Sunday, November 13, 2016

Van Helsing, Season 1, Episode 9: Help Out

In the Farm bunker, it’s time to clean up the blood and get rid of John’s body. During which Axel is a complete arsehole

I’d say that some people do use inappropriate humour to deal with all kinds of awful situations. But Axel is always kind of awful. Or totally awful. He has little comfort for Vanessa either because he’s awful

Vanessa and Suzy have a wonderful bonding moment about how much they care about each other, rely on each other – and Suzy helps talk her through her issues over killing John. Not so much that she killed John, because there was little doubt that she had to – but because she enjoyed it

Suzy “life’s good when you enjoy your work”

I kind of love Suzy. And so does Vanessa and not just as a friend – they kiss, sharing a bed.

A protagonist who is attracted to women? (I’m going to say bisexual since we have obvious previous male relationships – that doesn’t mean she’s definitely bisexual and not a lesbian but we shall see how this is development). This is definitely a good thing as I really like the bond between these two. There are two things we then get that try to throw some negatives at the awesome:

1. We get a series of jokes about Axel fantasising about this because of course we do.

And then there’s the trust Axel issue that raises up. Despite his arseholery, Flesh decides to thank Axel for sticking by them. So does Vanessa – she thanks him for all his help, sticking to his mission and, above all, he’s someone she can trust. Which is very rare, especially for a man

The issue with this is proximity. Because there’s nothing wrong with her expressing distrust and no reason why she wouldn’t be distrusting and there’s certainly reason why she would be especially distrusting of men. But having an “I don’t trust men” moment right next to the first sign she’s attracted to women is a dubious juxtaposition because so many times we see women being attracted to other women being presented as a reaction to the terribad things men have done. Yes it makes bisexual women and lesbians all about the men. I mean there was any time before or after when this mistrust could have been expressed without this being associated with her attraction

Anyway, back to the trust line – Axel suggests she shouldn’t trust him because he’s totally read her file and not told her about it before now. He’s also totally left the file behind at the hospital so she can’t read it. Oh but the file contains no relevant information, honest

Ok, what – he’s read the file but not bothered to tell her about it despite it having no information in it? Why why why why and again why? Was this just designed to make her suspicious for no good reason. I don’t see the reasoning behind this – either keeping it secret or telling her

Vanessa spends much of the rest of the episode being snarly at Axel but they have other things to worry about – firstly they find a section of the base that still has vampires in it – and horrible rotted corpses and lots of blood trails and it all looks very very very very nasty

And Doc discovers the whole place is irradiated and all of them, except Vanessa because superhuman, are beginning to suffer from radiation poisoning. Clearly staying in the bunker is no longer an option which is unfortunate because the front door collapsed.  Everyone gets stressed, sick and cabin fever and starts snarling and hissing at each other.

We also have Doc confront Axl again – she thinks he has a whole idea that she was bitten trying to save one of his solders – when, in actuality, she was trying to close the door to save herself. She bitterly hates herself as a coward who doesn’t deserve his hero worship. But he, rightly, points out she never actually claimed to be that hero, that was his assumptions and she has no reason to feel guilty

Perhaps because of that, when Sam finds a way for them to escape and they all move, it’s Doc who stays back to try and find Gormen (who has gone wandering) and Axel, being Axel, decides to stay with her

While Vanessa and the rest are on the surface slaughtering feral vampires (with Vanessa looking positively gleeful doing so), Doc is holding open a security door so Axel can find Gormen. He finds him – but Gormen is a vampire now. He and Axel fight and Doc’s courage shatters… with Axel and Gormen running towards her, she closes the door and flees, leaving Axel to be attacked by the vampire. Her previous statement about being a coward looks like it’s going to stick to her

She tells Vanessa that Axel is dead.

Yes, I’m going to relate this to diversity: because this show has some POC – we have Mohammed, we had Brendan, we have Doc, we have Sheema. But now Mohammed has been completely split off from the main group, Brendan was an enemy who was removed, Sheema is being cast as a collaborator and now Doc has been badly demonised here. I’m not saying they can’t walk it back, I’m not saying we can’t see Doc become a strong, capable character, I’m not saying a character can’t have value without being brave – but the pattern is troubling, the pattern is discernable.

Especially since that hand grasping the glass tells me Axel’s not dead

Speaking of Mohammed and Sheema. Mohammed is in the woods and falls in with a forager called Emma.

While Sheema is taken back to the human work camp and is used by Rebecca to scapegoat another member of the resistance as a traitor. Taka kills her, as Sheema shows she has been tortured but the other woman hasn’t, and Sheema herself is likely to earn Taka’s trust.