Sunday, January 25, 2015

Helix, Season 1, Episode 2: Reunion

Day 2

Because that art school grad is still wandering around, we open with Alan being all austere and monkish and unshaven cut with scenes of him rampaging around hitting and shooting silver-eyed people looking for a Julia. He killed them even while they begged. He did get a flashdrive of information from one of them, though, which led to this island (and the reboot).

He’s now known as Brother Gerome.

On to Sarah who wakes up bleeding from the nose and fingernails. She doesn’t seem overly concerned by this. She recognises Alan among the crowd of cultists. She goes looking for him, but only finds a cultist with some facial buboes who runs from her. She chases after him (I suppose a doctor for the CDC is a little terrier like when it comes to obviously infected people) but loses him due to her injured foot. She does find a rather awesome church/greenhouse room.

Cultists file in, including Alan. Michael, the cult leader, has a sermon for everyone and it’s all happy and creepy – when an infected child staggers into the room, calling for his mother. When she goes to him, the child attacks her. Sarah rushes to help – and she and Alan see each other.

She tells Peter and Kyle about the infection in the Abbey and calls for a quarantine and Michael and one of his lackeys come in (lackey thinks Sarah needs to be kicked out – I think the CDC doesn’t care much for abbey rules). Sarah also mentions the other infected person, Brother Isaac and Michael admits they need help. He offers all co-operation and equipment at their disposal.

Yeah I don’t trust him either

Sarah has Saren, the infected boy, restrained to take samples but he continues to struggle and fight. Peter, Kyle and random cultists go looking for Brother Isaac. They seem to think he will be hiding in the shadows and the tunnels. They split up – and Peter finds Isaac who violently attacks. The sight of the infected man charging at him pushes Peter into a flashback of season 1. Isaac manages to escape.

Back to the lab, Sarah complains about the outdated equipment while, simultaneously being suspicious that the cult has so much equipment. She also tells Peter about Alan – and Peter has a tantrum, he rants on about how discredited and criminal Alan is (for our exposition benefit) and how they should avoid him like the plague (he also refuses to see that Ilaria could have anything to do with the island. After all, what would Ilaria want with a secretive, isolated base like.. uh… oh yes, standard operating procedure).

Alone Michael talks to his suspicious lackey, Anne, who thinks they should expel everyone – she’s apparently shaky about the powers of the CDC and how expelling them wouldn’t keep them away. She talks ominously about a legacy they have to protect.

Elsewhere on the island a cultist here’s ominous noises in an empty storeroom and decides to investigate. This man needs better survival instincts. He finds Isaac – and Isaac surprisingly slits his own throat, bleeding yellow everywhere. Bleeding sunshine yellow is somehow even more disturbing than the black goo of the first season.

Alan is called into a meeting with Michael where we learn (well where it is repeated) that Michael is a geneticist – and he creates hybrid plants (albeit through cross breeding rather than genetic manipulation or so he claims). This segues into his belief that everything has a reason – and he’d quite like to know “Jerome’s” reason for being there after 3 months. Alan reveals he’s done terrible things and wants to hide – though Michael counters that they don’t hide, they confront their pasts and bad actions which allows them to heal. So, this concludes the episode’s clumsy reading of self-help books.

In the lab Sarah works and it is slow and awkward – until she takes off all her safety gear and works much faster. How come Sarah suddenly can’t work in appropriate safety gear? She will have spent her whole career wearing that stuff! Peter isn’t impressed – not because of the risk, but because Kyle may discover she’s a silver-eyed mutant. She also objects to Peter giving her orders, considering him dictatorial compared to Alan

They’re interrupted by Kyle demanding they go see Soren – the kid is making a full recovery. This pathogen looks a lot less pathogeny.

