Steeped in science and shrouded in suspense and suspicion, the creators and show runners of Helix continue to walk that fine line between science and fiction, as well as that blurred line between “how real can this be or is this truly all fiction?”
After all, there seems to be a kernel of truth in all television scripted programming these days, no matter how absurd it may seem – if someone has imagined it, then someone else has tried to achieve it!
Yet by the same token, if we cannot suspend reality for at least an hour a week, then we take life far too seriously and lose the ability to step back to gain perspective.
The writing of this series is greatly admired by this reviewer, thought provoking and witty week after week in this series’ young run. Creator and writer Cameron Porsandeh has crafted another wonderfully action packed, “who can you trust”, and “what are they up to?” episode in this week’s “Single Strand”.
Picking up where last week’s left of, though in “Helix reality” it is ONLY day 4, we are reminded that the base had been subjected to Dr. Sarah Jordan’s (Jordan Hayes) “Rapid Response Test” – a test to determine, in a matter of minutes, who may or may not be carrying the virus and may all too soon become a vector themselves.
Those that “passed the test” were allowed to return to the upper level of the base to be with the general public; those that tested positive for the virus were relegated to the “R” level for quarantine while an antivirus is being formulated.
Trying to keep a handle on the situation, and herself, Dr. Julia Walker (Kyra Zagorsky) enters into a conversation amongst Dr. Dimitri Marin (Vitali Makarov) and another scientist (played by Albert Kwan). They are discussing the fact that having been sealed off on this level is being seen as a death sentence by their general populous. Claiming that they have been left down there to die, Dr. Marin vows to not go down without a fight. In Julia’s presence they outline a plan to override a control node for CO? removal, shutting down the oxygen scrubbers – causing the base to run out of oxygen in six hours.
Dr. Marin points out that level R is a much larger area than the upper levels, and there are less people on level R – hence more time to force the hand of Dr. Hiroshi Hatake (Hiroyuki Sanada), less time for him to come to his senses about the judgment passed on those on level R.
Julia pleadingly tries to convince Dr. Marin that they should try to communicate first, before sabotage. He informs her that this is his way of communicating, and she is promptly “kicked off the island” – Julia is abruptly and brusquely tossed out of that living area to fend for herself.
As the door slams on Julia, she looks down up and down the hallway, trying to decide which way to shelter and food. In one direction she sees a figure clad in an “OD green” jumpsuit and a vintage, seemingly WWI era respirator waving at her to come that way, beckoning Julia to follow for safety.
Julia runs to the corner where the figure was, but it has vanished – looking back from where she came from and down to where she’s headed, Julia cannot see the figure she just chased down, was she hallucinating?
There was no sitting still again this episode, there was something going on with someone at all times. Next we find Dr. Alan Farragut (Billy Campbell) in Hatake’s office, trying to keep his emotions in check, demonstratively expressing his concern for those individuals on level R, especially Julia.
Without the dish, all communications have been cut off, rendering the base isolated from the world – in reality, no longer in the figurative sense. Supplies and rations are needed down in level R, but his thoughts and concerns are cut short as Daniel Aerov (Meegwun Fairbrother) mentions that there are periodic resupply drops; though he fails to answer Alan’s cry of how periodic…
There seem to be demons aplenty for all to endure, and as we happen on Dr. Jordan we see that she is fighting another tremor session. As she struggles to both control and suppress the tremors, she also labors to open her phial of medication.
Her efforts are just about to be rewarded when she is startled by someone knocking on her door – she spills her medication all over and into the sink and down the drain. Collecting what she can, Sarah puts her pills away and collects herself too and heads to her door. At the door is Dr. Rae Van Eigem (Miranda Handford) and she has something important to share with Sarah.
Meanwhile, Alan is holding court and trying to rally his troops in one of the labs. Looking for progress reports, Dr. Doreen Boyle (Catherine Lemieux) and Major Sergio Balleseros (Mark Ghanimé) offer their developments and pledges to make more headway into figuring out what the virus is and where is may have come from.
Having had an unexpected guest, Sarah was running late to the meeting and as she shows up Alan informs them all that Hatake is not budging, that he intends to leave the infected on level R to fend for themselves. As he is leaving he tells his audience that he is going to visit his brother.
In the infirmary, Dr. Peter Farragut (Neil Napier) is writhing in pain. Dr. Phillippe Duchamp (Patrick Baby) informs Alan that the morphine is no longer working. Alan insists on using an untested antiviral agent, decrying that if it were your brother, would you not want to try all exhaust all opportunities for a chance at prolonging the inevitable, to perhaps be cured?
Dr. Duchamp again insists on informing Alan that it HAS not been tested on humans, that we do not know what effect – if any – it will have. Alan counters by saying that it doesn’t mean that it won’t work…
As Hatake and Balleseros are having a heart to heart – Balleseros insisting that he knows what Hatake is up and what he is working toward, and Hatake explaining to Balleseros that he does not have the intellectual capacity to evaluate his work, the alarms sound. Looking over the computer to get a handle on the situation, Hatake explains to Balleseros what is going on, and when asked by Balleseros if this is bad, Hatake answers with, “only if you like breathing.”
