The return of BBC America's Orphan Black for its third season revealed a whole lot of change and new shenanigans being unloaded on Sarah Manning and her sisters. In the season-two finale, audiences were introduced to the secret male cloning experiment, Project Castor (all played by Ari Millen). [Spoilers ahead!]
In the season premiere, "The Weight of This Combination," a bit of time has passed and Sarah, Kira and Felix are trying to stay out of the fray since escaping Dyad and getting a breather courtesy of Top Side's Dr. Marian Bowles (Michelle Forbes). However, that proves fleeting as Mrs. S gets pummeled by a Castor clone for the whereabouts of Duncan's missing sequences, some shadow group is literally boxing Helena in a crate, and a very swank Delphine is now a power player inside Dyad protecting an improving Cosima from afar while recruiting Sarah and Alison to play their sisters to gain intel on some deep Dyad secrets.
How will these new pickles get unpickled? We spoke to co-creators Graeme Millen and John Fawcett, as well as Tatiana Maslany, Ari Millen and the primary cast about what we can expect this season.
What's the core theme you're exploring through Sarah and all of the clones this season?
John Fawcett: A lot of season three plays into thematic elements of warfare. It also furthers and strengthens in a much bigger way our themes of family. We're seeing Sarah, who has come through this journey of reluctantly being drawn into this mystery and not pushing the other girls away, sort of embrace the idea of being a mother, and she wants that responsibility, but doesn't necessarily want anything else. Through season two, she starts to become OK with the fact she has some weird sisters, so by the end of that season she is a driving force of keeping the girls together and protecting everyone. By season three, she really is the gel that forms his large group into a family. Family and origin themes are deep in season three. Sarah is in a way the patriarch of the family by the end of this season.
Delphine had a major new look and a very focused mission in the season premiere. What can we expect from her?
Graeme Manson: She made a promise to Cosima last season that she would love all of the sisters evenly. She's had to take on this terrible burden of more responsibility and more power, yet keep that promise. There will some casualties to keeping those promises along the way. It's a really, really interesting storyline for Delphine this year, but shippers, don't despair.
Rachel looked as vulnerable as we've ever seen her, post-pencil, in that hospital room during that visit from Delphine's thumb. Is she going to suffer a bit more for her sins?
Manson: There's always another edge, but definitely [the pencil] was about really breaking down her own sense of superiority. It's so great to pit Sarah against Rachel, which was our season-two conflict. It's fair to say the struggles of Rachel will continue in season three.
Will there be more Leda clones this yea?. [Ed. note - There looked to be one named Crystal in the elevator with the Castor clone.]
Manson: I think we can say yes. It begins with what we think the story might need and, once we have that, we talk to Tat about what character she is interested in. She's come to us with ideas of characters, too, and that happened in the second season. In season three, it was collaborative. But we don't want to overdo it, as it's not clone of the week. So there's a really organic process of giving Tat lots of room when a new character is coming for her and to discover it for all of us. Then we keep her involved as it's coming to the page, so she is giving feedback, because she's pretty darn good at that.
What about Paul, who took Helena to her new hell? How much is he a player this season?
Manson: Like Delphine, who is a complex character whose allegiances are really torn, Dylan Bruce has a really great storyline this season. We may just get to know who Paul really is.
Michelle Forbes' character was mentioned to be in Europe in the premiere. Was she able to participate this season?
Manson: She's a very busy actress, so I'll keep it a surprise as to how it rolls forward, but it rolled forward in our favor.
What were your thoughts about the big Project Castor reveal?
Tatiana Maslany: I was really excited about the prospects of it, because I think Ari is such a strong actor. And I think what they offer us is another exploration of nature/nurture, a different one, a different perspective, a different kind of experiment.
Ari, what was your window into creating your new clone characters?
Ari Millen: When it came to creating the guys, it was a visual in for me. I would put on my wardrobe for the day, I would go to hair and makeup and they would transform me, you know, put that clone on for me that day, and then I would look in the mirror and drop into the decisions that I have to make. Like, "OK, this guy is like this and this is what he does."
What's the Castor brothers' dynamic?
