Shayla Heavner

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Syfy's Helix

Pilot (Helix Episode 101)

Syfy has had a shaky record when it comes to original shows, producing hits or misses but nothing in between, and Helix was no different with its gripping premiere Friday, January 10th. The audience received a double dose with the "Pilot" as well as the second episode "Vector", but what was really surprising was the third episode was also made available OnDemand or at immediately after the premiere. Initially I was going to release my thoughts right away, but since my theories and predictions include the episode "274" I decided to hold off until everyone was caught up. Although I hate writing recaps, as most readers have already watched, and typing out what happened is normally tedious and monotonous, Helix threw so many clues and important facts at viewers I needed to review all the action to get a good look at everything that’s going on. Let me add a bit of background; I approach my recaps as a logical proof that acts as a basis for the conclusions I make in my theories. Therefore, even if you watched the episodes you might want to scan through the recaps first as I caught every line and use them in order to present the best case possible at the end. Without further ado, let’s check out the first three episodes of Helix and then get into the fun part, where the clues lead and what I think will be happening next!

We begin at a research base called Arctic Biosystems which lies above the 83rd parallel making it international space. While this may seem unimportant, this little detail means that the lab is not connected to any country thus no pesky rules or oversight allowing them to experiment freely with dangerous viruses and other concoctions that would never be permitted elsewhere. We see the beginning of an outbreak, a man who would later be identified as Dr. Peter Farragut is apparently running away from two men in hazmat gear. While I missed this initially as I believed him to be already infected, after closely watching, I realized that he wasn’t actually attacked until inside the room where he sought sanctuary. When the two men arrived at the disheveled room, filled with empty cages and broken glass, they found two men already dead from a substance that caused their veins to turn jet black and Dr. Farragut suffering on the floor. The Director of Research of Arctic Biosystems, Dr. Hatake, alongside his adopted son and head of security, Daniel Aerov, don’t appear to be interested in coming to Peter’s aid but rather insist on giving him water. Clearly agitated refusing the liquid Dr. Peter Farragut begins to choke and has a strange reaction in which his trachea begins to grow and pulsate. Obviously pleased Dr. Hatake claims that this is progress, a clue that he has unleashed this outbreak on purpose and thus begins the saga that is Helix.

The focus shifts to CDC headquarters in Atlanta where we are introduced to senior scientist Dr. Alan Farragut (who sci-fi enthusiasts may recognize as Jason Collier from The 4400) and his mentee Dr. Sarah Jordan. It is clear that there is more than a strictly professional relationship between the two when conveniently Alan’s ex-wife and also senior scientist, Dr. Julia “Jules” Walker, enters the scene. They convene in a meeting room where we are introduced to the rest of the major characters that comprise a CDC rapid response team about to be sent on a mission they consider normal but would be much different than anything they could imagine: Major Sergio Balleseros, army liaison with hidden agendas as well as alliances along with Dr. Doreen Boyle veterinary pathologist who doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind. While Alan is hesitant to go with the team at first, once he finds out that the third infected patient, and the only one still among the living, is his brother Dr. Peter Farragut, he has more than enough motivation to head out to the arctic circle, uncover the nature of the infection and find a cure. An insanely important clue is the fact that Dr. Julia Walker was requested for this mission, while I’ll go into some theories in a bit, it is clear that she is invaluable to this mission. Traveling via helicopter, it is the brutally honest Doreen who fills in newbie Sarah that the same Peter they are on their way to save was the cause of Alan and Jules’s divorce as they were caught in bed together. Hence, there is clearly some new love (Sarah) and old love (Jules and Peter) triangles around Alan that may cause some tension in the future. Apart from the distance created between the brothers by Jules, their relationship has some complex roots from a childhood with an abusive father. However, the bond they shared as children will come in handy in the days to follow. Back to the overall storyline, the CDC rapid response team travels to the arctic where there is nothing but snow with no way to escape as their helicopter abandons them as it’s unable to stay in the below-zero temperature. Reassured a ride home is only a phone call away, the team meets the deceptive Hatake who gives them unrestricted access to the enormous underground lab (similar to Resident Evil’s Hive) and are issued sub-dermal RFID chips in their palms which enables them to enter the various rooms and corridors with a swipe of the hand.

