Helix: "Single Strand" (Season 1, Episode 3)


This week’s honest-to-Gosh line of dialogue: “Maybe you’re not as dumb as you look.”

Nah, it is.

This show’s problem at this point is that it’s got too many mysteries. We don’t know enough about the antagonist(s) and the plot though line to support this amount of dramatic diffusion. It’s choppy. And people are acting dumb again.

We left off with Evil Military Guy (EMG) blowing up the satellite dish. We pick up with CDC hero Alan and Evil Dr. Hatake arguing in time to hear Alan say this: “Do you even know if this was an accident or intentional?”

Seriously? Cuz it’s like a blackened partial dish now with a shrapnel dispersion pattern around the gaping detonation hole in its base. Even setting aside the incredible coincidence of timing (they were an hour from contacting the outside world), this accident scene all but gets up and does a fan dance that ends with repeated shouting of the word “intentional.” So while Alan may be good with contagions, he’s kind of a dim bulb away from the microscope.

Young Sarah Jordan’s not so bright, either. A lady scientist shows up at her room with some kind of Helix zit on her arm. She wants to know if she’s infected. Sarah decides to just let the woman stay in her room without telling anyone. She doesn’t revisit that decision, either, even as the woman shows obvious signs of being infected over the course of the episode.

Infected Peter appears to be dying. Alan found out last week about some secret anti-viral drug developed at this lab that destroys all viruses. The problem is that it also has a 75% mortality rate. Alan insists they give it to Peter. They do, and Peter becomes talkative for a while. Sadly, he doesn’t become interesting.

Oh, and the potentially infected people left down in the huge Area R basement to die? Seems the perfect, totally isolable basement also has the CO2 scrubbers for the rest of the lab, which means ventilation loops down into the totally isolated basement. Kind of an important detail. Since the folks down there are pissed about being abandoned, they cut off the scrubbers to start messing with the folks topside.

EMG has a generic evil conversation with Dr. Hatake. It’s cryptic. Seems Hatake was supposed to be developing something other than our current out-of-control virus.

Back in the basement, Julia is being chased by some crazed Vector (infected person). She’s rescued by another lady doctor in a gas mask. They bond over a stash of cheese whiz. Shoot it directly into the mouth, too, which is grosser than anything else in this episode. Another mystery pops up as well. Julia finds her initials carved into the wall of the cheese whiz cabinet along with the kind of cartoony primrose flowers she drew as a kid.

So she’s been here before! And did juvenile carvings on a cabinet back then.

While shooting cheese whiz in her mouth? I’m not kidding—that is really gross.

Oxygen alarms go off as Peter gets better. The lady in Sarah’s quarters starts hallucinating, which is totally okay with Sarah since the lady is an oncologist who guessed that Sarah has a tumor. It’s kind of a pedestrian explanation for the big scar on her back and all her weird twitching.

Dr. Hataake has a secret passageway in his office. He heads down to Area R with his security guy. Sarah comes into his empty office and twitches. Peter and Alan are boring together. Sarah tells Alan the infection test didn’t work. She knows that now because she tested the obviously infected woman she’s hiding in her room. Not that shares that little news flash with Alan.

Like I said, choppy.

The virus starts to come back on Peter. He and Alan chat some more. Peter tells him he didn’t just sleep with Alan’s wife once; it was lots of times. It’s kind of funny, in a black humor sort of way. What actually is funny is that he just dies right after saying that. Pretty much “I ****ed your wife a lot,” then eyes closed. Not even a little gag or spasm. Any run-of-the-mill soap opera would deliver a payoff better than that.

Sarah steals some morphine to inject the obviously infected woman in her room. There’s no question now. This woman has blotchy, extended, Peter-like veins. But after doing so, Sarah shoots herself up and passes out on the floor, not worried in the least about the Vector in her bed who could come to and slobber all over her at any moment. That better be one damn interesting tumor if they expect us to forget this idiocy.

Hatake takes his secret passage to Area R, which apparently isn’t totally isolable in the least. He offers to help three disgruntled guys if they will turn the CO2 scrubbers back on, even gives them his word of honor as a cryptic evil mastermind. They dutifully turn the scrubbers on. Of course he shoots them. He’s evil. Hatake tells the security guy to dispose of the bodies and go back upstairs while he stays for some business down here. We later see him stare down a frothing vector who meekly lets Hatake pass.

Alan has hooked Peter up to life support. The other doctor in the room says Peter is a vegetable. Alan doesn’t care. Maybe he wants to know exactly how many times Peter ****ed his wife. I don’t.

Dr. Doreen Boyle is still hanging out with EMG despite the fact that she knows he’s lying to her. She lets him watch her isolate a completely unidentifiable single strand that proves the virus was man-made. It’s delivering foreign genetic instructions—changing us from the inside out. Whatever. That’s well plowed ground in medical thriller fiction these days. Of course EMG kills her. He’s evil. We’re supposed to think he regrets killing her, but he can’t regret it all that much since he dumps a ton of lab rats on her body afterward.

That’s a shame. Doreen had the best line in this show three episodes running.

There you go. Just lots of mysteries without much clear momentum or interest on my part. And enough with the Cheese Whiz. That’s a borderline crime against humanity. I wouldn’t wish it on Dr. Hatake or EMG.