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TV REVIEW: Helix “Level X” Best Episode of the Season?

By on March 1, 2014
Helix - Season 1

By Clinton Bell

I admired the focus of Helix’s ninth episode. At nearly every turn, “Level X” resists the urge to delve into frozen head-esque insanity, and instead clears up many of the lingering questions we’ve had for a long time.

The biggest reveal is that Julia never actually lived in Montana, and instead grew up on the base with her father Dr. Hatake and her mother Jane. This raises some new questions, such as why doesn’t Julia remember anything from her childhood, and what exactly were Hatake and Jane doing to Julia? My best guess is that they were using her as a test subject for something they were working on. We already know that there were a lot of kids on the base—including a young Daniel—so perhaps those kids were used for the same purpose.

Last week we learned that Julia was Hatake’s daughter, but I thought that she might have been adopted; this week it’s confirmed that Julia is, indeed, Hatake’s biological daughter, and that he has the same weird eye thing that she has. Regardless of where this goes, I enjoyed Hatake and Julia’s scenes together. I think it was a mistake to have Sutton blurt out that bit about Julia being Hatake’s daughter last week, because it didn’t have any sort of emotional pull—it was a flat reveal. The writers somewhat rectified that mistake this week, but it lacked the element of surprise.

Alan and the others also learned about Sarah’s tumor this week. I didn’t care for that scene where Sarah is ranting to Hatake and then starts having a seizure, but I’m glad that we’re finally getting some movement on this particular story element. Although, I can’t say I’m terribly interested in its outcome. I don’t like Sarah, and I don’t dislike her—I’m indifferent, and indifference is sometimes worse than outright like or dislike. And from what I gather, most viewers don’t care for her either. That doesn’t mean all hope is lost for Sarah and her story. If the writers can right the ship a little bit, find a way to make Sarah’s struggles relatable, then there’s still time for this story aspect to land on the right foot. Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see.

The B-story of “Level X” belongs to Balleseros and the rest. Balleseros, who has flirted with being a good guy the last few weeks, becomes a more full-fledged good guy this week and returns to Anana’s home to protect them from Illaria. Still, the show has a long way to go if it wants to turn Balleseros into someone we genuinely like. It’s not impossible, because we’ve seen flashes of his good side in the past. Even seconds before Balleseros committed his most heinous act—killing Doreen—I think you can tell that he didn’t really want to do it. He also doesn’t seem to have delusions about himself and knows he’s a bad person, as evidenced when he told Anana that he is a murderer. But Balleseros still killed Doreen and probably did countless terrible things that we don’t know about, so I can’t imagine many viewers will be able to treat him as one of the good guys any time soon.

The ending montage includes an intriguing shot of Dr. Adrian packing the stolen Narvik virus canister into his bag. I suspect some of you will take issue with how easily he was able to steal it, but I buy it because Dr. Adrian knows his way around the place and because the base is already in utter disarray. I assume he’ll take it to Illaria, and perhaps we’ll soon meet the army that Hatake referred to.

Overall, “Level X” is a success because it is fast-paced and addresses some major questions in a mostly satisfactory manner.

Additional notes:

  •  The other Vectors seem to look to Peter as some sort of leader. They also appear to communicate with each other in some way. They don’t speak, so perhaps they communicate telepathically?
  • The episode ends with the Gary Jules version of “Mad World.” Yeah, I know it’s been overused, but it sure is a great song.
  • I like that Hatake is kinda/sorta one of the good guys now. He can be sinister and creepy, but he is also vulnerable and tormented.
  • Last week’s episode was the show’s highest rated episode since the premiere. Still no word on a renewal, but it’s an encouraging sign for those of you who would like another season.