Alan immediately starts barking orders giving them their assignments and they go straight to work, using the divide and conquer method to gain as much information as they can. Alan and Jules head to Peter’s side to not only check on their loved one but gather samples that can give them valuable information about what’s going on in this remote lab. Alan attempts to talk with his brother but he doesn’t get much from the disoriented patient. When he asks if Peter knows what happened to him he gives a cryptic answer claiming it was the “white room”, aside from that Alan was unable to gain any other information. While taking blood from Peter, Jules realizes it is not the rosy-red hue of normal freshly-extracted blood but rather jet black. Suddenly, Peter breaks free of his restraints, grabs the needle filled with his effected blood and attempts to stab it into his brother Alan. Luckily, Jules is able to subdue him with a tranquilizer in time and they quickly rush out of the isolation room to safety.

Meanwhile, Doreen begins to study the animals in search for the source of the infection while Major Balleseros gathers swabs from the surfaces and plumbing in Peter’s lab. As Doreen is always blatantly suspicious of others, possibly to the point of paranoia, her instincts are spot-on in this case with multiple sources of ulterior motives and deception. She questions the security guard regarding the location of the monkeys being tested on and he denies the existence of this particular brand of primate on the premises. After he leaves the room, Doreen explores her instinct and locates monkey hair in one of the drains. Major Balleseros doesn’t seem to share her outrage in the discovery and Doreen explains that it wasn’t the fact that there were monkeys but rather that they lied about it. She is also able to prove that the virus isn’t airborne thus there is no longer a need for the bulky hazmat suits.

Alan, Sarah and Jules move to investigate the two men who died from the virus in order to determine the extent of the illness. However, upon opening the first body bag a thick black ooze pours out onto the floor. The scene causes Sarah to vomit, which I find humorous as she is still in full-hazmat gear thus trapped with her expel in the completely closed off outfit. Unable to autopsy the victims, they move onto new tasks to attempt to figure out exactly what is going on.

Jules heads to speak with Hatake and collect Peter’s notes regarding his research. He complies with her request by overloading her with over twenty boxes, and claims he has even more. Jules knows that it will take her weeks to review all the material so she questions Hatake for more information. He claims to have no knowledge of what Peter was working on other than that he believed it to be in relation to mutagens, however Hatake seems more interested in getting to know Jules as he almost marvels at her while asking personal questions. Clearly he is hiding something and his attention to Jules is likely related.

Alan takes this time to investigate Peter’s room but it is not clear if it is for medical reasons or personal ones as he takes comfort in a picture of the two as boys. Moving to the computer he locates a video diary which I find highly suspicious. Peter speaks of getting UV treatment earlier in the week as well as a relationship with someone he refers to as “T”. He goes on to say that relationships aren’t good for him, not because he isn’t good at them, but rather that they aren’t good for him. Next he says that he is “excited about being up here” while making a hand motion by using two fingers and taping his shoulder. Alan takes a special interest in this part of the video, as Sarah enters the room he explains that this was a secret sign they used when they were children and their father came home drunk and angry. When Sarah asks about its meaning Alan replies it was their code for “run like hell”. I will go into my theories regarding this cryptic video later in this post.

Jules enters the room and beckons Alan to the isolation room immediately. When they arrive, an alarm is going off overhead with a computerized voice repeating “contamination” and they realize that Peter has escaped the confines of the isolation room by using a bone saw to cut through the ceiling and enter the ventilation shaft. While Hatake scolds Alan for leaving the bone saw in Peter’s room during the confusion of the earlier attack, they all agree that what’s most important is finding and subduing Peter. Alan wonders how Peter was earlier at death’s door, yet now he has the strength and agility to execute this incredible escape. He explains it is vital for them to capture Peter alive as he may contain important antibodies that enable him to fend off the virus that could be used to create a cure or rather a vaccination and an antiviral. However, with Peter roaming around the vents Hatake’s only concern is the safety of the base thus the head of security, obsessively loyal to Hatake as he rescued him from an orphanage, Daniel Aerov takes charge. He devises a plan in which he cuts off the ventilation to that floor so Peter is unable to escape, in addition he deactivates Peter’s RFID chip rendering him unable to gain access to any of the doors or the elevator, and lastly he fills the ducts with halothane gas in order to knock him out. After Daniel feels secure that he has rendered Peter incapacitated, accompanied by Alan and a security team, they climb into the miniscule space in search of the infected patient. It doesn’t take long for them to realize the gas was not effective as they are unable to locate Peter and we see him slithering behind them undetected. Alan finds black mucus indicating Peter is close by and continues the search for his brother but finds something much more disturbing instead. One member of the security team has been stripped of his clothing with his hand sawed off. Other than that, there is no trace of Peter. While the group questions why Peter would do this, it seemed fairly obvious to me which may be a tell as to how slowly the characters will figure out the mysteries yet to come. While this is a captivating storyline let’s check back on Doreen and Major Balleseros and what has been unfolding with them during this time.

