Helix season 2 episode 8 review: Vade In Pace

Helix still isn't delivering on its characters or logic, according to this review of its latest episode, Vade In Pace...

This review contains spoilers.

2.8 Vade In Pace

The dark spark of gothic horror that Cross-Pollination delivered last week was soon extinguished by the piles of excremental nonsense dumped on it this week, in a startling return to form.

The episode starts with a recap, followed by the single worst attempt by multiple persons to get through a barred door in the history of TV. As Michael isn’t on the other side when they finally get through, there was obviously other ways into the room which they neither tried to find nor that Sister Anne bothers to mention.

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Meanwhile Sarah and Alan do their best at being oblivious, even though they can’t be more than 100ft away, and Michael falls for probably the oldest trick in the history of mankind.

Sister Amy is a wonderful character that’s painfully used, because she so telegraphs her objectives you’d need to be a 500 year old moron not to realise her real intentions. But at least she has one decent line, when her idiot followers turn up after Michael lets her out of the box for the ‘planting ceremony’ when she suggest that if they’d taken much longer she’d have been ‘actually in labour’.

Those in the banquet hall don’t get much time inside to appreciate the carnage, or have much tedious family bickering, when LT Commander Winger turn up with her SWAT coastguards. She is there to prove that absolutely every single piece of information she gave the CDC in episode one was utter garbage, without exception. Oh, yes, there’s another island I never mentioned nearby you, and I can be back in less than two weeks, and everything else I said was complete junk too. Characters are wrong, and they tell lies, but Winger is a whole misinformation exercise of epic proportions.

But never one to miss out on an opportunity, Peter takes the Coastguard’s arrival as the perfect timing to hit on Sister Anne. The breath-taking inappropriateness of this might go some way to explain how he and Julia ended up in bed, because he obviously doesn’t have any inner monologue telling him when it is the right or wrong context.

Then, neither does Michael who gets to experience personal space on a whole new level, after massively underestimating Amy. Who in turn will underestimate Landry, predictably, in some future story.

Michael’s entombment is the mechanism that’s meant to connect the present and the future story lines, but in a way that makes little if any sense.When Julia opens the ‘Monument’ it is because he’s tapping using a brick he’s removed from the wall. That’s a pretty piss-poor effort for thirty years, one brick, isn’t it? If you can get one, you can get two, you can dig a tunnel, then build a platform to stand on, and so on. But his sole achievement, other than sticking a finger up to the laws of physics for being able to move at all with no food, is a single displaced brick. On that basis I’m surprised he didn’t bring it with him, as they were buddies, like Tom Hanks and that Basketball.

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His eventual demise within minutes of his eventual escape is mildly hilarious, as it takes place on the fakest cliff edge I’ve seen for some decades. Perhaps if Michael had bothered to ask if Julia was alone, maybe he’d still have his brick to go back to, but no. He tries to kill Julia, and ends up looking out to sea for eternity for his lack of grace and patience. After last week’s elevation to the sainted halls of villainy, he ends up dying through his own hubris and stupidity, disappointingly.

The episode ends with some explanation of the ‘what happened to Sarah’s baby’ question, and the mild shock that Sister Amy has her own immortal ambitions. It was mostly crass, unengaging, predictable and boring, but just one bit of it really made my day.

There’s a scene about 30 minutes in where Winger is having a major gripe about what she’s forced to deal with in respect of the Brothers Farragut, and she comes out with an incredible line that I took as a meta message from the creative team. She says, verbatim, ‘I don’t know what sort of shit-show you people are used to writing, but this is NOT how we do things!’. 

She’s right, because this isn’t how you pen a show that people can follow, with characters you care about and emotional investment, and a narrative you can understand. It’s just the first time I’ve seen it voiced so elegantly in an actual show.

Next week we go wandering around in the woods, because it has a very low cost implication for sets, I’d guess.

I thought I hated Revolution at the time, but Helix makes me nostalgic about its specific brand of mildly entertaining nonsense.

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Read Billy’s review of episode 6, M. Domestica, here.

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