I’ll be frank: Orphan Black is a series I only got into a few months ago thanks to a recommendation by a good friend. As such, I’ve been playing catch-up since last fall. Now that I’m caught up, I thought I’d give it a crack.
Granted, I’m not as well versed on this series- or any series, really- as fans and followers of the show are, so my analyses and critiques may have some faults, but that’s the case with everything I write, if I’m honest. Anyway, let’s jump into the Season Three premiere: “The Weight of This Combination.”
The season begins with, appropriately, a box…or, rather, a very pregnant Helena opening a box while at her baby shower. It’s a very joyous occasion and nothing could possibly ruin this moment. Felix is cooking some ox liver- why?- Alison whipped up some desserts and Cosima is even better thanks to the miracle of science.
Yeah, enough of this gooey shit. The light hearted mood suddenly gets dark and unpleasant, like an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical. A scorpion suddenly makes its way toward her…
…and we cut back to reality where Helena finds herself trapped in a box. She has no way of knowing exactly where she is, but at least the scorpion is still there to keep her company. Helena remembers the scorpion, right? Though Helena has been taken away from her sestras, no one ever said this journey would be easy.
After we see some doctors extract the pencil from Rachel’s eye…
Meanwhile, Sarah, Felix, and Kira revisit Shite Beach- Felix’s name, not mine. Though Felix is concerned about the new male clones, Sarah is convinced that Marion is handling this, even though Marion is already covering for them in Europe.
Then Delphine arrives and is in need of Sarah. Until three weeks ago, she and others didn’t even know that Project Castor existed. They were a myth, but now they’re a bomb and shockwaves are coming. Sarah doesn’t consider any of this her problem, but Delphine thinks otherwise. There are outside and inside threats to Leda.
Delphine shows how DYAD managed to track down this particular clone. She shows Sarah some surveillance footage of one clone meeting a Krystal Goderitch on an elevator. Oh, it gets better. Another of the male clones showed up at the building. Luckily, the security team managed to intercept the clones as they were forcing Krystal into the trunk of a car. She survived.
The clones are still a threat, though, as one managed to kill two members of the security team, while the other clone escaped. There’s still no indication as to what they want and the captured clone hasn’t given as much as his name. He does agree to speak to Sarah and Sarah only, though. Not that Sarah has anything else to do right now.
So Sarah meets the clone, who is convinced that Sarah is made of ‘the good stuff,’ not like Krystal. The clone can’t say out loud what he wants, though, because the walls have ears. He warns Sarah against trusting DYAD, but Sarah responds that she only trusts her sisters. Ah, right, it’s a family affair. The clone doesn’t get under Sarah’s skin until he starts talking about Felix, Mrs. S and Kira, prompting her to lunge forward and threaten him with death.
Then we get the first of many conference calls with Sarah checking in on the others. Felix is playing host to Kira and Cosima, who is feeling much better than the last time we saw her, Alison is busy at a soccer game, and Helena is nowhere to be seen. Sarah tells Felix to meet her at Mrs. S’s place so they can talk. Sarah wants to find Helena, but Delphine hasn’t got time for that because of a more urgent matter: Topside is sending an investigator to DYAD to assess the security risks Sarah and the rest of Clone Club.
Sarah doosn’t see this as her problem- everyone’s got their own problems this week- but Delphine counters that it is. The investigator coming is a cleaner. He cannot find out what happened to Rachel, so that means Sarah is gonna have to play Rachel. That should be fun.
Alison, meanwhile, loads the soccer players onto the bus, where she gets a run-in with Marci Coates, played by Amanda Brugel. So what’s Marci want? Well, it’s election season and she wants to be able to count on Alison to support her for the position of school trustee, even though she’s the incumbent and probably won’t have any competition.
Alison cuts Marci’s sweet talk short when she brings up the fact that Marci plans to tinker with electoral boundaries, which would take Bailey Downs out of the Glendale School District. That would mean Alison’s kids would have to change schools, and chances are no parent would like a sudden change like that. Hence, Alison plans to run against Marci. How fun.
So if this is good news, we need some bad news to even out the equation. Donnie arrives with a box of stuff. He finally told Susan Teller what’s what and called her a bitch. And work took the keys to his Taurus. Whoops.
