Helix Season 1 Finale Review: Out of the Cold, Into the Madness
I should start this review with the news that Helix was renewed for Season 2 today, so the finale's gargantuan WTF cliffhanger ending will only keep us scratching our heads for nine months, instead of the for rest of our lives. Phew! I don't know if Syfy was cutting it close or if it simply timed the announcement in order to gain some extra press for the finale, but I'm guessing it was the former. In keeping with Helix's love for living on the edge, I like to think that the show's writers threw a bunch of insane revelations into "Dans L'ombre" and then just crossed their fingers that they'd have a chance to explain them by way of a second season. Because seriously, what the heck? I still don't know what happened in this episode... and I watched it TWICE.
It brings me great sadness to say that "Dans L'ombre" wasn't everything I'd hoped it would be. What did I hope it would be? An hour full of mutant, human-sized rats terrorizing Arctic Biosystems, basically. Or at the very least, I wanted to see another swarm of vectors vomit their insides out while kissing healthy scientists. So maybe my dreams were a bit big. Instead, the episode focused mostly on getting Julia's mother Jane (formerly Jaye the ghost/hallucination) out of that damn box she parachuted into with the Ilaria hitmen, as well as determining why the Narvik virus had spread to the real world (sorry, Puerto Rico!). And for the most part, it was a big mess, just like most of the second half of the season.
If there's a silver lining to be found here, it's that Helix has showed signs of cleaning things up and moving on by sweeping a bunch of stuff under the rug. Or maybe the writers just got really bored with the confines of Arctic Biosystems, because they blew the whole damn place up and set up a Season 2 that'll be set in... France!?!?
It's too bad that getting Jane out of harm's way was entirely unexciting, and that the spread of the virus to the outside world (and the answer of how it happened), were weightless because they lacked real details. Getting Jane was as easy as barging into a room with guns. And the big "shock" that Peter was working with the Scythe the whole time landed with a dull "Oh." rather
than a "HOLY SH*TSNACKS!" The Scythe's little speech about Peter coming
in second to Alan was a useless misdirection that didn't make any sense, given that Peter cut off his binds right after it and the two began talking about ruling the world together. That's an abusive partnership, if
you ask me; there's nothing worse than being beholden to a centuries-old
teenager (ask any mortal girl on a vampire show). And it was Peter who unleashed the virus in Puerto Rico?
Excuse me, but would anyone care to explain how that happened? According
to "Dans L'ombre," it may have taken place before we even joined the show
(Peter said it almost transformed him into "one of those things"), which
sounded like the writers admitting that they were making shit up as
they went along.
And in the final moments of the Arctic Biosystems portion of the episode, Helix turned into a spectacular ball of confusion that made no sense and may go down as a legendary finale of awkward science fiction. Hold on to your britches and try and follow along, because the final minutes were bananas. Anana brought like a dozen snowmobiles to help everyone evacuate but one has to wonder how two people (maybe three if Balleseros got out, too?) managed to simultaneously drive 12 snowmobiles in arctic conditions. A scientist told Sarah that she was pregnant. And before anyone could escape Arctic Biosystems, the Scythe set off all the explosives planted inside a few episodes ago with what looked like the same detonator that failed before. But it worked this time, because that's how this show operates. After Arctic Biosystems was leveled, Jane was killed by the Scythe because she called him by his first name Spencer? Ha ha. After the Scythe escaped to his escape chopper (with a "Here's my ride!" one-liner to send him off) Alan tossed Constance Sutton's head into the whirlybird, sending the Scythe into a fit of crying out for his dead mom. I don't know when Alan had the time to fetch Constance's head, but then again I'm still waiting for an explanation of how Alan managed to build a trap over a huge ice crevice from last episode. And which canister did Julia give to Alan before he was kicked out of the helicopter and fell to the ground, the cure or the virus? Did I imagine all this happening? Did Syfy send me a practical joke screener? I am apologizing to my editor who is reading this paragraph and is like, "What the fudge?" But honestly, Jen, this all happened! There was a pregnancy reveal, a high-tech research facility exploded, a mother's throat was cut for addressing a teenage super-assassin by his Christian name, and a severed head was hammer-tossed into a fleeing helicopter. This all happened in about three minutes, and it was Helix at its horrible best. Yet with all this inexplicable madness crammed into its final minutes, Helix still managed to fill its middle 30 minutes with boring filler.
So now it's time to talk about that cliffhanger, which technically began as a cold open. Helix has always been about one day per episode, yet "Dans L'ombre" started with Day 235. That's either a note of confidence that Helix will last 18 seasons or that the show is about to break that one episode = one day routine. We saw Alan beating the cheese out of some silver-eyed man tied to a chair (my screener had unfinished visual FX and said the man had one silver eye as opposed to two, I don't know what the finished product showed... but the difference could be important) and later learned that he was torturing the man to find the whereabouts of Julia. And the in the final scene, after Arctic Biosystems was but flaming rubble, Alan was in France (I think) sipping on a cappuccino at a Euro cafe and later met with Peter on one of Europe's famed cobble-stoned streets. Peter, possibly still working with the Scythe (we don't know), played buddy-buddy with Alan and inquired about Julia, and Alan knew. That's when we flashed up to a conference room in an Ilaria Corp. building, where a business meeting with all sorts of silver-eyed rich assholes were gathered around a table, and who should sit down at the head of that table? This crazy bizatch!
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa x infinity!? 223 days pass, and now Julia is CEO of Ilaria? Or at least middle management or important enough to call a meeting of a bunch of immortal old people? It's a shocking moment, but it's also an end-of-season cliffhanger with no basis other than to make us do spit takes. Any theorizing at this point would be entirely baseless and we'd just be guessing. Did they offer her a benefits package she couldn't refuse? Was she always working for Ilaria? Did she find it all too boring to hang out with regular mortals and this became her support group? WHO KNOWS. Great television will give us something to think about with a shocker that makes sense. Helix just wants us to be all like, "Say whaaaaat?" But that's what Helix has become, a carnival freakshow of a program that's more involved with showmanship than making sense.
And as much as I'd like to abandon this thing, I can't. If Helix purported to be a serious science-fiction drama, then yeah, I'd have a gripe. But it's embraced its madness in a way that shouts, "This is who I am! Love me or leave me!" I fault no one for leaving, but I will still think fondly of this show because when it has been good, it's been a lot of fun. However, I don't know if it's been fun enough to stick through a second season. We'll get one anyways, and I hope it comes with more rats in a microwave and inappropriate bossa nova jams, because I loved that.
– Tulok, wondering why Anana was worried about Balleseros being on his own in the Arctic cold: "I thought he was supposed to be some special ops badass." Anana: "He's from Brazil!" Ha, those warm weather wussies.
– Sorry, there was not enough Hatake in this episode for me. He's one of the best.
– Wow, Blake (the Scythe's girlfriend and fellow Ilaria assassin) went down with a simple shot to the head. What was the point of her as a character? Anyone know?
– But that's not nearly as bad as the Scythe, who was such a disappointment after such an awesome introduction. He spent most of his time on this show tied to a chair with twisty ties rather than carving people up with his namesake blades. However, he did kill an old woman, so he's got that going for him.
– Seriously, what happened in this episode? I'm so confused I may never recover.
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