The world of clones has expanded on Orphan Black, and the season 3 premiere, “The Weight of This Combination,” kicks off the official introduction of Project Castor, which just poses another problem on the long list of things the Leda clones have to worry about already. Being a clone is hard.
As the new season begins, Delphine uses Sarah for Dyad’s benefit, whether that means making her talk to Rudy, the Castor clone locked up in Marion’s basement, or using her to keep a certain clone’s status secret from Topside. The other Leda clones aren’t without their own problems; Cosima is sick and loses her girlfriend to Dyad, Alison takes on a new task in the neighborhood and Helena just wants to find her way back to her sisters.
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Helena’s Dream vs. Helena’s Reality
“Wouldn’t it be nice?” the opening scene asks, as it shows happy times for the seestras, Felix and Kira. The sun is shining, there’s food for Helena and gifts for her baby and Cosima is “way better thanks to science.” It’s the kind of scene the dance party hinted at being a possible future. Unfortunately, it’s not real. It gets dark, just like Helena’s situation does, as she sees a scorpion crawl out of her shirt.
Helena is still Castor’s prisoner, trapped in a box, with only the scorpion she sees next to her her companion. “Relax, Helena,” it tells her. “You remember me, don’t you? You’re being tested again,” and it’s not going to be easy. Later, the scorpion tells her to “picture a box inside a box inside a box,” and when Dr. Coady has Castor clone Miller open the box, the scorpion congratulates her on escaping the first box. It’s just the beginning for Helena with Project Castor.
Rudy Alerts Sarah to a Major Problem
“Until three weeks ago, we didn’t even know Project Castor existed. They were a myth,” Delphine explains to Sarah when she brings her in to talk to Rudy at his insistence. “But now, they’re a bomb, and shockwaves are coming.” While Dyad did capture Rudy, his brother Seth got away.
“You’re a legend, Sarah Manning,” Rudy greets her. “You’re made of the good stuff, aren’t you?” He knows all about her and her family — Felix, Mrs. S., Kira — how “special” she is and that she’s trusting the wrong people. “Count your sisters,” he warns as she leaves.
That’s how Sarah figures out that Helena is missing. After she and Felix find Mrs. S. beaten up after Seth came looking for Duncan’s research, their foster mother reveals she made a “wartime decision,” to give Paul what he wanted: Helena. “Please, don’t turn your back on me, not on your people,” Mrs. S. begs, but as she leaves, Sarah tells her, “you’re not my people.”
Sarah Puts the “Strong” at the Mercy of Delphine
Because of Sarah’s actions in the season 2 finale and in the season 3 premiere, two characters that are perceived by others to be strong — fellow Leda clone Rachel and Topside cleaner Ferdinand — end up at the mercy of others, specifically Delphine (and in Ferdinand’s case, also Sarah). While Rachel survived the pencil to the eye, she lost that eye and suffered trauma to her frontal lobe, so when Topside sends Ferdinand to assess Dyad and the security risk the Leda clones pose, Delphine turns to Sarah to be Rachel. In exchange, Sarah wants her help getting Helena back.
While Felix considers Rachel “a stretch” for Sarah, she pulls it off. It begins with a scene that reminds me of Sarah turning herself into Beth in the series premiere, back before she knew the truth and only thought about fooling someone long enough to get her hands on Beth’s money in the bank. Oh, how far Sarah has come.
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While Sarah’s first steps off the Dyad elevator as Rachel show that she’s still adjusting to being Rachel as she and Delphine go to meet Ferdinand, when it comes to fooling Topside’s investigator, she gets the job done. Ferdinand wonders about the “living, breathing Castor subject” (the phrasing of that says a lot about how Topside views clones) Marion has had in her basement for three weeks and questions the choice of Paul, the Castor mole, as her monitor. Sarah smoothly puts the blame on Dr. Leekie, saying she just consented to his choice (it’s not like Leekie can say anything himself) and also manages to slip Helena’s kidnapping into the conversation.
The biggest problem comes when Ferdinand wants to question Sarah, who should still be Dyad’s prisoner. That’s where Alison comes in, and while Alison has attempted to play Sarah before, it’s one thing to be in Mrs. S.’ home with Kira and Felix. It’s another to be facing someone no one has ever met before. Because Sarah has become a pro at playing the other clones, it makes it that much more obvious when another is trying her hand at it — and in Sarah and Alison’s cases, who they are (Sarah was a con artist when we first met her and Alison is a soccer mom) is an important factor in pulling something like this off.
