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TV REVIEW: Helix Season Finale “Dans L’ombre”

By on March 31, 2014
Photo by: Philippe Bosse / Syfy

Photo by: Philippe Bosse / Syfy

By Clinton Bell

There’s a point where “Dans L’ombre” enters “so-bad-it’s-good” territory and never looks back. For the first 25 minutes or so, it’s pretty much a regular episode of Helix, with the same issues it’s had all season long.  Then, when we reach the climax, the episode goes absolutely bug nuts. The Scythe blows up the entire base (though, amazingly enough, it doesn’t seem like any characters of significance died) and then grabs Julia and kills her mother. The Scythe gets into the helicopter with Julia, and then Alan—in a stroke of genius—pulls Sutton’s severed head from his bag and tosses it into the helicopter to distract The Scythe. Yes, really. Why was Alan carrying Sutton’s head in a bag? I have no idea, but it is the campiest moment of the season. It’s a terribly directed sequence—with cheesy “sad” music and slow motion to boot—that comes off as self-parody. Whatever show Helix was when it premiered, well, it’s not that show anymore. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

If you were hoping the finale would deliver high-quality drama, then you probably hated this episode. I, however, had already accepted the fact that Helix will probably never be a great drama, and that it is best enjoyed when it indulges in ludicrous moments and plot twists. If great drama is what you’re looking for, then look elsewhere, because Helix is more interested in frozen heads.

The best compliment I can give season one of Helix, is that it’s unlike every other show on TV. Yeah, it sometimes leans on familiar sci-fi tropes and clichés, but it also has people vomiting black goo and crawling through air ducts like the Xenomorphs in Aliens. It’s a series that can be enjoyed the same way people enjoy American Horror Story.

It’s hard to say for sure, but I think the finale suggests that the writers realize the show has spun wildly out of control, and are okay with the insane, goofy place the series has landed in. Helix has taken itself seriously all season, but if the finale is any indication, that might change next season. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

The massive leap in time, from day 13 to day 235, is not something I expected, but it blows up the show in a number of ways and allows the writers a lot of freedom going forward. I wasn’t a fan of Peter’s traitorous actions, which very well could’ve led to both Alan and Julia’s deaths, something that Peter wouldn’t want. His actions don’t make a lick of sense. On day 235, it appears that Peter is still working alongside Alan to get Julia back, so I’m pretty confused as to what his overall goal is.

Anyway, it looks like next season will take place in Paris, with Alan doing whatever it takes (including torture) to get Julia back from Illaria. There’s no sign of Sarah, who we learned is pregnant, but I’m sure she survived the explosion and will be a major character next season. Her baby is also probably going to have powers or something.

The new setting, time jump, and different character situations could make Helix into a completely different show next season. Tone-wise, I expect it’ll continue to take itself very seriously; I would be stunned if the show became a tongue-in-cheek camp-fest, but I would still kind of like to see it happen. The show has squandered all of the dramatic potential it once held, and I can no longer take it seriously. One of my favorite scenes from season one is Julia’s dinner hallucination in the cabin-bunker, a delightfully silly scene. I wouldn’t mind seeing more things like that. It’s unlikely the show will re-invent itself dramatically, but it has enough room to do so if it wants to.

And that was Helix season one. I must admit, I probably wouldn’t have watched all 13 episodes if I didn’t already agree to review it, but now that I did, I don’t hate myself for doing it. It isn’t easy to enjoy the Helix viewing experience, but if you don’t expect it to be the next Breaking Bad, and don’t think about it too much, you can have a decent time.

Additional notes:

– I haven’t been giving grades/scores, but if I were to grade “Dans L’ombre,” it would get a C for cuckoo.

– Strange that Jane would be re-introduced and then killed off so quickly. They literally got nothing out of that character.

– The first half of the season had some surprising twists, but nothing as shocking as Doreen’s death.