Helix [S2] Ep. 9: "Ectogenisis" Review

Soren's Eye

Soren's Eye

By Saleem Frazer

Throughout the season so far, I was wondering how far they would've went with the infected as individual characters themselves. We've only seen them pop up here and there as savage animalistic forces with one stand out moment with Sarah protecting the kids from their infected father. That was the only time that the infected actually had some individualism to their character until now. Episode 9 starts off actually introducing an infected couple living in the woods showing even more of the humanity side of them. At first I wasn't entirely sure if I was onboard with the whole idea of the two being a nagging couple (a savage infected nagging couple by the way) until I realized how much it adds to the mystery of the pathogen. With Season 1, we saw the "vectors" acting like monstrosities right out of a "28 Days Later" sequel, but as the season continued, we also saw a high level of intelligence and communication. I feel as though Helix as
a series overall has taken the popular and overused "Zombie Sub Genre" and turned it on its head to create something interesting and endlessly shocking. We see this couple complaining about the woman's cooking and as the two fight offscreen, the camera reveals a person's eye ball in their food (perhaps skipping breakfast before the show was a good idea).

It's "Day 9" and our beloved fugitive Alan has overslept in the woods during the team's hunt to find a cure. It's a good thing because now we get to see a familiar face from the first season. As Alan wanders in his dream, we see Dr. Doreen Boyle sitting down practically telling Alan that he's dreaming. Interesting that he'd dream up of Boyle as she hardly made it through the first episodes of Season 1, but perhaps they were close friends before the chaos started. Like I said in a past episode review, I would love to see a mini series or flashback heavy episode of when the team was together fighting viruses around the world before that Arctic BioSystems call that started the show's story. That way moments such as these would have a little more weight to it than simple nostalgia. I really did love these scenes between the two as Boyle would poke fun of Alan's beard as well putting him on the spot about his so called mission. Knowing that this is all in Alan's head, one would have to question if Alan is finally realizing how far he has gone as well as what he really wants at this point. Much like Boyle says to him  "Sounds like you're a man in search of a mission". It's also noted that Alan finds comfort in seeing a part of his old life before he became what he is now. Just little subtle details such as Alan laughing after Boyle tells him about his beard as well as the simple fact that he didn't push her away.

As hinted in last week's episode, the power struggle between mother and daughter begins to make its presence to the Abbey. With our last remaining survivors of the community in fear and confusion, Sister Anne attempts to take control by trying to calm everyone down about the situation. Of course, Amy shows up just in time to twist things around in favor by stating how Michael and now Sister Anne were all victims of the "outside world's" manipulation. Like I said in the past, Amy works as sort of a plague working her way through the crowd and here we can see it again. Much like a wide spreading infestation, she can either alter the state of someone or completely remove them from the equation. In this case, she turns the community against Sister Anne even claiming that she slept with Peter in the process (icing on the cake for her I guess). "Like father, like daughter" would be the perfect quote to sum up her rise as a manipulative leader. However, it's also worth noting that we see the rise of another one of Michael's daughters.

As Peter meets up on the roof to find Anne standing on the edge, he tells her that she shouldn't blame herself for her daughter's actions. At first I thought I was watching a suicidal attempt taking place, but then I realize that this entire scene was was the beginning of another character transition. Anne tells Peter about her entire life being Michael's pawn and never having a voice to the community unless it was repeating Michael's words. It was the moment when she yelled back at Peter in the pit that made her realize how safe she felt around him and the fact that she does indeed have a voice. Thinking back on that episode I do believe her exact words to him was "I have a voice!", so it does perfectly fit with that scene. I guess it won't be one of my episode reviews if I don't praise the writing a bit, but I am constantly surprised on how much this show can keep up with its many character arcs. Honestly, the writers would plant this little seed of potential in an episode and know exactly when to have it sprout in the nick of time. It's an accomplishment for any show to constantly keep a progressing story with their characters and never dragging onto something unnecessary. One of Helix's best attributes is in its sense of transition and Sister Anne is this episode's example of that. Not only does she begin to take initiative in coming up with a plan to take the Abbey back, but we also see the potential spark of a relationship between the two beginning. I'm usually the guy who complains about relationship stories getting in the way of better things on a show, but this is one that I wouldn't mind seeing take place depending on how they execute it. The fact that they're both from completely different sides of the world in their backgrounds would make things quite interesting in itself. There's this dreamed up image floating around with that idea of having Peter show Anne around a big city as she tries to comprehend the many sights. It would make for quite the romantic comedy, but this show has never come across as a humorous love story, so I should probably put that picture to rest. As Anne tells Peter "Amy may have control of the Abbey, but I have...", I was thinking she was referring to the "Mother" tree as revealed later in the episode, but we'll have to wait and see I guess. With Peter finally getting a signal on his communication device, he tells Anne that the answer to their problems have finally come to the island.

