Episode Title: “The Reaping”
Story: Adam Lash & Cori Uchida
Teleplay: Cameron Porsandeh
Director: Brad Turner
Previously on “Helix”
“Helix” continues to try to use shock tactics as a selling point for its existence. Was anyone really shocked by “The Scythe” (Robert Naylor)? We live in a world where The Hunger Games and Divergent exist. Is the idea of deadly children as terrifying or as shocking as it sounds, when we also live in a world where the Lost Boys kill people every day? To me, it’s not. Adding a parental portion to the Scythe’s character – Constance Sutton (Jeri Ryan) – doesn’t help either. The title, clearly a Hunger Games rip-off similarly doesn’t help. In terms of cross promotion, it’s about as abysmal as the Hunger Games version of the Marvel Universe, Avengers Arena.
I don’t deny that “Helix” can be a fun show. Often when I watch each episode, I ruminate about how the virus would be a concept better served in other hands. How the immortals would be given proper treatment on another network. As strange as it sounds, I felt the same way about “Cult,” a series whose premise was poorly served by a network and team of writers that didn’t know exactly what they had. It’s hard to make people give a crap about people and plots if you don’t give them a heart for the audience to cling to.
“The Reaping” made me feel angry. I admit, that in the last few episodes I was falling for this show’s spell. There was always something about it that kept me coming back, willfully. That element was the few characters that I could cling to; Daniel Aerov (Meegwun Fairbrother) and Dr. Peter Farragut (Neil Napier) provide the only viable human factors to ground the audience. At the end of the episode, only one is left.
What bothered me most about Daniel’s death is how downplayed it was. Right before he delivers the virus and cure to The Scythe and “Helix’s” No-Doze equivalent Blake (Alexander Ordolis), Daniel has a brief interaction with Hataki (Hiroyuki Sanada) that sets up what Daniel’s character has meant to the show. Daniel confronts him about risking his life to save Julia’s (Kyra Zagorsky). Hataki says he’d do it without question. When Daniel asks him the same question in terms of saving him, all Hataki can offer up is “you know the answer to that.”
In many ways, Daniel is the heart and soul of this show. In a heartfelt and gender neutral way, I think of him as a Cinderella that never got the chance to go to the ball; forced to live with a stepfather who really never showed great affection, but whom he cared for anyway. Daniel was constantly cleaning up Hataki’s messes without question. His sacrifice, in all its gory fashion, is given a few solid seconds to sink in. Hataki presses his hands to the glass and cries, before we move on, because, oh wow! Julia’s mother is still alive!
When they open the box containing her, I laughed. I never intended to, but it couldn’t be helped. I’ve always coped with death that way at first. The visual at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire popped into my head, where a chest is opened to reveal Alastor Moody at the bottom, having been kidnapped for a year. Why? Why the hell do we have this plot rearing its ugly head at the end of the season? It further perpetuates the myth that nobody on this show dies… except for Daniel and characters that don’t matter!
Another glaring misstep is Peter’s time in this episode. It felt strange to see him without the black eyes and bulging veins, and a sentience that hasn’t been seen often in real time. Instead of discovering what exactly he had been doing in the arctic, “Helix” chooses to spotlight the fact that Peter and Alan (Billy Campbell) are brothers, and has them bickering most of the episode about stupid brotherly stuff. I wanted them to have a brother-off, where the only word they said out loud was brother and did so in a Hulk Hogan style voice. It would be the perfect “Family Guy” bit.
There was one moment that made me laugh above all others. After they’ve captured The Scythe and have him restrained, he looks Alan in the face and says “does that make you feel powerful?” Alan responds by saying: “no, but this does,” and whacks him in the head with a crowbar. Thanks “Helix,” I needed that. I also laughed when Blake backs the Scythe up when Hataki arrives to save Julia. The Scythe notes how Hataki made it in the nick of time, and Blake follows it up with an exact time of 22 seconds. I wanted to see a Tuco moment. I wanted to see The Scythe just start berate the hell out of her. “Do you think he’s stupid?” The Scythe would say. Blake would only be able to offer, “I was just trying to remind him of who he’s dealing with.” “Hataki says relax. I’m relaxed, I’m relaxed…” and so on. But alas, it didn’t happen.
The most frightening thing of all is how Julia and Sarah (Jordan Hayes) see the cure as the world’s problem solver. That immortality is the answer to it all. If “Helix” could flip the script, and show how immortality could be the worse thing possible. The negative impacts that it could have upon the world; environmentally, population size and in many other aspects… that could save this show. But I don’t even have that much hope.
“Helix” has dropped the ball so many times this season, but this time I don’t think they can pick it back up. Their weighty character problem shows no signs of improvement. But it also makes me think that if Julia was at front and center of the show, the new Alan Farragut, would she be a more compelling lead? When it first became apparent that she was the focal point, I thought yes. But now I’m not so sure. The resolution of this season is the final troubling aspect that “Helix” has yet to impress upon its audience. Do we need Julia’s mother for this? What awaits The Scythe? What role will Ilaria play. The most important question: does anyone care at this point?
R.I.P. Daniel, you will be greatly missed.