Orphan Black returned for season 3 with the episode, "The Weight of this Combination." I'm sure the title has a more arcane reference but I couldn't help but feel it had more to do with the heavy load Tatiana Maslany must bear as she once again takes on the many roles in her usual masterly fashion.
As seen above, Tatiana appears as Sarah to our left and the pregnant Helena as she opens her gifts.
Alison soon appears as her usual confectionery self, burdened by the tray of sweeteness she usually exudes.
Cosima arrives like the first day of Spring. Happy, healthy and ready to blossom.
Sadly, it is all the delusion of the captured Helena as she finds herself boxed in by the Castor group in the company of a hallucinatory scorpion she has obiviously shared time with before.
This sequence is testimony to the acting talents of Maslany and it reintruduces us to the many characters we've grown to love and think as seperate actors and individuals. It also represents the scale where Orphan Black works at its best. That of a tight close knit group in search of an identity both as a family and as a group of individuals.
This season, Orphan Black intends on widening the scale with the introduction of the Castor project and the shadow of "Topside" looming over their tiny world. This is dangerous territory as the larger the stage the smaller the players become.
If the specter of an indomitable colossus and it's byzantine machinations becomes the focus of our story then I fear we will lose the close knit group we've grown to love. Until now, their fight had to do with the search for self and the battle to be seen as individuals. A vast unknowable conspiracy represented by a faceless entity threatens to rob Orphan Black of its soul as a TV show.
If, however, Orphan Black can keep its focus on our group as fighters in a Resistance movement then it stands a good chance in succeeding. Think the last season of Fringe where Olivia, Peter and Walter found themselves in a dystopian future with only their wits to aid them.
It is a delicate balance. Too much of the unassailable "big bad" and the show will get lost in its own mythology. Stay with the collective heart of the show as pictured above, then you have a fighting chance.
Mark my words, the threat of the Castor project and its narrative will either sink or save this show. I don't think it was by chance we see this exemplified by the face off between Sarah and, which one is this? Miller, Rudy or Seth? It is our introduction to the path Orphan Black intends on pursuing this season.
The face of the opposition was seen over and over as the episode progressed.
Ari Millen is a talented actor but do we really need to see the male version of something Tatiana Maslany has already established? I get the polarity it represents but, again, the size of the stage threatens something intimate that was so endearing about this show.
Tatiana as Sarah, Sarah as Rachel
If there is one thing Tatiana excels at it is taking on multiple roles. She then turns that dynamic on its ear by having those roles climb into the skin of another where she is portraying someone impersonating another. She is very good at it. But the reintroduction of this dynamic so early on came off as a little heavy handed.
We all know one clone can impersonate another. The need to remind of this wasn't very subtle. Trust your audience Orphan Black. We remember. Let this device flow a little more organically next time.
Odds and Ends
JJ Abrams, what are you doing here?
Kidding. The amazing and essential James Frain was introduced as the cleaner, Ferdinand. I hope we get to see alot more of him this season. He represents the face of the other big bad, "Topside" this season. Again, if Orphan Black can keep its sense of scale he will be a welcome addition.
The cold hearted Rachel got some face time. As usual she has an eye for the dramatic. Her introduction led us to the role Delphine will be playing this year.
"I am you" she tells the humbled Rachel. Careful what you wish for Delphine. Rachel is down but not for long. This little dynamic leads us to Delphines relationship with Cosima.
Apparently it is off for now. I like how they played the "break up" scene. Delphine came across as cold hearted (the Rachel effect) but was obivously more torn up by the split than Cosima. Actually, Cosima chose to internalize her pain. Both were equally effective and I can't decide which I preferred.
Cosima can bury her anguish in her nascent relationship with Kira. As Cosima recovers, she can play Nanny and dive into the book left by Duncan and the mysteries it holds.
As for Kira, she is her usual precocious self. I wonder if Cosima realizes she has a bigger mystery sitting before her in Kira. Kira is often imagined as an angel by Helena. Those two seemed to have a unique relationship. I have a theory where Kira is actually the child of Helena and the scrawls Helena left behind in the hovels she habituates were often of an angelic childlike figure. A repressed memory of Kira I think.
For her part, Kira has created a safe hovel of her own in Sarah's apartment. Also a link to the real mother she never knew?
There was this also. The Clones do know the cannister was left behind in the apartment right?
Also in the apartment is Scott. And he has a wicked cool Periodic Table t-shirt. I want one!
He got the line of the night with the whole Dyad thing but the greater threat of "Lesbian drama." Don't ever change Scott.
The maternal angle was well served. For her part Mrs. S took a beating for her role both literally and figuratively as she imparted the truth about Helena to Sarah.
There is a new mama bear for the Castor group too. We get our first look at Dr. Coady who is billed as a "ruthless military advisor" to the Castor group. She certainly didn't show any sympathy for Helena.
There was much to think about from this first episode of the new season. Will "OB" keep their focus on the hardy band of resistance fighters we've come to love or will it get lost in the challenge posed by the monolithic governmental and bureaucratic enemy as represented by Castor and Topside?
I think I'll meditate on this. Maybe a little "Naked Bhudda" will be constructive.
Eek! I just pictured myself. Never mind!