Helix: "Black Rain" (Season 1, Episode 11)


This week’s line: “That rat didn’t crawl in there by itself.” With "there" being a microwave oven, I guess it didn’t. Unless the magical Narvik virus somehow made it super intelligent, in which case it was probably just trying to end the misery of being stuck on Helix. I can relate to that.


Remember three episodes ago when a Vector vomited on a couple cartons of nuts, a bag of flour and some Cheerios? It seems that motley assortment really did constitute the critical food reserves for the entire Lab. How do we know? Certainly not from the intervening episodes, where no one has mentioned being hungry at all, let alone showed the slightest signs of distress about it. We only know it this episode because it begins with a frantic scientist munching on some half eaten granola bar she finds among a bunch of discarded wrappers.


That’s when things get silly. The scientist hears a bell, turns around and notices a rat in a microwave oven that’s been turned on. Yep, the old rat in the microwave ploy. Honestly, though, that shouldn’t work. How many of us consider a rat in a microwave oven as something we want to be associated with, even if we aren’t in a ludicrous lab stalked by infected freaks and crazed corporate goons? Would you go over to that oven?


I don’t think so. In this case, however, not only does the scientist go, but there’s a bizarre moment when we think she might actually want to eat the rat. Needless to say, she’s nabbed by some Vectors while the rat explodes. Infected Peter appears to survey the scene.


Infected Peter is a jerk to rats.


Hatake sits alone sulking in his cavernous office. A smart phone formerly belonging to Constance Sutton chirps, alerting Hatake to the fact that Ilaria is now initiating retrieval protocols since she won’t respond. A six hour countdown begins. Hatake’s response? He goes to his secret staircase (is there an episode of Helix where someone doesn’t go to that secret staircase?). This whole show is starting to feel like a game of Clue. One where we’re stuck going back and forth in that secret passage between the Conservatory and the Lounge. Besdies which, we already know it was Dr. Hatake in the Kitchen with a Narvik.


Anyway, Dr. Hatake has a safe in his secret staircase. It has a big silver briefcase filled with thirty explosive devices. Hatake proceeds to plant them all around this giant lab like a demented Easter Bunny.  


Julia’s spinal fluid has cured Sarah of her tumor. Julia is sure it can also cure the Vectors, only she can’t survive forty spinal taps in the next two hours. So now reality counts, huh? Not really, though. Julia kept the Narvik virus samples last week, so she’ll just do some recombinant tachyon pulse with a sequenced photonic quantum disturbance to save the day. And to think Ron Moore used to complain about technobabble on Star Trek.


Alan says our line about the rat to some guy called Phillipe. They discuss how clever the Vectors are becoming. It’s suddenly clear to Alan that the Vectors have evolved into a viral collective. Does that mean resistance is futile?


And speaking of the rat, couldn’t these clever Vectors have just set a trap for the starving scientist with the half-eaten Granola bars? Or a box of Cheerios they didn’t vomit on? Think about the logistics of this. First, you have to catch a rat. Second, you have to get a microwave oven. Third, you have to strategically position that oven with the rat in it close enough to the half-eaten Granola bars that you could have used as a trap, but not close enough that it’s immediately noticeable. Fourth, you have to have a way to turn the microwave on remotely, or else the rat will have exploded long before any scientist to target shows up. Fifth, you have to assume the scientist will go towards the rat in a microwave instead of saying “to hell with this.”


I think Infected Peter just likes being a jerk to rats.


Hatake is still planting his explosives. He shoves one of them into the camera lens, and thus into the viewer’s face. Is that rude?


Alan insists they’re on the brink of a large scale, coordinated Vector attack. Hatake insists they’re on the brink of a large scale, coordinated Ilaria goon attack. They argue about who got peanut butter in whose chocolate, or vice versa, until Julia points out that Vector attacks and Ilaria goon attacks go great together. Hatake decides he has a secret hardened bunker down below. They can retreat to it and blow up the Lab.


You know what the hardened bunker is, don’t you? C’mon. In a show like this, what else could it be?


Yes, it’s that stupid fake Montana cabin on Level X from two episodes ago. It’s a hardened bunker that’s both practical and aesthetically pleasing. And stupid beyond belief. It does, however, allow the small joy of hearing Hatake explain his cabin yet again: Julia’s mother thought the little girl needed a place to call home.