Just like Rachel-as-Sarah didn’t quite work in season 2, Alison struggles to keep the Sarah facade when confronted by Ferdinand. While Alison isn’t awful and is good at times (“yeah, it does” get old, one such instance), she does begin cracking as Ferdinand gets closer and closer until, in a very Alison-like way, she tells him to get his hands off of her when he checks for proof of the surgery Sarah should have had. Sarah intervenes and slaps her, maintaining her Rachel facade, and Delphine pulls Ferdinand outside to tell him they had to postpone the surgery because they can’t remove the ovary of a woman who is ovulating. That’s a really close call.
When Ferdinand stops by Rachel’s place for drinks that evening to discuss Helsinki (his subject) and Helena (Sarah’s), he comments that she’s not herself and inquires about her relationship with Paul. Did she sleep with him? “I think he was your bitch,” he tells her, and what follows shouldn’t be surprising considering how Rachel treated Paul last season — and once again, Sarah manages to play Rachel well enough to get out of what could have turned into a disaster.
Sarah, in her attempts to keep the focus on getting Helena back, manages to get Ferdinand to spill about Helsinki. Apparently Rachel worried that Marion was too soft and her sisters could expose Topside. Rachel planned to kill them and their loved ones, and the one in the most trouble at the moment is Alison, whose family is about to be chloroformed and burned in a house fire. Sarah escapes to the bathroom to try to call her, but she only gets her voice-mail. Ferdinand follows her, wondering what happened to the Rachel he knows and “who is behind that face,” and Sarah makes the right move when she takes off his belt, hits him with it and pushes him onto the bed, wrapping the belt around his throat. Yes, he recognizes Rachel now. No, she doesn’t remember their safe word.
Meanwhile, Delphine forces Rachel to talk, and all it takes is some pressure to her eye (or rather, where her eye used to be) for her to find out that, despite Dr. Nealon’s claim that Rachel doesn’t know about Helsinki, she does. If Delphine’s going to be the new Rachel…
Delphine shows up in time to stop Sarah from going too far with Ferdinand, take control of the situation (and of Ferdinand) and keep up appearances. Helsinki is aborted, and under Delphine’s orders, Ferdinand will report that Dyad is secure. None of this stops Ferdinand from turning back with a “Rachel?” as he’s escorted out of the apartment. And this is Topside’s cleaner? Just proves that nothing is what it seems.
Honoring a Promise Means Heartbreak
Cosima may be feeling better health-wise, but her heart takes a beating when Delphine stops by looking for Sarah for her help with the “very critical” Rachel problems. With Delphine becoming “the new Rachel,” not only can she not work with Cosima and Scott anymore, but in order to keep her promise to love all of her sisters equally, “I can’t do this,” she says. “We all have our part to play,” Delphine insists. “Me, Sarah, Alison, but yours is to cure yourself and all of your sisters.” Love can only go so far.
A New Secret Project
When Scott gives Cosima a check-up, he admits that with soldier clones running around and all the lesbian, he’s pretty much done with super secret stuff — until she shows him the book Duncan left behind with Kira. It could be his key to unlocking the rest of the synthetic sequences, and with that, Scott’s back in. “I’ve learned from Dyad, secrets are power,” Cosima explains as she reveals that no one else, including her sisters, will know about it until they’ve deciphered it.
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Alison Sets Her Sights on Marci
After soccer practice, Marci approaches Alison to secure her support in her campaign for school trustee. She tries to butter her up, but Alison’s having none of it. See, Marci plans to change district boundaries, so her kids would have to change schools, so instead of supporting her, Alison is going to run against her.
While the family could use the money Alison would get going back to working with her mother after Donnie used his new-found confidence (finding out his wife is a clone and accidentally killing his boss when he quit as her monitor can do that to a person) to stand up to his boss and lost his job, she refuses to do that. “I will dig ditches for this family” (and bury dead bodies in the garage), Alison explains, but even she has her limits. Plus, Donnie agrees that Marci has to go, so Alison’s going to be focusing her energy on beating her. It’s too bad Donnie didn’t have more expenses from his time as Alison’s monitor. (Though, sore subject.)
Rudy spends his time being “a naked Buddha,” according to the men watching him in his cell. However, he’s dressed and waiting when Seth arrives, killing the guards and entering his cell. “Hello, brother,” Rudy greets his fellow Castor clone before turning around and hugging him.
Orphan Black season 3 airs Saturdays at 9 pm on BBC America.
(Image courtesy of BBC America)