Helix: Science Fiction Zombies, Or More?

Play God, Pay The Price

Play God, Pay The Price

WARNING: This review will mentions spoilers of the first three episodes of Helix: 1. Pilot 2. Vector 3. 274

Ronald D. Moore secured his place in science fiction television royalty with the reboot of Battlestar Galactica.  Prior to BSG, he also has writing/producing credits on other series such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Roswell, and Carnivale.  Being a science-fiction fan, and with a track record as strong as that, it’s tough not to give anything with Moore’s name attached to it a chance.

This past Friday, Syfy premiered his new series called Helix, airing the first two episodes with limited commercial interruption, then also putting episode three online on syfy.com for early viewing before next week.

The series begins flashing the text “2 Days Ago” on the screen, where we are shown the after-math of some sort of violent infectious outbreak at a lab someone in the Antarctic.  A man is convulsing on the floor, coughing up some sort of black ooze.  Two people in complete bio-hazard suits approach him to assess the situation.

Back in the United States Dr. Alan Farragut (Billy Campbell), a lead scientist at the CDC is made aware of a potential viral outbreak in the Antarctic, with two victims already, and a third who is infected, but still alive.  When the distress call is made, they specifically ask for Dr. Julia Walker (Kyra Zagorsky), who happens to be Farragut’s ex-wife.  When Farragut questions why he in particular has to make this trek to the Arctic, Walker tells him his brother, Peter (Neil Napier) is the third infected person.  His tone changes immediately.  The rest of the team of CDC scientists joining him on this mission include Dr. Sarah Jordan (Jordan Hayes), an attractive girl in her mid-20’s (who adds sexual tension with the ex-wife), and Dr. Doreen Boyle (Catherine Lemieux).  Escorting them to the Arctic is Major Sergio Balleseros (Mark Ghanimé) with the US Army, who received the distress call from the lab.  After this setup, episodes one and two each play out a single day after the distress call was made.

When we arrive at the research facility in the Arctic (which is so far away to be completely out of any country’s jurisdiction) we are greeted by the head of research, Dr. Hiroshi Hatake (Hiroyuki Sanada), who immediately briefs the team and takes them to Peter, who has been isolated.  He is strapped to a bed, and while he looks very ill from this virus, he appears coherent.

Once we’re at the facility, things start playing to Moore’s strong point, which is isolation.  Whether it’s in the middle of space on The Galactica, or in the middle of the Arctic in an underground research facility, Moore likes to explore the way people start reacting to situations when they have nowhere to go.  The employees of the facility are paranoid that the CDC is investigating them.  The CDC team is paranoid that Dr. Hatake and his head of security, Daniel Aerov (Meegwun Fairbrother) are covering up the truth of the research being done, and EVERYONE is paranoid about the virus, what caused it, and how it spreads.

A nice touch to make an already isolated situation even tighter is when Peter somehow manages to escape from the bed he is strapped to, and ends up crawling around in the ventilation ducts.  Alan goes in after him, and we’re treated to scene reminiscent of the movie Alien, where he’s crawling around in the tightest of tight quarters looking for his brother, or a clue.

The second half of the premiere (day 2) is spent isolating others that are showing signs of being infected, trying to find out how the virus spreads, and starting to search for a cure/vaccination.  Hatake and Aerov claim they do absolutely no testing on monkeys, but a persistent Dr. Boyle makes her way into a restricted area (even though they’re supposed to have complete access), and finds a lone monkey running around in a room filled with cages that clearly all used to have more monkeys.

Back in Peter’s old lab, Walker and Hatake  find his research, having to do with bio-mutations of some sort.   They also find drug samples he was using called Narvik-A and Narvick-B, which immediately are used to setup tests on rats.  All of the rats injected with A die.  All of the rats injected with B survive, get stronger, and drastically violent.  After watching a rat break through a glass cage wall to the cage next to his, the dominant rat pins the other rat down and starts to secrete black ooze from it’s mouth into the other rat’s.

Hatake and Walker part ways after this discovery.  Hatake goes back to his private quarters, and we see him remove contact lenses to reveal that without them, his eyes glow blue.  Walker goes to take a shower, and Peter shows up there.  He’s in bad shape from the virus, but seems to know who Walker is.  He corners her, and does the same thing the rat did, secreting black ooze from his mouth into Walker’s.

Day 3/episode 3 is all about trying to find a quick test to determine who is infected (but not showing signs yet), and who is safe.  Walker and Jordan work together on this test, and eventually come up with a swab test they believe is accurate.  They start moving infected people to another level of the facility to try and prevent the virus from spreading anymore, and face challenges of people freaking out in doing so.

So far, Helix feels like a zombie show, with the only difference being that the infected seem to keep their intelligence as well as increase their strength.  The isolation of being in an Arctic research facility adds a nice spin on it, since no one can really go anywhere.  That being said, I truly wonder how far they can take this concept since isolation = containment.  It feels like it would make a good movie, mini-series, or even a single-season show.  I’ll continue to watch to see if they add some more interesting spins, but at this point I’m kind of cautious about this series.

One Response to “Helix: Science Fiction Zombies, Or More?”
  1. NeuroMan42 says:

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