Ever browse through Netflix continuously and not find a single thing to watch? Browsing through Netflix is the modern day version of wandering aimlessly through the aisles of Blockbuster. Recently, your friendly neighborhood jman has been suffering through a serious bout of Netflix browsing. Several thousand times I passed by the thumbnail to the SyFy show, Helix, but I just kept up with my endless scrolling.
That is, until one day, in a surge of frustration/boredom…I finally clicked on the Helix thumbnail and down the rabbithole I went (FYI…there might be a couple slight spoilers in this review. So for those of you intending to watch the show but haven’t yet, I’ve marked the parts in this review that I think might be minor spoilers).
Helix debuted on Syfy in January of 2014, its initial run consisting of 13 episodes. Part “zombie apocalypse” (they’re called “vectors” here, btw), part thriller; the show’s premise centers around a task force consisting of members of the CDC and the U.S. military, that are on a mission to an arctic bio-med base (aptly named Arctic BioSystems) that’s free from any kind of governmental laws, oversight or restrictions (and, as we soon find out, morals) because of a potentially life threatening viral outbreak.
With me so far? Good, because it’s one twisty/turny ride from here on out. The show stars Billy Campbell (who you may recall as the Rocketeer) as the show’s protagonist and leader of the CDC task force, Dr. Alan Farragut. Right from the start, Farragut runs into a brick wall, by the name of Dr. Hiroshi Hatake (played by Hiroyuki Sanada). Dr. Hatake runs Arctic BioSystems and is about as helpful as a toddler applying passive resistance to a frustrated parent. Considering that the bioresearch base he’s in charge of has a bigger collection of deadly viruses than the CDC itself, and has a growing collection of hive minded “Vectors,” Hatake is one obtusely, cool cucumber.
It seems as though every character on the show has an ulterior motive, if not several of them. Even good guy Dr. Alan Farragut has an agenda, because it’s his brother, Dr. Peter Farragut (played by Neil Napier) who has caught this highly contagious, man-made disease. Then there’s Major Sergio Balleseros (portrayed by Mark Ghanimé) who came to Arctic BioSystems as part of the CDC taskforce. What’s this character’s motivation? Who is he truly working for? It seems this cat has his hands in just about everyone’s pockets.
Hatake, though, takes the cake. He’s got so many secrets, it seems he’s got a new one popping up every episode. And some of those secrets? Man. They don’t get resolve until episodes later. If at all. Like those surrounding his obsession with Dr. Julia Walker (Kyra Zagorsky), also part of the CDC task force.
Overall, Helix is a surprisingly entertaining show. Some of the individual episodes were downright scary at times. There’s a line of tension that runs through each episode. You’re constantly waiting for something to happen. Or for someone to break. Or for the next twist. The music throughout only adds to the oddness/randomness/tension. It’s an oddly optimistic and upbeat mix. Especially when contrasted to the dire circumstances the characters find themselves in.
Seven of Nine herself, Jeri Ryan (who plays Constance Sutton, President of the Ilaria Corporation which owns the bio-med base) also stars, adding a touch of credibility to the show, along with Campbell.
Now, there are some really…really…over the top/absurd moments throughout the show, and the absurdity of some of the situations almost pulls you out of your willingness to disbelieve.
But, my main problem with the Helix? There are far too many twists and not enough explanations. A twist here. A twist there. Everywhere a twist twist.
Then there’s the ending/the last episode. I don’t know why, but I had it in my head the show would wrap up at the end of the season, and if it got renewed, it would start a new adventure elsewhere (maybe with new characters). Perhaps because the first 12 episodes all take place around the base/in the Arctic. Episode 13 (“Dans L’ombre”), however, opens up some 233 days after the CDC task force places foot to snow in the Arctic, in…Europe. Europe. It’s a couple miles from the Arctic.
There are just so many questions that remain unanswered (and this is really where I get spoilerish…), like: What happened to Farragut’s protégé, Dr. Sarah Jordan (played by Jordan Hayes)? And is/was she pregnant with his Farragut’s child? Why are Hatake and the rest of Ilaria Corporation, immortal? Why did Hatake keep all those frozen severed heads? Who did those heads formerly belong, too? And…most of all…what the hell is really going on with Julia?!?!?
Thankfully, Helix has been renewed and is set to return in January 2015. Hopefully, some of these questions will be answered.
I’ll tell you one thing, though, I really would’ve beaten the crap out of Dr. Hatake.
Before you click on out of here, don’t forget to check out the latest episode of the Almost Internet Famous Internet Show. No Vectors were harmed in the filming out it.