Helix “Single Strand” Review: Strange Decisions With Sara’s Story?
By Clinton Bell
“Single Strand” is the shakiest instalment of Helix thus far, yet not much worse than any of the previous episodes.
This episode makes some strange decisions with Sarah’s story. It’s revealed that she has a tumor—we never learn where in her body it’s located or how long she’s known about it—and that she is choosing to hide it from everyone she works with. It’s not clear why, exactly, Sarah is so scared of someone on her team finding out about it. There’s been no indication that the tumor is linked to the virus in any way, so I am led to believe that it’s just an ordinary tumor. It gets sillier when an infected woman learns about Sarah’s secret, and agrees not to tell anyone as along as Sarah doesn’t tell anyone about the woman’s infection. It’s a story element that I can’t buy without knowing why Sarah is worried about the tumor enough put everyone else in jeopardy. And I’m also not sure what Sarah means to accomplish with the morphine (she doesn’t appear to be in much pain), as she’ll have a lot of questions to answer if someone finds her drugged up in that room.
The episode also struggles with its antagonists. I didn’t care for Dr. Hatake killing those guys on Level R. It was unnecessary because Hatake already got what he wanted. It’s a moment that only exists for shock value and to remind the audience of how sinister Hatake can be.
Hatake’s relationship with Major Balleseros is still an enigma. We learn that Balleseros blew up the satellite without Hatake’s permission, so that the rest of the world can’t find out about the mess Hatake has made. Later in the episode, Balleseros helps Doreen learn more about the virus, and then he attempts (and possibly succeeds) to kill her. I’m not clear on why Balleseros would do that, and I suspect we’re not supposed to know why right now. It sure didn’t seem like he enjoyed his task very much.
The material involving Julia is better this week than it has been in the past. Julia meets a woman named Jay who has been traversing Level R wearing a protective mask and suit. I have a wacky, tin foil hat theory about this segment: I think Julia is hallucinating the entire thing. Jay appears out of nowhere (and even appears to vanish at one point), and we already know that the virus causes hallucinations. There’s also a scene where Julia finds her initials on the wall in her own handwriting. She doesn’t remember writing it. Something weird is going on with Julia—who is also of great interest to Hatake for some reason—and I now find myself more interested in her story than I have been before.
The soapy love triangle between Peter, Alan, and Julia also made improvements this week. Though I still don’t care for it much, the good performances by Billy Campbell and Neil Napier helped to make me care a little bit more and realize how it has affected these characters. On a more intriguing level, Peter mentions that he sees their father around every corner. It was stated in the pilot that Peter and Alan had an aggressive, drunk of a father; I never thought we’d hear anything about him again, but it appears to be building into something.
Like in previous weeks, “Single Strand” ends well, at a dramatic high point. I’m not so sure why Balleseros did that to Doreen, but it still made for a striking ending. Despite its problems, Helix is still a very entertaining show, with strong atmosphere and suspense.
- The characterization for Sarah has been confusing, but I am starting to really like how Jordan Hayes plays the character.
- I’m hopeful that next week we will learn why Julia is so important and how Hatake can walk past a Vector like it’s no big deal.