Sunday, February 2, 2014

Helix, Season 1, Episode 5: The White Room

Day 5

Sergio burns the frozen monkeys. He’s happy about this because he’s completed his mission – he sends a message to shadowy people unknown to tell them he’s all done and they can evacuate any time now, thanks. He gets a message back telling him there’s just a little delay while they find and retrieve “Dr. Hvit”. Last we heard that name was when Tracy was ranting about him being forced into the White Room. Anyway, that’s Sergio’s new mission and he doesn’t even know who Dr. Hvit is.

Sergio, your bosses be screwing with you. Their next mission is to bring them a shrubbery. And just in case things aren’t creepy enough, the frozen burning monkeys start screaming. They weren’t dead.

Alan does science and the cameraman goes for some overediting to convince us this is exciting – he’s done some sciency stuff to Dr. Phillipe Duchamp’s super cure that promises progress – once they do some animal testing anyway. With this, Alan is confident they can open up the lower quarantine level and check if people are actually infected (given that Sarah’s little test is not great). Time to go cross swords with Daniel as a way of crossing swords with Hiroshi because Alan has to remind us who the alpha male round here is.

Meanwhile Sarah is still harbouring a Vector (Rae Van Eigem) to keep her cancer secret – and no, this makes zero sense and must be professionally dubious to say the least. They do get to have poignant conversations about controlling pain and seeing death approach though.

Sergio’s turn to play Alpha posturing with Daniel and attacks his adoption by Hiroshi, making a comparison with central and south American gangs who take in young kids to indoctrinate them, make them loyal without them realising that they’re grunts. Daniel is not impressed

While Hiroshi is elsewhere stabbing himself in the back. No, really.

In the quarantine area, Julia is trying to convince the people locked in to let her in as well – but her coughing doesn’t reassure them even if she does have food and Jaye just wants them out of the corridors where the Vectors roam and accuses Julia of trying to rejoin the main group because she doesn’t want to confront her own mysterious handwritten graffiti. She has no idea why it was there (and tries to cling to the idea it was a hallucination) and is slightly freaked when Jaye calls her “Jules” since only Alan and her mother called her that. Which is when a bleeding Hirshi staggers round the corner

Really man, did you just stab yourself to make Julia play Florence Nightingale? With zombies?

Hiroshi blames the guys who shut off the CO2 scrubbers for his injury – but he may have to be moved half way across the facility to get some decent treatment for his injury. Relatedly, it’s pretty clear Hiroshi can’t see Jaye – and she’s actually just Julia’s hallucination/imaginary friend/pet spirit. While imaginary friend Jaye doesn’t like Hiroshi, Julia is happy to crawl through a tunnel across the base to seek out first aid

Alan, meanwhile, finds Doreen’s dead body – with a rat in her mouth. Ew ew ew ew ew. Daniel presents the very reasonable possibility of an accident before any kind of post mortem, Alan counters by raising his voice – because he’s the Alpha Hero Damnit! He continues to have a tantrum and dramatically invading Daniel’s personal space and all but accuses Daniel of being complicit.

Daniel and Alan check the CCTV – with Alan sat emanating smug “fuck you” vibes – gods even a saint would want to slap him there. The CCTV is, of course, broken with the necessary files and back up corrupted

Sergio, meanwhile, is still looking for his mysterious Dr. Hvit – this time asking Phillipe who does remember him. But he hasn’t been seen in a long time, rumour has it he has an immune deficiency that prevents him interacting with others and he’s in the “white room.” When asked where that is Phillipe says “we’re all in the white room.” Of course, because we’re behind on our cryptic quota. He’s interrupted from clarifying by Daniel who takes Sergio aside to press him against a wall and demand to know if Sergio killed Doreen; Sergio doesn’t admit it but he hardly denies it either.

Sarah returns to her room with a huge stash of morphine – but Rae has left. She hurries out and doesn’t find a trail of bodies but does find Rae without any trousers on dancing to her hallucination – then she goes full on Vector and tries to shoot black goo into Sarah’s mouth. It’s only a temporary attack before Rae returns to her senses and they return to the room. There, Rae begs Sarah to stop her becoming a goo zombie – effectively asking Sarah to kill her.

Sarah can we revisit the wisdom of you keeping goo zombies in your quarters? I know, maybe you always wanted a pet, but now isn’t the time.

Alan autopsies Doreen – and finds the needle mark where Sergio killed her (Sergio looks nicely troubled not just from the potential of being caught). Alan goes to tell Sarah who has only just injected herself with morphine to control her shaking hands. She covers her reaction with despair over them ever getting out alive – and he holds her to comfort and support her. And she kisses him –he briefly kisses her back before pushing away. She’s all apologies and he notices her pupils – she’s high. She tries to explain but he just rants at her and tells her to sleep it off

Downstairs, Julia and the possibly imaginary Jaye help Hiroshi down the darkened tunnel and tie Jaye’s (who may or may not be real) jacket around Hiroshi’s wound. In doing so Julia notices some odd marks on Hiroshi’s back.

