Helix: The Reaping review
With only one episode to go, Helix appears to be running out of steam. Or freezing solid. It isn't pretty.
This Helix review contains spoilers.
Were there not only one episode left in Helix season one, “The Reaping” might very well have been the one that made me walk away and find another way to spend an hour of my Fridays. I understand that this is pretty cold, and opening a review like this with a sentence like that isn’t the most surefire way to keep you reading (let alone endear myself to Helix fans, of which I’m sure there are at least a few), but it’s the truth. For a show that started off with such promise, and that has a few pieces of serious firepower in front of the camera, Helix appears to have wandered out into the frozen wilderness, snowblind, and grasping for direction and purpose.
“The Reaping” of course refers to the Ilaria Corporation’s wetworks guy, the 16 year old (give or take a couple of hundred years) boy who, in true adolescent fashion, has given himself a ridiculous nickname: The Scythe. When he showed up on last week’s episode, I was suitably impressed with his Darth Vader-like entrance, helmet, and fashion sense, his cool choice of weapons, and the fact that he got rid of a whole bunch of tertiary characters in one efficient elevator ride. Now, the fact that this little snot is strutting around calling himself “The Scythe” is far less endearing, and the hefty doses of Helix‘s now trademarked bad dialogue doesn’t do much to help matters.
An extended recap of “The Reaping” would be entirely too depressing, both for the readers and this writer, so I’ll hit some low points and then get into a few more pertinent details. The Major Balleseros/Anana/Miksa’s brother subplot has progressed to half-past-insufferable o’clock. I don’t know what I loved more, Miksa’s brother telling the Major to “stay the hell away from my sister, dude” (not a direct quote), like he’s a big, dopey jock and the Major is some Trans-Am driving rock n’ roller or Anana, badass sheriff of the frozen wilds, reduced to a foot stomping hissyfit when she realizes that the Major may have taken her bro’s advice.
Anyone else having trouble dealing with the Miraculously Cured Dr. Farragut? I’m still used to him drooling and doing that ululating throat thing. Is he up to no good? Are we supposed to care? Was watching the Farragut brothers bicker in the vents supposed to pass for character development?
Both of these could, conceivably, be chalked up to the issue of pacing. The fact that the show takes place over only 12 days, but feels very much like the 12 (agonizing) weeks that we’ve been watching doesn’t help. So much has happened in those 12 days that any half reasonable human being would simply be a blithering, insane, mess. Trying to stick with this one episode/one day conceit leaves me looking back at what some of these folks have done in that time, and many of them have jumped from bad to good and back again at a rate that would terrify a WWE midcarder. Hey, remember when Dr. Jordan was a junkie for a day or two? That was only a week ago! Now she’s cured of everything and immortal and that brief flirtation with reality (because honestly, if you, me, or anyone else was there, we’d be tapping a vein full of morphine, too) is a distant memory, perhaps left in the shadows of a different writing team.
I still can’t help but get the giggles whenever we’re let into the ski lodge bunker. There’s a reasonable moment between Dr. Jordan and Dr. Walker here, where they discuss the nature and implications of immortality, and it’s the first time in ages (if ever) that these two characters have ever really had any kind of truly meaningful interaction. Unfortunately, even here, Helix misses two major opportunities. First, to talk about anything regarding immortality OTHER than ye olde “you will have to watch everyone you know die.” Second, to even HINT at the nature of immortality as it relates to the rules established on Helix. Maybe that’s because from episode to episode, it has often felt like they were making it up as they went along, and there really aren’t any rules yet.
I keep a list of things that need to never be used in TV or movies again, and one of them is “the choice.” That moment when the villain tells the hero (of course, “hero” is being used in the loosest possible interpretation of the word when talking about Dr. Hatake) that he must choose between saving one important thing (girlfriend, mother, sidekick, bus full of kids) and letting another important thing die (old lady crossing the street, beloved comic shop clerk, daughter, good TV writers) must be stricken from the book of geek and not spoken of again until further notice. Helix has had a knack throughout the second half of this season for delivering dialogue that has all the subtlety of a crippling gin hangover, and now they bust out this tired, old thing?
Daniel’s “betrayal” and ultimate sacrifice were…a bit abrupt. For a moment, we did feel for him, but the whole decision-making process that went into delivering the virus to the Scythe and his girlfriend/lackey seemed a little dense, even for him. Was his intention right from the outset to negotiate with these two? Did he think he could spare Hatake the problem of sacrificing his own life for Julia’s? Was there something else? Essentially, Miksa, what the hell did you think was going to happen? Did you simply not factor in the possibility that there might be an exploding dog collar waiting for you up there?
And then, the final insult. The Scythe’s girlfriend/lackey opening up a box/chair/thing and revealing…”Mom?” She even manipulated the security camera for an eeeevil close-up. At this point, Helix could only be more offensive if next week we discover that this was all a dream.