Sunday, March 2, 2014

Helix, Season 1, Episode 9: Level X

Day 9

The gang are now catching goo-zombies, using catchpoles and Sarah as bait. Sarah doesn’t get caught and she lives. Booo. More troubling is all the goo-zombies have disappeared. It turns out there’s a hidden level below even Level R: something Hiroshi wants to keep secret but Alan insists and Miksa threatens to reveal anyway. There’s level X as well – the virus vault.

There is absolutely no way that can be a good thing.

Time for some big exposition about the apocalypse virus Hiroshi created.  Alan is pissed. I’d be more impressed with him being justifiably pissed if there was any real shift in demeanour from how he normally behaves. Hiroshi created it so Illaria wouldn’t go elsewhere, since he never intends to deliver the virus. Forcing me to agree with Alan, that doesn’t make him the hero – and Sarah wants to know what happened to Constance anyway.

Hiroshi dismisses this because there’s worse on the way – he expects Ilaria to send an army next and do whatever they can to get the virus

So Alan thinks they need to go to Level X and destroy it. While Hiroshi has Miksa pull up footage of Level X to show them what they’re up against, Julia takes a moment to call Hiroshi out on drugging her (for her own “protection”) and she confronts him about the photo of her with him when she was a small child. He says he knew her mother and lavishes praise on her – and claims to have been very young in the photo and it’s totally a coincidence that she’s there now. Honest. Despite them asking for her by name which she doesn’t bring up.

Meanwhile, Sergio is imprisoned (in a cell with a much better lock this time) with a not-happy Ilaria guard. While the guard is around ranting, he also tells Sergio that Constance sent a squad to the Inuit village after Anana with orders to burn it to the ground – which concerns Sergio.

Miksa pulls up the footage of Level X (a very old Russian trading camp – so this is definitely Alaska, still confused as to why said Alaska is out of the CDC and US’s jurisdiction but hey) which is swarming with goo-zombies. Hiroshi suggests he go down using the secure stair case, but Alan nixes it – though he has no idea how to get past the goo-zombies (did Hiroshi tell them he’s goo-zombie proof?)

All the goo-zombies are swarming around Peter, vomiting black goo into a cup (the cup has “keep calm and carry on” on it. I approve) and giving it to him to drink. Ew. On drinking it he leaps up, energised and is apparently hailed as King Goo Zombie. Or possibly God Goo Zombie.

Meanwhile Victor, the cryogenic doctor, has discovered that the goo-zombies become inert at -40 degrees (we’ve seen before that the virus hates cold) which is Alan’s plan for getting to level X. Alan sets his plan which has Sarah and Hiroshi turning off the base power to make it as cold inside as out, Miksa runs around handing out thermal blankets and Alan and Julia go to destroy the virus. Sarah (who is hiding her shaking hands) has to watch Hiroshi because he’s Nefarious and Alan won’t even hear Julia going alone despite her being Goo-Zombie proof.

They only have 28 mins before the cold starts harming the uninfected. Also I suspect Sergio will escape since they’ve already made a point about how good he is with locks and how the door is now electro-magnetted shut.

With all the power off, Sarah has an angst moment about dying, how all her work and achievements mean nothing, how she never had chance to do so much. Much to Hiroshi’s confusion. Alan and Julia go down with Alan saying his plan B is to burn the base to the ground and kill everyone inside. And Sergio starts picking the lock (told you).

They move through the frozen goo zombies to the vault and Alan and Julia are horrified to see just how many viral strains the base has – more than the CDC has. Julia won’t let Ilaria have any of them – so all of them have to be incinerated in the limited time they have. And the Narvik is missing

Sergio and the goon escape - before Sergio beats said goon with a metal pipe. The body is found by Miksa and his team. He goes up to find Sergio trying to start one of the Snow Mobiles. They have a confrontation and Miksa decides to go with Sergio when he hears about the threat to the village.

