As if the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) doctors battling a world destroying plague virus is not enough of a plot line, so, the creators have ensured that most of the characters of Helix have some deep dark secret they are apparently not prepared to share.
This is what makes the Helix story exciting as well as suspenseful as we all figure out what each character is hiding, why they are driven to do so and how each became involved with the CDC, the military, Arctic Biosystems and the secret unnamed employers mentioned in the pilot and Vector episodes.
We have learned so far that brothers, Alan (Billy Campbell) and Peter Faragut (Neil Napier) have issues with an unpleasant childhood. To complicate this, they were both involved with the same woman, Julia Walker (Kyra Zagorsky).
Hiroshi Hataki (Hiroyuki Sanada) is in charge of Arctic Biosystems Research Facility with secrets of his own. He is either already affected by the pathogen that Alan is dealing with, or he is some kind of hybrid human or alien, since we are made aware that he wears contact lenses to disguise otherworldly eyes. He is also not very transparent and forthcoming with information about the virus at the facility.
Dr. Sarah Jordan (Jordan Hayes) seems to have a young crush on Alan, but she, too has a secret involving some sort of neurological issue that causes her hand to shake. She also appears to have had some surgery in the past along her spine. From the botched look of the scar, it could very well have been performed by a med student.
Major Sergio Balleseros (Mark Ghanime) is the Army liaison with the rapid response team headed by Dr. Alan Farragut. On the surface, he seems to be helpful and trustworthy. However, he, too, has his own agenda, as he does everything within his power to keep information about the virus from leaving the facility.
Sarcastic and knowledgeable, Doreen Boyle (Catherine Lemieux) is a veterinary pathologist who specializes in the diagnosis of diseases through the examination of animal tissue and bodily fluids. She plays the role of the outsider very well. Her primary contact during the first three episodes has been Major Balleseros. When she finds out he is not being a team player, it is likely she will be the one who feels most betrayed.
Daniel Aerov (Meegwun Fairbrother) is the head of security at Arctic Biosystems. He has a particularly close relationship with Dr.Hataki . He is fiercely loyal and dedicated to helping the head of the facility achieve his goals…whatever they may be. We learn early on just where this man’s loyalty lies.
So far, the first three episodes move at a fairly slow pace and cover a period of three days. During those three days, what initially looked like a challenging, but manageable viral outbreak, now appears to be an out of hand plague.
They have lost, then regained containment, only to again lose that containment, but also be absolutely unaware of it, since their communication system breaks down. What else could go wrong?
Julia is discovered in the shower by Alan. He asks her what happened. She says she has no idea, but she seems to be having flashes of Peter kissing her with that black substance all over his mouth.
As Alan waits in the hallway for Julia to get dressed, he is interrupted by a noise. To me, it sounds like someone crawling along the metal air ducts in the ceiling. Alan, and for that matter, everyone else at the facility never seem to call for back up when they hear this noise. However, Alan follows it to a lab. Peter appears and pleads, “Help me”. Then he passes out.
Sarah attempts to ignore and hide her shaking hand as Doreen impatiently explains to the restlessly quarantined scientists that no, she can not just treat them with whatever is on hand, since giving them the wrong stuff could be worse than giving them nothing at all. I have heard that doctors and nurses make the worst patients, but these people are acting like a bunch of school children.
Hataki and Aerov have a special interest in Julia. This is made apparent by the way they look at her in the first episode. Voyeur, much? Speaking of which, Hataki spends an inordinate amount of time in the first three episodes, watching everyone on his security screen. He also has his own private photo album filled with photos of Julia.
Just then, Alan wheels Peter into containment. Hataki is not happy. When Alan says Peter “turned himself in,” Hataki and Aerov exchange a meaningful look. Hataki Believes that Peter has shown evidence of easy escape in the past, so time to up containment. Aerov gives everyone a tour of Level R, which is an older floor of the facility with concrete walls and steel doors. Alan recommends using the entire level as an isolation floor for those who have been infected, now called ‘vectors’.
While Julia ‘sees’ lesions, black goo and prominent black veins on her neck as she looks at herself in the mirror, then virtually tries to will herself healthy by telling herself, “You don’t. Get. Sick.”
Alan, Aerov and Hataki come across Dr. Sulemani (Tamara Brown). She begs for help, but Aerov, in what obviously is a show of loyalty to Hataki, shoots her. Alan removes the bullet right there and then.
Later, angry at Aerov’s behaviour, Alan threatens to pull his team out if Hataki continues to be difficult.
