Saturday, February 8, 2014

“I Must Have Good Genes”

When the Narvik-B virus is cultured in a laboratory, it rapidly jumps out of its Petri dish and shoots out multiple branches and stems, threatening to fill the room unless doused with something very cold, such as CO2.  Alan and Sarah, almost the only surviving members of the CDC team, discover this when they inadvertently repeat the experiments of their murdered comrade Doreen Boyle.  (In a previous episode, Dr. Boyle had been stabbed in the neck with a hypodermic by the treacherous Major Belleseros and fed to the laboratory rats.) 

This would be “Day 6” at the beleaguered Arctic Biosystems, nearly a week after the CDC team arrived to investigate an outbreak of Narvik-B, the bioengineered virus that is rampaging through the research base.  Alan and Sarah confirm Dr. Boyle’s findings:  the virus is merely a delivery system to introduce a new DNA sequence into its victims.  Just like the pathogen when it is exposed to a growing media in a Petri dish, the plot of SyFy’s new serial Helix, continues to morph, twist and branch out in mostly unpredictable directions.  It does so rapidly with almost a strobe-like effect.

Alan and Sarah figure out that the virus can at least be slowed down by dropping the body temperature of the victim.  Alan’s brother Peter has been comatose for the last three episodes, but has been showing signs of some neurological activity.  How can they lower his temperature and save his life?  Wait; was there not a cryogenics lab in the basement? In fact there is, not far from the notorious Level R, where all the infected were banished a couple episodes ago. 

(There are also several long dark hallways filled with zombies, a used nuclear reactor, and the evil Dr. Hatake’s secret laboratory.  Arctic Biosystems does not scrimp on its facilities).  With the help of Dr. Adrian, a relatively new character, Peter endures the cryogenics procedure, which chiefly involves immersion in a special fluid, a process that resembles drowning.

Meanwhile, Belleseros is dragged in from the snow and incarcerated by one tough village constable.  She chains him to a couch and repeatedly punches him when he gets mouthy or threatening.   The woman wants to know why children have been vanishing from her beloved arctic village all these years.  What’s going on at Arctic Biosystems?  One of these children was her twin brother, Miksa—whom we know as Daniel Aerov, Hatake’s right hand man.

Meanwhile, Dr. Hatake, who inexplicably stabbed himself an episode ago, has now miraculously healed.  “I must have good genes,” he says.  He lures Julia to his secret basement laboratory, where she undergoes a kind a metamorphosis under his ministrations.  In the creepiest scene of the episode, he sings a lullaby to her after injecting her with…well, something.

Meanwhile, in one of the shows quirkier scenes, Julia hallucinates a bizarre Norman Rockwell style gathering, (probably modeled on the artist’s iconic Freedom From Want).  She carves the Christmas turkey for a table full of the principle cast members—Alan, Peter, Sarah, Hatake, and Belleseros are there.  Regrettably, the turkey was apparently infected with Narvik-B before it was roasted.

Meanwhile, Alan and Sarah fall in love, and passionately discard any pretence of professional decorum…

Meanwhile, in the absence of any clandestine messages from Major Belleseros, helicopters from the Ilaria Corporation, the parent company, begin landing at Arctic Biosystems.  The coming attractions indicate the nourishing addition of still more characters to a complex ever branching plot that threatens to overgrow the story that once contained it.   

There is ongoing weirdness in this addictive show.  Several scenes in last night’s episode were united by a wildly incongruous selection of background music: Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite.  Even from the first show, when Bacharach’s Do You Know the Way to San Jose served as a kind of theme song, one had the sense that Helix is a bit playfully off kilter.  With the arrival of the Ilaria Corporation’s helicopters and a multiplying cast of characters, the show is looking less like a CGI video game and more like a James Bond movie.

More details about the series are at Helix | Syfy.  Helix is on SyFy Friday nights at 10:00.

Earlier posts about Helix:

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