They lose the trail, and Sergio snarks that he thought “you people” were good at tracking and not only does Miksa snark back but Anana appears out of nowhere to snark and threaten Sergio with violence (which is kind of how she communicates with Sergio). They hurry to the village.

In the power room, Sarah continues her regrets before collapsing and fitting, leaving Hiroshi to bring the power back on alone and ahead of time so he can hurry to try and help her. Delirious she says enough to make Hiroshi guess about her tumor

As the power comes back on the zombies begin to wake up and Alan hurries Julia out, even though she really wants to burn all the viruses. They crowd around Alan but Julia pushes him forward – the goo-zombies avoid her. Julia again sees her initials carved next to a trapdoor and realises she was there before, she hurriedly fills Alan in, says she has to go down there. So down they go. Of course

Downstairs is… the cabin. The cabin she grew up in in Montana. That’s not creepy! It’s a perfect replica. Alan tries to get Julia to remember something and all she can think of is her hallucinations telling her it’s all about her (that’s called subconscious narcissism.)

At the Inuit village, they find Ilaria goons loading up the civilians into a trailer, presumably to burn them. Sergio gets them close by pretending to be an Ilaria officer (nicely insisting on the “sir”) leading in prisoners they missed and Toluk (Anana and Miksa’s brother) sees his twin and reacts; to convince everyone he’s really on side, Miksa punches Toluk (Anana tells him to stay down) and says he doesn’t know any “stupid eskimos”.

Sergio has them give a gun to Miksa to kill his brother – and then both Sergio, Anana (with a gun hidden behind her back) and Miksa start shooting on the Ilaria guards taking them out in complete surprise. Miksa helps Toluk up, acknowledging him as his brother – then Toluk punches him for calling him “eskimo”.

Julia and Alan return from the cabin and are surrounded by goo-zombies lead by Peter. Alan tries to get Julia to hide behind him but she forces herself to the front, the zombies back away from her. She forces him to go ahead while she holds them off. Lots of questions for Julia but no answers.

They meet up with Hiroshu and an unconscious Sarah and Hiroshi wants to know how Alan did not know about her tumour. Alan and Julia talk about it while Alan admits even if he had known that he would have kept going because he needs her talent more than her health. Which is when Sarah deliriously mumbles about sleeping with Alan. Julia decides to leave them alone to speak with Hiroshi

He shows her the other half of the torn photo – showing him, her mother and her as a child together. Her mother is Jay – her hallucination (her mother’s name was Jane, but, as Hiroshi explains, to a 4 year old that was Jay). He talks about his fear of rejection and wanting a chance for her to know him before switching to the cabin – it isn’t a replica. It is the cabin. Julia has never lived in Montana. He takes out his contacts and shows her his silver eyes; Julia, he is your father.

Back at the village, Anana watches as Toluk and Miksa circle round their memories and making peace. Sergio bursts in to warn them about Ilaria, but his wound has opened and Anana forces him to take a moment to be treated

Close with a sad, depressing montage – and Dr. Victor leaving the base, with the missing Narvik virus.

Julia and Alan head down the trap door - ok her initials say she’s been there before – but a child scribbling initials doesn’t mean she has to go where they lead, surely? And Alan, who has fought every other suggestion anyone has ever given him, no matter how reasonable, decides this is that  this is the time to fold?

There’s a lot of anti-Inuit prejudice shown in this episode, but there is a sense of showing it as ignorant and easily exploited as well, as well as an excellent call out (and Sergio again having his arse handed to him by Anana. Again); it also shows how they are considered disposable, yes by a corporation that considers everyone disposable, but also linking with its past presentation of them as a vulnerable community.

I loved the subversion of Julia forcing Alan to hide behind her.

Helix finally seems to have found its stride, the plot is coming together, the characters are finally finding their pace. Sarah and Alan are still incredibly dull, but the rest is definitely a vast improvement over a very very bad start.