Helix Season 1 Review “Survivor Zero”

Helix Episode 7 Survivor Zero (1)

This week’s Helix took things to a whole new level. With more unexpected twists, character turns, and confrontations which were all built brilliantly on scattered bits of information from previous episodes, “Survivor Zero” heralded the series’ transition from the, “good” television category into the, “must-watch live with the lights off” television category.

A large amount of credit for this has to go to Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager) for her ferocious performance this week as the Ilaria Corporation’s representative Constance Sutton. She conquered this episode with ferocity more blinding than the blizzards raging outside the base. She was charming with Alan (until she pointed a gun at his head), she was seductive with Balleseros (after she punched him a few times), and she was threatening with Hatake (from the moment she entered the base). In short, she was… awesome. Sutton is truly a force of nature and with her arrival the series has given us a villain more villainous than Hatake.

Who in this episode didn’t seem that villainous at all, actually. In fact, Hatake was downright sympathetic here. He displayed genuine concern for the people in the base when Sutton reminded him of an earlier “no survivors” agreement and looked ashamed when forced to confront Daniel (Miksa?), Anana, and the truth about their shared history.

What was most surprising however, was his emotional breakdown over Julia’s condition. Here I had assumed he deliberately cured or manipulated Julia’s DNA as a means to an end, but his reaction upon discovering that her eyes had changed threw me off tremendously. Whatever’s going on with Hatake, Hiroyuki Sanada’s portrayal of the man (mutant? alien?) this week challenged our assumptions about him and gave us reason to believe he’s got even more going on than we may have originally thought. His “gift” of contact lenses to Julia in the end seemed more like a sorrowful apology than a sinister conspiracy.

And it looks like Julia’s going to need them. She doesn’t seem to be adapting to her new membership in the “Silver Eyes Club” (which also includes the aforementioned Constance Sutton) too well. Kyra Zagorsky continues to prove my initial assessment of her character wrong with every episode, as Julia’s storyline has become one of the show’s most interesting. I was happy to see the interaction between her and the hallucination (or is it?) of Peter continue, and I’m glad the show’s put her back into the thick of things in the base’s upper levels again just in time for her to take part in all of the larger craziness going on.

This larger craziness includes the relationship that’s been developing between Alan and Sarah. While I could’ve done without the awkward banter as they scrambled to get dressed, the actors prevented this moment from becoming a clichéd romantic comedy scene. And though their screen time together in this episode was brief, it was meaningful. The trust between them was emphasized when Alan confided in Sarah while the two were in the lab under the watchful gaze of the Ilaria military personnel, and Jordan Hayes acted the hell out of her reaction shots.

When Alan described Julia as the most important team member, Sarah’s jealousy/hurt was detectable, but not overwhelming. Later, when she finds Alan and Julia embracing, it’s the same way. Sure, it’s a little thing, but it’s the little things that keep this love triangle grounded and as un-melodramatic as possible.

In so many ways this first season of Helix is reminding me of the first season of Lost. Great characters with great actors inhabiting them and a unique style that’s helped the series establish its identity fairly quickly. Like Lost, Helix‘s rapidly expanding mythology keeps me glued to the television when the show is on, and thinking about its mysteries and complexities when it’s not.

It makes for an exciting experience at the beginning but as any Lost fan can tell you, it can rapidly deteriorate into a convoluted and frustrating one. When the questions asked begin to outnumber the answers given, or when the answers given feel uninspired and lazy, the integrity of the entire series is called into question. Helix hasn’t arrived at such a place yet, but with “Survivor Zero” more than any other episode thus far is showing signs of “Too Many Questions Syndrome”.

I am absolutely in love with this show right now and I really, really hope that it knows what it’s doing and where it’s going. It’s an incredible ride, and I’d like it to continue for awhile.

Vector Ramblings
Gods, I love the feel of Helix. The starkness of the production design, the rapid fire editing of certain scenes, the camera work (angles, focus), and the music that has become a character unto itself.

Constance Sutton threatening to kill Sarah with a wink and a smile… I’m in love.

That ending!!! Fever, indeed.

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