Saturday, November 18, 2017

Van Helsing, Season 2, Episode 7: Everything Changes

Let’s get some back story on Dmitri, going back to the darkest and most horrendous period in human history, the 70s, to see Dmitri being arrested for crimes against fashion. Or captured by a Van Helsing - there he’s locked up in the military base everyone’s been hanging around and brutally experimented on

I’m going to have to point out how utterly random the depiction of vampire strength so often is on this show - but I guess Dmitri could be starved or drugged here. After many experiments and extracting of spinal fluid (and probably part of how Vanessa ended up how she is) Dmitri is freed by someone. He recognises them and dramatically (of course) says “guilt is not in your blood, so why?” He gets no answer and then frees himself, massacring everyone on the way

My theory is this is Abigail Van Helsing using Dmitri’s escape and massacre as cover for leaving with her daughters

So to the present we have the grand show down while Dmitri melodramatically explains how he was imprisoned to Scarlett and Vanessa, melodramatically explains who he knows they’re twin sisters (one more vampire than the other in case we missed that. Because we totally need more exposition clarification for people who aren’t following this simple point) and how the elder calling is totally dramatic. Everything is dramatic. I still can’t take Dmitri seriously as a villain.

He wants Vanessa to join him. She predictably refuses and it’s time for the fighting between Vanessa and Scarlett against the Dmitri army. Which involves lots of chopping and blood and Vanessa not biting anyone for REASONS but she does bite Scarlett to charge herself up to super power status and do more massacring. At this point it’s good to remember that vampires in the Van Helsing world aren’t just killed by, say, sunlight stakes or head chopping but also by extreme damage. This is the problem Scarlett has, they’re putting the vampires down who are just healing - at least until super power Vanessa is unleashed.

Vampires go down. There’s a brief moment when Dmitri gets the key which he declares super powerful and threatens Scarlett’s life before she cuts off his hand (a minor inconvenience for Dmitri), gets the key back and they all run. Vanessa, Scarlett and the still dying Axel get clear and seal the entrance with a grenade

Which is just in time to meet up again with Julius and Doc who have found Wanda - the spikey ambulance they used to drive around in. But before they go anywhere Doc points out the obvious - Axel is starving to death so can Vanessa get on with the biting already

I’m not going to give Vanessa any time for her Dylan angst because c’mon already she has a 90% success rate at the biting and coming back thing (and she should really be doing this more often in vampire battles) and Axel is going to die anywhere so at least give him a chance. I have so little time for this manufactured angst!

She bites him and Yay he’s back and WOE he dies, and we spend waaaaaaaaaay too damn long on a whole fake out of everyone being super sad because Axel’s dead and they need to mark it and bury him and woooooe… except four miles out Vanessa hears his heartbeat and WONDERTWIN POWERS UNITE so does Scarlett so they go back and dig him up.

Honestly this whole plot kind of fell flat. Axel disappeared too quickly has been gone too long for this to be emotionally impactful, especially since there’s no way they’d actually bring him back just to kill him off again. We knew this wasn’t happening, don’t waste our time with this bait and switch nonsense.

So he’s alive and human and shirtless and not dying in sunlight and we already have convoluted reasons for him and Vanessa to roll around together on the floor. Also he forgives Doc so can we finally move on from her endless mea culpa?

And the plan going forwards? Julius is super worried about this elder - so the plan now is to find him and murder him before Dmitri does - guided by the omnipresent visions.

Before they can do that a helicopter flies over - and gases them. They kidnap Vanessa, I assume some shadowy military thing.

Check on the others - Mohammed, Flesh and Lucky are still around but Mohammed is both injured and suffering drug addiction due to the cocaine they were using as a pain killer. And now he gets kidnapped by Sam, so that storyline which should have ended is still dragging along

Alas I also have to cover Dmitri’s ambassador to the Sisterhood. And I will have a positive, I really do like the slightly alien non-human movements of the vampire - the clear sense that with this vampire variety or vampires not trying there’s not a lot of humanity left in them. I just wish they’d explain some of this, what makes them different, why there are different kinds

But we don’t - instead we have the ambassador appeal for help against the Van Helsing to the leader of the sisterhood - Maya. Maya is a female Dmitri, dramatic, more than a little ridiculous and a little comical. She rants on about how she totes hates Dmitri forever and will never ally with him - and the Ambassador just stabs her in the head. And Maya, apparently a vampire as old and powerful and dramatic as Dmitri, dies. Yes that’s it, Maya’s dead. And the Sisterhood now follows her murderer.

Yup, an organisation called the Sisterhood which apparently revered Maya and has developed and entire separate culture and practices including face masks and paint and ritual decides to follow a completely strange uninitiated man because he sucker punched their leader. Really, this is ridiculous, disappointing and not a great look for any organisation you’re going to call “the Sisterhood”.

Van Helsing has me torn at the moment. Because in terms of plot and world? I’m in. I’m interested. I want to see what happens with Vanessa, i want to see what her hybridness means. I also like the different options represented by Scarlett.I want to see her history. I want to see what other organisations are out there. I’m intrigued by the different kind of vampires. I think Sam is a compelling villain. I think we have compelling plot lines with ex-vampires. I want to see more of this world, more of the implications, more of the world building. I want answers to so many questions.

And I’m happy the gang is reuniting and we can get more focused storylines again because characters everywhere is getting difficult.

But I really don’t like Vanessa… Rage Beast With Weapons. This is pretty much the sum total of her character. Anger + weapons + super powers. There’s not much else to her and hasn’t really been for a long time. Even her caring for Dylan just seemed to be an excuse to make her move forwards because she has nothing else. Dylan was like the plot in a porn film - a reason to take your characters from one sex scene to the next: only this is a reason to take Vanessa from one fight to the next. And this has been replaced by visions which pretty much say “go here” “go there” And she does - and then Rage rage fight fight. Any revelations seems more tangential and I’m not even sure she’s interested in the answers. Even now she’s done little to digest or examine her past or what it means just moving on to the next stop: like an RPG player skipping the story cut scene once they know where to go and what to kill

I’m hoping with Axel back and now Scarlett, along with Julius’s whole schtick we will have some forces to make Vanessa slow down and broaden a little bit.