Saturday, February 1, 2014

“We Are All in the White Room”

It’s day 5 at Arctic Biosystems, and the bodies continue to pile up.  Narvik-B, the bioengineered virus that is infecting the staff of the secret research facility, is really not the biggest problem.  Agents from shadowy military and corporate interests are running amok, killing anyone who gets close to figuring out what has been going on in the laboratory.  Sometimes these interests compete, which makes things even more complicated.   

For example, Belleseros, the suspicious army engineer, is apparently murdered out in the snow by Dr. Hatake’s right hand man, Daniel Aerov.  But this had to happen, because Belleseros revealed himself in the last episode to be the most irredeemable bad guy in the show.  He killed my favorite character, the veterinarian Doreen Boyle, by stabbing a hypodermic needle in her neck and then feeding her to the laboratory rats.  So there was some satisfaction in seeing him dispatched.

Belleseros was looking for the mysterious Dr. Hvit, per the orders of his secret military commanders.  His evacuation from the base was made contingent on Belleseros retrieving this important individual.  A cyptic clue is offered:  “He is in the white room.”  Shortly before his just demise, Belleseros locates Dr. Hvit—at least the most recognizable part of him—in a scene that fans of Matt Groening’s Futurama will appreciate.

A challenge for viewers of Syfy’s Helix, especially at the beginning, is the numerous characters and subplots.  Thankfully, through murder, mayhem and the depredations of Narvik-B, the cast has been trimmed down a bit, sparing the better actors and more complex characters.  It is getting easier to keep track of who is up to what.  A pattern is emerging: expect someone to die horribly anytime there is a major revelation about what Arctic Biosystems has been up to.

As the episode drew to a close last night, Dr. Hatake, recovering from a self-inflicted knife wound—I’m not even going to ask why at this point—is being helped by Julia and her friend ‘J.J.’ as they navigate the zombie infested basement of the facility.  At one point, Hatake remarks that Julia reminds him of his daughter, lost in a house fire many years ago.  Hmmm—is that why he has an album of stalker photos of Julia in his office?  Like Sarah Jordon, the earnest CDC intern upstairs, it is revealed that Hatake also has unusual scarring on his back.  One of the entertaining aspects of the show are intriguing details that link characters who otherwise have no obvious relationship with each other.

In a provocative but sensitively handled scene, Sarah euthanizes the suffering doctor she is caring for in her quarters.  However, in an earlier scene, she comforts her stricken colleague with preposterous advice:  stave off extreme pain by visualizing chocolate desserts!  Between threats on his life, Dr. Farragut sits by his brother Peter, who has been comatose for over an episode now—the scanners indicate a sudden uptick in neurological activity in his brain.

A relatively new character to watch is the kindly and philosophical Dr. Duchamp.  He has been assisting Farragut with the care of his brother Peter and the search for an antidote for Narvik-B.  Dr. Duchamp gets to offer the most profound insight into their terrible predicament:  “We are all in the White Room.”  We are led to understand near the end that this room is not inside the base.

If you are new to the show, check out the ‘study guide’ at Helix | Syfy.  Helix is on SyFy Friday nights at 10:00.

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