Helix 1.07 "Survivor Zero"A tv review article by: Paul Brian McCoy
[Editor's note: With the hectic time-suck that goes along with launching a new website from an older, fully-established website, we've fallen a bit behind on our TV watching and reviewing. With that in mind, this week Paul Brian McCoy will be catching up on Helix and reviewing the four episodes we've missed to get us back on track. And now we're ready for tonight's episode!]
Director Mike Rohl keeps us on track again this week, managing to keep a weak script from completely falling apart under the weight of its own clichés. And boy is that a heavy weight.
Jeri Ryan joins the cast this week as Constance Sutton, the COO of IlariaCorp and the money behind everything that's going on at the base, and she leaps right into chewing the scenery to bits. She's got great hair, great attitude, pearly whites that she apparently grinds down with horrible tools, and shiny silver eyes when she gets angry.
And she is angry.
Not that you'd know it at first. She tries to play nice but she's so clearly evil that it's hard to take seriously. When she finally pulls a gun on Dr. Alan (Billy Campbell) later in the show, you kind of wonder what took her so long. I'm not sure what she gains by lying to anyone since in the course of one episode she establishes that she's the Big Bad, that she's got whatever advanced abilities Hatake (Hiroyuki Sanada) has, kills some Vectors, makes out with Major Sexypants (Mark Ghanimé), explains that the virus she ordered Hatake to make is supposed to thin out the herd so she can rule the world, and then she makes it clear that nobody is to leave the base alive.
Subtle she is not.
In other clichés, after their horizontal mambo last week, Dr. Sarah (Jordan Hayes) tells Dr. Alan that it was nothing. Just biology. And then they scurry off to meet the Big Bad while both of them make goofy faces the other can't see. It's almost endearing, but not quite.
Dr. Sexypants gains some sympathy with Anana (Luciana Carro) after telling her that kids got stolen where he grew up too. That's before they get to the base and Seven of Nine makes out with him before sending him to solitary confinement. Meanwhile Anana meets Daniel (Meegwun Fairbrother) and tells him she's his sister and he's got a twin brother back home. He doesn't really take it well, but it's not long until he's on her side and turning against Hatake.
He has apparently been stealing children for twenty years, after all.
Dr. Julia (Kyra Zagorsky) is back up top this week thanks to Dr. Hatake's super-awesome secret passageways, but not before she faces down a Vector who scurries off with its metaphorical tail between its legs after she flashes her new silver eyes at it. When Hatake finds out she's got Neuromancer eyes, he helps her cover them in gauze for some reason while he silently cries.
Looks like that secret notebook full of pictures of her isn't just for recruiting purposes.
But Dr. Alan is glad she's back, even if he is completely freaked out by her new eyes, too. Before anything can be said or done about that, though, in another part of the base, three buff Vectors drop down out of the ceiling and begin loping through the halls with their black goo mouths ready and raring to plant Infection Kisses on anybody they don't murder indiscriminately.
So now the question is, why keep watching this show?
I really don't have an answer for that.
It's interesting, I guess. And at least they're playing it serious and not just making bullshit up as they go (I'm looking at you, Almost Human). And they get to say "shit" on Syfy now, so there's the novelty of hearing as many different iterations and usages of "shit" as they can squeeze in. I'm sure a drinking game could be fun.
We're past the halfway mark now, too. So there's something to be said for just completing the ride. But that's kind of admitting failure.
To be honest, there's something here that is interesting, but I don't know if it's a matter of the suits at Syfy interfering and watering down any attempt at real science fiction or if it's just a matter of the creators doing everything they can to appeal to a broader audience. Whether it's one of these options or something completely different, something behind the scenes is hurting the show.
In a TV landscape with Breaking Bad just finished, Walking Dead having its best season ever, House of Cards just released in full on Netflix, and HBO's True Detective knocking it out of the park every week with Game of Thrones on the immediate horizon, it seems like there should be clear indicators that people will watch far out shit that takes itself seriously and doesn't pander to the viewers.
If Ronald D. Moore wanted to put his name on this, but didn't really have a hand in guiding it to completion, and it certainly seems that way seven weeks in, you have to wonder just why his name is attached at all. Was that just a marketing move? A way to get people interested in the work of a first-time TV creator?
With Sleepy Hollow's Phillip Iscove, at least the big names attached got in there and meddled (to the detriment of the show, I'd say). I get the feeling that Helix's creator Cameron Porsandeh is having just the opposite problem and could use someone with more pull with the network to help righting this ship creatively. As far as the numbers go, they're not good, but seem to be okay for Syfy, especially with a strong shift in DVR viewership.
Does that mean we'll see a Season Two? At this point, it's hard to tell. But what I do know is that at this point, I don't think I care.
Be sure to check out this review and more exclusive content over at Comics Bulletin's new sister site, Psycho Drive-in!
Paul Brian McCoy is the Editor-in-Chief of Psycho Drive-In, writer of Mondo Marvel, and a regular contributor/editor for Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is available at Amazon US & UK, along with his collection of short stories, Coffee, Sex, & Creation (US & UK). He recently contributed the 1989 chapter to The American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1980s (US & UK) and has kicked off Comics Bulletin Books with Mondo Marvel Volumes One (US & UK) and Two (US & UK). Paul is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy.