ORPHAN BLACK: “The Weight of This Combination”

Clone Club: reassemble!

Orphan Black returned for its third season Saturday night, and the caper-esque sci-fi amalgamation is as thoroughly entertaining and complicated as ever. Season Two left us concerned for Cosima’s health, questioning Mrs. S’s motives for offering Helena up as fodder, and counting clones – there are now two sets. If you’re still finished with Team Paul versus Team Cal (the correct answer is Team Cal)–- let’s dive right into the Season 3 opener.

OPERATION SAD FACE

We open on a lovely fever dream: Helena fantasizing about what a baby shower would be like with her “sestras:” Sarah and Kira offering gifts, Felix at the grill, Alison baking cupcakes, and Cosima being well because of “science.” When the frizzy blonde awakens, however, she’s being held in a box with a talking(?) scorpion. Things do not seem to be faring much better for Little Miss Perfect Rachel, who – when we return to her – is undergoing surgery to have a pencil removed from her eye. Not great timing as Topside (You remember: they’re the guys who run DYAD) is sending a “cleaner” to get to the bottom of what — in my dreams — they deem  “clone mishandling.” Delphine – sporting a new Brazilian blowout — mentions something to Rachel’s doctor about a previous mess-up resulting in cleaners in Helsinki, and how Sarah/Rachel must never find out about it. (Plot Point!) Delphine urges the doctor to put Project LEDA above its individuals, and she will do the same (Poor Cosima! You deserve better, girl). Speaking of which, Delphine takes this opportunity to inform Cosima – who is faring much better thanks to Kira’s stem cells — that the Frenchie is basically the new Rachel (that explains the blowout), and their Facebook status officially changes to: it’s complicated over. Cosima’s got a secret of her own, as we know: she’s still holding onto Duncan’s copy of The Island of Dr. Moreau, and therein, the key to the rest of the synthetic sequences. I imagine she would have informed Delphine of this, had the woman not just stomped on her heart, but she chooses instead to bring lab partner Scott – that is, ONLY him – in on it.

BETRAYAL COMES IN ALL FORMS

Sarah, Felix, and Kira hang out at the beach, where exposition informs us that Marion has left for Europe (that was quick!) to control DYAD and cover for them. Felix is not so sure a holiday is warranted, and wouldn’t you know it, trouble turns right up. Enter Delphine bearing bad news: Project Castor is threatening LEDA (that would be: boy clones versus girl clones, in layman’s terms) and killing off Sarah’s sestras…one by one. Delphine has one of the Castor clones in custody, but he’ll only speak with Sarah. Once in front of him, he speaks more like Mama Bates than Norman, offering only riddles and less than lucid responses. Once he threatens her family, however, Sarah goes on the warpath – “counting her sisters,” as Joker-Faced-Clone warns her. She discovers Helena is missing, but it is really Mrs. S who is currently in danger, as a rogue mustachioed Castor Clone beats her up in her home looking for Professor Duncan. Sarah and Felix find her unconscious and clean her up, where – as perfect timing would allow – she informs Sarah of her decision to place Helena with Paul and the uniforms. Betrayed, Sarah turns her back on Mrs. S, and Felix worries that all will fall down. Delphine calls to beg for Sarah’s help playing Rachel for the Topside cleaner(!) so that the bigwigs do not find out about PencilGate. Sarah agrees in exchange for help locating and rescuing Helena (bet that’ll end well). Honestly, this show is never better than when Tatiana Maslany is playing a clone, playing another clone. Genius. Ferdinand (James Frain) – cleaner extraordinaire – questions Delphine and Rachel/Sarah about Marion’s decision to keep a Castor Clone in her basement for three weeks before informing Topside. Rachel/Sarah goes rogue and informs Ferdinand of Helena’s capture. Of course, he wants to question Sarah about it…

HELSINKI

In other news, Alison decides to run for School Trustee against an uptight Real Estate agent, just as Donnie gets fired from his job. Always a minefield for our favorite soccer mom. After crunching some numbers, the suburbanites realize that times are going to be tight right about the time Delphine (she’s everywhere this episode) phones to ask Alison to be Sarah in case Ferdinand needs to question her. (I guess Alison could not be Rachel?) During questioning, the cleaner actually feels Sarah/Alison up to ensure she’s had her surgery…Surgery neither Sarah nor Alison had to endure. Delphine pulls him out of the room and lies that Sarah cannot have the operation until she’s finished ovulating. (TMI.) Ferdinand pulls Rachel/Sarah aside to make sure he can see her…um…later. (Gross.) Rachel/Sarah agrees so that she can get him to rescue Helena. Delphine goes all bad cop and tortures a recovering Rachel (the real one) into informing her what Ferdinand and she had going. Turns out, the “wicked” clone knew all about Helsinki. Back in Rachel’s lair, Rachel/Sarah flirts with the cleaner – in the only way Rachel can: deadpan. But attempting to get his help with Helena turns out to be a no-go. Helsinki was all about putting clones down, and it’s already underway. A Topside agent is currently at Alison’s home attempting to kill the family. Sarah attempts to call her, but gets caught by Ferdinand – and she whips him into submission to control the situation. Literally, naughty girl, and then chokes him. She would have killed him, too, if not for Delphine (for the love of Pete, that woman is EVERYWHERE) showing up. Helsinki is aborted – you know, due to Ferdinand sleeping with Rachel – and Alison is spared. Delphine tells Sarah not to try anything else, and she will attempt to get Helena back once she uncovers more information about Castor.

Helena is let out of the box – hallucination scorpion goes bye-bye, unfortunately – by a uniformed Castor Clone. He’s given the order by a mysterious smoking woman (X-Files­ anyone?), but that’s all we get! Moments later, Joker-Castor-Clone is let out of his cell by mustachioed Castor clone, after mustache kills some guards. Confused, yet?

Orphan Black continues to reinvent the show every season, remaining fresh and weaving a deeper plot that one can only hope continues to engage and reveal itself organically and without overcomplicating itself. And while Ari Millen (Castor Clones) is no Tatiana Maslany – quite frankly, no one is – its nice to see someone else pulling double multifarious duty.

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