Orphan Black, Ep. 3.02, “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis” takes a step in the right direction

Orphan Black S03E02

Orphan Black S03E02Orphan Black, Season 3, Episode 2, “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis”
Written by Aubrey Nealon
Directed by John Fawcett
Airs Saturdays at 9pm (ET) on BBC America

After the underwhelming season three premiere, “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis” is encouraging, moving what appears to be the crucial arc for the season, the introduction of Project Castor and the CastorClones, towards more interesting territory. While the two main CastorClones featured this week remain Bad Moustache Clone and Fauxhawk Clone, they’re given names and briefly, motivation. Seth (BMC) is sick, a short circuit in his brain causing searing pain and Rudy (FC) is protective of his brother, certain Seth will be put down if they return to base as they’ve been ordered. It’s not much, but this is far more characterization than Ari Millen has been given to work with either last season or in the season three premiere (aside from Creepy Cult Clone, Mark), and he does a surprising amount with these few beats. Seth and Rudy’s treatment of the woman they lure back to their hotel is appropriately creepy and traumatizing, a logical way to bring Art back into the fold, and making Sarah Manning the inspiration for Rudy’s decision to go off-book is a nice touch. The turnaround is rather quick, given that the CastorClones have theoretically spent their entire lives as happy little automatons, but the narrative benefits to speeding up this process far outweigh its convenience.

Returning this week, along with Art, is Cal, who spends a not insignificant portion of his time generally being adorable. Michiel Huisman continues to have fantastic chemistry with Tatiana Maslany and Skyler Wexler and it’s wonderful to get a glimpse at the family Cal, Sarah, and Kira could be, were life a bit less complicated. As he’s a rather in-demand actor, it’s unclear how many episodes Huisman will be around for this season, but by this point the series has done enough leg work to set up Cal as a dependable and canny ally for Sarah and protector of Kira. Cal and Kira can safely remain off screen until the finale, cavorting around Europe with Michelle Forbes’ Marion Bowles, without it raising too many questions.

Cosima may not look as healthy as Helena fantasized last week, but it’s definitely encouraging to see a bit more color in her cheeks. It’s great that she’s not going anywhere anytime soon (let’s be honest, Cosima is almost certainly never dying- Orphan Black is not good at letting go of popular characters), but a bit more continuity about her condition and the state of the other clones would help her sudden improvement feel more organic. Introducing a new character to the medical side of things could give that corner of the show some needed energy, but eventually Cosima will have to either solve the problem or die and the sooner the series commits to one of these, the better.

Elsewhere, Helena’s still being tortured and her buddy the scorpion is still awesome. The scorpion and Helena’s focus on the mangoes is delightful, as is Helena’s utter lack of interest in the CastorClone screening. This true/false logic quiz is odd and a little offputting, as likely intended, lining up with other tidbits about Project Castor, and Seth and Rudy referring to “Mother” ties in nicely to the series’ larger themes of mommy issues. Of the various returns and developments this episode, the least interesting is Paul’s new role as handler to Seth and Rudy. This is yet another new use of the character and despite Dylan Bruce’s commitment to it, the writers’ lack of consistency with Paul feels like sloppy retconning, rather than clever twists.

One of the strengths of the season so far has been Sarah’s dedication to saving Helena and the immediate support of this decision by everyone surrounding her. There’s no waffling back and forth or concern over their safety—no clone is tasked with playing devil’s advocate, a lovely surprise. Felix may be supportive of Mrs. S, but he also knows Sarah can’t rest until she saves Helena and this understanding of his sister reflects well on him. Still the glue holding much of the series together, Jordan Gavaris is a beacon of warmth and, when needed, sass that lives up the show and underlines its most important beats.

While Seth and Rudy become much more interesting here, Alison takes a step backward. Donnie and Alison’s pep talks are delightful, but Alison going full Weeds is not. There’s already too much intrigue going on week to week. The last thing Team Hendrix, the theoretically sane corner of the show, needs is to add noir elements and further complications. Most of the areas of the show need to simplify and the only ones to do so this week are Project Castor, with the death of Seth, and Sarah’s personal life, with Cal and Kira headed abroad to safety. However despite Alison’s disconcerting foray into the drug world, the episode as a whole addresses the most glaring issues of the premiere and with any luck, the season will continue on this upward trajectory over the next several weeks.

Kate Kulzick

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