Syfy’s Helix offers up another terrible episode that just might salvage itself with a final, potentially game-changing twist. Maybe. Likely not.
Let’s bitch it out…
Oh man, people…this show. This freaking show. I initially thought that TVAngie was overreacting when she emailed me to bitch me out for making her waste two hours of her life watching the first two episodes. Then I caught up on the first two hours and kinda/sorta/mostly agreed with her. But rumours on the web suggested that things got better in third episode. So I checked it out…and discovered that the internet lies (cue “the more you know” tune). I am sad to report, but this third episode doesn’t really do much to assuage any of the reservations TVAngie and I had.
If anything it only deepens them.
My first reaction to the whole “Julia (Kyra Zagorsky) is attacked and infected by Peter (Neil Napier)” thing was overt frustration. Not that she was attacked – the character needed something to make her interesting. No, what pissed me off was that she doesn’t tell anyone about it. I hate it when characters fail to disclose things for no reason other than the fact that it’s dictated by the script. Then I realized that Julia simply doesn’t remember the attack. Or does she remember? There’s a suggestion that Sarah’s (Jordan Hayes) comments about their ethical responsibility not to risk passing the virus along affects Julia – the camera lingers on her face too long otherwise. Is that shame? Admiration? The first sign of her memory of the attack surfacing? I honestly couldn’t tell. It’s so unclear that I spent the duration of the episode wanting to reach into the screen and smack the dumb beyotch around. The whole plot ultimately just makes Julia look like everything Sarah is vilifying and it certainly doesn’t make her character more endearing or interesting.
There’s a slight attempt to redeem Julia when she volunteers to stay on Level R after Dr. Sulemani (Tamara Brown) attacks and is killed by Alan (Billy Campbell). Of course by this point she’s coughing up black blood, so it’s not like she would have been able to hide her infection. Although on a show full of complete morons, who knows?
That’s my big problem with Helix. This is a show that is supposedly populated by nothing but doctors and scientists, so my expectation is that these are all fairly intelligent people. And yet characters routinely make stupid decisions or act like children (often in service of the plot – grrr!) which completely undermines the believability of the premise. Not only do the CDC employees look like morons for continuing to tolerate Dr. Hatake’s (Hiroyuki Sanada) excuses, but their attempts to contain the virus are so inept it’s laughable. Every time they turn around someone’s escaping. It’s so ridiculous that by the time Alan makes the “difficult decision” to lock all of the infected on Level R, all we can do is wonder why he didn’t do it immediately. It’s a new virus that’s lethal and extremely contagious – why are they acting like these people have a simple case of the flu?!
Add to this the fact that nearly all of these characters are unlikeable. Sarah is too stupid to take seriously, Alan is too bland and martyr-y, and Hatake is meant to be mysterious but he just seems like a jackass that doesn’t care if people die. Balleseros (Mark Ghanimé) and Daniel (Meegwun Fairbrother) have established themselves as little more than groan-worthy henchmen. That leaves only Catherine Lemieux’s Doreen as the only remotely enjoyable character and she’s only tolerable because she’s kind of funny (even though she makes more stupid decisions than anyone else).
Clearly Helix wants to be scary (last week’s Alien inspired duct scenes) and raise all kinds of mysterious questions: what’s Hatake’s obsession with Julia about? Is he controlling Peter? Why is Balleseros poisoning the CDC’s efforts? Is Daniel really Hatake’s son? Why does Hatake have glowing eyes? What’s with Sarah’s back scar? These could all be really interesting things to explore, but every development is obnoxious, predictable or relentlessly stupid. Throw in a roster of dumb or unlikeable characters and Helix is an early contender for the ‘Worst Of’ awards for this year’s Bitch Awards.
- Despite all of the negativity, the revelation that the test doesn’t work is a nice twist that’s almost enough to tempt me to continue watching. Of course, the fact that Balleseros explodes the communications tower at the exact moment that Julia tries to warn Alan nearly eliminates all of that goodwill in one fell swoop. Argh, this show!
- The title of the episode refers to the number of people that have died on Alan’s watch over the years. A) The number doesn’t actually seem that high considering some of the diseases he’s encountered and B) I don’t care.
- How long before that miracle cure that has a 75% mortality rate gets used? Place your bets in the comments.
- 43 people are infected at the end of episode 3 – or 1/3 of the station’s population. Assuming the show somehow gets a second season, I can’t imagine more than a few people making it out alive. My guess is Alan and Sarah will live because they’re the most yawn-worthy.
- As I said, Doreen is the most enjoyable character. This inevitably means that she will be the first to die.
- Finally, Dr. Bryce (Alain Goulem), the obnoxious other escapee from last episode, dies. Good – that guy was an ass.
Turning it over to you: do you think the show is as bad as TVAngie and I argue? Do you think Doreen is the only worthwhile character? Any guesses why Hatake and Balleseros are working together? Who from our core cast will die first? And how groanworthy is the perfectly timed communications tower explosion? Sound off below
Helix airs Fridays at 10pm EST on Syfy