Helix episode 11 review: Black Rain

Review Billy Grifter
17 Mar 2014 - 06:45

With two episodes to go, Helix's logic hasn't improved any. Here's Billy's exasperated review...

This review contains spoilers.

1.11 Black Rain

I’d like to complain to Syfy. At no point did Black Rain take us to Japan, and Michael Douglas was nowhere to be seen. Unless he was very cleverly hidden under Vector make-up, which is more plausible than some of what transpired this week. No Michael Douglas was probably the least of Black Rain’s faults, where the writers have obviously started employing the same technique that David Bowie used to write some of his Ziggy songs. Reputedly he’d write short phrases on bits of paper and then randomly pull them out to form the song.

In Helix the writers print tiny movie posters, and then randomly pull them out using a well-known scene from each to form the narrative. Or, rather that’s what appears to be going on, because nobody in their right mind would create a story as utter nonsense as this has spiralled into.

And, as if to prove the point, they present the scene with the rat in the microwave, an opening which was ludicrous on so many levels. How do you trap hungry scientists? Why surely you know they’re attracted to the sound of a working microwave, and a squeaking rat! The two when combined with a special algebraic function equals food, everyone knows that. They also know that scientists always stray into long corridors that have power sockets half way down them, and that if you microwave a rat long enough on ‘Defrost’ it will spontaneously squeak very loudly and then explode. Or it will, if you get the timing perfect by weighing the rat and knowing the exact rat/power/time recipe.

Seriously. Is that the best idea those behind Helix could come up with? It’s marginally less dumb that a trail of Twinkies with a giant mousetrap at the end of it, but only just.

But actually as this episode progressed, the rat scene played like something penned by Steven Bochco in his pomp, when compared with other events we were expected to swallow. I could talk about the silliness of the robotic snow mobiles, the homage to the opening scene of Blade with the black goo sprinklers, and then death elevator. But I’ll ignore all those and go right for the jugular, Daniel is the fifth Ghostbuster. WTF?

The bit where he admits that he’s a security guard who dabbles with making science prototypes with, until now, no obvious application, was cringe worthy. Meegwun Fairbrother (Daniel) looked embarrassed to speak those lines, like the other actors would just laugh and point at him. But then, we had Sarah explain a few episodes back that her ‘hobby’ was sound weapons and targeting systems. So I guess Tiffany Greschler and Javier Grillo-Marxuach, who penned this, thought that any form of reality had gone on a long sabbatical, and won’t be back this season.

After that head-slapping moment whatever theatrical illusion this show had created utterly broke for this reviewer, and from that point onwards I laughed at everything, especially people trying to be dramatic and serious. In fact I’ve decided that it’s the best way to watch Helix, with plenty of alcohol and view it as an undocumented Red Dwarf spin-off.

Why any of the characters take any notice of what any others do, I’ve no idea. Alan must be the very worst senior person at the CDC in the history of the organisation, because he’s utterly useless in every respect. That’s the only way to explain how Sarah got anywhere in her job, because she’s diabolically bad too. The only person who was any good, Doreen, they let get eaten by rats very early on.

I hope in the final episode Alan survives, and gets back to the CDC, where he’s debriefed and he explains how under his skilled management, virtually everyone died. And they tell him he’s amazing, and they have another incident in some remote locations where they’d liked everyone involved to die horribly, and how fast can he get there?

The final insult was they introduced a lethal replacement for Constance, played by Canadian actor Robert Naylor (Being Human), who looks as deadly as the guy who manages the shoes at a bowling alley.

Helix has two episodes to go, and that’s probably two or more than it deserves. 

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

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