Helix "Fushigi" Review: The (Un)Fortunate 500
I get the feeling that in Television High School, Helix is the weird kid with no friends who's always in the corner doing something either awesome or horrible all by himself. You know the type—kids like that either end up being genius artists or serial killers, sometimes both, and in hindsight everyone feels like they should have seen it coming. As we close in on the end of Helix's first season, the series is either speeding toward greatness, about to careen off a cliff to unavoidable doom, or close to stalling and not going anywhere. It's like drunk driving a Bugatti on the edge of the Grand Canyon. It's dangerous. And frankly, I like it that way.
"Fushigi" was a great example of the dangerous territory Helix likes to step into. Over the course of what was ultimately a disjointed hour, I snored, I "oooh"ed, and I scratched my head; not much happened in the first half unless you're really into vlogging and sanctimonious conversation, but things really opened up in the second half, with a major reveal and one hairless freakazoid chained up in the basement of an abandoned radio station. And because we're 10 episodes into the 13-episode season, anyone who's still watching is undoubtedly craving answers, so a solid reveal is worth trudging through the boring stuff. I get the sense that Helix is pacing itself because it only has a certain number of plot points left to hit before it's out of here (hopefully just for an off-season as it prepares for an as-yet-unannounced Season 2), which means we're plenty likely to see Alan scold Hatake for being a bad father to Julia instead of wild vectors barfing into people's mouths if that's what helps prolong the story. But like I said, it's totally worth it if a later reveal is cool enough to copme.
And I think it did in "Fushigi." Julia and Alan took a snow plow over to an old abandoned radio/radar/research station because that's where they guessed Victor was taking the Narvik virus, and it was a good guess because he was totally there. That's one advantage to hunting scoundrels in the Arctic, I guess: Not a lot of options. After turning on the power to light the place up like a year-round Christmas store and throwing Victor through a window, Julia and Alan were pinned down by an Ilaria Corp. sniper who took out Victor (oops). But that wasn't even the good part. The good part happened when Alan and Julia found a hatch that led them downstairs into a series of tunnels, where they ran into this gross guy:
Eww, gross! Silver-eyed, hairless, and smelling like a New Jersey rest stop bathroom, this dude's name is Gunnar Mikkaelson (spelling?), and he's all riddles and half sentences. But after decoding his gibberish we learned the following: Hatake chained him down there 29 years ago. And oh yeah, he's IMMORTAL. Well, mostly. As some of us theorized several episodes ago, whatever gene therapy is changing people into glassy eyed weirdos is also giving them the gift of eternal life, or as Gunnar put it—because he's a glass-half-empty kind of guy—the consolation prize of 10,000 deaths. It turns out that some people consider it a curse to never die, but Gunnar might be biased on account of being chained to a pole for almost three decades.
Gunnar asked to be "set free" from his curse, and he got his wish when some wire cutters treated his neck as if it were a length of copper cable and opened it up like a can of tomato soup. It was pretty cool and blood shot out everywhere, so of course I screencapped it for your enjoyment. It would be irresponsible of me not to:
Aww, look at the little fella. So happy. But here's the thing. Are we sure he's actually dead? Sure, for mortals that's gonna leave more than a bruise. But for an immortal? Well, let's back up for a second and remember that Hatake made a point to detach Constance Sutton's head. Dr. Hvit also went headless. In fact, I'd wager that there are several glass jars outside of Arctic Biosystems with various heads in them. We don't know if Dr. Hvit was immortal, but we know Sutton was. So are we playing with Highlander rules here? Must the head be removed to prevent regeneration, or "rebirth," as Gunnar called it? I think so. There's a chance that severing the jugular is good enough, because Gunnar seemed pretty convinced that he was welcoming the icy hands of Death. But I'm thinking he's not dead and the head has to be completely separated for an immortal to stay dead. Who knows, maybe you can plop the decapitated noggin onto the neck stump and to bring someone back, meaning Sutton could return if her head and her body ever reunite.
We also learned a big rule of being immortal, which Hatake confirmed: Only 500 immortals can exist, and most of them are part of the Ilaria Corp. As for whether that's a steadfast rule dictated by the universe or a suggested guideline from the Ilaria Corporation's employee handbook, I'm not sure. But either way, 500 is substantial number of beheadings to orchestrate. And I'll be happy to see them all.
"Fushigi" wasn't a completely engrossing episode from start to finish, but it did deliver some solid answers. (Answers which also open up more interesting questions, no less.) My biggest fear with Helix is that it'll close out Season 1 without giving us the goods. But the producers have promised to resolve all the big questions, and I'm inclined to believe them. Really, that's all I'm asking for from here on out. Oh, and maybe some more blood, black goo, and insanity.
– I didn't mention Meeksa, Balleseros, and Anana in the meaty part of this review because ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.. I'm just not invested in the "Save the village!" story, either because I'm a cold-hearted monster or because Helix hasn't done a good job of showing me why I should care. But anyway, Balleseros kissed Anana, so there's your update.
– I also didn't talk about Peter bouncing around the facility collecting pictures of Julia and then taping them to walls of his air-duct home, because I didn't really get anything out of it. However, it's nice to know that the virus doesn't interfere with love! Also, cool reading squat, bro!
– Sarah continues to be more of a problem than an asset for the CDC team. This so-called wunderkind genius had the shakes from her tumor and fell into a pile of seizures, forcing Hatake to set her up for some experimental treatment. Will we see some of Julia's cerebral spinal fluid injected into Sarah's nervous system, as Sarah presumed would work? Will it turn Sarah into an immortal?
– The chat between Alan and Julia DURING A SNIPER FIREFIGHT about Julia's Scientist of the Year banquet was surprisingly sweet. Ridiculous, but sweet. There was some legitimate emotion flowing back and forth between those two, and I loved how Alan admitted that he smashed her award to pieces and she understood that. Until now, I've never believed in this couple's past; that was good stuff.
– The opening scene of Sarah getting MRI'd (or whatever) during a vector attack was so, so good! I loved the way it was filmed. But because it was a hallucination, it didn't mean a damn thing. Normally, that would piss me off. But I watch Helix for thrills and chills, not for revolutionary storytelling, so I don't have any complaints. Low expectations, embrace them!
What'd you think of "Fushigi"? And what are your predictions for the last few episodes of the season?
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