Some 2.8 million viewers in the United States tuned into to witness the special limited commercial broadcast live on Syfy with even more via DVR and on-line viewing within the next few days!
Congratulations are certainly in order for each of the actors of this new series who performed so well on the premiere. Due in part to the decision by The Powers That Be (TPTB) to air the first two episodes back to back, the acting team shined brightly! A wise decision in the opinion of this editor to make Helix a two episode event!
At WormholeRiders, no one that we know was disappointed with the slick presentation that literally placed the viewers on the edge of their seats in sheer fear with delightfully tense scenes realistically related to modern society.
The Helix drama reflects one of the most serious fears of humanity; that of infection that leads to death or incapacitation.
Few can doubt that when the Helix series began as a concept, the creator, Cameron Porsandeh and his team including Executive Producers Ronald D. Moore and Brad Turner, and co-Executive Producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach, that creating a science, fiction, horror television program required a fresh melding of ideas based on accepted concepts to make Helix different enough from anything else ever attempted.
Some have likened Helix to a pre apocalyptic event with Zombies that will take over the Earth. Some suspect aliens. Yet others believe that it is corporations and terrorists working together to establish a new global hegemony!
As the Helix onion is peeled away, we may very well find this great new series is to become a combination of all of the above!
In Helix, the creators have more than accomplished this goal with terrifying sequences of an infection run amok at a remote scientific base operated by the nefarious Arctic Biosystems.
In my opening thoughts about Helix, I compared the classic video game turned movie, Doom to Helix. In fact the Helix popularity demonstrated on the premiere evening soon created visions in my mind of other classic science fiction films including The Andromeda Strain and The Thing, which had been remade decades after the original version had been released.
However, dovetailing these parallels is the fact that Helix is a brand new entertainment effort bringing the human interest, human interaction and even the political ramifications of our times into the story arc. The fascinating part of Helix is the “science”, the “fiction” and the “horror” in that the series is based on one of human beings greatest fears, that of infection by whatever source, whether it be an alien virus, or perhaps one of a terrestrial origin created by corporations, terrorists of governments.
Helix dovetails the superb Clancy novel sub plot wherein a group of fanatical Islamic terrorists sought to change the world balance of power in a coordinated attack.
Having created a super infectious substance based on the Ebola virus to topple the hegemony of the United States and it’s allies by killing and or incapacitating millions across the nation. Could the motivation of whomever is behind the virus in Helix be the same?
The Helix series, one of a science fiction horror nature is creepily good in that the believability is grounded on science fact with an anchor of reality; The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia from where the study of horrendous disease and infections is known the world over.
Helix leverages this reality by having the main characters based at the legendary facility in Atlanta, thereby making the fear of an infection gone berserk so frighteningly real!
This reviewer’s grade for the two episode premiere is an “A PLUS” for providing the quality product viewers of science fiction horror crave. I for one, ArcticGoddess1 and FidgetTBC will be joining me in reviewing the series in the coming days and week for a ride on the wild side, now known as Helix and we look forward to seeing at Arctic Biosystems as we all try to survive!
S1x01 Pilot – Day One:
We begin the Helix nightmare at a huge remote scientific installation somewhere in the Arctic region two days ago. There are no signs of a specific government flag, so we are led to believe that this is a private corporate endeavor of some type.
In the next moments we witness a man who is running down long hallways apparently inside the facility. He appears to be in a panic and is obviously terrified.
The man, who we will learn later is named Dr. Peter Farragut (Neil Napier) is being pursued by two others, seemingly scientists at the facility who are dressed in hazardous material protective clothing.
Based upon the circumstances, it is apparent that the location is some sort of experimental facility where an infectious medical disaster is underway, and that Peter is infected with a black goo oozing out of his mouth!
The two men with protective gear finally track down and find Peter Farragut. Peter is exhausted by whatever ordeal he is experiencing. One of the two pursuers, who we will learn in Dr. Hiroshi Hatake portrayed by veteran actor Hiroyuki Sanada seems to take the entire incident in stride.
In a chilling sequence, with “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” written by Burt Bacharach (music) and Hal David (lyrics) and sung by Dionne Warwick is playing in the background, Hatake offers terrified Peter him some water which seems to calm him down.
It was not so much the act of doing it, it was the tone of Hiroyuki Sanada’s voice indicating Peter’s symptoms represent “progress”. This sequence, in the first few seconds of the premiere is what terrified the Helix viewers as well as this editor!