Mrs. S. arrives at home. Sensing something is amiss, she grabs a knife. She’s proven right when she’s attacked by one of the male clones.
The clone tries to jog S’s memory and she soon recognizes him as a Castor. The clone knows that Professor Ethan Duncan was here recently. S isn’t happy. Major Dierden agreed that Project Castor would leave S and her family out of this, but the clone isn’t here under Dierden’s orders. The clone is too late for Duncan, though. He went into DYAD and cared for it for so little that he died. So what about his research? Well, it must still be at DYAD.
Delphine checks in on Rachel, who is still recovering. Dr. Nealon tells Delphine that Rachel’s eye was lost and she sustained some trauma to the frontal lobe. It’s too soon to talk about impairment. Then Delphine tells the doctor that Topside is sending Ferdinand, who lands in three hours. Nealon isn’t too surprised since Topside took action on Project Lead before. There was an incident in 2006- Helsinki. Well, that’s why Delphine is here: to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
The doctor warns Delphine that Sarah mustn’t know about Helsinki. Not even Rachel knows. Delphine just hopes that she can count on Nealon to put Leda about its individuals. Neither of them can avoid to play favorites right now, anyway.
Felix and Sarah find Mrs. S. They are just not having a good day with now two male clones out there. S then drops the major bombshell that she was responsible for trading Helena to Paul in exchange for Marion acquiring Castor information. Needless to say that Sarah is pissed. She storms off in a huff. Felix, once again caught in the middle of a nasty situation, gives pursuit, but he also makes sure to get S to a hospital, so he decides to call Benjamin.
Kira drops a doll on its face. That doll did nothing to her. Cosima asks if Kira remembers when she woke her up to read her that story. Cosima had a dream where she was way above and she could see below. Then she came back to Kira. She doesn’t have words for what she’s trying to say, but Kira spells it out pretty bluntly Cosima came back so Delphine could make her better with Kira’s stem cells.
Delphine shows up at the door with only a minute to talk. She needs Sarah, but she’s not there. The Rachel problem is very critical, so she needs her help. Delphine is taking over some of Rachel’s duties, so she won’t be able to work with Cosima and Scott for awhile. Delphine is keeping her promise to love all of Clone Club’s sisters equally, but for that to happen, she and Cosima can be no more. Everyone has their part to play, but Cosima’s is to cure. True as that is, the two part on sad terms.
You know who else is sad? Alison and Donnie as they work through their financial situation. They have one mortgage payment, but Donnie doesn’t want to go through their retirement fund. It’s not all bad. Donnie has a bit of cash left over from his time as a monitor, but he has a suggestion: Alison can work with her mother again part time at Bubbles. Ha. Alison will dig ditches, but she won’t go back to that. Besides, she has to think about the upcoming school trustee race. But before that, she gets a phone call from Delphine.
Sarah is still livid about S’s betrayal. Felix reminds her that she can’t take everyone under her wing, but the alternative would be to abandon S, like everyone else has done her entire life. Then Delphine calls Sarah. Though Sarah could just say no, she realizes that Delphine may be able to help her with Helena.
So it’s time for Sarah to do a complete image makeover into Rachel. Ferdinand knows Rachel, but this is Delphine’s meeting, so hopefully Sarah won’t have to do much. Delphine agrees to help with Helena, but they need to get through this inquisition first. Ferdinand can’t sense that anything is amiss or the plan could go south.
Scott checks in on Cosima. Between the soldier clones and lesbian drama- a deadly combination, mind you- he doesn’t know that he wants to work on super secret shit anymore. Fair enough. But then Cosima shows Scott the book on Dr. Moreau from Duncan. When Scott finds the code that could be the key on unlocking the rest of synthetic sequences, he can’t really jump off the project just yet. Until the two can decipher this, though, no one else, not even the rest of Clone Club or Delphine, need to know.
When the transformation is complete, Sarah and Delphine meet with Ferdinand, played by James Frain. Oh hey, it’s Franklin from True Blood. Rachel claims that she’s between flights and tries to leave, but Ferdinand is in need of them both. Well, shit. In light of the Castor revelation, Topside has engaged Ferdinand to conduct a DYAD security review. Marion has held a living, breathing Castor subject in her basement for three weeks without reporting it, even if she needed it for genetic confirmation. The only ones aware of this are Delphine, Dr. Nealon, and Rachel.
