HELIX – Season 1 Finale Review
I’ve maintained this throughout this season that HELIX is one of the best new Sci-Fi shows on Television at the moment. Elements of the show make it uniquely exciting, riveting and intense. However, HELIX takes time to grow on you, and this is true of the cast’s acting talent, storytelling and even the execution. So far each episode has ranged from the mundane and cheesy to mind-blowing. The Season Finale is no exception.
I also keep saying that there is more to the Vectors than meets the eye. Not sure if the Writers don’t know what they’re doing with them in the long run, if there is a plan, but they are a lot more than mindless infected people. The characters keep referring to them as the next step of biological evolution. I don’t get how, given that they’re violent drooling bug eyed ‘creatures’. However, when we’re shown a Vector’s Point of view, they see other humans almost like X-Ray vision or Night Vision, making me suspect that they’re intentionally weaponized form of humans. Also given that they start trapping humans and infecting them, forcing Hatake & Alan to take precautions against the other uninfected, and put them all in one room together for safety. However, apparently this is exactly what the Vectors wanted. Harvesting the blood of other Vectors by literally, the bucket full, Peter and others pump this liquid into the sprinkler system of the room the uninfected are being held in, thereby infecting them all. The organization, coordination and planning definitely suggest a higher functioning creatures than we’ve been lead to believe thus far.
Sarah’s Cancer is cured by creative use of the Narvik virus by Julie, the thing that threatens to kill the entire human race… smart move. But despite my cynicism, apparently it was the right move, as it allowed Sarah to come up with a cure for the whole outbreak. Hatake & Julia go around spraying ice gas in the Vectors’ faces and inject them in the stomach to cure them of their need to ‘eat brains’. This is how Peter is also cured and eventually is welcomed into the fold of main characters. The actor who plays Peter is surprisingly good, given that his range up until now consisting of contact lenses and growling. During this brotherly reunion, Hatake discovers that a deadly killer is on his way from Ilaria to kill them all and take posession of the Virus, and now the cure as well. This killer is actually a 15 year old Immortal, who also happens to be Constance’s son. You know, the lady that Hatake strangled to death. Awkward!
This Ilaria badass, known as The Scythe, is horribly miscast as, despite his intimidating characterization, the kid looks like a GAP model. In an attempt to protect themselves from him, Hatake rigs the entire base with explosives, while all the other survivors take refuge in the bunker used to trick a young Julia into believing she lived in Montana years ago when she was on the base with her mother. This of course sparks a curious conversation between Daniel & Hatake, where Daniel finally finds out his connection to Julia and Hatake’s other family. Daniel thus far hasn’t had that emotional of a story arc in the show, as it’s just been him mostly being mad at Hatake. Even the revelation of him having a sister, and being stolen from his family by Hatake seemed to have little emotional affect. However, these scenes with Hatake really make you feel for the guy. A grown man faced with the truth that his only family in the whole world, deceived and betrayed him all his life. Its even more excruciating to have Hatake know and regret it all at the same time. It’s a great dynamic and a devastating end right before the final episode of the Season.
After taking Julia hostage, The Scythe demands the cure & virus, as well as Hatake, alive. In an attempt to save his newfound sister, Daniel tries to trade the virus & cure for her life, only to be captured himself. When Hatake finally shows up to beg for Julia’s life in exchange for his, The Scythe reveals that he plans on killing both Julia & Daniel, unless Hatake chooses one of them to live. It is the only truly emotional scene in the entire show thus far. Hiroyuki Sanada sells this moment amazingly. For all his composure and articulate monologues of guilt, Hatake completely loses it in this scene, and it’s just as emotional to watch. In a culmination of his story arc, Daniel sacrifices his own life to save Julia’s and to spare his only father such a horrible choice. All hell breaks loose and Hatake goes ballistic on The Scythe, only to breakdown. It’s a moving scene and a beautiful end to the episode before the Finale. There is also the revelation that Julia`s mother is still alive and has been all these years.
