Helix: Black Rain review

The vectors get pretty organized on Helix day 11, while the Ilaria Corporation is closing in. What hope does the CDC have?

This Helix review contains spoilers.

So, we’ve reached the proverbial “rock” vs. “hard place” point as Helix barrells towards its conclusion. “Black Rain” takes its title rather literally, but we’ll get to that in a minute. It won’t be much of a surprise or a spoiler to tell you what it is, though. I’m filling in for our regular Helix test subject, Gerri Mahn, this week, and if you remember, I kicked off the party with the first few episodes, which I had rather positive feelings for. Sadly, those positive feelings haven’t carried all the way through the season, which brings me to tonight…

Any time you start an episode off with a rat exploding in a microwave, it’s a bad omen. I mean, really, where can you possibly go from there? It’s all downhill once that counter reaches zero, and when that happens barely a minute into “Black Rain” what else left is there to do? That’s kind of where you drop the gross-out mic, and walk off stage. At least, it should be. “That rat didn’t crawl in there by itself,” Healthy Doctor Farragut quips. Indeed.

Anyway, I’m sure there’s some symbolism with the rat/microwave business. And whatever it is, it isn’t subtle. You see, the vectors are organized, now. They’re setting traps and baiting the scientists who still populate the facility so that they can carry them down to their creepy vector labs and perform horrible vector surgery on them. Anyone notice the Infected Doctor Farragut wielding a bolt cutter menacingly? Does he know this is the only way to kill the immortals of Ilaria? Are we going to get more artery bolt-cutting goodness like we had in the previous episode? One can dream, I suppose…

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The “vector vision” effect is kinda cool, though. I really wish that they didn’t all behave so much like zombies so we could get a better idea of how these enhanced senses really effect them. Maybe that’s why they’re all so grunting and cranky? If you could practically see the electromagnetic spectrum and your senses were dialed up to the point where a breeze feels like a spanking, you might start drooling black bile, too, right?

Anyway, the walls are closing in on our heroes. Between the vectors growing in strength, intelligence, and numbers every day, and the Ilaria Corporation wondering why good ol’ Constance hasn’t checked in for awhile, things are gonna get ugly. You see, the Ilaria folks get touchy when one of their executives doesn’t call the home office with the TPS reports, so it’s time to send in a small army of immortal, probably superhuman mercenaries to clean house. Dr. Hatake isn’t going to stand for this. He’s going to blow up the whole damn base in order to take out the vectors AND spite Ilaria. The only problem is…what about the uninfected folks on base?

Don’t worry about them! They don’t stay uninfected for long. The vectors have been harvesting black bile from infected folks, and then they put it in the sprinkler system. I told you that “Black Rain” wasn’t a metaphor. While Helix has tried very hard throughout the season to make incongruous music choices work, mostly, they haven’t. I have to draw a line in the sand somewhere, and I’m doing it here. Buddy Holly’s “Raining in my Heart” just…doesn’t deserve this. For all the times that Helix has tried to pull something like this, it’s never quite come together the way they seem to think it does. Helix as a whole would have done better with more of an actual score, and I think utilizing something really dramatic and LOUD would have added to the horror of this scene far more than being “clever” with Buddy.

Back to Hatake’s plan though. He has a super secret impregnable and earthquake-proof bunker at the bottom of the base. Can you all guess what it is? That’s right. It’s the “cabin.” This…ummmm…I got nothin’. I realize that it would already be straining credulity to have yet ANOTHER mysterious section of the facility appear for at the story’s convenience, but the fact that it’s the cabin was a little much. On the bright side, the fact that the cast was able to keep a straight face while playing tense scenes down there really is impressive in itself. So, we’re good, right? Everyone is infected, so hunker down in the ski lodge, wait for Ilaria to arrive, and then bring the whole mess down on their immortal heads. Checkmate. Well…not if Healthy Doctor Farragut has anything to say about it.

To his credit, he believes the newly infected can still be saved. And now that Dr. Walker has magic spinal fluid (by the way, Dr. Jordan is alive, well, and has made a full recovery…except for these headaches, and a sensitivity to light. Sound familiar?), these folks CAN be cured. If only they can get close enough to inject ’em. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where I very nearly checked out. Daniel Miksa has built a device that can spray medicine on people to…ummmm…I’m not going to try to explain it. It’s like one of those super soaker backpacks, but this one can be filled with cryo-fluid so they can cool the vectors down enough to inject them. Everyone on Helix is a genius! It’s like when Doctor Jordan knew how to use a sound cannon because that’s what she needed to know at that given moment.

It wasn’t all bad, though. The final minutes of “Black Rain” are fairly tense as they await the arrival of the Ilaria goons. When you think about the possibility of 100 or so elite, mercenary, possibly ALIEN immortals showing up to exterminate everybody, there’s some coolness possible. And their leader is like, The Stig from Top Gear, except he has scythes. I’m sorry, folks…that pushes all my ten year old boy “cool” buttons, and I have to be pretty forgiving here.

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Helix‘s biggest problem (other than some of these writers feeling the need to recycle some horribly cliched bits of dialogue from time to time…as evidenced by tonight’s Dr. Walker explosion of “Enough! In the last eleven days I have blahblahblahblah…”) has always been its pacing. “Black Rain” is no exception. BUT…I think with only two episodes left, we’re out of those particular woods. Whatever the final episodes of Helix have in store for us, it’s safe to say that they absolutely will NOT be boring.

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2.5 out of 5