Helix episode 9 review: Level X

Review Billy Grifter
3 Mar 2014 - 07:03

In a base with many floors, we venture down to Level X in this week’s Helix...

This week I’m not going to spend much of my allotted review hacking away at the bad acting, poor dialogue and silly plot points. That’s not only because I’m getting sorely bored with that, but in general this story was mostly devoid of Helix’s worst excesses.

With the removal of Constance Sutton, the plot essentially returned to the point it was at the end of episode six, though with a few more facts being revealed about the origin of the virus. The idea that they could use the cold to stop the vectors was also credible, and as with the monkeys beforehand, this didn’t actually kill them. So far, so good.

However, why would anyone in their right mind involve Sarah in the powering down of the base, given her track record for doing anything responsible? I’d rather call up the Marx brothers, from a reliability standpoint. There are only five buttons to push, but the three she has responsibility for seem to be a challenge for her. That she’s can’t complete the second set of button-pushing isn’t a huge surprise, and reveals her secret to a bunch of people who should of read her symptoms like a 15ft neon sign above her head. Alan beats himself up about this, but I couldn’t really work out if he was upset that he was rubbish as a doctor, or that his wife knew he was nailing his subordinate. Alan has heard the word ‘unprofessional’, but isn’t sure what it means, evidently.

Why they needed two of them to push five buttons is never explained, and if just to highlight its irrelevance, Hiroshi hits all five himself to bring things back on. But down in Level X, somewhere that Hiroshi had conveniently forgotten about, Peter is becoming king of the vectors, for whatever reason we’re not privy.
The big revelation of this episode wasn’t a surprise at all. Because unless you’ve been watching it with both eyes closed and in a language you’re not familiar, you’d have guessed that Julia and Hiroshi were related. The actual declaration was a really odd nod to the part in Jedi where Luke tells Leia that all kisses will be on the cheek from now on.

But before we get to that part, they reveal that the log cabin in Montana that Julie remembers is actually down on Level X. While it was an interesting idea, surely you’d build it on the surface somewhere, so that she could see it was snowing outside, surely? Whatever the convoluted logic of it being below-ground, it’s another piece of the jigsaw that Hiroshi wasn’t keen to give up, along with a bunch of other relevant pieces.

What he did tell them was that Ilaria would be sending a major force to the base now, and not one person commented that they might bump into anyone from the CDC, who would by day nine be wondering what happened to Alan and his crew. The CDC just don’t care. They have a dozen like him, and they’re more professional, I guess.

Another subplot is the further adventures of Major Sergio Balleseros, who has decided that he’s a hero now, and a fighter for the freedoms of indigenous peoples. He’s got his work cut out, but that’s nothing compared with Meegwun Fairbrother (Daniel), who is now exchanging punches with doppelganger brother Toluk, who he also plays. Based on budget constraints, I can’t see many more conversations or fights between these two as we head to the final four stories. I was slightly confused when we see the Major again, because he’s locked up with the dumb Ilaria soldier that I assumed was dead. My confusion is soon irrelevant, because he’s dead soon enough, problem solved.

Alan is already talking about burning down the complex, to put that thought in our heads. Though given we’ve been told that nuclear testing of sorts went on there, I’m sure that the plot has a much more explosive end in mind.

The end, where we see what actually happened to the Narvik-A strain did present more questions than it actually resolved. Because surely it wasn’t the only vial, and for it to be in the possession of Dr. Adrian, he’d have only acquired it before the CDC arrived at the base? That suggests he was an Ilaria plant all along, like Dr. Hvit, presumably.

While devoid of the really head-slapping moments that have peppered this show so far, the problem with Level X was that it wasn’t very exciting or interesting.
As the show progresses, the Vectors seem less threatening, especially considering that unless they’re transported away by Ilaria, they’re no practical means of escape from the Artic. They’re not like The Thing that can become any creature it encounters and simply walk/swim towards habitation.

The only thing that’s keeping my interest currently is the build up to explaining how Hiroshi was alive at Hiroshima or Nagasaki. A further clue to this was shown this week when he gave Alan a pistol, and instead of it being a modern weapon is was a wartime Luger P38. Though it’s worth considering that this weapon was not standard issue in the Japanese armed forces, and therefore might mean that the Ilaria Corporation are, as you already guessed, Nazis. If that’s the case, Hitler’s head is probably in the White Room too. I’m sort of hoping that’s true, if only for a laugh.

Read Billy's review of the previous episode, Bloodlines, here.

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