Genre: Sci-Fi | Thriller
Air Date/Time: January 16, 2015 10/9c(Two-Hour Season Premiere)
The second season of Helix finds the doctors of the Centers for Disease Control, still haunted by the Narvik outbreak and the events that took place in Arctic Biosystems, investigating a deadly outbreak of a new disease on a Windjammer cruise ship. Their investigation leads them to a mysterious island inhabited by a cult with the hope of creating a utopian society.
Helix stars Billy Campbell (Killing Lincoln, The Killing) and Kyra Zagorsky (Supernatural). Also returning for Season 2 are Jordan Hayes (What If) and Neil Napier (X-Men: Days of Future Past). Joining the cast this season are Matt Long (Mad Men) and Steven Weber (Wings, Murder in the First).
When a series begins a second season, I’m most often asked two questions: one, do you need to see Season 1 to understand Season 2, and two, how does it compare to Season 1? Let’s tackle the first question first. You most emphatically do not need to see Helix Season 1 to understand the Season 2 premiere. While the Season 2 premiere does reference some of the occurrences of Season 1, it also references things that have taken place in the interim, between Seasons 1 and 2, that none of us knew before. In other words, if you feel somewhat lost, it’s likely that the Season 1 viewers do as well, so just sit back and wait for things to unfold. There is only one character reveal that will be lost on you, but since it’s been in all the advertising, the impact has already been lessened.
In fact, those who haven’t seen Season 1 are actually better off than veteran viewers, because the newbies can’t compare the two seasons. Which leads me to the second question, how does the Helix Season 2 premiere compare to Season 1? The answer: horribly. What a giant letdown.
Helix Season 1 was cool, and not just because it was set in the Arctic Circle. It was almost hipster, in a good way. It was science-y, clever, twisty, rewatch-worthy, multi-layered. It even had ironic music, which was almost my favorite thing about it. There were some terrific mysteries, that kept getting bigger and bigger.
Now I realize that only watching one episode of Season 2 (and an incomplete one at that–most of the visual effects were missing from the screener, with subtitles to tell us what to imagine) can hardly give a complete picture of what to expect from the season, but here’s what it does tell us (no real spoilers, no worries): there’s an outbreak, in a remote and primarily contained setting, of unknown origin, perhaps never seen before, and a suspicious group that may somehow be involved. Hmm, why does that sound familiar? OH YEAH. That’s the plot of Season 1.
If you haven’t seen Season 1, skip this paragraph. Move along down to the paragraph that starts out “All right, Helix newbies. Go on. Okay, Season 1 veterans, remember that the show ended with Ilaria getting away with Hatake’s daughter, Dr. Julia Walker, and some time later we see that Dr. Alan Farragut thinks he has found her in the Ilaria building in Paris, and we see Julia inside, leading the board of creepy silver-eyed people with her creepy silver eyes? How cool was that?! Big corporate conspiracy, global implications! Boy oh boy, what’s coming next?!!
Oh. The same thing all over again, somewhere else.
Unnamed sources have told me that the creator of the series is no longer ‘with’ the show because ‘they’ decided to go in a ‘different direction.’ This sounds about right to me, because at the end of Season 1, the show was headed to, perhaps, the rolling out of a global takeover. Season 2’s ‘different direction’ is right back to what they did in Season 1.
And I suppose the capper to my disappointment is that, while they continue to use the great elevator music ironically at the beginning and end, they spoil it by actually calling attention to it within the show. Look at the title of the episode: “San Jose.” And that’s not the only time. You’ll see.
All right, Helix newbies, it’s safe to rejoin the review, if you haven’t already. I do have a quick warning for everyone. It’s not spoilery for either season to tell you that you shouldn’t be eating while watching the Season 2 premiere. No food. From beginning to end. It has aspects that are really over-the-top gross. That sticks with me more than any other aspect of the episode, perhaps because I’m not a fan of gross. You know how when you don’t like a food, mushrooms for instance, you can really taste them when they’re supposedly “hardly noticeable”? Maybe I’m overly sensitive. But no kidding, especially at the beginning, just don’t be eating. Fair warning.
If you’re new, or if you liked different things about Season 1 than I did, or if you just want to see it again but without the coolness of Hiroyuki Sanada, the arctic, the black goo, sophisticated dialogue, etc., etc., then you’ll likely find the Season 2 premiere an intriguing beginning to the new season. It’s an interesting premise, and there are a couple of very cool twists. Kyra Zagorsky does a terrific job. The makeup effects people have outdone themselves. It’s nice to see Josh’s sister from Being Human. I’ll continue to watch, and hope that the disappointment is washed away with every subsequent episode.
I’m fairly certain that if I hadn’t seen Season 1, my rating would go up by at least one star. As a disappointed and frustrated Season 1 veteran and loyalist, however . . .
I give Helix, Season 2 Episode 1 “San Jose,” Two Out of Five Stars.