We are taken back to Sarah and her “guest” who is convinced that the Rapid Response Test failed, and urges Sarah to perform the test again. Sarah tells Dr. Eigem that she has nothing to worry about, that the test was negative. Insisting that they run the test again, Dr. Eigem maintains that for Sarah to tell her that she has nothing to worry about is easy for Sarah to say, she is not the one with the deadly disease – there is sheer fear on Dr. Eigem’s face and in her voice as she implores Sarah to not let them send her “down there”.
When we catch up with Julia, we see that she has found a hiding place, but we get the feeling that this spot is far from safe. Our fears are confirmed when we see a vector scrounging down the hall. Julia tries to further hide, but in doing so her makeshift door drags on the floor, drawing the attention of the vector.
The vector catches sight of Julia, and the chase is on. Running for her life, Julia heads down a corridor, only to be grabbed and dragged into a room half way down the corridor. As the “OD green” dude tries to close the door behind Julia, the vector sticks its arm in the doorway. It takes both “OD green” dude and Julia to finally get the door closed after breaking the arm of the vector.
When the door is finally closed and barricaded, Julia is face to face with “OD green” dude, her rescuer. The new found acquaintance DOES have a name, it’s Jaye, “just Jaye” (Amber Goldfarb). The two women take a moment and get better at ease with each other, dispensing with all formalities – they are “just Jaye” and “that CDC chick”, for a brief moment all is right with their world.
Having been startled by her guest and having dumped her medication down the sink, Sarah is forced to split and ration her tablets. As Dr. Eigem is becoming delusional, Sarah is forced to deal with the fact that the Rapid Response Test does NOT work.
Dr. Eigem returns to the here and now, revealing to Sarah that she is an oncologist, rattling off all of the symptoms that she has seen in Sarah, asking how long she has known about her tumor. Lastly, to gain trust, Dr. Eigem plays hardball with Sarah by saying, “doctor-patient confidentiality goes both ways, it’ll be our little secret…”
Alan is sharing touching recollections with an unconscious Peter, who is stabilizing. He is recounting all the times they stood up for each other in defense from their alcoholic father. Sarah interrupts Alan’s discourse to tell him that the Rapid Response Test does not work.
Alan instructs Sarah to find Hatake and direct him to effect base wide retesting and reopen level R, so that the people can rejoin the effort in fighting the virus. He also sternly charges Sarah with finding and rectifying the flaw.
A series of rapid events now takes place including Peter’s demise – the virus has come back with a vengeance, the brief respite of calm has vanished, he goes into cardiac arrest, and has been left in a vegetative state.
Doreen reveals to Balleseros that the virus is man-made, and it is nothing that has ever been seen before – completely unknown. And as Sarah goes searching for Hatake, she becomes enamored with the view from his office, but as she turns to leave, practically collapses, losing her balance and overwhelmed by tremors.
Down below, Julia and Jaye have found a food cache, one of the MRE stores that Hatake had hidden around the base. While gorging themselves on spray cheese, because of its nutritional value of course, Jaye sees some writings on the wall… They move a box or two to reveal the initials “JLW”.
They are Julia’s initials, and that is not all, Julia shares that it was written the way she writes her initials, and the flowers on the wall with the initials are evening primrose; a flower that grows in Montana, a favorite from her childhood. Then Julia says that she is the one who wrote on the wall, that she has been there before.
With only just over two hours of oxygen left, we find Hatake and Daniel having traveled through a secret passage and down a “helix-ical” staircase to the control node for the CO? removal system and a confrontation with Dr. Marin and his collaborators.
After trading barbs and jaw jacking, Dr. Marin and his men feel like they have come to an agreeable conclusion and they return the control nodes to working order. Hatake and Daniel turn to leave, and as they turn, Hatake steals Daniels’s side arm, killing Dr. Marin and his two colleagues. It would seem that his sense of honor is skewed – pointing out to Daniel that he was protecting him, returning the favor.
However, in two of the most shocking parts of tonight’s episode, two players played another hand, and left us wondering why and wanting more. The biggest shocker of the night has to be the death of Doreen. Balleseros had planted the seed earlier in the episode about where to look in regard to the virus, where to double check and rule mechanisms out.
Upon Doreen’s big reveal to Balleseros, that the virus is completely unknown to man, that it was spliced of human and animal genetic, that perhaps there is some trait that “they” want “us” to manifest and that this disease is a way to force it in – Balleseros grabs a syringe from nearby and injects air bubble(s) into Doreen’s neck, killing her. And as if that wasn’t enough, he dumped a shelf full of hairless rats on her, letting them do to her what they want.
Lastly, we see Hatake wandering the dark halls of level R, in search of something, or someone. As he happens upon the vector of the day, the one with the broken arm from its altercation with Jaye and Julia, they stop briefly, seemingly stare at each other, and the vector simply lets Hatake pass, eerily like yielding to a commander in close quarters.
So many questions! The team had lost one member to the virus, two if you include peter, now they have lost a member permanently. They are also losing a member to a hidden health concern, but at the same time, Sarah HAS seemingly found a personal physician in Dr. Eigem, for as long as she is able to hold the virus at bay. What is Hatake looking for? Is it a who instead of a what? What are Balleseros and Daniel really up to? This episode was fast pace, as have they all been, and there is no time to catch your breath – do not miss a moment, or you will miss a lot!
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