Then Vectors, goo-zombies arrive (including Tracy). They run, quickly escaping into a side room – except Jaye who is caught. There’s no way they can go back for her (maybe she was real)

Sergio and Alan try to look for Doreen’s research to see what was being covered up by killing her and Sergio deftly manipulates Alan into looking for Dr. Hvit, claiming that Doreen was in contact with him. Time for Alan to put on his slappable face and go play alpha with Daniel again – who rightly questions why Alan takes everything Sergio says as gospel.

Back to Hiroshi and Julia and Julia asks about the scars on his back – Hiroshi tried to save his daughter from a burning building. Talk about his daughter leads to Hiroshi comparing her to Julia until Julia realises she can’t hear anything. Time to continue their trip down the tunnel – and run into another goo zombie, only now Hiroshi cannot walk. They fall into another side room (so conveniently placed) and Jaye appears from nowhere, completely unscathed, and bashes the goo zombie’s head in with a fire extinguisher.

They treat Hiroshi and Jaye explains how she got away – and brushes aside Julia’s guilt – she had every reason to close that door and assume Jaye was with them. When Jaye sees Hiroshi waking up she snarks “Maybe he can tell us more lies about his daughter”… but Jaye wasn’t there when Hiroshi told Julia about his daughter. Julia realises she’s been hallucinating and we flashback to all the times Jaye has done things but in actuality Julia did them and hallucinated Jaye. And all the times Jaye saved Julia, in reality she saved herself.

Told you she wasn’t real.

Over to Sarah and Rae and Sarah has agreed to help Rae die – they have a powerful and emotional scene about euthanasia before Sarah gives her the injection

Alan and Daniel go to search Sergio’s room and find plastic explosives and his portable satellite dish – pretty strongly indication Sergio destroyed the satellite dish. They also find Doreen’s research – and his last message claiming he has found Dr. Hvit and scheduling a new evacuation time. On hearing that, Daniel disappears. Alan goes to Phillipe and demands an explanation  for the White Room – apparently it’s an inside joke for “outside” in the arctic. Well no-one said a facility full of research scientists in the arctic circle is going to produce the best humour.

Outside, Daniel attaches a safety line to the door and walks off into the snow – to a hidden spot where he pushes a button. This causes several preserved heads to rise from under the snow, including that of Dr. Hvit. And Sergio hits him – he set up the message to get Daniel to lead him to Hvit.

Alan insists on going out into the snowstorm, of course, following the guideropes – and runs into Sergio – and hits him for killing Doreen and then calling her “collateral damage.” Of course, in that fight Sergio is a soldier and Alan quick ends up on the ice (Sergio, I will forgive you for the death of Doreen if you finish him off) He cuts Alan’s guide rope and kicks him off into the snow.

I’m not even getting my hopes up, the protagonist armour will kick in soon – and sure enough he makes his way back to the rope and back to the base where he’s met by Phillipe.

Out in the snow, Daniel ambushes Sergio and stabs him in the stomach while Sergio is busy texting. Daniel is much more thorough and quickly strips Sergio of his outer, insulated clothing before taking Dr. Hvit’s head and leaving. Look, yes he’s more through but if you’re going to leave someone with a  major stomach wound, on the ice without insulation you might as well just stab them in the head… Can we all stop being a little Bond villain-ish here? I’m not even going to pretend to list Sergio as dead.

Alan gets his injuries attended by Sarah and he complements her on her lazy focus and concentration which is why he chose her for the mission; he finally, belatedly, lets Sarah explain herself. But she only admits to taking morphine for a migraine.

Close with Alana angsting to Peter’s comatose body and bringing up their abusive childhood again because every episode must have a reference. And Peter starts showing brain activity.

Do you know what is really sad about Helix? Alan is the hero – so there really is minimal chance of this annoying, bullying, arsehole of a character who lashes out and rains condescending shit on everyone around him until everything goes his way is ever actually going to die. This is a sad sad thing.

I can understand characters arguing, disagreeing – even him pulling rank or arguing his expertise. But he doesn’t – he dishes orders without explanation, he drips contempt on everyone who doesn’t leap to attention and when anyone dares to disagree with him he shouts, he invades their space and he tries to physically intimidate them.

Sergio is bringing the best acting on the show so far – confident and uncertain, ruthless yet regretful, it’s a great portrayal. Now he just has to kill Alan.

What made this episode better were some powerful scenes – like Sarah and Rae. But the storyline remains questionable, backed by some dubious decisions (like Sarah keeping Rae in the first place) and Alan whose character I hate.