With the suspicion of a looming medical disaster, an infectious disease is confirmed as we segue to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. CDC’s Dr. Alan Farragut (Billy Campbell) is lecturing a class of students.
He scared the crap out of everyone present by tricking them into thinking he has almost infected them with cholera as he flings a test tube he flung across the room. To our relief we learn that the glass tube was filled with Single Malt Scotch Whiskey, not a batch of cholera!
Dr. Alan Farragut is interrupted by the appearance of his ex-wife, Dr. Julia Walker (Kyra Zagorsky). Walker is another high ranking CDC official. In tow is trouble brewing, United States Army Major Sergio Balleseros (Mark Ghanimé) who announces an emergency outbreak has occurred at a privately run Arctic scientific research base where one of the victims is Alan Farragut’s brother, Peter.
We learn later that the divorce between Julia Walker and Alan Farragut was precipitated by a long running sexual affair between Julia and Peter.
With that critical bit of back story arc revealed, the Helix action moves to the Arctic Biosystems research facility led by Dr Alan Farragut, Dr. Julia Walker, and Major Balleseros of the USAMRID military agency.
The joint CDC USAMRID team is met by Dr. Hiroshi Hatake, and head of security, Daniel Aerov (Meegwun Fairbrother). The team gets a briefing that Peter Farragut is very ill.
Fortunately, the retro-virus has been determined to not of the airborne variety. Unfortunately, there is no easy way off the Arctic Biosystems base. A storm is moving in and the low temperatures interfere with helicopter access which flies off as soon as the team is dropped off.
Dr. Alan Farragut and Dr. Julia Walker don bio-hazard suits to pay Dr. Peter Farragut a visit to ascertain his well being. The emotional tension between the three is so thick, one could cut it with a knife! As mentioned previously, Alan and Julia’s marriage was destroyed by the affair between Dr. Walker and Dr. Peter Farragut.
What is nice to observe is that the three behave like adults and decide to focus on the seriousness of the situation. The prognosis for Peter, the patient is not good at all. His vital signs are wavering and ugly black lines that indicate a massive infection in his blood stream are observed on his neck.
Apparently Peter is a bit stressed and freaks out, attempting to stab Alan with a needle filled with his own black blood which we will all learn to call the black goo, or as hash tagged by the cast on Twitter “#GotGoo”. Is Peter being driven to spread the infection by some sort of intelligence spawning inside the infectious organism? Only time will tell this part of the tale.
Dr. Walker acts immediately to sedate Peter before he can stab Alan. Once Peter is drugged into submission, the two are joined by Dr. Jordan to examine the other victims and a corpse dead from exposure.
The other patients are showing the same infection while a look inside of an open body bag reveals a misshapen disintegrated corpse. Poor Dr. Jordan, the younger member from CDC barfs her lunch all over in the inside of her hazard suit. Yuck!
Meanwhile, Dr. Boyle and Major Balleseros are investigating Peter’s lab under Daniel Aerov’s supervision. The security chief confounds our investigators with a lie, claiming that the base has no test monkeys.
Dr. Boyle spots the lie to that claim by discovering some hair from a rhesus monkey. As the Helix mystery intensifies we are left to wonder; why did Aerov lie about the rhesus monkey being utilized as test subjects? No doubt under orders from Hatake!
The scene moves to a different part of the facility where Alan and Sarah Jordan discover that his brother Peter left him a “secret signal”; one the two of them used when they were children to warn each other about their abusive alcoholic father.
The video diary reveals that Peter knew something was awry, but the message is truncated leading Alan and viewers to wonder exactly what the hell is going on!?
However, Alan is interrupted with a startling discovery. Peter has developed superhuman strength and torn a hole in the ceiling and escaped the medical facility. Yikes!
Corrupt Arctic Biosystems security chief Daniel Aerov has a proposed solution; Fill the facilities air ducts where Peter is hiding with knockout gas and stop the infected Peter in his tracks. The process is accomplished despite Alan’s objection.
The “fix” does not work as Peter was either able to get further away or the gas did not affect him. In the meantime, a murdered scientist is found. The corpse has had his hand removed, apparently by Peter.
A new mystery is uncovered. Why did Peter take the victim’s left hand? This reviewer suspects that the scientist fingerprints or palm print will be utilized to open other areas of the facility by the deranged Peter who is being searched for by Alan and Daniel!
