After the bombshell ending to the second season of Orphan Black revealed the existence of a line of male clones, Season 3’s opener, ‘The Weight of This Combination’, doesn’t take long to start introducing us to them more formally.
The Castor clones are, unfortunately, not as immediately distinctive or enjoyable to watch as the originals though, and during these first two episodes it is difficult to connect or get invested in that side of the story. In addition to Prolethean Mark, we’ve now got the fairly silent soldier Miller, the unhinged Rudy and his loopy brother Seth, all played of course by Ari Millen.
However, with the first episode opening on a captured Helena dreaming about how idyllic life could be, and continuing to prioritise stories about the main clones, the show does make it clear that the focus hasn’t been taken away from Sarah, Helena, Cosima and Alison. The new boy clones are simply there to add an extra bit of antagonistic force, which they accomplish quite successfully, even if some of the more messier storytelling elements from last season still linger and cloud up what exactly they’re up to.
One good thing about the start of this season is that it doesn’t keep its secrets for long, it doesn’t take too long for Sarah to learn about Mrs S’ involvement in what has happened to Helena, and it also doesn’t take long at all for everyone to know about the existence of Project Castor. But these first two instalments are still very much about establishing what’s next and setting up the season.
It makes it clear that however conclusive last season might’ve felt, nothing lasts, so Cal reappears briefly simply to show us what a happier life for Sarah could look like before she realises that she has to send him and Kira on their way without her if she wants them to be safe from harm.
Tatiana Maslany continues to be amazing in the numerous leading roles, and was justly rewarded this year with an Emmy nod. In this first episode, we get some clone impersonations to really prove how remarkable she can be, both with Sarah impersonating Rachel and then with Alison impersonating Sarah to convince Ferdinand (James Frain) that everything is as it should be and that Rachel isn’t in huge amounts of pain after the pencil that was fired into her eye has been taken out.
As expected, Alison’s plot feels quite disconnected in the early stages, as she tries to run for the position of school board trustee for her home district, and ends up taking on a drug business to fund her ambition.
We also see some of Cosima, with a quick but strongly emotional scene with Delphine and not too much else to do yet. Speaking of Delphine, she seems to be headed towards being slightly more evil or edgy as she threatens and manipulates Rachel and potentially moves into a more conflicted and complex role.
The second episode gets a bit weirder and maybe a bit more vague than the first, but it also doesn’t feel like the show is going to be quite so unforthcoming with its story this year. We can see things already put into motion, as the Helena plot gives us a look into where Castor started and with Paul clearly testing the mental strength of the male clones.
It’s great to end with a glimpse of Mark again, as the show could capitalise on how we know this character and he could now bring a bit more meaning to the Castor stories.
It’ll be interesting to see where this is all headed next.
Available to watch now on BBC iPlayer.
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