Episode Title: “Black Rain”
Writers: Tiffany Greshler & Javier Grillo-Marxuach
Director: Jeremiah Chechik
Previously on “Helix”:
Theres a lot going on as day eleven begins in the hell hole known as “Helix.” The infected are abducting people, using rats in a microwave as enticing bait for those who aren’t infected. The Ilaria problem is about to get worse, as Hataki (Hiroyuki Sanada) gets an update from Illaria, that since Constance (Jeri Ryan) didn’t check in they’ll be sending reinforcements in six hours.
This sets Hataki off in a rush to wire up the base with explosives. On the bright side though, a spinal tap on Julia (Kyra Zagorsky) appears to be helping Sarah’s (Jordan Hayes) tumor shrink, once again cheapening a characters death. Or could it be avoiding a cheap death? “Helix” has typecast Sarah as the nerd starving for attention, that just happens to have cancer. It’s no fault of Jordan Hayes; Porsandeh and company have written her character very poorly, with a subplot that has little to offer in terms of sympathy. But what will change with her back in action? She’s just a lab tech without the experience.
The way the first five minutes of the episode is engineered exposes just how much it has to do in its final three episodes. At times, “Helix” tries to woo its audience with unorthodox visuals; the field of frozen monkeys, for instance, was one of the most amazing I’ve ever seen on television. The looks on their faces alone made it an awesome and frightening sight to see.
A rat in a microwave, I hate to say, is not a stunning visual. A question that is bothering me: how does a non-vectors person find a rat in a microwave desirable? Do these ploys the vectors use to lure people into their traps – essentially, the same devices Wile E Coyote used to try luring the Roadrunner into traps – mean that non-vectors are dumber than they look for falling for it? Do they not have access to Hot Pockets in the arctic? If I had the choice and expressed it in a simple mathematical formula, it’s this easy: Hot Pockets > Rats. Hataki and Alan believe that the vectors are ramping up for an attack. Seeing that they have the advantage in the numbers game, what the hell are they waiting for?
I’ve begun to make a game of the images I choose for each review. I try to choose the image that best justifies the way I feel about this show. A nod should be given to Syfy for providing some of the best material a reviewer could as for. This week, Billy Campbell knows my frustration and weariness, and wears it well on his face. It’s hard to be on a journey this long with a set of characters that you feel nothing for. “Helix” would better serve its audience by killing off the remaining members of the CDC team and starting from scratch if they happen to be renewed for a second season. At the very least, if Sarah and Alan (Billy Campbell) were offed, the show could focus on the real central character, Dr. Walker.
Julia says something in this episode that scares the hell out of me. In the wake of the bone marrow transplant that saves Sarah’s life, she attests to wanting to use her cells to cure everyone. Granted, she doesn’t have enough to save them all, but in doing so, opens her self up to scrutiny under a microscope, as if she’s comfortable living the rest of her life under a microscope. Anyone that would volunteer for such a thing is heavily disturbed in my mind. She also reveals to Alan how she kept the last two samples of the NARVIK virus. Julia is becoming more and more like her father, and fully admits to it at one point in the episode. Julia’s character development is really the only kind the show has given us, and probably the only kind we will ever seen.
At this point in the season, the writers are finally getting the kinks out. The back peddling has ceased making the pieces come together in what resembles a story arc. The non-vectors will have it coming from two fronts: Illaria and the vectors. The vectors are starting to make their move, and by a certain measure of guilt, it’s nice to see intelligent zombie-like creatures on the small screen. They’ve got a little bit of the 28 Days Later speed, coupled with slightly more cunning that the Land of the Dead creatures. The execution of these creatures has been the only good thing going for the show in the last few episodes. Sad to say, but I’ve fallen in love with these zombies. I want them to win, to alleviate the pain of a poor casting choices and dreadful acting.
In a unique set of visuals, you see just how organized they are. Through the eyes of one of the vectors, a number of them set out tools around what looks like an operating table with Peter (Neil Napier) at the head of the table. They take Dr. Kato (Ruth Chiang), a.k.a. “The rat lady,” and begin doing a procedure on her, that leads to her infection. Brilliantly, they drain her blood and run it through the sprinkler system. Of course, Hataki and Alan come together with a brilliant plan to corral the non-vectors together in one room: the sun room. When the sprinklers came on, I felt a sense of elation. I really do love these things!
With a cure in place and with Peter cured, there is still enough infected to cause some mayhem in the final two episodes. Their six hours are also up, and Ilaria arrives by episode’s end. Well, an assassin is. Known as the Scythe, he takes out all in his path, including any survivors.
“Black Rain” has made “Helix” very unpredictable. A cure exists. Ilaria has a unique calling card. What occurs in these final two episodes has the chance to save the season. I think I’m starting to like this show, and that is the scariest thing of all.