Monday, January 8, 2018

Van Helsing, Season 2, Episode 13: Black Days

Dmitri is still looking for the elder so he goes to the Sisterhood (who are following Scab for ridiculous reasons) who happen to have an oracle which no-one happened to mention before. Said oracle spouts lots of random cryptic nonsense after forcing Dmitri to kneel. She gives Dmitri a burning GPS to find the elder and then goes on a random killing spree because why not?

Also he’s only allowed to take two other vampires with him. Because KILLING SPREE (and if he had an army then Abby and Scarlett would die because and the plot would get AWKWARD)

While they head to the elder hiding place, so does Scarlett and her mother Abby and…

...and there’s no nice way to say this but this whole scene about Scarlett feeling all resentful about her absent mother and them both throwing it back and forth would be so so so much better if the acting wasn’t so cringeworthy. Honestly this wasn’t sold at all - it’s even worse than trying to see Dmitri as an actual villain. I have no connection here - it’s clunky, the dialogue doesn’t work and Scarlett’s emotions are all over the place.

Among the mess and resentment we confirm what we already knew (including Scarlett using the SAME test as Vanessa to see if Abby is really her mother - she knew where the key was hidden so she checks out). That they got out of the farm when Abby realised Doctor immortal evil wanted to experiment on her little girls - and also said little girls started showing of their super strength

I have to mention how super super inconsistent Van Helsing has been about the powers of Vanessa. At age, what, 5? She was able to throw a grown man across the room. How did she even reach adulthood - AND protect her best friend from an abusive partner without realising she was superwoman?

Also Abby has a necklace full of Dark One blood passed on from her grandmother after her parents were killed by evil vampires. And grandmother also tested baby!Abby’s reflexes with a battleaxe so this family has always been hardcore.

And about that Dark one - apparently the first vampire who has a whole Wheel of Time don’t-say-his-name thing going on (hey I know most people would reference Harry Potter, but nod to the epic that did it first). Scarlet is surprised he’s even still alive - but hey, immortal vampires and all. Abby wants to pass that vial on to Scarlett but since Abby was around when she and Vanessa were experimented upon and they apparently got contaminated with all that nasty Dark One Blood. I’m not sure why she’s leaped to this rather than assuming standard vampires were used to experiment on them… but hey the script says so

Scarlett also says she can “barely feel Vanessa” so she can still feel her

They arrive at the cave of the Elder where Dmitri has used his key already - now the cave has mystical hallucination woo-woo. For Abby and Scarlett this means they get convenient pictures to go alongside their recapping. The vampires get horrible memories

Ivory, one of the Sisters, gets an image of being tortured by Christians to try and force her to convert. It’s a shame that this character has never really appeared before this. Scab has the memory of how his fellow workers tormented him because he broke a picket line - which was made especially odd by him maintaining his vampire mannerisms while in his memory as a human

And Dmitri remembers his time with the Marquis De Sade because he was super kinky, working up to having sex with his sister and this is when he was turned into a vampire by the elder. Because wanting incest is apparently a highly desirable vampire trait.

They snap out of it and continue on until the Van Helsings arrive for a fight scene to chase off the extras leaving on Dmitri, Abby and Scarlett

This is why Dmitri isn’t allowed to bring his army because plot!

Dmitri holds Scarlett’s throat and demands Abby open the Elder door because only a Van Helsing can do it

Yes. Really. And ABBY KNEW THIS. So did Dmitri! She knew that Dmitri couldn’t possibly get into the Elder without their help. If they wanted to thwart him they just had to move to Mexico. Our outside the 10 square miles they all keep wandering around over and over again. And what was Dmitri’s idea? To turn up and camp and hope a Van Helsing happened to wander by?

NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE WORKED! Dmitri’s army staying behind, the Van Helsings even being there - it works only because the script writers have decided that it would so it does

Oh and more - Abby has to apparently kill herself opening this door. Yes this was a completely unnecessary suicide mission. And yes Abbie knew about this

Can this get more ridiculous? YES IT CAN!

Because they open the door and the elder emerges. He wants blood but doesn’t want Scarlett because of the evil Dark One Blood in her veins but he plans to eat the dying Abby. Scarlett, helpless, tells him not to and he kneels

Yes he kneels

See, apparently back in the day this Elder was captured by the Van Helsings and they gave him a choice - fealty or death. She he swore fealty to the Van Helsing bloodline and cannot disobey an order. To such a degree that Scarlett orders him to murder Dmitrii and despite Dmitrii being his favourite, he crushes his head

Apparently he’s super honourable? Or literally bound to his word magically? Can vampires not break their word? Maybe they could explain this a little? Because honestly I’m not finding “honour” to be a sufficient explanation for why he would obey his mortal enemy and kill his favoured child

But also remember that the Van Helsings, after securing the impossibly powerful creature’s unflinching obedience, decided that the best thing to do with it was to seal it in a crypt

While Abby considered it necessary to “stop” this creature which she could control with a word even though “stopping” it involved killing herself.

This makes no sense. Can it get more ridiculous?

Yes it can!

Because Scarlett stabs the Elder with her Dark One Blood and tells him to find her sister

Not find her sister and protect her. Not find her sister and bring her home. Not find Vanessa and explain things to her. No just find her. To this creature who has every desire to find loop holes

So he finds Vanessa, still alive in the evil people facilities, and bites her. This turns her eyes red. Who knows what it does to him since biting her normally turns vampires back to human. So who even knows? Cliffhanger I guess

But this whole season has kind of annoyed me - most of which has been clearly displayed on this episode. We have the dubious acting (honestly Dmitri makes me cringe every time he’s on screen). We have the split up cast - seriously the finale was all about Scarlett who was something of an addiction to the series and Abbie who we’ve known for 1 episode: most of the cast weren’t present. We have the plot lines that make little sense and rely on poor decisions and a lot of dubious decisions and massive coincidences. This is the story of this season and it’s terrible, utterly terrible.

The acting from the beginning has lacked a lot of nuance or levels. The whole cast has been split into several groups having little to do with each other: Mohammed and Sam, Vanessa, Doc and Axel, Lucky & Flesh: they’ve all been kind of just wandering through a ridiculously tiny space with everyone running into each other fortuitously.

We have the abortive and confusing plot lines - like the BBQ cannibals, the random walking around because of convenient visions, killing off Dylan after making her the sum total of Vanessa’s motivations in season 1, the casual dismissal of Julius despite him being a major antagonist, the introduction of the Sisters with no real explanation - it’s all shallow and dull

Inclusionwise we have a show that on paper has several marginalsied characters, but does little to centre any of them. Mohammed and Doc both started the season being Designated Terrible people which is a problem when they represent pretty much the only prominent, non murdered POC on this show (we had Brandon and the Mohammed stand in, but they’re pretty much dead). They spent waaay too much time this season being constantly apologetic, especially Doc, while Mohammed was on the periphery for most of the season, constantly victimised and completely irrelevant to everyone else. This is what I consider “prominent tokenism”: where you have a token who is present on screen a lot but on the whole doesn’t add a great deal to the plot.

LGBTQ characters are in a similar position - last season Vanessa had a relationship with her best friend but her bisexuality is completely unrepresented past that single brief moment in a single episode. We had an episode with 2 gay men, one of them a POC, in what was a potentially interesting storyline - but it was just that, 1 episode and then forgotten

Sam was unique for being a Deaf character in a dystopian show - and then we learned he was a serial killer followed by him being “cured” anyway. So…. not the best shall we say