Alan wants a quick test to determine who is infected and who is not, so he tasks Julia and Sarah with creating a rapid-response test. Doreen offers to prove that the monkey version of the virus is ground zero so they can formulate a vaccine. However, someone has made off with her monkey.
She is furious that the entire room is drenched in formaldehyde. Naturally, her first reaction is to have a face to face with Hataki. Balleseros stops her, offering to get her another sample.
Alan and Aerov argue over their differing ideas of “security” in a hallway while, in a lab, Julia and Sarah argue over how best to build the test. Julia notices Sarah’s hand shaking. Sarah says it is just sleep deprivation.
Outside the facility, Doreen confronts Balleseros about how he knew where to find all of the frozen monkeys — and what he’s really doing there. He provides a non-answer that some Army folk think Hataki released the virus on purpose. While discussing this possibility, Doreen comments that the monkeys look terrified, like they are trying to escape the facility.
Sarah has discovered a test for the infected, using a jellyfish enzyme, but when Julia asks for a demonstration using Sarah as a control, Sarah balks and suggests that Julia swab herself instead. After a long pause, Julia agrees. Sarah then snaps that it is a waste of time and goes to tell Alan, but Julia swabs herself anyway. It comes up negative.
The escapee, Bryce (Alain Goulem), is whacking on a fellow scientist’s door with a fire axe and raving about the cure that the other scientist is hoarding, when Alan and Aerov come upon him. As he swings the axe at them, Aerov tases him, knocking him unconscious. The other scientist creeps out of his room and unconvincingly denies that any cure exists.
Doreen tests the monkey blood as Balleseros looks on. The stuff turns black and grows out of control, almost escaping its decontamination box. Only a shot of gas keeps the object from breaking free. She wants to ask Alan about it, but Balleseros advises that they keep it to themselves, or Hataki will shut them down.
Again, Alan is forced to rely on threats to get information from Hataki by telling him that the press will learn what is going on if Hataki does not come clean right now. Hataki confesses that he has been testing a universal antiviral vaccine.
Two issues immediately come up: Hataki is hoarding illegal strains of deadly diseases like smallpox, to test the cure on; and the mortality rate of the vaccine is 75 percent.
Aerov tells Julia that Alan needs to come deal with the Sulemani situation, but Dr. Marin overhears and does the Helix equivalent of screaming “FIRE” in a crowded theater. Chaos ensues. The quarantined all rush for the exits. Alan can’t get to Julia. Sulemani appears and attacks a guard, Aerov drops his gun in the melee, and Julia freezes completely. Sulemani rushes Julia, but Alan shoots Sulemani from behind Julia. He’s herding Julia into the elevator to go upstairs, but she shows him the black goo she has just coughed up. After his earlier reaction to Aerov shooting Sulemani, Alan has just proved that he would do the same thing if someone close to him is in danger.
Hataki is over reacting about sealing off Level R, especially with Julia still down there. Alan and Aerov note that there’s a week’s worth of supplies on Level R, and Alan plans to call for Army backup when the satellite goes live.
Sarah stares at herself in the mirror, near tears. Her hand trembles. She changes for bed, and reveals an ugly scar running down her neck to her back.
Alan seems depressed about killing Sulemani and losing control of the situation. Doreen attempts to make him feel better with comforting words, but then, lies that examining the monkey told her nothing.
Julia wanders into the containment dorm, smearing the black goo from her hand onto her lab coat. She discovers her quick test in her pocket. It is still clear. She rushes over to the rack of positive tests. Many have turned clear. She realizes that the test does not work. Julia dashes off to an emergency phone to tell Alan, but outside, Balleseros is bomb-rigging the satellite dish. It explodes. The call is cut off. Julia yells and pounds on the door: “The test doesn’t work!” It becomes clear that help is not coming.
This series has great potential as long as things do not begin to drag too much. There is the opportunity to explore how people, especially professionals might handle a situation where their own lives are in danger. Do they rise to the challenge or become useless idiots who fight each other for the last chance to live? This series also needs to pace itself so that it can keep the audience interested, but not provide too many answers too soon for what is actually going on.
Obviously, there are outside forces who are influencing what is going on inside. We have already seen that Balleseros has another way to communicate with the outside through his portable satellite dish. As a military person, he is receiving orders that he is obeying from outside.It should be interesting to see who they bring into the series as guest stars, and how they make it happen.
We look forward to seeing more of you here soon at our review and analysis site dedicated to the great new science fiction horror series Helix!
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