Helix Sn2 Ep1 “San Jose”

SyFy’s contagion run amuck show “Helix” is back for another go at plague disaster. Last season the CDC team lead by Dr. Alan Farragut (Billy Campbell) was isolated in the Arctic, this time out the team is fractured and now lead by Dr. Peter Farragut (Neil Napier) they find themselves hunting a new pathogen AND isolated on a remote island. Also located on this island is a farming commune that has chosen to remove itself from civilization led by Brother Michael (Steven Webber) and overseen by Sister Anne (Severn Thompson).


While tracking the vicious Narvik strains from the previous season the CDC team of Dr. Peter Farragut, Dr. Sarah Jordan (Jordan Hayes), and newcomer Kyle Somer (Matt Long) stumble on a ship of death destroyed by a fast moving virulent plague that they picked up at a local island. The sole survivor is quickly dispatched in a gruesome murder which paints the island in a further dismal light.


Operating in a separate timeline Julia (Kyra Zagorsky), dramatically altered by the events of the previous season, seems to be searching for the same thing as the CDC team. Missing from the episode is Dr. Alan Farragut, and tons of information about what has happened between the two seasons. We are given tidbits to mull over, something about a bombing, enhanced healing, and the Coast Guard mission. I would like to say that as the episodes go on we can expect answers, but my greatest criticism about “Helix” is that at times the show writers are so focused on delivering shocks and surprises that the writing crumbles under the weight of it all.


The finale of Season One of “Helix” was unfulfilling. It was too focused on setting up the shock and awe of the beginning of the second season than dealing with the end of the first. There were too many questions left unanswered, and in all the chaos so much information was lost. I did truly enjoy the show and these flaws haven’t prevented me from looking forward to the second season, yet I hope they rectify them this time around.


I am not going to condemn vagueness for the first episode, it is deliberate and an attempt to draw us in with a sense of mystery. I must congratulate “Helix” for being much more coherent this time around though than it was the first time. Instead of trying to remain completely unhinged it presented a rather stable storyline that I was able to follow. I liked the way they jumped from the two timelines the first time, it was both inventive and creepy. That said, the present day storyline is the more interesting of the two so far, but it is only the first time out.


What I like about “Helix” is the way it balances far out science-fiction intrigue with fantastic plague mechanics. How these CDC doctors engage in an environment with an intention to stop an epidemic on the scale of ebola and end up with a rage zombie infection like in “28 Days Later.” It is the equilibrium of the medical and grotesque horror with the character drama that helps “Helix” shine best. When the writing keeps this momentum going the show is at its finest. I hope this season of “Helix” maintains more of these highs and less of the lows, this episode is off to a good start some elements, like Leila’s lifespan were highly predictable, others, like a last minute revelation were not. The shift of the setting to an isolated island felt organic and not forced so that is already great. The convent is genuinely creepy and should provide ample setting for horror.

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