Thursday, December 28, 2017

Van Helsing, Season 2, Episode 11: Be True

This episode is all about Mohammed and Sam - with flashes of their back story. Including with Mohammed first meeting Sam, being more than a little concerned by how good Sam is at beating vampires to death.

But later he sees Sam apparently about to commit suicide - he runs to intervene to help and Sam gasps that he’s deaf and is unable to communicate with anyone - until Mohammed uses sign language, taught by his deaf grandmother. Sam has someone he can communicate - a friend

And lo this trainwreck began

In the present Sam has kidnapped Mohammed fully intending to bite him and turn him into his vampire minion - but Mohammed quickly tells Sam that Vanessa bit him which means he’s now totally inedible and will turn Sam human again

Sam is very very very against this - utterly opposing the idea that he will ever be human. He is clear that he will always be “him”. It’s clear that Sam’s whole identity is now very very heavily invested in his vampireness.

Mohammed is still dying so Sam drags out one of his human food stock - Cara - and orders her to help Mohammed. This takes some very brutal medicine with lots of debriding flesh and general awfulness. It does give Cara and Mohammed time to bond with Cara noting how little the apocalypse has brought Mohammed down (apparently?) and her determination to escape - even if that means pouring water onto the floorboards until they rot. She’s tenacious. Together they plan to bring down Sam

While Sam is outside listening to Mohammed scream but also having his own flashback of the abuse he suffered from his dad when he was a child - including the attack that deafened him. He has now captured his dad as a blood source and to torture him - finally beating him to death.

When he goes back inside Cara and Mohammed make their move. And it fails - Cara ends up being throttled by Sam while Mohammed begs him to spare her. Sam does… and Mohammed is convinced this shows Sam is good underneath it all (uh… serial killer?) and is quickly proven wrong by Sam then hunting Cara down - because he’s a serial killer

He ties her up and plans to bite her (since he still can’t bite Mohammed), making it clear to Mohammed that this is him. Evil evil evil, super evil.

Mohammed appeals to Sam that Sam owes him from saving him from committing suicide when they first met - only to have Sam turn it round. Sam wasn’t committing suicide - he was luring Mohammed in; he planned on Mohammed being his next victim and it was only Mohammed’s sign language that changed his mind. He adds that Mohammed knew he was a murder - which Mohammed completely denies (though I have a sneaking feeling that Sam may be correct)... Sam still insists Mohammed was a friend

But Mohammed denies - he was just using Sam (which again kind of suggests Mohammed was looking the other way). Sam hits back that of course he was - this is what Mohammed does, use people. It’s what he did with Vanessa…

So Mohammed lashes out at Sam’s sorest of sore spots - he has no friends, no-one loves him and no-one ever will. Which predictably leads to Sam biting Cara

And then Mohammed stabbing Cara so she doesn’t turn. Sam tries to take this as a chance to say Mohammed is a murderer too just like him - and Mohammed can’t live with this any more. He stabs himself, repeatedly

Sam despairs and, despite the risk, he bites Mohammed. Sam doesn’t turn human but Mohammed doesn’t seem to turn

Sam despairs and in an odd ritual he cuts off his own finger - as he hangs himself. I’m not sure how hanging affects a vampire

At which point Mohammed rises from the dead as a vampire. Looks like Vanessa biting humans doesn’t make them immune - she has to turn vampires human.

Ok… so that was that…. And?

I mean don’t get me wrong this episode would have been excellent (with some hefty provisos) last season when Sam and Mohammed were still relevant. But now we have a shadowy government organisation and the whole van Helsing history and this elder… Sam and Mohammed feel awfully tangential to the main plot.

And while examining Sam’s back story is interesting as is his relationship with Mohammed, how it developed and whether Mohammed was in denial or not and how Sam had always been dangerous… at the same time the whole conflation of abuse, disability and being a serial killer is all kinds of troublesome. Yes I understand there are correlations - but when depictions of disabled people, abused people et al are not well handled in the media; serial killer is a depiction which needs handling with care.