[Editor’s note: With the hectic time-suck that goes along with launching a new website from an older, fully-established website, we’ve fallen a bit behind on our TV watching and reviewing. With that in mind, this week Paul Brian McCoy will be catching up on Helix and reviewing the four episodes we’ve missed to get us back on track.]
Well that was a step in the right direction. Mainly due to the direction of Mike Rohl, a veteran of Supernatural and Eureka (in particular) who knows how to play around with the way the story is told visually to create more interest and strengthen weaker elements in the script. Luckily the script this time out is stronger, too. The writing team of Adam Lash and Cori Uchida may not have a lot of experience writing, but they come to this story a little more naturally and less melodramatically than the writers for the last couple of episodes.
Of course, there are some things about Helix that I guess I’m just going to have to learn to live with. Like the fact that -60 degree weather isn’t really that big a deal. Although this episode does introduce us to the FIRST PERSON TO BE DRESSED APPROPRIATELY FOR WEATHER LIKE THAT.
That bad news is that she’s introduced rescuing Major Douchebag (Mark Ghanimé) – who SHOULD BE DEAD. Or at least, severely frostbitten. He should have at least lost a nose. Instead, he gets to spend the rest of the show bare chested and handcuffed to a lady cop named Anana’s (Luciana Carro) couch. And Anana is part of what makes this episode work a little better. She introduces a new mystery into the mix – The Mystery of the Missing Children.
It seems that children have been disappearing from within a 200 mile radius of the Arctic Biosystems base going back for decades. She thinks Major Sexypants knows something about this. He actually doesn’t this time, but when Anana’s brother shows up, and is clearly the identical twin of Daniel (Meegwun Fairbrother), we discover that he’s one of those kids to go missing back when he was four years old.
And according to a trivia link on IMDB, the episode’s title, “Aniqatiga” means “my sibling” in a dialect of Inuit. So bravo, Lash and Uchida. Well played.
It’s a strange new alliance that is building here; one that is probably not going to bode well for Anina as things go on, but at least for now she gets to beat the crap out of Major Sexydouche every few scenes, and that is very satisfying.
Meanwhile, back at the base, we’ve got two storylines carrying on like troopers. In the first, Julia (Kyra Zagorsky) is hallucinating like a mother fucker and Hatake (Hiroyuki Sanada) is trying to cure her. Somehow. We don’t really get to see what he’s doing (although we discover that he’s got secret passages ALL OVER THE PLACE, which is kind of cool) since most of this story is being told from Julia’s perspective and she’s not in right now. She’s having conversations with Memory Peter(Neil Napier) and following around the little girl version of herself (Sienna Mazzone).
None of this is really helpful and none of it really advances the plot, but it does allow for the other actors to pop up and have a little fun with their characters as they mess with her in the hallucination.
Alan (Billy Campbell) and Sarah (Jordan Hayes) decided that they’re going to break into the quarantine level and get Julia out. Bad move. Instead, they are almost murdered and black puke kissed into submission before they can even hacksaw the chains on the door off. But that hacksaw does get put to good use as Alan CUTS A DUDE’S ARM OFF WITH IT, and then they escape and never mention the trauma of what he just did again.
It’s like nothing happened. Really.
After completely failing with that plan, they then reproduce that crazy test that Doreen did earlier in the season and get the same lame CGI effect of a spikey, rapidly growing mass of tentacles. After using the fire extinguisher to kill it, they realize that freezing cold slows down the spread of the genetic payload carried by the virus (which is apparently what was going on with those monkeys that were burned alive last time). This leads them to drunken asshole, Dr. Adrian (Julian Casey), an expert in cryogenics who barters his help for special treatment when it comes time to escape.
This show seems to be of the mind that independent researchers are all super dicks. Only the CDC doctors are really that interested in helping and figuring things out. I think somebody watched Prometheus and decided that good scientists who are shitty and stupid otherwise would be a good characterization to promote.
Peter is then safely ensconced in an airtight hazmat suit, filled with a liquid that will keep him oxygenated but also cool his internal body temperature down to levels that should help him survive for a while. This scene is right out of The Abyss and is extremely disturbing, as it was then, as Peter’s body reacts like he’s drowning when he really isn’t. Once they are satisfied that Peter is okay for the moment, Alan and Sarah do it.
Not right there, of course. But Dr. He’s Too Old for You and Dr. Emotionally Volatile finally make the beast with two backs. And then the bad guys arrive.
But before they get inside, Julia wakes up in Hatake’s secret lab, screaming while her eyes flash silver — JUST LIKE HIS DID THAT ONE TIME THAT WAS NEVER REFERENCED AGAIN.
There’s a lot of good stuff this time out, but I’m having trouble connecting with it. I should be engaged at this point, or at least feeling the effects of watching someone help out with a suicide, another character get eaten by rats, an arm getting hacksawed off, and now creepy eyes and stolen children. But I’m not. I don’t know if that’s down to the fact that the characters just aren’t interesting (they’re not) or if the performances just aren’t up to snuff (they’re not).
But the ideas are still solid. And as long as they steer clear of the sappy relationship stuff (they’re not), it should come together. However, halfway throug
h the season, things aren’t looking good. They’re looking up — slightly — but I don’t know if I really care about where this story is heading.
Be sure to check out this review and more exclusive content over at Comics Bulletin’s new sister site, Psycho Drive-in!
Paul Brian McCoy is the Editor-in-Chief of Psycho Drive-In, writer of Mondo Marvel, and a regular contributor/editor for Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is available at Amazon US & UK, along with his collection of short stories, Coffee, Sex, & Creation (US & UK). He recently contributed the 1989 chapter to The American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1980s (US & UK) and has kicked off Comics Bulletin Books with Mondo Marvel Volumes One (US & UK) and Two (US & UK). Paul is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy.