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Review: A Helix of legacies

I doubt “Densho,” the title of this week’s Helix, was referring only to Hatake passing on his legacy via the katana to Julia. As Sarah lay bleeding and gasping about her baby and Peter and Alan continued to feel the aftershocks of their troubled childhood, that Julia’s last resort when confronted with her imminent death was to sing Hatake’s song was just the final scene of an episode that really delved into what it meant to pass something on to the next generation.

And while Hatake’s dreamy break with reality got played up more for the twisted humour of the show—through an amazing, revert-to-childhood fishing trip—it also showed how Hatake was still trying to sort out his ties to his children: one of his flesh, as the series put it, and the one he’d raised and who died for a sister he didn’t even like. Considering everything about Hatake in Season 1 revolved around revealing himself to Julia and making her immortal, it’s fitting that his final preoccupation was whether or not what he’d passed on was actually as lucky as he thought it was. And that despite this—and the troubled times the father and daughter alluded to while sparring in the woods—Hatake’s last breaths were spent getting himself back to the table so he, Jane and Daniel could be together forever.

That same paternal discord could be felt between Peter and Alan as they struggled to work together despite years of mistrust. Except this time around, Alan’s only playing the trusting brother to Peter’s lies, knowing full well that it wasn’t a random blow to the head that brought him to that field. Although I doubt even this new, killer Alan could have expected Balleseros to be the person on the other end of that phone exchange.

As Hatake weighed his legacy—and then passed it onto Julia—it doesn’t entirely feel like a coincidence that Balleseros is involved with the island too. It’s another community where parental ties are dissolved at a young age and smacks of Hatake’s own kidnappings. Is Balleseros still on the hunt for Anana’s orphans, or is he back in Ilaria’s pocket? Either way, he’s looking less like the organization’s Doberman and more like a man in charge—though who between he and Peter is the least trustworthy one is still a hard call. But for all the answers that were dished out tonight, the pull the island has for immortals remains a mystery.

One thing that is starting to come together are Michael’s “girls,” as mother, daughter and grandmother faced a grilling over Soren’s fate. Michael seems to be just as in the dark as the CDC when it comes to the generations of women who have clearly been involved in protecting him and the island. If nothing else, it dropped a couple of hints about what Michael’s actual secret might be—and I don’t think it’s the one Kyle was alluding to when the doting cult leader stopped by to check on his bruises.

Still, whatever legacy the women are passing on, it’s growing more corrupt with each generation as Amy took matters into her own hands last week, leaving Anne and Agnes to try to reign her in this week. Despite appearances, Anne seems to be weakest of the three—making me slightly nervous about Michael’s habit of resting his hands tightly around her throat. But while she’s still trying to maintain the isolation of their colony in a way that’s putting her at odds with Michael, I suspect she just might be the only one in that family that’s still playing by the same rules he is. Whatever Amy is trying to accomplish with Landry’s help seems darker than anything her mother could dream of cooking up.

For a man who clearly can’t handle losing a smidge of power, Michael seems oblivious to the fact that he’s already lost control of the situation. And I’ve got a feeling that while Michael and the CDC play their little games with each other the real danger was standing right beneath him in that hall, awaiting her own legacy.

Other goo-dness:

  • Between Michael’s comments about grafting and humans and Mischa’s remark about her pregnancy, does anyone else suspect the cult of practicing eugenics?
  • Do Sarah and Kyle know Peter has a working phone? Because when your vectors go murder-y on each other being able to call for backup might be a good option to have.
  • The fact that Jordan Hayes is only listed as a guest star might make it a bit of a giveaway, but Sarah’s behaviour this season has me thinking she’s not going to immortal her way out of this one.
  • Again, that fishing montage was the series’ sick humour at its best. They need to find a way to keep Meegwun Fairbrother around again (like putting Tulok with Balleseros).

Helix airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on Showcase.


Review: Reason and purpose on Helix

After last week’s creepy opener, Helix moved past teasing us with another, nastier virus and really started getting into the inner workings of Brother Michael’s compound on St. Germain. I’m guessing the science geeks behind the series (and those among the fans watching it) were more than a little tickled by Michael’s response that all things have a reason, not a purpose.

Applied more broadly to the season, right now it seems like each of our CDC members—past, future and present—have a reason for being on the island if not necessarily a purpose. With the lone exception of Alan, who might have a bigger scheme in the works since he’s leaving hipbone clues buried at his gravesite for Julia and telling Sarah to take his brother and get out of his way.

Since Alan has come to St. Germain by way of a long list of immortal murders, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to question whether the island is just the unfortunate starting point of a particularly gross infection, or whether this all has something to do with Ilaria. And since the immortals were the group responsible for the last outbreak, it also doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to suggest this is their doing too. But what their reason is and what their purpose might be are still yet to be revealed. Hatake may have wanted the chance to activate Julia’s immortal genes, but I doubt we’re going to hit any secret child beats this time around—and that line of reasoning doesn’t explain why the organization ordered a virus and a cure the first time, let alone a second.