Paul Dierden appears to have been the Castor mole. He may have gotten close to Rachel, but Dr. Leekie put him there in the first place. Rachel did consent to him, though. There’s more, as Rachel brings up that Castor has kidnapped Helena, Sarah Manning’s maternal twin. Ferdinand is aware that Sarah is being held captive and would like to speak with her himself. Delphine reluctantly agrees to take Ferdinand to Rachel.
Now Alison gets into the role-playing as she steps into Sarah’s role for a moment. Ferdinand seems convinced, but he needs to do some extra examination. He insists that this is important. In all her unmonitored wanderings through their murky history, has Sarah ever met a male clone? She insists that she hasn’t met any male clones- just her sisters. Ferdinand makes use of a pair of gloves when he fondles Sarah and notes that she was supposed to be recovering from surgery.
When Sarah begins to protest, Rachel strikes her. This may be my favorite moment of the episode so far.
Delphine needs a word with Ferdinand. She explains that they had to postpone the oophorectomy. Ferdinand reminds the two that their objective is to isolate Sarah’s fecundity ASAP. Why wait? Delphine’s response is that they can’t remove the ovaries of a woman who is ovulating. It’s inconvenient, but at least she’s contained. No risk to topside. Ferdinand orders Sarah be returned to her cell, but he needs a word with Rachel: he knows that she’s lying about flying anywhere tonight.
Ferdinand can’t believe that Sarah Manning, Rachel’s nemesis, is still drawing breath, and he worries that Rachel could have cold feet. After all, things are already in motion, but Rachel knows that Sarah’s biology is too unique to waste. As is Helena’s. They need to locate her, though Ferdinand would much rather discuss Helsinki. He’ll come to her place tonight.
The security guards watch one of the male clones do workout in the nude. Why is this important? Well, it isn’t right now, but it will be in a while.
Now it’s time for conference call number two. The clones realize that they can’t rely on anybody but each other since Helena isn’t a priority for Delphine. Then Ferdinand arrives at the door.
Delphine gets to have a bit of fun when Rachel awakens. She isn’t completely there and struggles to get out a complete sentence or thought. She gets a bit of extra motivation when Delphine presses on her injured eye socket. Ouch. Delphine promises to completely erase her unless she tells what she’s planning with Ferdinand. Oh, and Rachel knows about Helsinki after all.
Since this version of Rachel doesn’t know Ferdinand’s drink of choice, she whips up something new instead. Fair enough. He demands to know why Rachel hasn’t been returning his calls, but it’s to keep up appearances. Once again, Sarah tries to turn the conversation to Helena, but Ferdinand notices that Rachel isn’t herself. While it’s entirely possible that Rachel slept with her monitor, Ferdinand thinks that he was her bitch instead. Rachel responds by sticking her foot on Ferdinand’s crotch. Huh.
Okay, enough foreplay. Rachel wants Ferdinand to consider a prisoner swap with Castor. Ferdinand gets up in a huff and insists that this has nothing to do with Castor, but Helsinki instead. After all, Rachel wanted this! She also said that Marion is too soft and that if they don’t act, her sisters could expose Topside. There are other options, but Ferdinand thinks that it’s too late. He advises Rachel to be strong. The Helsinki girls were eradicated in 24 hours- six clones and 32 collateral. As soon as she has Sarah’s ovaries, Rachel needs to put her down for good.
If Cosima is inducted tomorrow, she’ll deteriorate rapidly. As for Alison Hendrix, that’s already underway. The family is to be chloroformed, followed by a house fire.
Sarah takes a moment to make an emergency call to Alison, but in true television fashion, Alison is too distracted by something making too much noise to drown out the phone.
Ferdinand interrupts when he enters the bathroom and smells something amiss. If she’s not careful, Helsinki will swallow her, too, and then she won’t get what she wants. Rachel just wants her sisters spared. No, Ferdinand says, what Rachel wants is a child. Just remember Kira.
