Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Van Helsing: Season 3, Episode 10: Outside World

And lo it’s time to rocket back to the core of our three storylines - Vanessa.

Last episode she killed a man. And yes she’s killed a lot of people, but this is a man she killed to eat. Not to protect herself or others, expressly to feed on their blood. It’s a turning point, especially since her ancestor made it clear that darkness and vampiriness may be much closer. Which this episode is all about. First of all with some level of foreshadowing we have the shadowy figure who appears before Sam and Vanessa. Vanessa assumes that this self-identified seer is an elder who makes a big speech about how Vanessa’s future hangs in the balance

So when wandering alone she runs into Mohammed - yes vampire Mohammed. And shockingly, our Honey Badger reaches out to him and wants to help - specifically she wants to turn him back human. Yes this is rather a 180 over her refusal to try to turn ancestor guy back human, but whatever, reasons. Let’s pretend she really really cares about Mohammed despite them not leaving on the best terms (he sort of betrayed her for the sake of his sister and it was a whole thing).  She chases him and this becomes a long fight and chase and struggle as Mohammed tries to escape… and through very bad luck Vanessa fall through a ceiling and impales herself on a meat hook.

She can’t reach the hook stuck in her back… every time she tries to lift herself off the hook she merely drives the hook deeper, bleeding into the floor.

Time passes with Vanessa unable to save herself… so on comes the hallucination

First up is John. Remember John? He was the arsehold from the first season who was first suspected of being a serial killer. He was also rapist and general arsehole. Vanessa killed him.

And he’s here now to tell Vanessa basically that she’s evil, tries to invoke her guilt over killing him but is mainly there to show she isn’t guilty and she enjoyed killing him, she wanted to kill him because she is evil - something she’s very happy to admit even if she does deny that it was her motivation.

This goes on for some time for lots of rambling, after which he tag teams Julius, human Julius. Julius is Vanessa trying to absolve herself pointing out he’s a good man - Vanessa sees him as one of the best of men - though he has done many bad things. But he did bad things because he was turned, he wasn’t responsible for this. Of course that doesn’t exactly apply to Vanessa and she says so but her Julius hallucination continues to insist she’s good.

Then we get vampire Julius playing with corpses and saying how lovely blood is, how tasty it is an how hungry she is. We also have a guest star from Dylan reminding her of what she’s lost for bonus angst and reminding Vanessa that she wouldn’t feed her the blood she needed to survive which probably stands out more now she’s just hunted for food.

Then it’s the big guns - Susan, her friend who Sam killed. She’s here to appeal to the light and goodness inside her and especially basically pushing Vanessa to forgive herself. Or at least move on - because she can’t let this one thing she’s done get in the way of what she has to do (save the world, kill the elders et al).

And we have Sam. Sam isn’t pushing hunger nor is he pushing the fact she’s evil - he’s pushing the power and superiority of vampireness. How humans are weak and fragile and pathetic and unworthy of their mighty vampireness. Vanessa protests she had moment of weakness and succumbed - but Sam believes she “emerged”. He also reminds her of the sadism she used to cripple him rather than just killing him. He even tries to push the idea that he killed people to put them out of their misery - that they were sad and pathetic and weak.

This is replaced by Dylan again who basically gives her permission to move on from her death, adding that everyone dies but also that Vanessa tried to save her. She failed but she tried - and it’s ok to fail. She can’t blame herself for this - but ultimately she can do anything

Ok hallucinations done, Mohammed finally returns and vanessa convinces him to drink her blood. He turns human again and frees Vanessa from the hook.

This gives Vanessa and Mohammed time to catch up which is kind of fun and really human. And while they left on bad terms, Vanessa has moved on from that clearly having learned a few things about terrible mistakes people make especially in the name of those they love. Vanessa has been through some stuff since then. They catch up about Sam’s antics and they’re generally really friendly and happy

But she refuses to let him come with her. She wants him to live. She wants to know she’s saved someone, that she has done some good. Of course he agrees. And of course he follows her.

Ok this episode… I actually really like how the hallucinations brought out all the aspects of Vanessa’s conflict after the character defining moment of killing someone for blood. On the one hand, I think this was necessary. It was necessary to mark this event to make it clear it was an event, that we’re not just going to leave the body behind and not worry about it. This is a major incident, this is a crossroads and Vanessa has to make and acknowledge that

But… well, there’s a distinct redundancy here. There’s a sense that all of these conflicts are things we should have already been aware of but for some reason the writers weren’t convinced of our ability to pick this up so decided to spell it all out. I mean it is nice to see them all represented - the tempting power of the vampire, her own darkness, her loss, her hunger, her guilt and her battle to both accept she’s fundamentally good, accept that she can be good and to forgive herself for the pitfalls in her journey. To acknowledge that yes there is darkness in her but that doesn’t have to define her or control her

It was well done though perhaps unnecessary - and I am glad to see Mohammed back, human, being more than just a mouse to Sam’s cat - and following Vanessa around. I like this because he hasn’t been introduced for Vanessa’s moral journey - he’s clearly re-entering the main plot.