Orphan Black “The Weight Of This Combination” Review (“Season 3 Episode 1)

Orphan Black The Weight of This Combination Season 3 Episode 1 14

Orphan Black finally returned this week for its third season, and I was a little apprehensive going into it. The show has a lot of great things going for it, not the least of which is Tatiana Maslany’s consistently phenomenal performance as the Project Leda clones. It also has had some problems over the last two years. Many times, the show’s storylines have failed to live up to the magnitude of the talent bringing them to life. Last year, the show struggled with sluggish pacing for the first half of the season and spent too much time on the Prolethean cult. If you took away the phenomenal cast, Orphan Black would just be a mediocre sci-fi show.

Which is why I wasn’t sure how the first episode would pan out. I was pleasantly surprised and delighted that throughout the episode, the focus remained on the clones and their relationship to one another. This is where the show excels. We caught up with Sarah, Cosima, Helena, Alison, and got confirmation that the sisterly bond does not extend to one-eyed Rachel. We also got more face time with the Castor clones. It’s going to take a couple episodes for me to get straight who each of them is. They can’t use wigs and costumes, which makes it a bit more challenging to differentiate them.

The opening scene is masterful. It’s an idyllic backyard BBQ/baby shower for Helena. She’s all in pink and enjoying being the center of attention. Alison brings in cupcakes, Felix cooks ox tail, and Cosima comes in traditional Ukrainian dress. The fact that all of the clones are together and happy is a tip off that everything is not what it seems. The best part is how seamlessly the show creates these types of scenes. All of the clones together look completely realistic.

It turns out someone is boxing Helena. She wakes up trapped and hallucinates that a talking scorpion is giving her advice. Her sisters don’t yet know that she is missing, and they’re not happy when they find out. It’s amazing how the tables have turned from the days when they all wanted Helena dead.

Just about all of the clones have got problems. For Rachel, it’s that pesky number 2 pencil in her eyeball. It’s removed, but has done some damage to her frontal lobe. The big question is…will she get a patch or a fake eye? Considering Dyad can grow tails, I don’t see why they couldn’t whip up a bionic eye. Also, what will the effects be now that she’s suffered brain trauma Rachel’s bigger problem is that she’s been usurped by a newly made over Delphine. It’s common knowledge that once you got from loose bohemian curls to stick straight locks, you mean business. It was unexpected, though, that Delphine has become ruthless enough to torture Rachel.

Delphine’s new position of power spells heartache for Cosima. Delphine’s new priority is Project Leda, not any one individual clone…not even the one she loves. It’s sad for Cosima, but an interesting development for Delphine. She’s always been an ambiguous character—you never truly knew if she was on the side of the clones. Her motivations and goals will be more interesting now that they aren’t just, “Save Cosima.”

Alison’s problems are of a more mundane nature, but also the most entertaining. Having bonded over corpse disposal, Alison and Donnie are far closer. Donnie is also empowered. He quits his job after calling his boss a bitch and seems positively gleeful about it. Alison may find that his rash move jeopardizes her ability to drive the Soccer Starz bus. However, it’s not going to derail her new political aspirations. There was one line that typifies Alison in my mind: “I have a bee in my bonnet.” I love the new dynamic between Donnie and Alison. They will be perfect partners in crime.

Meanwhile, Sarah has her work cut out for her keeping everyone together. She learns that Mrs. S handed Helena over to Paul and the Castor clones. That means Sarah’s top priority is getting her back. Delphine, on the other hand, wants Sarah to help her convince Ferdinand, a cleaner being sent in to assess the situation at Dyad, that she is Rachel and everything is hunky dory. Felix has two great responses to this: “Delphine’s got your number? Well, we definitely need new clone phones” and “Jesus, don’t these people know you never even finished high school?”

Ferdinand arrives and is played by James Frain. I love most things James Frain does, so I’m excited that he’s making an appearance this season. He’s got a secret agenda with Rachel that goes by the code name “Helsinki.” Basically, he and Rachel had planned to kill all the other Leda clones. Sarah plays along as Rachel, until she reaches her limit and puts a beat down on Ferdinand. Let that be a warning to anyone who thinks he can hurt her sisters.

There are a couple other new characters coming in. We see Dr. Coady at the end, and she is the head of the Castor group. There’s also another new clone, Crystal. I was unclear (and may have missed it) on whether the Castor clones killed her. Delphine said they caught them loading her into a trunk, but I didn’t catch if she was dead. She kind of has a Rachel look to her, so adding her might be confusing. Marian is “out of town” and it’s unclear if we’ll see her this season. I’m looking forward to seeing Lost Girl’s Ksenia Solo as Shay this season. She’ll make her appearance around episode 5.

This is the show’s strongest start, so fingers crossed they keep the story tight and the momentum going.