This Van Helsing review contains spoilers.
Van Helsing Season 4 Episode 6
Whether Phil Fleischman’s family finds the peace it’s looking for on the other side of the river doesn’t really matter at this point because the episode’s final shot of mother, father, and child walking toward what they hope will be an opportunity to start over lets viewers know that the opportunity to regain a piece of their lost humanity may be within reach. “Miles and Miles” features the television directorial debut of Van Helsing stunt coordinator Kimani Ray Smith and nicely breaks things down into two distinct arenas – the rugged journey through the Badlands and the ultimate confrontation between the Fleischmans and Max Borman.
There’s no question the demise of Max brings with it a certain sense of regret because Van Helsing loses one of genre television’s quality bad guys in actor Richard Harmon. Nevertheless, nobody deserves a chance at redemption more than Phil, and Axel’s decision to get back into the fight after his heart to heart talk with Vanessa clearly puts him on a better path as well. And while we have to admire Phil’s tenacity after all he’s been through, it’s Axel who recognizes the small details for what they truly mean. Is the teddy bear sitting upright in the middle of the road a bread crumb from Owen, or bait left by Max? Phil’s single minded approach can still get him into trouble, but his attention to detail also comes in handy.
We later learn the significance of Phil’s recollection that the abandoned prison bus left Loveland filled with the sick, injured, and infirm, but this discovery also raises the fundamental question of the episode’s first half – why does Max need Jennifer and Owen. Van Helsing routinely presents its fair share of creepy and disgusting, but the semi-organized band of feeders that eventually lead Axel and Phil to Matty’s blood lab certainly deserve consideration. As we observe Vanessa embark on a road she hopes will eradicate the vampires and return peace to the land, her situation seems to become more complicated as the creatures continue to evolve.
And then, of course, we have Matty’s fatty blood extraction operation producing the “liquid gold” employed as currency to gain admittance to what has been described as a “vampire free promised land.” We’ve often speculated about how far geographically the apocalypse extends and what barriers, physical or otherwise, might be in place to provide a measure of safety. Are Phil and his family heading to the promised land or simply another series of dangers? Either way, it’s abundantly clear that Jennifer can more than handle herself, and Owen not only exhibits bravery that belies his age but an intellectual acumen that should stand him in good stead on this new journey. “We have to kill him,” Owen tells his mother and later shoots Max in the neck, stabs him, and surreptitiously steals the keys to the jeep. I think it’s safe to say the kid’s as ready as he could possibly be.
Far from a perfect chapter in the Van Helsing tale, “Miles and Miles” does offer momentary closure to Phil’s long and twisted journey, but its generally slow pace doesn’t really advance the story much beyond this plot point. Max’s disclosure that Dmitri initially turned him at The Citadel, and he was turned back “by the one they whisper about,” comes out of nowhere and doesn’t really fit the profile of this ego-centric psychotic. Does Max think this information will stay his execution or does it give him one last opportunity at self-aggrandizement before Axel separates his head from his body? Appropriately, Axel hacks at Max’s neck rather than sparing him with a swift, clean cut.
Even though the end of the apocalypse feels like it’s still out of reach, a new sense of hope continues to work its way into the characters’ daily lives. Jennifer tells her son about a past he’s never experienced with the promise that things will get better, allowing him to go to school and play with friends. “Until then, we survive,” she instructs her son. It remains to be seen whether Owen is biologically “our son,” or if Jen’s forgiven Phil for the past and is now willing to forge a new life, confident he can be a good father to Owen.
Since Van Helsing has become such an intricate story with so many moving pieces, the sole focus on Axel and Phil leaves far too many more important arcs left untouched. Still, “Miles and Miles” drops a few background tidbits, Phil finds his wife, Axel leaves his emotional funk behind, and we look forward to the return of Vanessa and the quest for the Dark One.