A dreary fake cabin that’s a hardened bunker at the bottom of a research station near the North Pole where she can never go outside. That’s home for a five-year-old girl to the writers of Helix. The rest of us just call it child abuse.


The Vectors have infected the two scientists they caught. I immediately wonder if there was there a second rat in a second microwave oven. While I wonder that, the Vectors bleed out the two scientists and collect their blood in a bucket. They go pour that in some fire suppression system piping. They then set off the fire suppression system, which goes into the secure room where Alan had placed all the uninfected scientists while they wait for the stupid hardened cabin to be declared ready. That’s the black rain of the title. It comes midway through the episode, and everyone is cured by the end of it, so it lacks dramatic heft. Someone just thought it would look cool. It doesn’t because the lighting is bad.


Julia has completed her magic Narvik cure, but they need some more magic because the virus will respond and mutate before the cure can work. The now chipper Sarah suggests they put the virus in a cryogenic suspension so the cold will slow down the virus, thus allowing the cure to work before the virus mutates. I think some of my brain cells committed suicide as I typed that.


Hatake just wants to blow the whole place up. I’m with him. I’d also really appreciate it if he could blow up the cabin while he’s in it. But no, Alan says they have to save all the Vectors. They each have to be given a stomach injection of the cryo-cure suspension. That means they first have to be immobilized. Fortunately, in his spare time a few years ago, Security Miksa invented an all-purpose sprayer for any fluid, built out of spare parts Hatake didn’t want. And Hatake never appreciated the brilliance of it all.


Hatake is a jerk to Security Miksas.


Besides kidnapping him and raising him in a screwed up lab in the Arctic. He did not, however, force him to grow up in that cabin. Small favors.


So the plan is to stick cryofluid in Security Miksa’s magic sprayers in order to spray it on Vectors, thus immobilizing them at 50 below so they can be injected in the stomach with Julia and Sarah’s magic cryo-cure suspension. I’m honestly at a loss for words. This nonsense wouldn’t pass muster on Power Rangers. Cutting edge science fiction for adults my ass.


Security Miksa’s sprayers look like crap, too. Home Depot would be embarrassed to stock them. Compared to the nonspecial effect of the blue cryofluid spraying, though, the sprayers themselves are a visual masterpiece. I laughed out loud at the blue haze spraying effect. It also only takes 5 seconds of spraying to render a Vector dormant at 50 below. Heat transfer is a meaningless concept in this universe.


Everyone’s cured as quick as you please. Now it’s time for Ilaria to approach. Alan tells Julia and Sarah to get everyone into the cabin while he, Hatake, and Security Miksa go to slow down the Ilaria assault. Three guys against a supposed one hundred mercenaries; I guess they could just spray them with their magic sprayers. We see all kinds of lights approaching that eventually stop in the distance. They’re decoys. Snow mobile drones, don’t you know?


Yes, snow mobile drones. Power Rangers is looking pretty darn sophisticated about now.


The decoys were supposed to allow three Ilaria guys to do a high altitude parachute jump into the base. These skydivers are dressed like reject Robocops (the 2014 version). Down in the cabin, Hatake ominously warns that Ilaria must be sending “The Scythe.” Oooh, scary. He’s the world’s most dangerous assassin. And if he fails, we’re getting Mysterio, the Lizard and Kraven the Hunter in that order.


The recently cured scientists are all in one elevator. They think the creepily dressed skydivers are here to help and hold the elevator for them. Good move. When the elevator stops again, everyone is dead. The Scythe is now holding two little scythes that look like boomerangs from Wal-Mart.


Down in the cabin, Security Miksa tries to set off Hatake’s Easter Egg explosives. Nothing happens. Given that Hatake’s idea of a strategic food reserve is a couple cartons of nuts, a bag of flour and some Cheerios, I’m not stunned.


The Scythe takes off his mask. He’s some silver-eyed teenager.


Next week promises a battle royale between a silver-eyed teenager with cheap boomerangs and our collection of idiots in the cabin. At stake are all the remaining Cheerios. Didn’t this show used to be about a virus or something? I sort of lost track of that once it became a plot device that whipsawed this way and that for plotting whims of the moment.


Anything about that sound familiar, Battlestar Galactica fans?