Helix "Aniqatiga" Review: A Whole New World

By Tim Surette

Feb 08, 2014

Helix S01E06: "Aniqatiga"

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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  • bothcats Feb 22, 2014

    Fantastic review, and I agree with every word of it.
    The dinner scene was definitely the best! This show is finally getting comfortable with its ridiculousness, and I'm in for the ride.

  • sangbaran Feb 15, 2014

    Great review Tim,
    The hallucinated dinner party!! Awesome Job people!!!
    Surely most of the wierd stuffs going on are unexplainable but hell!the shows damn addictive!!!

  • BrandenGrant Feb 13, 2014

    That breathable liquid was used in The Abyss because you can't compress a liquid and with the depths that Ed Harris' character needed to go to his lungs would have become pancakes in no time. I'm guessing the reason they used it in this scenario was because they needed to almost freeze his body but still keep him alive. I suppose the liquid is like anti-freeze, it gets really cold without freezing? His lungs probably wouldn't have lasted at those temperatures with normal air? Just my take on it :)

  • agustindcruz3 Feb 10, 2014

    I want to think the PA system at the base is giving out some clues or something. It keeps delivering announcements at least 3 times every episode, some I don't quite understand but the others seem pretty mundane, like "the cafeteria is now open", things like that. I refuse to think something so mundane is being given this much attention on the show. Anyone has any thoughts on this?

  • Rolamb Feb 10, 2014

    I listen to it like the PA system in M.A.S.H. and think the messages are at least strange in the circumstances. But no special meaning for the fact that is is doing something.

  • vasilakis141 Feb 10, 2014

    The troll music, combined with extreme stupidity, is killing the immersion of this show. Shame, it had a chance to be a real classic, now its just watchable.

  • Dragonovich Feb 10, 2014

    The idea of breathing oxygenated liquid was used in the 1989 movie "The Abyss".

  • sofanatic Feb 10, 2014

    I have absolutely no idea what is happening on this show, but it's kind of addictive. While few episodes have answers, the questions they raise keep me invested in watching. Now let's just just hope they start answering things soon. I know that Alan is technically the "star" of the show, but I'd much rather spend time with Julia. Her storyline has been the most interesting so far.

  • MorbidPet Feb 09, 2014

    If they'd just passed on that horrendous sex scene (it was suppose to be a sex scene right?) between Alan and Brunette Jr then the episode would've been perfect. Agree that the thanksgiving dinner was brilliant. Julia continues to be my fave and now she got Hatake's glowing eyes too (like father like daughter? nah I don't think so either. Or?)

  • crazedmoose Feb 09, 2014

    Balleseros lays dying on the ice for several hours and survives without suffering hypothermia nor even the slightest touch of frostbite on his exposed nose, ears and face. He was low on blood and seriously injured. Well, maybe saying "seriously injured" is a stretch, given how he quickly recovered from that ice ax wound as if it were nothing more than a skinned knee.

    Anyway, he gets randomly rescued by a law enforcement officer who apparently finds a man lying motionless on the ground in a blizzard a lot more perceptible than a field of burning monkeys or huge exploding satellite dishes.

    This was by far the most eye roll inducing episode yet. The weird thing is, I think the writers do it on purpose. The fact that Anana stated he was "lucky to have all his fingers and toes" was like a subtle slap to everyone who knew he should have been dead ten times over. I think all this cheesiness is crafted, just like the deliberately cheesy music in the opening and throughout the show. Well, whatever it is, it's working. I can't stop watching. I just hope they don't go way overboard in ridiculousness and end up losing their way like Lost did.

  • Rolamb Feb 09, 2014

    When Allan pushed Sara on the mirror, I so expected the next scene to be someone (Hatake) who was watching them from the other side of the (one way) mirror.

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