This leads to the two getting some hot and heavy action on with Rachel strangling Ferdinand with his own belt, but not remembering the safe word. It helps to write down that kind of thing.
Delphine enters not to join in, but to remind Ferdinand that he’s not there to screw the product, but to conduct a security review. Apparently, you can’t have both. He is to report that DYAD is secure and that clones are self-aware now. He knows how leverage works.
So yeah, Rachel was going to eliminate the clones. Sarah’s still only in this to find Helena, and Delphine is counting on that. She still agrees to help, but until she finds out what Castor really is, she wants Sarah to stand down. Don’t try anything else.
Meanwhile, Helena is finally freed from box number one.
Also, the incarcerated clone is freed by another when the security guard mesmerized with him is killed by another clone. Perhaps these guys should have found something else other than watch a clone that can’t escape his imprisonment.
If I can think of a key word for this episode, it would be trust. Or lack thereof, I should say. As the details of Helsinki and Rachel’s plan unravel, Sarah and the rest of the clones realize that they can’t fully trust everyone around them. They’ve been fooled before and they’ve been hurt by the people they trusted, as we see with both Cosima and Delphine’s break-up, or Sarah’s stinging reaction when Mrs. S reveals that she sold out Helena.
But going beyond that, we see that the clones may not even be able to fully trust each other, either, at least not with everything. Like Delphine said, they each have different roles to play, but that doesn’t mean they need to be a part of everyone else’s story. Cosima and Scott have the chance at unlocking the rest of the genetic code, but their plans could be sidetracked if others are let into the fray. Cosima says on the conference that the clones can’t rely on anybody but themselves, which is proving true here.
That said, the scene where Cosima and Delphine end their relationship was sad to see, if only because the two did make each other happy. Here’s hoping that Cosima finds happiness in cracking this code.
But let’s stay with Delphine, who had quite a bit of fun this week. She managed to get Ferdinand off of her back after she conveniently caught him with Sarah, but she also got to become Rachel and screw around with the real Rachel, who still isn’t all in there yet. I wouldn’t say this makes Delphine unlikable or villainous since this is Rachel that we’re talking about, but the scene where Delphine pressed on Rachel’s face was just damn brutal to watch. I’m curious how quickly it will take Rachel to make a recovery.
Meanwhile, if anyone is having a shitty week, it’s Sarah, not just with having to twist Delphine’s arm to get help with Helena, but learning about Mrs. S’s betrayal. True, it wasn’t S’s decision to make, but like Felix said, Sarah shouldn’t have to feel like she has to take everyone under her wing. She can’t solve all of the clones’ individual problems and she shouldn’t have to try. Yes, they are her family and we’ve seen time and time again that she’ll do anything to protect them, but she can’t tackle every obstacle herself. I mean, that’s why you have clones in the first place. Multitasking, you know.
At the very least, she did a convincing job as Rachel. I know that Maslany gets a lot of credit for the great job she does with each performance and she deserves every bit of it, but it’s all about the little details and nuances. When Sarah becomes Rachel, Maslany’s performance is similar, but not exactly the same as how she portrays Rachel by herself. If Ferdinand were more meticulous, he may have caught on, but that’s just how good of a job Sarah was at playing Rachel without fully becoming Rachel.
Plus, even in the name of protection, she hit Alison, and I don’t like Alison.
Poor Helena, though. She has the most tragic of circumstances, I think, even though we don’t see her that much in this episode. We get a glimpse of the life and motherhood she’d like to have and, indeed, wouldn’t it be nice to be that happy and carefree? But no, she’s locked away in a box with a scorpion as her only friend. Well, at least it didn’t sting her, as far as I know.
There’s a lot of setup in this episode that is sure to play out for the rest of the season: what’s the end game for the male clones? Is this the last time that Ferdinand will discuss Helsinki? Given that he’s being leveraged, I doubt it. Will Alison win the race for school trustee? Who will ultimately rescue Helena?
“The Weight of This Combination” was an effective continuation of the series. The stakes are becoming increasingly higher and while I wish I had more of a reason to care about the male clones right now- as their plot isn’t particularly interesting to me right now- everything else more than made up for that. But if this episode taught me anything, it’s to always remember the safe word when your significant other is choking you. That’s important.