Doreen refuses to let the monkey mystery go and wants to get to the bottom of whatever they’re hiding at Arctic Biosystems. Major Balleseros tags along and the two wander the dark hallways of the facility. They approach the room we saw Peter seek sanctuary in the first moments in the show and attempt to gain entrance using the RFID chips in their hands. When the door rejects their tries, Doreen realizes that the “unrestricted” access was just one more lie to add to the growing list. Major Balleseros uses his military knowledge and applies liquid nitrogen he finds nearby to shatter the scanner then jerry-rigs the wires beneath to manually unlock the door. Inside they find a scene of chaos, including a cage that was kicked out from the inside and they can’t help but wonder what happened there to cause such disarray. They also encounter a stray monkey who is still alive, which they attempt to coax over to them. Doreen is able to corner it in a cage but when she reaches for it the primate attacks and clenches onto her neck. Major Balleseros is able to subdue it by knocking the monkey in the head with a crowbar, but Doreen doesn’t find comfort in this. She is more concerned with the idea that she has been infected and asks Balleseros to check for cuts or any breaks in the skin before she calms down with relief. They look at the monkey unconscious on the floor with his trachea pulsating just as Peter’s did after Hatake forced water down his throat.

Jules and Sarah have begun the lab work on Peter’s blood searching for every known viral structure of this century and Sarah even suggests they widen the parameters to include structures not seen in millions of years. Jules zooms in and discovers something startling, a worm-like creature smaller than any virus known to man. Knowing that this is an important fact to uncovering what they’re up against she runs off to get Alan.

Major Balleseros has returned to his room and begins stabbing into his gear and removing small pieces that fit together to construct a mini satellite dish. He leaves the base and walks into the snowy horizon, sets the dish atop the snow and using his phone sends out a message that appears to be “NYK”. I have no idea what this code means nor who he is sending it to but his actions make it obvious that he has ulterior motives as well. While returning to the base Balleseros comes across what only can be described as a frozen monkey graveyard. They appear to have been alive when they exited the base, infected and running away when the below zero temperature seized their lives as they are upright and spread out in the snow with terrifying looks across their face.

He reenters the base where he joins Hatake in a room watching Jules and Sarah informing Alan about their findings in Peter’s blood like a cop watching an interrogation room from behind two-way glass. Hatake questions Balleseros about his walk in the snow, obviously aware that he is secretly contacting the outside world. He goes on to inform Balleseros that the “delivery will be on schedule” confirming the two are colluding together however when Hatake adds that he had nothing to do with the CDC coming it makes it clear that they have different motives. Balleseros replies that the people they work for aren’t happy and adds in a demeaning tone that he now must clean up Hatake’s mess. My best guess is that Hatake has been supplying the military with some kind of bio-weaponry but when the opportunity presented itself to unleash his newest concoction Hatake seized the chance to let the virus loose and made the distress call for Dr. Julia Walker thus giving the CDC jurisdiction under the guise of an accident. As we can hear Jules, Alan and Sarah through the glass we pass through to the alternate side where we learn more about their discovery. In a small fraction of Peter’s cells the worm-like structures are invading and as Jules puts it “changing him” to which Alan replies “into what?”.

The final scene mirrors the first moments of the show with the jovial tune that almost sounds like elevator music playing as Peter calmly walks the halls of Arctic Biosystems. He passes many doorways before stopping affront one. Using the RFID chip still inside the sawed-off hand of the security guard Peter opens the door to the sunroom and enters. What happens next is beyond the audience’s view, but we hear screaming and black mucus sprays like blood spatter against the closed door.

This post was written by and published on January 14, 2014 at 6:10 PM MST.


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