Speaking of character relationships, we finally see Julia making her to the island in present day, but with Sergio along the way this time. Honestly, I wasn't 100% on the whole time shifting direction when the season started, but as some of the greatest television series has taught me, "If you trusted the writers up to this point, keep an open mind for the future". With Julia jumping timelines in the story, we get great moments such as her looking over the cliff foreshadowing what we already saw in the last episode. Also hearing the two talk about not knowing what kind of guy Michael is puts a question mark on what will happen to the two knowing that Julia faces him in the future. It's a great use of time traveling for the audience when the characters in the story cannot. We may know the fate of some characters, but the journey to reach that point still remains a mystery worth looking into. It's also great to see Sergio again (why of course he has a gun). The little bit we see of the two figuring out how to get in without getting possibly killed is pretty funny as Sergio decides to simply knock on the door. It made me imagine how entertaining it would be to watch these two undergo their mission for an entire episode constantly running into hilarious and dangerous obstacles. With the series always switching through its many characters, I always feel like even the smallest of character stories deserves their own full episode. That just reconfirms that the writers do pay attention to every one of its assets thoroughly. As Peter answers the knock, we get a very small reunion with the three characters which is then halted by Anne. When Julia asks who's in charge being that Michael is missing, it's worth noting that Anne pops up without saying that she is. It's the timing of her presence that suggest her possibly taking over Amy in a future episode (or I may just be looking into it a bit too much).

Continuing from last week's surprise ending, we see Sarah attempting to take back  her baby,  but is eventually caught by Amy and Landry. If you've read my reviews in the past, you know that I completely hated the Landry character especially with the episode intro that they give him. After watching the many scenes with him and Amy in this episode, I began to finally see where he fits in with her character. As obvious as it is, Landry is her powerful henchman, but what makes him a little bit more that is being her physical edge among everyone else. It's sort of like the way Bane is used in "Batman and Robin" (yes I'm aware that I just used Batman and Robin as a comparison with Helix) alongside Poison Ivy. Our heroes can without a doubt take her down, but is the presence of this big lumbering figure alongside her at all times that seemingly gives her the edge over them. So as the perfect henchman that is used to boost the image of the villain, I can finally appreciate Landry's role on the show.

As Amy brings Sarah's baby in front of her, she repeats the offer about immortality being the trade off for her baby. You can see the desperation on Sarah's face overtime Amy teases the idea of killing off the baby. A great villain is one that can always have an edge over the hero, so in this case the fragile life of Sarah's baby is Amy's villainous tool. It's also worth pointing out that the baby only has a few weeks to survive in Michael's synthetic womb creation making things even more tensed for Sarah. There's these moments where Amy would flick the jar or tilt it on the edge of the table just to get what she wants out of Sarah. In a past episode she stated that they would never harm a baby, but all is forgotten when she puts Sarah in a very tight spot of decision making. After asking how she became immortal, Sarah tells her about having it passed to her before she almost died (which is interesting to know that Julia is on the island now). After speaking about the highly dangerous procedure used, Amy jumps to it without hesitation despite Sarah's warning of needing Peter or Alan. Amy's impatience and desperation to become better than Michael is almost perfectly set up to be the one thing that will cause her downfall. It makes me wonder how they will handle her character in the future and if she will indeed become immortal. I have a few different theories myself, but we'll see how things turn out. As Sarah leaves them, she concocts a mysterious solution after taking one of the plants from Michael's (or Amy's now) garden. This  most likely being something very poisonous to kill her with, we're beginning to see Sarah go down this dark path to get her baby back. I really like her character as being the symbol of genuine "good" on the show, so I'm curious to see how far they take things with her.

