Saturday, March 15, 2014

“Why Me?”

The herd of minor characters that once inhabited Arctic Biosystems was virtually wiped out in last night’s episode of Helix on Syfy.  Per the late Constance Sutton, the herd has been significantly trimmed.  The hapless scientists discovered—too late for about a dozen or so of them—that the Narvik-B infected zombies have evolved into intelligent, coordinated attackers.  One scene is clearly intended to top last week’s awesomely disgusting coffee klatsch, in which the zombies regurgitated black slime into coffee mugs—including Dr. Hatake’s “Keep Calm and Carry On” mug.  They gave this freshly brewed ‘Narvik Roast’ to Peter to sip in order to revive him, or rather unrevive him.  Peter then became the king zombie, and began organizing attacks.

Last night’s episode opened with a laboratory rat spinning helplessly inside a microwave.  The stove had been placed on the floor in the middle of a hallway, as bait it turns out.  One of the starving scientists—food has been very scarce for many episodes now—is enticed by the prospect of getting a bit more protein into her diet.  Just as she clutches at the microwave she is captured by zombies, (they prefer to be called vectors) and dragged off to their laboratory.  The abandoned rodent explodes inside the microwave, probably serving as an inspiration to a number of 12 year old boys who enjoy bothering animals.

The zombies infect the captured scientist with the Narvik-B virus, strap her to a table, and then exsanguinate her of her now black bodily fluids, which they collect as a biological weapon.  Under Peter’s direction, this is dumped into the pipes that supply water to the overhead fire prevention sprinkler system.  At least Arctic Biosystems meets safety codes!  The remaining scientists, gathered in a room they believed to be secure from attack, are now baptized with the black blood of their slain colleague, and become zombie/vectors themselves.

Not to worry.  Alan, Julia, Dr. Hatake and Sarah have come up with a cure.  It involves spraying the victims with cryogenic fluid to freeze them, and then stabbing them in the stomach with a hypodermic filled with some kind of serum.  The cure provokes agonizing seizures and considerable regurgitation, but appears to work.  Peter is one of the staff rescued from the clutches of Narvik-B.  It is about time.  A few of the zombies decline medical treatment and escape into the air ducts.

Yet timing is everything.  100 storm troopers from the evil Ilaria Corporation parachute down to retake their property and secure the Narvik virus for their own nefarious use—most likely mass genocide and world domination.  They are lead by “the Scythe”, who is carrying behind his back—you guessed it—a couple of sharp curved sickles with which he is likely to do much reaping.  The mask, black uniform and sickles create menace for what later turns out to be a silver eyed teenaged punk—a far cry from the notorious Constance Sutton.  The minor scientist characters allow the Scythe on to the elevator they are taking down to the bunker beneath the base, thinking he is their rescuer.  He isn’t.  Regrettably their acting contracts have run out and very soon so will most of their blood.

Chased and eaten by zombies, shot at by corporate goons, infected with a bioengineered virus, frozen with cryogenic fluid, stabbed with hypodermics, throats slit—the last 10 days have been difficult for the staff of Arctic Biosystems.

The Scythe and his two henchwomen step off the elevator, leaving a pile of bodies behind them—they want Hatake and the Narvik-B virus, and otherwise plan to harvest whoever is still standing.  This includes Alan, Julia, Sarah, Peter, Miksa, and Dr. Hatake.  But wait, where are Anana and Bellesaros?  In the last episode they were in the nearby Inuit village, urging the natives to disperse into the wilderness to avoid destruction by the Ilarians.   They were completely absent from last night’s episode.

It may be that instead of the cowboys it may be the Indians—or rather the Inuits—who come over the hill and save the day.  Last night the level of violence and gore was so over the top that the show began to resemble a cartoon.  The habit of pairing gruesome scenes with mid 20th Century lounge lizard music keeps the tone of the show quirky and off kilter.  Only a few episodes remain in the first season of this fascinating soap opera, so it will be interesting to see which parts of the plot get resolved, and which do not.

See Helix | Syfy.  Helix is on SyFy Friday nights at 10:00.

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