TV Recap: Orphan Black, S03E02, “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis”

In episode two we have a little more plot development, a little more weirdness and a farewell of sorts.

In season two we were introduced to Mark (Ari Millen) who played the socially isolated Prolethean cultist to a tee. He had a sense of being socially isolated, perhaps a little child-like, probably due to a lack of contact with anyone outside the compound.

Well it turns out all the Castor clones (for Mark was one) have the same issue. Exhibit “A” in episode two is an uber creepy scene in which Rudi (clone #1) invites a girl back to his apartment for some horizontal hockey, only to have Seth (clone #2) come uninvited to the party. But it’s all okay, because Rudi looks after Seth and vice-versa. They’re played as lost souls, but with an undertone of imminent violence.

Kudos must go to actors Ari Millen and Tatiana Maslany who show off their acting chops as each of the many clones, especially in scenes with multiple clones in-frame. They’re helped by the visual effects team of supervisor Geoff D.E. Scott and compositor Joel Chambers, together with editing (in this episode by D. Gillian Truster), direction by John Fawcett (one of the creators) and cinematographer Aaron Morton.

Paul (Dylan Bruce) makes his return in this episode and gives Castor clones Rudi and Seth a logic quiz, with lots of emphasis on the iris thanks to what looks like a Google Glass prototype. The scene is quite reminiscent of the Voight-Kampff test in Bladerunner, with lots of close-ups of eyes; it’s no-doubt an homage to the sci-fi classic. Seth seems not to be able to concentrate though, much to his brother’s concern.

Despite being given their marching orders by Paul, the Castors go AWOL and go on the hunt for their original genome, which they think geneticist Ethan Duncan (Andrew Gilles from season two) gave to Sarah (Tatiana Maslany). But they’re dead wrong. It doesn’t stop Rudi holding Kira (Skyler Wexler) hostage for a few frightening minutes, while her father, Cal (Michiel Huisman) runs the gauntlet of Seth who takes exception to being punched in the mouth. This situation forces Sarah’s hand and she decides to let Cal take Kira away to keep her safe. What she doesn’t know is that Paul has been in Cal’s ear and their relationship is of a military nature. It’s odds-on Cal and Kira will reappear soon.

And Sarah’s not the only one to get a fright. Kidnapped at the conclusion of season two, Helena spent the first episode of season three locked in a box with a snarky imaginary scorpion. In this episode she’s subjected to waterboarding and blood tests before kindly Dr. Coady (Kyra Harper) comes to the rescue, although at this point “kindly” may turn into “complete nutter” over the course of the season.

Orphan Black could easily be subtitled “Everyone’s someone else”.

Dr. Coady is surrogate mother of the Castor clones and wants to exploit Helena for her skills, which include the use of sniper rifles and kickboxing. Everyone’s got to have a hobby it seems.

And just to add a little mystery, Helena is also tested with the faux Voight-Kampff machine, but her imaginary scorpion becomes a distraction.

The screenwriters of season three of Orphan Black (for this episode it’s Aubrey Nealon) are adding a lot of “weird” to the story and it’s difficult if it’ll turn out to have a purpose other than distraction from the main game.

Speaking of distraction, there’s ongoing melodrama of Alison and Donnie, homemakers from suburbia with a body in the garage. As mentioned in the episode one recap, they don’t appear to serve any other purpose than comedy relief. This week, campaign funding is an issue which is solved for Alison through illegal means thanks to a boot load of drugs and a dip into the retirement fund. It’s a sideshow, a C-story which really detracts from the drama of the ongoing tale, not to mention, eats into running time which would be far better spent expanding on the core issues of who the Castor clones are and the origins of the LEDA clones, Sarah, Cosima, Alison and Helena.

But as with everything Orphan Black, there may be a purpose to the suburban goings-on. Only 8 more episodes to find out!

Orphan Black is airing on SBS and Netflix Australia.

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