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HELIX SYFY Channel Original Series

Helix Mini Review

The mix of zombies and mad scientists was interesting, even if flawed

Streaming currently on Netflix, for a limited time only, this SyFy Channel original series centers on a sudden disease outbreak at a research facility located in the remote arctic.  

Mixing classic elements of a murder mystery “Who Dunnit” with the anxiety inducing terror of when “Scientists play God,” the action-packed series merges genres with deft skill.  Things become even more complicated when the epidemic turns humans into zombie like creatures capable of being organized killers armed with super human strength.  

One could see Helix as a high tech, science fiction version of “Lost.”  Intriguing questions are posed, and it is up to the viewer to put the parts together.  For the most part, it does work.   The suspense of being in an enclosed isolated space where death is omnipresent is utilized well to keep the paranoia and fear turned up to a fevered pitch.  

Season one offers up characters who are a bit more ambiguous that the usual “good guys versus bad guys” scenario of science fiction and fantasy. Backstories, thankfully, do not dominate or slow down the pace.  However, some verge a tad on soap opera to be comfortable. The Cain versus Able relationship of two brothers on the show occasionally feels formulaic.   

If season one was a cohesive, if at times roughhewn, season two tackles far too much territory far too quickly.  The scene moves from the artic to yet another isolated location, a remote island populated by infected humans and one bizarre monastic like cult. Ruled by a new age sounding leader enthralled with every word he utters, he rules a pacified mesmerized brainwashed flock eager to follow his every suggestion. 

Interesting first season, but chaotic damaged second season

Pollution, overpopulation, cults, global warming, pandemics and corporate greed, the second season covers topical material to rapidly to provide any gravitas.    
The weaknesses of season one are magnified in season two.   Weak dialogue, a tendency toward dense twisting plots, multiple time lines, and one-dimensional villains, the lofty aspirations of the writers are sabotaged by the “ more is more ethos.”  What should have been a powerful ending was undone by too many threads being sown into the plot.  

Even with its flaws, I have to give Helix credit for having ambitious goals.  At the very least, this series attempted to be far more than just another mad scientist romp.  If the story and characters had more depth and the story line more focused, this could have been a series a bit closer to the feel of H.B.O.’s profound and poetic Westworld.  Unfortunately, Helix was cancelled after season two.    


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