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TV REVIEW: Helix Gets More Strange With “Survivor Zero”

By on February 17, 2014

Jeri Ryan as Constance Sutton. (Photo by: Philippe Bosse/Syfy)

By Clinton Bell

Friday’s Helix episode “Survivor Zero” introduces us to Constance Sutton, the mysterious woman who employs both Dr. Hatake and Major Balleseros. She works for the Illaria Corporation and has tasked Hatake to create a virus and a cure for the virus. Illaria’s grand plan is still muddled at this time, but Hatake seems to suggest that the Illaria wants to purposely infect parts of the population so that they can profit from the cure. Hatake seems opposed to Illaria’s plan, which raises many questions about Hatake’s participation in the project. He may have a good reason for doing what he’s doing, and this episode helps us to sympathize with him a bit more. Still, it’s hard to care much about Hatake after his murderous outburst on Level R a few episodes back. We’re still not sure why he’s so interested in Julia, but it’s clear that he cares about her.

Julia continues to be the show’s most enigmatic character. “Survivor Zero” seems to suggest that Julia has been cured of the virus, but has mutated into something new—something with strange powers, as demonstrated in the scene where a Vector attacks her. Whatever it is, Constance is apparently afflicted with the same thing, yet she doesn’t appear to be in pain or have vision problems like Julia does.

Another recent addition to the cast, Anana, makes a startling discovery at the base, when she runs into Daniel and claims that he’s her long lost brother. She has pictures of Daniel’s alleged twin, and Daniel seems to buy into the possibility. I’m still not on board with the character, but Anana is better utilized this week than she was in those boring scenes with Balleseros last week.

In regards to Balleseros, I don’t think he’s vital to the story anymore and will probably be killed off before the end of the season. He isn’t given anything to do in “Survivor Zero” and has served his purpose. Now that Constance, a much more formidable and important villain, has entered the conflict, I don’t expect we’ll be seeing much of Balleseros going forward.

Oddly, Alan is treated like a supporting character in this episode. I like Alan, even though he is a fairly dull character. I think it’s Billy Campbell’s performance that keeps me rooting for the guy. When Constance and her people show up at the base, Alan and Sarah are smart enough to realize that these people can’t be trusted. I admire Alan’s resilience, but I still haven’t managed to form a strong emotional connection with him. As has been the case all season long, Alan is often pushed to the sidelines to make way for the villains. Alan was at his most aggressive following the death of Doreen, and I’d like to see that side of him again.

The ending shows Vectors falling through the ceiling, ready to pounce, which suggests that next week’s episode will be another “run away from the infected” episode. It’s not the most tantalizing ending the show has done, but I’m hoping that Constance’s presence will yield some interesting results.

We’re still six episodes from the finish line, and there are a lot of lingering questions, but hopefully most of them will be answered by season’s end. Syfy has yet to say whether the show will be renewed for a second season. The ratings haven’t been huge, but they have been steady. Syfy has a history of abruptly canceling their shows—they canned Alphas last year, and that show generally drew more viewers than Helix—so I wouldn’t be shocked if Syfy decided to axe Helix and use the budget to fund the next three Sharknadoes.

Despite my issues with Helix, it’s a show that I enjoy watching, mainly to see what sort of crazy direction the story will take next. I’d much rather Syfy renew Helix than launch goofy new reality shows and movies. There’s no reason Syfy can’t have a megahit like The Walking Dead on their network. Helix will never be a megahit, but its renewal would at least suggest that Syfy is still committed to original dramatic programming.

Additional notes:

– Sarah had little screen time this week, but I’m fine with that. I’m glad the writers didn’t try to force her into another silly subplot.

– There’s a bizarre scene where Constance files her teeth down. I’m not sure if that’s because of her mutation(?) or because she’s just a psycho.

– The thing about the abducted children is kind of interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads.

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