The final episode itself is slow and almost boring. A lot of the plot points that appear in HELIX seem to be made up as they go, from episode to episode. They now have The Scythe prisoner, and need to save Julia’s mom from the other Ilaria death squad member remaining. Julia finds out that Hatake has known all this time that her mother, Jane is alive, and Ilaria has been using her to blackmail Hatake for the last 30 years to create this virus for them in the first place. It’s finally explained that all the horrible things Hatake does is to keep Jane alive, out of love. It’s a great reveal. Despite the amazing character that Hatake is, undoubtedly the most fleshed out and brilliantly performed character in the entire show; this story arc gives his actions so much more depth and meaning. Hatake’s entire deceiving and ominous nature is attributed to the fact that all he has been trying to do is save his love, and protect his daughter.
There’s lot happening in this episode that doesn’t make sense. Balleseros shows up out of nowhere, wanting a list from Hatake of all the Inuit children he’s stolen over the years. Maybe he thinks that will finally win over Tulok, and allow him to be with Anana. Or maybe there’s other motivations at work, can’t really tell with this guy. While Alan, Hatake & Julia try to save her mom. It’s revealed that Peter has been working with Ilaria & The Scythe this whole time, due to nothing more than jealousy of his brother and his life. Even his infection was an intentional act, in order to smuggle the virus out of the Arctic Base to release it into the general populace of an Island as an experiment. It’s a shocking turn, but again, gives more questions than answers. So you can be infected with the virus and maintain all rational thought and sentience? Anana & Tulok, Daniel’s twin show up with snowmobiles to help the scientists on the Base escape, (why wasn’t this an option days ago?!) however, their escape is cut short as The Scythe blows up the whole base. After the carnage, he takes Julia hostage (again), with the cure & virus, kills her mom, leaving behind a broken Hatake. As Alan tries to save Julia by boarding the Helicopter that’s taking her away, she saves his life by giving him one of the canisters containing either the virus or the cure, and pushes him off the helicopter. It was a scene that could have been executed a lot better, as the slow operatic background music didn’t match the sloppiness of the actors on screen.
The most interesting thing about HELIX during the Finale has to be what happens afterwards. The entire narratives jumps ahead by 200+ days and we see Alan & Peter in, what seems to be France. Apparently they’ve been returned to the civilized world somehow and have been searching for Ilaria all these months, contacted all the authorities, only to have no one believe them about everything that happened on the base, and now they`re fugitives. Apparently they’ve tracked down Julia here at the Ilaria headquarters. Inside Ilaria HQ, we see what appears to be a board meeting… headed by, none other than a very corporate looking Julia herself.
This is an amazing shift in narrative and story telling format for a show only in its first Season. Although, given that Ronald D. Moore is a Producer, it’s not surprising. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2004) did something similar during its run (My Review here) and it worked quite well. Sometimes, a show that starts with a specific premise needs to keep things fresh and innovative, as I’ve wondered how long this ‘stranded on a base’ gimmick will last.
The Finale of HELIX was boring as hell, and a lot of things happened that made no sense and not in an interesting way. The storyline of Anana & Daniel’s twin seems complete unnecessary and irrelevant to everything else. Even Ballerseros’ character seems to have little importance in the story, and he’s just there for the sake of being there. One of my biggest complaints of this show is that the ‘stranded on a middle of no where base’ concept makes it very obvious when new characters are introduced, as you know they will have significance, thereby spoiling whatever dramatic impact that character would`ve had. Moving out of that restrictive format should allow HELIX to do a lot more than what they initially were doing.
I expect a very espionage / conspiracy style 2nd Season with our Arctic Base crew running around in the modern world trying to track down Ilaria, getting deeper into the world of these 500 Immortals, and why they want to destroy the world in a controlled way. A lot more new characters have to be introduced in significant roles, and not just filler. There will almost definitely be an entire episode dedicated to how we went from Day 13 to Day 200+, allowing them to fill in the blanks between how our characters got to where they are. Personally, I would prefer those blanks to be filled in 5 or more episodes into the 2nd Season, to build on the suspense of this new environment that our characters find themselves in. Another option would be to use the flashback technique consistently through out the season to flesh out the missing days through out the season, similar to ARROW. Some extensive tweaking, better writing and some more solid actors would make HELIX prevail in the ratings and critical storytelling a, truly, one of the best TV shows out there!