The next step is to track Isaac and Soren’s movements to see where they are both together as possible sources of the pathogen (and Sarah has another of her nosebleeds). That means examining the apple groves (with careful selective breeding) and Kyle learning how the kids are raised – collectively and after the age of 7 they spend little time with their parents, choosing mentors instead. Even before that, his mother had little chance to see Soren (and Anne does most of the speaking for Soren’s mother – including insisting that children are never alone with adults. Because disease can only be passed on when people are alone?). We also learn that many of the islanders have been there for 5 generations.

And that 5 generation islander woman takes Kyle to an outbuilding and starts to strip to try and seduce him. He pushes her away and she returns to work – neatly derailing all his questions.

Sarah takes the opportunity to speak to Alan without blowing his cover. He tells her to get out asap but won’t tell her why except to be ominous and cryptic. He makes a hand signal which Sarah finds significant.

She tries to tell Peter but he’s far too “Alan, GRRRR” to listen.

The three doctors gather to review the evidence and conclude that Isaac and Soren didn’t spent any time together.

Sarah visits Alan that night (though he tries to get her to go) and Alan reveals the pathogen is why he’s on the island. But he won’t say anything else – what is going on on the island, what he’s been up to, why they should leave. Sarah demands an explanation for her sake – and for their baby. Yes the show has finally remembered Sarah was pregnant with Alan’s child.

She hasn’t given birth – she’s still pregnant, she’s been pregnant for 15 months and still isn’t showing; the spinal fluid that made Sarah silver-eyed also affected the foetus, stopping both of them aging. She’s now permanently in the first trimester – complete with morning sickness, nosebleeds and fatigue. Alan still refuses to say anything – only now thinks he has to protect permanent foetus as well!

One of the cultists goes to Soren in the night and takes him outside of the wall, claiming they’re going to meet Soren’s mother. He then leaves the boy outside the wall – where he is taken by a very infected man (who still seems capable of language).

Day 10952 (30 years later)

Julia has decided to dig up Alan. But when she unearths his grave and pulls out a skull, she declares that it isn’t Alan. More, she thinks the bones in his grave (of more than one person) is some kind of morbid puzzle. One of the hip bones has an image carved on it – she shows it to Caleb who claims ignorance – but then hurriedly leaves. Of course, that could be because he doesn’t find skeleton jigsaw to be especially riveting.

Julia isn’t a fool and asks Caleb about the carving; she again reiterates that she is infected and how little time she has before dying. He tells her the carving is a map and it shows a deadly bad place. Naturally, Julia wants to go to the deadly bad place. He agrees to guide her, but won’t enter. Along they way they find a child’s skeleton which prompts Caleb to be ominous and vague.

I would praise the depiction of Peter not recovering from the trauma of Narvik – after all, what happened to him isn’t easily discarded or healed from. But the whole scene also emphasises how much we’re retelling the first season – this is a reboot not a continuation. They’re walking through dark, dangerous tunnels looking for violent infected who may attack them – that’s what they spent most of season 1 doing as well.

Can we also address the character nonsense of Sarah refusing Peter’s orders – it’s not like his orders were not sensible or were even harshly worded. And she holds up Alan as being open to input? When was this – because it definitely wasn’t in season 1! Compared to his brother, Peter is moderate, even tempered and open! This retcon doesn’t stand! And why has Sarah lost all vestiges of common sense – she doesn’t know she’s immune! And even if she isn’t immune, without gloves, face guard or all that long hair nicely bagged she is compromising what limited sterility she already has in her work place.

It’s the second episode of the new season and I normally try to give a show more time but I’m, frankly, irritated and annoyed by it. It has rather completely slashed the old season which was especially vexing given that it was, in many ways, just getting good. Instead it feels like we’re taking many of the same characters and putting them into a new situation which, at the same time, keeping so many plot and thematic elements of the first season to make it feel very unoriginal and filled with déjà vu. Also annoyingly, while it’s a reboot, the POC characters seem to have fallen through the cracks: Hiroshi, Sergio, Daniel, Anana are all missing. None of the new cast are POC – in fact, this cult seems largely White.