Meanwhile, Dr. Boyle and Major Balleseros have a a couple of problems. First; An area has been locked off when they were supposed to have unrestricted access. They use liquid nitrogen to freeze the lock to break the seal.
Second; A monkey has escaped leading to a Twitter storm of “Where is my monkey” the night of the premiere that had everyone giggling with glee! During the process of tracking down what seems to be the facilities last monkey, we find out it has died after attacking Dr. Boyle.
Fortunately for the good doctor, her skin was not broken and she was not infected. Interestingly, the monkey, just before perishing is exhibiting the same throat vibrations like those that struck Peter at the beginning of the episode! What does it all mean?
Bad goes to worse. Major Balleseros is witnessed monitoring some sort of tracking devices outside. As the camera pans back, we see a field of frozen Rhesus monkeys! The scene scared the hell out of viewers who screamed “monkeys!”. This reviewer, let me tell you was also shocked to no end!
The first part of the two part premiere concludes with a conversation with Hatake. He reveals they are working for the same people! Naturally, we the viewers have no clue to who “the boss” is. This reviewer is certain this element will remain a secret for several more episodes, perhaps all of the first season of Helix!
Creepy Hatake and Ballaseros, who we were led to believe was loyal to the CDC team, are monitoring them behind one way glass. The major reveal? Hatake and Ballaseros are working for the same “boss” and they are not happy about having to “clean up the mess Hatake has made!”
The final question at the end of the pilot is of course Alan’s question: Changing “Into what?!”
As we witness Peter using the severed hand to gain access to a secure area, the episode ends as we witness him infecting others as blood splatters against the security door glass with a blood curdling scream emanating from a hapless victim he has attacked!
In closing, my grade for the Helix pilot is an unequivocal “A PLUS”. The entire premise is so realistic it made watching the first segment a joy.
What was especially intriguing is the melding of Zombie like victim symptoms from the infectious disease, military, corporate, and perhaps even aliens and or terrorist involvement.
All of which made for a fascinating television experience based on potentially real life circumstances!
S1x02 Vector – Day Two:
Subsequent to the horrifying, in fact chilling and terrifying first segment, we begin episode two, entitled “Vector” by having Dr. Jordan, Farragut and Walker interrogating various scientists who were attacked.
Once again Dr. Peter Farragut had escaped by jumping through the roof of his hospital room displaying superhuman strength.
We have learned that Hatake and Balleseros both “work” for the same someone or some sinister organization. Based on the pilot episode, viewers should consider whether some sort of a super soldier creation is inherent in the transformation of the victims?
To make matters worse, we learn than three other infection victims of Peter Farragut have also escaped from supposedly secure areas, and are now running loose, in fact amok at the Arctic Biosystems facility!
The staff that CDC has dispatched led by Dr. Alan Farragut, include Dr. Julia Walker, Dr. Doreen Boyle, and Dr. Sarah Jordan, are more than concerned by the virulent outbreak and potential consequence for rapid expansion in the spread of the contagion.
Based on the reaction of Dr. Hiroshi Hatake, who appears to be the most concerned. Why we must ask?
Even at this juncture in the story arc it is obvious that Hatake is panicked that his experimental subjects are loose at the scientific research facility he is in so-called in control of.
During Boyle’s work in the lab she is also about to be attacked by one of the missing retro-virus victims, a Dr. Tracey (Leni Parker) who has escaped from her room. It seems that no one is safe for the time being.
Will the end result be that members of the CDC team will become infected themselves? Such seems to become a certainty before episodes end!
Alan, Aerov and Balleseros begin their search, searching the room of a Dr. Tracey (Leni Parker). Dr. Tracey is not in her room because she is with Dr. Doreen Boyle asking about a place we will see later this season known as “The White Room. Tracey is behaving like someone infected with a the virus. Going wild, Tracey attacks Boyle and tries to spit the black goo at her. Fortunately Dr. Boyle is able to effect an escape based on the crazed behavior of Tracey!!
Obviously the ongoing attacks are related to Peter Farragut’s use of the severed hand that allowed him security access in order to spread the infection to yet more of the staff assigned to the arctic research laboratory.
One question I considered is why Hatake did not have Aerov’s security teams deactivate the chip in the palm of the severed victims hand? No doubt to allow the virus to spread even faster!