There’s still also the tricky issue of how Michael and his followers fit into that design (or lack thereof if we’re taking our cues from Darwin). There seems to be a strong thread of individualism to his teachings, along with the notion of abandoning your ties to others to freely be yourself—the kind of mentality that just might encourage a psychopath to unleash a virus on the world in order to gain just a touch more freedom. But Michael almost seems too benevolent to be the kind of leader keeping his followers around for gratification before ultimately reigning as one of a few kings over a devastated planet.

Despite objections from the downright creepy Anne, Michael was strangely and calmly welcoming of the CDC—willing to break the rules to look after the health of his followers when he didn’t have the resources, but at the same time pointing out just how isolated the scientists were. There’s something rotten in the state of St. Germain, but I’m not sure world annihilation is the goal. And bearing in mind the pathogen’s similarities to Narvik—the kind that had Peter freezing with flashbacks—I think there’s something to the superhuman strength and violent frenzy the diseases cause that might be the real “reason” behind their appearance.

But there’s also the problem that the virus is slowly leaking pustules all over Julia’s body 30 years down the road, which means something either went very, very wrong with its creation, or that the person responsible for this goo—looking at the people pumping it into unsuspecting followers last week and their leader—weren’t just interested in infecting mortals. Begging the question, as you’d expect, of who Michael is and whose side he’s really on.

Goo-ey goodness:

  • The title, “Réunion,” is a nice little nod to the filming location.
  • If I were the guy eating breakfast next to Alan, I would be very, very worried.
  • Watching Sarah throw caution to the wind and work in the lab without protective gear has me calling her death sometime this season.
  • “I’d be surprised if he’s here for the food.” Sarah’s getting sassy.
  • Did Julia stumble across Soren’s skeleton? I’m not sure what I’d do if it turns out there’s a Minotaur in the woods. Or a wisp of smoke.
  • Let it be known that I asked Jordan Hayes about Sarah’s pregnancy while on set and used the words “It’s been 15 months, so I’m assuming she’s no longer pregnant.” How very silly of me.

Helix airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showcase.


Jordan Hayes gets put in a Helix hot zone

It’s been 15 months since Arctic Biosystems blew up in Helix’s Season 1 finale and, as you might expect given that final epilogue, they haven’t been quiet ones for the CDC members. But even with the mysteries of Ilaria—and Julia’s disappearance—lingering over what’s left of the team, it’s still time for another case and, more importantly for Helix faithfuls, another disgusting virus.

The series set in motion its plan to revamp the show each season, taking us from the soundstages of downtown Montreal to the Abbey of Notre-Dame-du-Lac in Oka, Quebec. One chilly, wet weekend this past summer, the cast and crew are in the midst of filming the fourth episode of the season and Canadian Jordan Hayes—last year’s CDC rookie—is nursing a tea and analyzing how becoming immortal has turned Dr. Sarah Jordan into an up-and-coming name at the organization.

“She’s much more reckless this year,” Hayes tells TV, Eh? inside the former monastery. “Last year she was terminally ill and this year she’s basically invincible, and not really vulnerable to any kind of disease or anything. So she’s able to put herself into critical situations, hot zone areas where she can really be effective.”

Hayes chalks it up to an urge to boost her reputation—mixed in, of course, with her character’s desire to help people. “That’s why she got into this field in the first place,” she explains. “Along with a love and passion for science—but I think that she’s also very ambitious and wants her name to be recognized amongst the greatest scientists of her generation.”

That certainly seems to be the path she’s on when Season 2 of Helix opens. Sarah’s now a no-nonsense expert capable of throwing a decent punch and having nothing to do with newcomer Dr. Kyle Sommers (Matt Long, Mad Men) or his jokes. Then again, Sarah doesn’t seem to be too thrilled about much now that she’s on a team being led by Peter Farragut (Neil Napier, Bullet in the Face), dubious brother of Season 1’s hero, Alan (Billy Campbell, The Killing).

“A bit of it is because of the competitive nature,” Hayes says. “Maybe Sarah feels like she’s proved herself and she should be team captain—but I think it’s more that she sees that Peter isn’t Alan, and he’s not the same leader that Alan was. She really got spoiled in her first expedition, where she had Alan as a leader, and now she’s stuck with Peter, who she thinks isn’t as good.”

Of course, Sarah’s relationship with her former team leader is a bit more complicated than whether Alan was simply better at the job than Peter. Right before Arctic Biosystems lit up the Arctic in a final, desperate attempt to contain the Narvik virus, Sarah found out from one of the doctors at the base that she was pregnant and Alan—at that point in the arms of his ex-wife—was the father. Hayes couldn’t say much about how that played out for Sarah on the super-secret set, but she did confirm it’s “still a plot point in the second season.”

It’s plenty for Season 1’s rookie to have to handle, hot zone expert or no. But Hayes seems to be relishing the extra challenges facing her character.

“To add that dynamic on top of everything else that she had gone through—being terminally ill, basically losing her life and then coming back to life and becoming immortal—on top of all of it, now she has to deal with bringing a child into this life that she has … I mean, as an actor it was good because it’s a lot of juicy, complicated things to work with but I mean, as a character she has to deal with a lot, for sure.”

Helix airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on Showcase.