Helix "Bloodlines" Review: Action Over Answers
Well that was crazy, wasn't it? "Bloodlines" was an insanely paced episode that zipped between captures and escapes with so much gusto that it almost obscured the fact that not a whole lot happened, especially since the episode's big reveal was also Helix's worst-kept secret. A lot of the show's now-typical weirdness was shelved this week in favor of focusing on power struggles; in the end, Constance Sutton (Jeri Ryan) was ousted as Queen Bitch, and Arctic Biosystems found itself close to where it was a few episodes ago, before the mysterious corporate behemoth that's bankrolling this clandestine operation butted in.
There's not much point in recapping the events "Bloodlines," since it was heavy on insignificant action via characters running around, getting caught, and escaping. Alan and Sarah were stuck in a lab and then escaped thanks to a microscope bomb, Balleseros was cuffed and then uncuffed thanks to a lock pick, Julia Walker was thrown into a locked room and then escaped by taking out an air vent, Dr. Hatake was bound to a chair and then set free by Julia... it was enough to make me think I was watching Revolution! But one thing we SHOULD discuss is the big murder of Sutton at the end of the hour, and whether she ultimately had an impact on the show, because I'm having a hard time figuring out why the writers ever brought her into the labs in the first place, at least from a narrative standpoint.
Other than being the first human (or maybe even non-human) representation of the Ilaria Corporation and understanding that Julia was highly valued by science types, Sutton apparently arrived just to stir some shit up by barking orders and teasing answers to some of the questions we've been asking. We know Sutton
is was another silver-eyed freak (along with Hatake and Julia), but why? We know she had a romantic past with Hatake (she even gave him a watch! Also, who HASN'T she had a romantic past with?), but how does that fit into things? And we know the two of them were collaborating on something involving the virus, but what? These questions don't identify interesting new possibilities so much as they underline mysteries that already existed, and on a show like Helix—which relies heavily on the question-and-answer relationship it maintains with its audience—they're slowing things down. And now Sutton is dead.
I'm not saying the character was a waste, no no no. I loved Sutton and the energy she brought to Helix. But when I look back at her arc, all I see are some fun one-liners and tiny question marks, instead of a giant Jeri-Ryan-shaped indentation on the story—especially now that Ilaria has been booted from Arctic Biosystems, and things appear to be exactly as they were before.
But let's move on. Poor Julia! She had the worst Take Your Daughter to Work Day ever! Sutton did confirm what I thought was too obvious to be true, and what Helix didn't really try to hide: Julia is Hatake's daughter. It's the type of reveal that completely changes the outlook of a character. Now Hatake looks like he's trying to be a pretty good dad instead of a megalomaniac, which qualifies as one of those "you think you know the character but you don't" twists that showrunner Steven Maeda discussed with me just over a week ago.
"Bloodlines" was a somewhat sloppy episode that only had one real goal: to wrap up the Sutton storyline and get the Ilaria goons out of the lab. But getting there required a lot of roundabout action and dangling threads. Why didn't Alan ask about Julia's eyes? What happened to the supposedly infected food supply? Why didn't the vectors that were released into the lab last week have more of an impact? The good news is that "Bloodlines" ousted Ilaria, and that gives me a good feeling about the last few episodes of the season.
LAB NOTES BUT MOSTLY QUESTIONS
– Vector Vision! And the vector couldn't see inside Julia, just Alan and Sarah. And it appeared to be looking at a human's bloodflow. Does that mean Julia's blood is different?
– I don't know why Arctic Biosystems stores their grub in a room illuminated by blacklights, but it looked cool. Maybe Daniel throws raves in his downtime?
– Any theories as to why Julia was so famished after getting "healthy"? Is she one of the Returned from The Returned? (If you haven't seen The Returned, please spend the rest of the weekend catching up.) Also, Julia's viral fake-out was not funny. Not funny!
– Sutton sounds like a bitch of a boss. She thought CDC scientists would work better under pressure, so she decided it was a good idea to let vectors run free so the chaos would help Alan find a cure. Ooooooookay.
– Balleseros's character sure has fallen off, hasn't he?
– Why did the vectors grab Peter?
– Julia ran into some vectors in the vents, but they just sniffed at her kept going. Compare that to the last time Julia confronted a vector, and it ran away screaming in fear. Was Julia wearing colored contacts in the vents?
– Have you noticed that the Ilaria Corporation has a lot of redheaded employees? They're the true freaks! (Just kidding, gingers!)
– Sarah's hobbies include operating sound cannons with precision targeting. Sounds about right.
– Is Anana gone for good? What did she bring to the series? She'd better come back.
– Sutton's comments about Hatake's watch were about much more than the watch: "I guess once you start replacing the parts it's not quite the same." The question Helix will be asking soon: "Does gene therapy make us inhuman?"
– I miss Doreen.
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