The terrifying part is that each security staff member is armed with Taser like stun weapons that Dr Alan Farragut witnesses firsthand.
Speaking of Peter, we observe him confronting Dr Jordan before heading back to the ventilation system to creep up on his former lover Dr. Julia Walker. What could Peter be thinking? Is Peter still human at the core, or is he becoming an unwilling super soldier, a new mutant zombie form of human life?
We do not know at this point. However, the entire scene is brilliantly accomplished delivering a creepy feel illustrating the disaster unfolding in the Arctic Biosystems science facility.
Lockdown in progress, the facility scientists are now freaking out as well. Sarah who is also in charge of all the the isolated patients, has to cope with their well placed fear. Naturally, all of the facility staff are upset at the developments. Complicating the situation, many are not willing to cooperate.
Can any of us honestly say we would be cooperative in such a circumstance? Well perhaps a few can who have been trained to deal with such stressful situations. But even with professional training, stress plays a factor causing people to make mistakes that can lead to disaster. No doubt this is the going to be one of the end results of what is in progress in the great new science fiction horror series that is Helix!
Is Peter he talking about her, or about his lover Dr. Walker, whose name he mentions?
Once again, former Dr. Peter Farragut, now experimental retrovirus victim leaps with superhuman strength into an overhead cieling air vent and escapes being captured by Daniel Aerov and Major Balleseros for the time being.
Good news: Major Balleseros has developed a way to track Peter during his journeys in the air ducts. Once Balleseros finds him, a confrontation ensues. Although Balleseros survives the encounter, virus crazed Peter escapes roaming the base at will.
This leads viewers to wonder why Peter has not disintegrated like the other victims? Dr. Julia Walker has an answer. With Hatake in tow, Julia determines there are two strains of the so far deadly retro-virus known as Narvik-A, and Narvik-B.
Using rats as test subjects, the results reveal that Narvik-B, creates hyper-aggressive behavior like Peter, with an incredible drive to spread the disease to other victims. This is why Peter has not perished as he continues his mission to spread the virus infested black goo!
Questions remain; why are there two types of the virus? Was one a failure? Or is the deadlier disintegration version to be used on uncooperative victims whose DNA may not be compatible? Could there be a third version in the works by evil Hatake that turns human beings into Zombie like super soldiers?
Alan saves Sarah when the detained people riot. Removing his helmet to show his solidarity with the detainees he gains their trust for the time being. Major Balleseros is more direct with less than cooperative people intercepting a scientist attempting to leave the base. The scientist has threatened to “tell everyone” what’s happening at Arctic Biosystems. Balleseros instead guts the poor fellow in his back.
As the exciting two episode premiere winds down, Sarah human detainees pull a trick on the young inexperienced doctor. They simulate an emergency medical situation to effect an escape.
Could Hatake have the third version of the virus? Or has that “honor” been saved for someone else? Nevertheless, Dr. Alan Farragut also seems a bit upset that he has been unable to get control as soon as he desired. Confronting Hatake in his office, the two seem to be having a scientific pissing contest with no clear winner!
Delivering the horror designed into Helix perfectly, Balleseros is observed burying the body of the scientist he stabbed. Poor Dr. Sarah Jordan is vibrating with fear from being attacked. We must ask; Could she too be infected?
That is except for always calm and unflappable Dr. Hiroshi Hatake, who we find relaxing in his quarters at the end of day two.
Hatake seems quite pleased with himself with the retro-virus successfully following some predestined plan that we do not know all the details of… yet!
What the heck is that reveal all about? Is Hatake an alien species? Or is he a test subject of his own retro-virus? Or is Hatake and his silver eyes something else entirely?!
Peter holds Julia tightly, seemingly to plant a kiss to his lovers lips, when instead, Peter delivers a huge amount of the black goo down her gullet! Can we say yikes yet!
All the fantastic action in the first two episodes, “Pilot” and “Vector”, leads to the third incredible episode called “274” that ArcticGoddess1 will analyze next, followed by the fourth episode “Single Strand” by FidgetTBC!
In closing my analysis of Helix for now, one of the great things this reviewer admired, and enjoys tremendously is that the Helix creators have incorporated a “Day Count” into the adventure. Dovetailing other successful programs like “24 (Live Another Day)”, which used an hour by hour countdown, the Helix creators are genius’, producing an exciting scripted episodic series to our great delight!
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