Sunday, October 30, 2016

Van Helsing, Season 1, Episode 7: For Me

Alas we have a return of Dmitri, the Ancient leader of the vampires who I can’t even vaguely take seriously as a villain. Honestly, it’s nearly Hallowe’en, and there are 10 year olds in costumes who are a much much much more menacing vampire than this guy.

He has learned, beyond doubt, that Vanessa exists and she has the shiny special power of turning the vampires into humans and that Julius is plotting against his evilness. This will not stand – and he launches an invasion of his elite to claim Vanessa; watched by Mohammed who is still alive and acting as witness for various thing; including the death of one of Brandon’s survivor group who probably aren’t doing so well. As this lady is quickly killed.

Inside the hospital for some reason many people are talking about leaving. I have no particular idea why – where would they go? What do they hope to achieve? But for some reason the idea of leaving is now being floated everywhere. This is also despite the fact Vanessa has absolutely cannot move and is suffering from the bite which is making her super ill and couldn’t be moved anyway.

Of course Axel says no and ends the discussion right there so everyone can be all pouty

When Julius’s forces arrive we have a somewhat epic… not exactly battle, but we see why Axel has spent all of that time putting together all of his booby traps. The vampires are slaughtered forcing their way into the building, decimating their numbers until they pull back.

In the meantime everyone argues. They argue about whether the vampires are there for ex-high ranking vampire Flesh (they’re not) or Vanessa (they are). They

More interesting is when Doc considers the society they want to build if they actually do ever end the vampires… do they even want the old society back. It’s interesting because Axel, a white man, doesn’t even begin to understand her; but we can see why a Black woman would be less nostalgic even if living as they are isn’t hopeful

We also see the continued result of Axel assuming intimacy with Doc. He has been alone with her for 3 years – but she was a vampire all that time. He keeps doing things like touch her or talk about their future together in ways that clearly make her uncomfortable. While I think it could be interesting to explore 2 people who have radically different views of their relationship it all feels creepy because of Axel’s epicly ignoring her discomfort.

Julius’s vampires retreat – but only because Dmitri’s vampires arrive: and they are elite and powerful and far scarier than Julius’s decimated forces. They launch their demands – they want the gang to hand over Vanessa

Of course they debate this because we have to be reminded that everyone here is a terrible person – Nicole especially backing handing over Vanessa despite the fact everyone agrees that as soon as Vanessa is dead they’ll all be killed anyway.

Nicole also loses her little faith in Axel because she finds him freaking out in a corridor. In some ways this is a great character moment – after all Axel has hardly left that hospital in 3 years – and only for brief moments. He has been alone for most of that time. That kind of solitary existence is not healthy for anyone. And now he has all these people in his space and he’s being forced out of his bunker. Of course he’s going to freak out.

We need this. To dredge up any understanding of Axel’s terrible character, we need to understand the psychological impact of 3 years of isolation. This needs reinforcing.

Nicole’s response, though, is to run off on her own to do… to do… I have no idea. Get killed, because that’s what she does. And lo Axel is proved right again

Axel recovers from his little freak out and just as the invading vampires are bringing in a human (the first vampire who ever bit Vanessa) to break all the UV lights and invade. Thankfully, despite him panicking every time someone asked him how they could escape, it turns out that Axel does have an escape plan – one that leads to a tricked out ambulance tank and sets off a bomb in the hospital as they leave. Their escape is delayed by John wanting to kill Flesh because John is the worst and the show feels the need to remind us

Y’know while every one was panicking and freaking out it could probably have been nice for Axel to say “actually I have an escape plan”

Alas, they leave Mohammed behind who is just watching all of this.

This episode annoys me immensely because of 2 reasons:


And everyone who isn’t Axel.

See, Axel has long been established as an arsehole. He’s dictatorial, he’s aggressive. He attacks people constantly, never tries to explain himself and is hostile for no apparent reason all the time. He never even tries to talk to anyone but Doc and Vanessa (who, in various ways, are lined up as love interests and doc notably doesn’t defy him). Even Sam and Mohammed, who he seems to like, are given orders not talked to. The fact they follow them without question is pretty much why he likes them

So why does everyone else annoy me? Because they’re there to make him right. Look at Nicole this episode? She spends the whole thing snarling and snapping, having no solution, trying to hand over Vanessa to the vampires despite everyone already covered how that would get them all dead before she finally decides “screw Axel” and runs off… to die. Or John who has spent the whole show existing just to be wrong and an arsehole and trying to sabotage their escape. Or, for that matter, Brandon and his entire group justifying Axel being the worst

This is something we see a lot in dystopias – we get a dictatorial cishet white guy laying down the law but a system that inevitably backs up his. Axel is getting the same kind of treatment we’ve seen time and time again in these settings – he acts as the awesome, nigh-infallible, in control boss who cannot be questioned or doubted and the only ones who do so are terribad awful people who need to be taught the Error Of Their Ways.