Helix "Aniqatiga" Review: A Whole New World
Six episodes in, I'm completely on board with Helix, even though I have barely any idea of what's going on. Watching these first six hours has been like listening to an eight-year-old boy tell you about his idea for a sci-fi show. And I insist that's not a slight on Helix or my eight-year-old readers; rather, it's respect for the show's out-of-control imagination and the thrill that comes from knowing it might careen out of orbit and into total nonsense at any moment. Helix is barely hanging on to its sanity, and the series not only knows that, but relishes what little pinky-strength grip it's using to keep logic in its tenuous grasp. And though "Aniqatiga" didn't reach the same level of psychotic-horror as last week's wonderfully strange "The White Room," it did continue the series' penchant for leaving viewers completely befuddled in fun new ways. And that's why we're all watching this show, right? We're masochists who just want to know what happens.
But most importantly, "Aniqatiga"—did I miss the part where that episode title was explained?—broke open the world of Helix TWICE. The show's confinement to the Arctic Biosystems research facility and its limitation of only telling stories about the characters confined within the facility's labs are now long gone. Shoot, I thought all 14 seasons of Helix and both tie-in movies would take place in that setting, but nope! Balleseros got hauled off by a mystery peace officer to her barely-more-than-an-igloo home somewhere nearby, and at the end of the episode, a pair of choppers from the Ilaria Corporation—presumably the employers of both Balleseros and Hatake—landed at the site and will no doubt produce guest-star Jeri Ryan next week as some tough son-of-a-bitch who wants answers, dammit! It raises the question of how accessible the Arctic and Arctic Biosystems actually is, because I had it in my head that the place was smack in the middle of the furthest corner of the world, where no sane man dare tread. What else is near enough that peace officers can snatch up the unconscious who were left outside to die? Who else can chopper, snowmobile, hang-glide, or take some other mode of transportation right into this facility? This is like finding out that a Princess Cruise Lines vacation package stops by the island on Lost.
We met one of the lab's new visitors in Anana. I don't exactly know why she was snowmobiling around the perimeter of Arctic Biosystems other than to be a nosy neighbor, but she informed her hostage/roommate Balleseros that 30-plus kids have gone missing within a 200-mile radius of Arctic Biosystems, and Balleseros pieced together that her brother was Daniel the Arctic Biosystems Security Guard (and that he's an identical twin). Stealing children from nearby towns to use as test subjects seems like an unsustainable model for any research project, but I'm not a scientist so maybe that's what scientists normally do. I'll be clutching my daughter extra tight next time a scientist comes around. Adding Anana and the case of the missing kiddos put a new stream of pressure on Hatake (if he is responsible for their disappearance), and the more madness the better, I say, so I approve. I'm also all for the Inuit people who are native to the area rising up against the nerdy science-freaks who brought death and sickness to their peaceful white backyard.
Balleseros's unconsciousness-and-captured state meant he couldn't report back to his bosses with his mini-satellite, so his bosses decided to pop in unannounced, in two big choppers. Here it comes, guys! Next episode it's time to get some answers about what in the H-E-double-Helix-sticks is going on! (I bet we don't get answers.) Alan and his CDC comrades will probably be pretty excited to have these newcomers from the Ilaria Corporation stop by, but not Hatake. That guy is trying to sneakily make some immortality gene therapy (that's my theory, anyway!), and the last thing he needs are his hardass higher-ups looking over his shoulder.
Julia, meanwhile, spent "Aniqatiga" receiving personal care from Hatake, who I'm sure had no ulterior motives for making sure she was okay, mmm hmmm. I'm sure someone else guessed this a long time ago, but Julia has to be part of one of Hatake's mad trials that's gone as planned, right? While the other people infected with the virus have slowly devolve into monstrous vectors, Julia's been relatively welcoming of her viral intruders, suffering only minor effects from catching the designer cold. Like that dinner-party hallucination-dream scene—can we talk about how great that was? I have no idea what it meant, but it was fantastic, if only because we got to hear Hatake say, "Pass me the cranberry sauce," and "Would anyone like sweet potatoes?" Alan put his worry face away for a while, and all Balleseros wanted to do was chow down. And the black goo pouring out of the turkey was a nice touch, and a reminder that no turkey should ever be stuffed with black licorice. The whole thing was so fun and weird, I half expected the Log Lady or a backwards-talking little person to show up.
Anyway, my guess is that Hatake's immortality gene therapy trial is going well with Julia, but that it's just taking a little while to completely change her. Evolution doesn't happen overnight. (Also: I watched a screener of this episode with unfinished effects, so I didn't get to see her eyes go silver at the end. How'd it look?) And maybe all those trips to Montana that Julia thought she took as a kid were actually trips to the Arctic Biosystems lab? Kids are notoriously bad with geography, so it wouldn't've been that difficult to put young Julia on a plane and tell her she was headed to Montana when in fact she was en route to the North Pole. And if I learned anything from Fringe, it's that the earlier you start performing scientific experiments on kids, the more likely they'll be all-powerful as an adult. Is it possible that Hatake let the virus loose on Peter (Farragut, not Bishop) because he knew it would bring Julia back to Arctic Biosystems? Sure! That's what I'm going with. And we can stop all this "Hatake is Julia's father" talk, I think, because Julia is clearly Hatake's little lab rat. Does that mean Daniel could also be a viable candidate for successful gene therapy? I'm sure Hatake's been slipping him some experimental super-juice here and there. But where are the rest of the kids who've gone missing? So many questions!
But not a lot of answers, and I understand that could be frustrating for some viewers. I'm choosing to watch Helix with my brain in resting mode, and to just let the insanity wash over me. Are there plot holes? Probably. Do some parts not make any logical sense? Uh-huh. Does blood pour out of your ears after hearing some of the dialogue? Yep. But the show's still got a compelling core story that's moving forward with powerful momentum, and plowing through narrative obstacles without concern, so I'm more than happy to just sit back and watch. I'm excited to find out what happens in this crazy little show.
– I barely understood what was going on with Peter. So they put him in a cryo nap to slow the spread of the virus? And they filled a suit with blue liquid, but because it was oxygenated, Peter could still breathe? Can someone check the science on this?
– Let's run down the horror checklist for "Aniqatiga": Little girl with black goo on her face? Check. Arm sawed off? Check. Out-of-control virus growth? Check. Not bad!
– Sarah and Alan totally did it! It's nice to know that even though there's a potentially species-destroying virus on the loose, Alan still prioritizes tapping that ass. I feel safe knowing my fate is in their hands. When their hands aren't full of each other's genitals, that is. Also, that scene was about as unsexy as a sex scene could be.
– Sarah and Alan determining that the virus was designed as a means to deliver genetic code felt like the fifteenth time someone on this show has figured that out.
– That scene with Sarah and Alan mixing viruses or whatever to the soundtrack of an upbeat tune was a straight rip-off/homage to Breaking Bad's meth-making scenes, and I loved it.
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