Monday, October 10, 2016

Van Helsing, Season 1, Episode 4: Coming Back

Doc has now been turned back into a human which leads to some of the scenes this show is starting to do well – the conflict that humans feel after being turned back from a vampire is difficult to live with to say the least. Flesh is utterly tortured, filled with self loathing – especially since we see his past: how he was turned and then killed his children. That’s a whole lot of guilt to live with. Flesh is happy to be human again though – being human means feeling which is something that vampires no longer do.

He also appears to be something of budding evangelist – trying to convince the other vampires to let Vanessa turn them human again, let them feel. There’s a definite sense that he’s clinging to this, this purpose, to keep going. Especially since he mentions that he does think he deserves to die – but on his terms. He will die; but not before he completes his mission

Of course, Doc is even more newly human and she is deeply traumatised by the experience – and not really taking a lot of comfort from Flesh saying “hey you got lucky, you didn’t eat friends and loved ones!”. While I can see his point, it’s equally understandable that Doc isn’t ready to see “bitten by vampires and locked up for months near starving” as “being lucky”.

There’s another potentially dangerous scene with Flesh and Sam – where Sam describes the many physical advantages of being a vampire: including super senses and old injuries being healed. Sam, ominously, asks if Flesh misses it… I am concerned that we may be looking at a disturbing “disability cure” storyline here

We also get what I find to be an interesting little hint into Axel again – I’m reminded that Axel basically spent several months completely alone (unless we count vampire Doc and unconscious Vanessa). That has an effect on people – and one seems to be how Axel has basically created entire relationships out of pretty much nothing. Whether or not, as his fellows implied, he had a crush on Doc before she became a vampire, he definitely built something up in his head while he was feeding her. But, as she points out, he doesn’t know a damn thing about her. Axel is, in some ways, rather fixated on both of them and the empty, one-sided relationships he built up with them while they were both effectively insensible

That doesn’t in anyway justify the extremely predatory, hella skeevy behaviour towards Vanessa, but if they expand upon this it could potentially explain some more of his character. It also potentially explains something of his ridiculous obsession with his “mission” and his current plan to wait forever for orders that every sensible person knows is never actually going to arrive – a lone survivor living alone for months, completely out of his depth, desperately needing a chain of command that he’s lost without.

I may be clutching at straws here to find more depth in a character we have to endure.

This is also why Doc seems to be the one who can genuinely get through to him and convince him to abandon his useless, pointless mission and actually focus on what they have. It could also be why she manages to convince him not to run out chasing after Vanessa – because she represents an even deeper, obsessive relationship than Vanessa does

Yes, Vanessa leaves the compound. On the one hand I’m kind of frustrated at her constant desire to run off without any kind of plan or preparation into certain death. On the other, the alternative is to stay with Axel forever since he has no plan. Basically it’s stay still until they starve, following Axel’s ridiculous plan, or go out to near certain death looking for her daughter in a wasteland.

She manages to leave with the help of Mohammed who knows way way way more about the city than she does and also wants to find a loved one – his sister, Sheema. I’m glad to see he actually has a life and goal beyond being Axel’s supporting token – though him leaving with Vanessa kind to turns him into her supporting token.

Especially since they go to Vanessa’s old house, find traces of her daughter and has a nice moment talking to Mohammed and discarding various vampire myths (also there’s a nice world building moment where they discuss the second amendment – and Mohammed doesn’t understand the reference. It’s clear that certainly younger people in the aftermath don’t remember a great deal about the world as it was) but don’t actually do anything to try and find Sheema. Instead on the way back they run into Brendan and his small collection of survivors vainly looking for safety. Since one of them is a child, Vanessa is moved to help and has Mohammed take them to the barricaded hospital – while she stays back and hopes to hold off the zombies.

I’m assuming she’s relying in her super-duper amazing yet unreliable combat skills? I’m not entirely sold on her motivation here – going from “I must find my daughter who I just found alive” to “a child! I must martyr myself!”

We do check in with Julius, head of one of the evil vampire factions (but apparently subordinate to Dmitri and not happy about it – so much so that one of his minions wants him to take Vanessa alive and use her mojo to try and take the throne) who decides he wants Vanessa brought in alive. So when Vanessa with all of her super special combat skills is finally overwhelmed by sheer numbers, she is taken prisoner

We also have a short scene of evil vampire Julius minion Rebecca having sex with a chained virgin and killing him. Because we totally need to see a woman being sexual and (*gasp*) kinky to truly confirm she’s evil. I mean, killing people, enslaving them? Nah that can be ambiguous. But a sexual woman? Nah pure evil!

We also see how humans exist under Julius. They’re enslaved, work in factories for the vampires and act as blood source (by not biting the humans directly, the vampires can feed on them without turning them). Part of what they’re doing is trying to create smog in the factory to try and block the sun as well as imposing a curfew – because the volcanic ash is beginning to disperse and sunlight return which would do a lot to damage vampiric dominance

This is certainly something that interests the Resistance – though the head of the Resistance, Campbell, isn’t exactly inspiring people with his patriotic speeches. But Mohammed’s sister, Sheema, is also involved and may be able to help them shut down the factory.

So what’s happening at the hospital while all this is going on? One of the survivors (I forget her name), is found hanging by Flesh – an apparent suicide. This leaves the survivors as Axel, Doc, John (who is an arsehole), Flesh, Sam and Nicole. Now we need the names because there’s a new twist – this woman wasn’t a suicide, she was murdered. Which means there’s a killer among them.

Just in time for Mohammed to return with Brendan and the new survivors. (Sam and Mohammed also hug to reunite – there’s nothing inherently says this is more than friendly but it’s possible).

Personally my money is on the killer being Nicole. They’re going to keep John around as Designated Arsehole, Flesh and Doc have too much plotline around him, Sam and Mohammed are useful minions. Nicole has no storyline or presence (I had to look up her name) she’s disposable to my genre savy mind.