Millen: The fact that they're self-aware means that they did grow up together and they have a very close-knit, wolf-pack, military upbringing. Just like any stretch of brothers, I guess, there's a real closeness. They like taking the piss out of each other. They can be vicious, but there's also a lot of love there. But compared to Project Leda, who are just learning who they are in front of us as the seasons progress, Project Castor is definitely going to hit the ground running as far as making it very difficult for Project Leda.
Should Mark be worried about his brothers?
Millen: Mark and Gracie have just eloped at the end of last season, and they're trying to make their escape. They're trying to hide from the Proletheans. And now, with this new revelation of Project Castor, we find out that they're also looking for Mark as well.
Tatiana, let's go through some of your Leda ladies. Are Alison and Donnie in more harmony now?
Maslany: With Alison and Donnie, we definitely have seen them come together by the end of season two, and there’s a sense of understanding, why the two of them get each other and why they work. We’d only ever seen them in conflict before this, so it’s really nice to get to explore their romantic feelings towards each other and the sense of being a team.
The scene with Cosima and Delphine was heartbreaking. Are they done?
Maslany: Unfortunately, Delphine has to cover herself and Cosima has to protect her sisters, so they end up being, again, on opposite sides of the equation. And, yes, it’s an interesting season for the two of them. I won’t say too much about what happens, but yes, it’s definitely a lot of conflict.
On another note, Cosima presses Kira about the vision she had at the end of season two. Will we see Kira playing a bigger role, too?
Maslany: Kira has been like driving force in Sarah’s world. Unfortunately, Sarah has to make some really difficult decisions this season, and those will affect Kira, so we’ll see this family unit be compromised.
How is Felix going to be part of the adventures this season?
Jordan Gavaris: We get to see different shades of him, as more of a person and less as an accessory. He has less of a personal life this season, but, oddly enough, we get to see more of who he is and a lot more of his depth. I discovered more just playing with more characters, like Mrs. S. It's a new family dynamic.
The creators mentioned Felix and Cosima will form more of a friendship?
Gavaris: Yes, they are both gay, not that that's who they are by any stretch, but it is something they share outside of the Leda drama and the sisters. When you know what it feels like to be oppressed, to be different and to have to come out, that's something they share that no one else can really understand. I think they find solace in one another, and I think they are both really lonely, especially with the way things have unfolded with Cosima and Delphine. Plus, Felix can't seem to get anybody to stay. It's funny to watch, but it was embracing the reality of it. The comedy is easy and surface-level stuff where Colin gets escorted out after they have this nice afternoon together, which is very funny. But the reality is his life is very complicated and he's a very lonely person. It's embarrassing and difficult to share those things even as Jordan knowing something about that and sharing it.
Mrs. S got hammered in the premiere. What's to come for her?
Maria Doyle Kennedy: We get to explore her backstory a little bit more, therefore Sarah's backstory, and how they got to where they are. I think it's good in explaining their relationships better and also her behavior; why's she so tough, defensive and always in a war.
Have her motivations and revelations surprised you?
Doyle Kennedy: I haven't been surprised at all the different levels of Mrs. S. I've been really delighted with them. I was told at the beginning when I was asked to do the show that she was an interesting person but that's often a line that people will feed you to get you interested in a part. But I'm delighted it's true. If you look at the show, it's one of the best shows for female parts. They are great, interesting women and lots who are not 25 [years old].
Evelyne, Delphine is all suited up and ready to do what it takes to play Dyad for the sisters. How is she going to handle that this season?
Evelyne Brochu: I think Delphine is making a huge promise, so we're going to see in season three her step into it. Also, it's her stepping out of this difficult yet simple dilemma which is love versus work. Through climbing towards Rachel, she's getting in much deeper, so it's not just science, Cosima, and how do we deal with that? Now it's Dyad, it's Top Side, who is behind all of that? What are the truths we're going to find out, and how am I going to deal with that to honor my promise?
Is she up for it?
Brochu: Delphine is a very smart woman, so, in terms of having a strategic mind, you can count on her for that. Her intentions are completely different than Rachel's. But the thing is, when you have power, you can't show your intentions or the truth behind your power plays all the time, or people will see what your next step is going to be, and sometimes you have to keep it to yourself. She will definitely be a leader, but she will be a mysterious one because the audience will also wonder what the next step will be.