Helix 1×11 Review: Black Rain

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As far as I can tell, despite being only two episodes away from the end of its first season, Helix has yet to be renewed for a second.  Between that and the storyline (or lack of it?) in this week’s episode, I’m beginning to wonder if the writers even care anymore. Or – even worse – perhaps they never did? As early as September of last year show writer Javier Grillo-Marxuatch mentioned that Helix was being treated more like a miniseries, and that if it had a second season, that season would be markedly different from this one.

At this point, I wish I’d known this before I started watching, because it certainly lends more sense to all of the seemingly non-cohesive events that take place in this show.

Black Rain begins with a somewhat confusing scene – why is this woman running around on her own, apparently searching for food? I understand that the main point is for viewers to take note of the fact that the vectors are hunting down the healthy people, but as the main characters have been ignoring (and continue to ignore) any food shortage, they could have just focused on the gross-out moment with the rat in the microwave.

And that’s the other thing – does anyone else feel like they’re just shoving these over-the-top incidents in their viewers’ faces? Because earlier in the season it seemed that they were spread out enough to remain interesting, but in more recent weeks it seems as if Helix feels that we need to be constantly reminded of all the gross things that can happen…which isn’t exactly the best type of storytelling.

But I digress. Black Rain may begin with the vectors capturing someone, but the more concerning development is Sarah’s ‘tumor miracle’ and the fact that Julia kept the Narvik because she wants to save all of the infected people. This entire plot point made me feel like I’d missed something very important (and that’s not the first time I’ve felt this way while watching Helix). In fact, while watching this eleventh episode, I found myself musing over the fact that in Helix time, only eleven days have passed, but to me it seems as if each episode encompasses weeks, not just one day. (And no, I don’t think that’s a good thing.)

The early Black Rain scenes that feature Hatake actually had me wondering whether I was experiencing deja vu. He once again reminds Alan that Ilaria is sending a ‘strike force’ to the research facility, even pointing out that it will include at least one hundred people. Alan responds that one hundred people isn’t a strike force, but an army.helix 1x11 2

No, Alan, one hundred people is not an army. For someone who has played down much more serious issues (for example, the fact that one member of this very important team of us was suffering from a debilitating brain tumor), Alan makes some really ridiculous comments at times.

Hatake then has a talk with Daniel, who finally learns that he’s not Hatake’s only ‘child’. For someone who has been insisting on being called Miksa these past couple of days, Daniel seems quite a bit more upset about Julia being Hatake’s daughter than one would think. This also leaves me wondering how and why it’s taken this long for Hatake to mention any of this to Daniel, who seems to have been privy to all the rest of his adopted father’s secrets.

The vector scenes in Black Rain are problematic in their own right. I’m just not certain what Helix was trying to accomplish by filming them out of focus and forcing viewers to squint in order to figure out what’s going on. Obviously we are supposed to take note of the fact that the vectors are working together and hatching plans; capturing the healthy, apparently infecting them, and then bleeding them out in order to use that infected blood to take care of the rest of those who have yet to contract the virus. Alan calls the vectors a ‘viral collective’, which is such an apt description that it almost seems silly. Of course, he says this in the same episode in which he informs us that “Life is an experiment”, and I suppose that I just need to learn to accept trite quotes from our Great Hero, Alan Farragut.

Or perhaps he isn’t our Great Hero, considering he’s the one who put all of the scientists in a room making it easier for the vectors to ‘take care of them’, if you will.

In fact, it’s Julia who steps between Alan and Hatake when they’re arguing, though sadly it sounds more like she’s whining than anything else. She’s been ‘put through so much’ and she’s ‘angry’ and she doesn’t want her father and her ex-husband fighting.  Meanwhile, poor Sarah has no idea what’s going on as she wasn’t around for the big Hatake-is-Julia’s-father reveal. Thankfully, though, Sarah and Julia together have come up with a solution for the vectors – freeze them and inject them with a mixture of Narvik and Julia’s spinal fluid. But how will they catch the vectors? Have no fear, Daniel – I mean, Miksa – is here! For some reason he designed a spray canister that is also a backpack, and it happens to be perfect for freezing the vectors and taking them out one by one.

Once that’s done, it’s time for Ilaria to arrive, which means everyone has to go down to Hatake’s Montana-themed [apparently bomb-proof] bunker so that they can blow up the research facility and thus end Ilaria’s, err, reign? This whole thing seems ridiculously contrived, but then, that thought has been in the back of my mind since just a few episodes into this show, and has been pushing itself to the forefront a lot more with these last couple of episodes.helix 1x11 3

As it turns out, despite Hatake basically knowing who Ilaria would send to take care of things, he falls for their diversion of computer-controlled snowmobile-style explosive devices anyway. How lucky that they are still able to get back to the bunker before this assassin called ‘The Scythe’ shows up. Not quite so lucky that Hatake’s explosives have been rendered inert, that the assassin catches the red shirt scientists in the elevator and dispatches them with ease, and – though she herself may feel differently – I don’t think it’s a good thing that Sarah is apparently now sporting the silver eyes, and possibly the immortality, that Hatake and Julia ‘enjoy’.

We are left with one quick scene in which The Scythe’s assistants reveal themselves, and the assassin himself finally pulls off his clearly-Daft-Punk-inspired helmet. Surprise, he’s…a teenage boy?

I’ll give Helix this: that knowledge certainly makes me want to tune in next week, even if many of my hopes for the show as a whole have been dashed by Black Rain’s schizophrenic events.

Author: Tara Lynne

Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.

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