Helix season 1 finale review: Dans L'Ombre

Review Billy Grifter 31 Mar 2014 - 13:30

The Helix season 1 finale is a narrative lasagne layered with confusion and idiocy, says Billy...

This review contains spoilers.

1.13 Dans L'Ombre

It has been 48 hours since I watched Dans L'ombre, and I intentionally gave myself a cooling off time, before writing this. I can’t hold back any longer, this was a huge rebuff to anyone who was crazy enough to stick with this painfully irrational show.

What was obvious as I was watching it, and confirmed afterwards, was that Helix has a second season, and the writers knew this when they penned an abysmal ending to this one. Having created some narrative and tension about how things would end in the Arctic base, it was all blown up (literally and a narratively) like it’s been obvious it would be from the pilot onwards.

How this came about was stupid in the extreme, and consisted of a collection of events none of which made any sense whatsoever. Throughout Helix we’ve been presented with characters for whom there is no narrative purpose, and here two of them are disposed of almost like the creators had forgotten why they existed. There’s Scythe’s minion, who is just a nanny for Julia’s mother, and there’s Julia’s mother. When she appeared I got really confused, because Amber Goldfarb who plays Jane Walker is much younger than Kyra Zagorsky who plays her daughter. To fix this slight problem they applied copious amounts of duff prosthetics onto poor Amber to ‘age’ her. My immediate reaction was that we’d get a flashback to her as a young person, but alas she was dead before the episode ended. So why not use an older actress?

But, a trademark Helix aspect, confused points like that were ten-a-penny throughout the show. Even the twist, and there has to be a twist, was confused. Peter works for Scythe was the twist (sorry, if you don’t like dumb reveals), but that rather forgets that Scythe would have blown up Peter if he was still a Vector, and therefore wouldn’t have any allegiance to him. Why didn’t they have Doreen come back instead?

That Sarah has a confirmable pregnancy, just 7 days after sex was another low point, as was her stupidest-scientist-on-the-planet character surviving.
And then the scene to top them all, the actual destruction of the base by Scythe. They’re in the garage, the one you can’t park helicopters in, and they open the door to the outside and Scythe is standing there with the explosives detonator. Boom! He’s such an utter idiot, he blows himself up along with everyone else. Julia is pushed out into the snow by the explosion (because otherwise how did she get there?), yet has no visible injuries, unlike her prosthetically impaired mother.

Then, when Alan needs a distraction, as you do, he manages to magic up Constance’s head to throw in the helicopter! When did he get that, and how did he make it rise up from storage with the facility destroyed? And, when Julia pushed him out of the helicopter, with one canister (which one? who cares?), why didn’t the chopper just land again? The layering of confusion with dumbness is some sort of narrative lasagne was breathtaking, if only in its audacity.

I guess if you’re going to do this you might as well make a complete joke out it, and in the final scenes where Alan is drinking coffee with a CGI Eiffel Tower in the background was probably what we deserved for not just turning off much earlier. He pays about $300 for a coffee, which makes Starbucks seem modestly priced. And, in the meanwhile by events unrepresented, and probably without a reasonable explanation ever, Julia is now heading the Ilaria Corporation. Ta Da! It was a middle finger gesture to those who watched the whole thing, where those behind it secured a second season and didn’t actually care how this one ended. Except they’d been told no more silly Arctic facility guff, because CGI Paris is a cheaper option.

I don’t want to think about Dans L'ombre (which translated means ‘in the shadow’) any more, as it just irritated me for its entire running time. As it’s the end of the season I’m inclined to look back at the early days of the show where the quirky sound and music provided an interesting feel to events, before all that promise spiralled out of control. Like it was set in outer space, that atmosphere escaped like someone opened the windows, around episode 5 or 6, and it never recovered. The number of plot points that weren’t explainable or had ridiculous underpinning (Daniel the Ghostbuster and Sarah the sonic weapons hobbyist) increased exponentially. The variable geographic location of the facility, with multiple unmentioned floors, and previously denied features didn’t help any sense of reality. The characters weren’t likeable, and the ones that were (like Doreen) they quickly killed off.

There is only one question I’ve got now, which is do I review season 2, after having my intelligence liberally insulted by season 1? I’ve got 7 months or so to decide that, though at this moment watching another 13 episodes as badly written as this isn’t an appealing thought.

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

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