their counterparts. Sarah cannot sustain Rachel’s cold, arrogant detachment; and Allison is too upstanding to fully copy Sarah’s aggressive and take-no-shit attitude. It’s brilliant.
While Dyad was the main obstacle in season 2, it seems this season it’s the Project Castor boys’ turn to make life hell for our beloved sestras. Played by Ari Millen, the male clones are not anything like Project Leda. Sarah and the rest all grew up with completely different lives whereas the new Castor clones, besides Mark, so far seem to have the same background and appear to be unhinged. Much like Helena in the first season, these male clones are weapons in themselves, working towards a yet unknown plan. This is where the show is getting ambitious. Orphan Black is lucky to have such a talented lead actress but there’s still doubt as to whether Millen can step up to the same level.
The farmboy Mark we saw last season is vastly different to the army trained killers we are seeing now but these are only two personalities. While Millen has gotten the psycho/sociopathic attitude down pat, will there be more? Is Orphan Black reaching too high? The threat of these Castor clones to Sarah and the others is necessary but there’s a chance these boys will be a one note villain. Hopefully this will not be the case.
One of the biggest surprises this season, however, is the development of sweet little Delphine. In the last couple of seasons we have seen her playing the observer and the lover (lucky Cosima). She does what she’s told (to an extent) and follows the science. This is who she is. Or rather this is who she was. Losing Leekie and coming close to losing Cosima has toughened her up. In her own words she’s become “the new Rachel” and it couldn’t have been more clear than when she was torturing the real Rachel for information and showed no remorse. In fact, there were hints of pleasure and it was terrifying.
This new season of Orphan Black promises to be as action packed and complex as the previous. Whether Millen steps up to a similar playing field as Maslany has yet to be seen but there is good potential here. Overall this was a great opening episode despite the high stakes it must satisfy later on.