Finding out that one of Winger's men has been murdered, Alan, Kyle, and Winger's squad continue their dangerous journey in the woods to find a possible cure for the infection. As they come across a hanged rabbit, Kyle gets distracted by the sight of Soren in the distance. After being lured in by Soren, we see the infected man from the intro kidnap him (memories of "The Hills Have Eyes" sparked up in that scene for some reason). How many times must Kyle get messed up by infected and manipulated people on this island? I swear almost every episode review has a statement about Kyle running for his life or barely making it out alive from a vicious attack. Here we have him kidnapped, tied to a table, and surrounded by the crazy couple from earlier. Looking at that cabin setting reminded me of something out of a fantasy horror film as everything looked very medieval and savage-like. There's also the body parts hanging from the ceiling as a nice little bonus. The set designs have always been great in my opinion on the show so far even though there isn't much variety alongside the obvious switch from Season 1 to Season 2's setting. As the couple shows us why Kyle has the worst luck by threatening to eat him, showing him the eye balls of their last victim, and most likely housing him in a awfully smelled room, Kyle finds a way to exploit their constant nagging with each other. He also speaks to Soren who then reveals the sap from "the bleeding tree" to be a cure for the infection. As I said, the writers do a great job at planting little seeds that will become something more significant in the future. I honestly forgot about Soren and considered him either dead or forever gone, but now he revealed the possible key to end one of this season's biggest evil. Soren also reveals that the couple ate one of his eyes and threatened to eat the rest of him if he didn't cooperate with them. In a way the season has slightly shifted in setting and atmosphere as the woods itself feels like its own world.

"Pigs get fed"

"Pigs get fed"

As Julia explains to Anne about Ilaria's plans to kill off a portion of the human population, she tries to convince her that this isn't simply an "outside worlds issue" as Anne would put it. Even though Anne seems like one of the good guys, there is still this sensibility that the Abbey is the only world that matters to her, so anything that happens outside is of no relevance even at the cost of many lives. In a way, it gives us an image of what her leadership would be if she took Michael's old position. But with Peter being close to her, I wonder if that mentality would change at all. Either way, I really liked the moment where Anne tells Julia that whether or not she cooperates with them, she's well aware of Sergio shooting her to get answers. It places a very interesting question on who is considered the bad guys here. To Anne, everyone on the outside are invaders to her home, but to us, we know these invaders and their justified goals of being there. I tend to enjoy stories that play around with people's perspectives on what's right and wrong and this season is filled with them. Peter then tells Julia that he wants immunity from Ilaria as well as $100 million as a trade off for the infertility experiments. Trading off very valuable things for personal gain seem to be the theme of this episode. Finally we get Peter's big end goals as we've seen him in a pit for what feels like the majority of the season so far. It's great to see what he's trying to do in the end which is escape Ilaria's grip on him. If given this escape, I wonder if that will change things between him and the rest of the team (especially Alan). Another thing to wait and see.

Following up on Sarah's surgical procedure with Amy, we get a spine tingling (no pun intended) scene of Amy attempting to extract Sarah's spinal fluid. As Sarah painfully guides her on where to place the needle, I kept flashing back to my fail attempts of playing "Operation" as a kid. Hating the sight of needles, I wanted Amy to hurry up and get what was needed already. Especially the moment where she accidentally hits a nerve, I could feel Sarah's pain (immortal or not). Eventually, she gets the fluid, but immediately becomes paranoid by the thought of Sarah tricking her as Sarah gets the syringe that we know holds the mysterious poison. Landry then decides to become the guinea pig for the procedure in Amy's protection which puts more tension on the situation. As Sarah unfortunately uses Landry in the procedure, something happens within his body causing him to erupt in a body spasm. This causes Amy to lose all trust in Sarah locking her up in the room with Landry. As Amy leaves with a threat to kill Sarah's baby, we see Landry slowly deforming in the face as his body uncontrollably spas out. What happens next to him is a mystery, but I'm a little more interested in what will happen to Sarah and her baby.

"What head wound?"

"What head wound?"

With Alan giving us another reason to see  Boyle again by getting caught in a booby trap, she tells him how much Kyle reminds him of himself. You get a sense of Alan actually respecting Kyle despite their conflict with each other. I would personally love to see some sort of peace made between them as they would make a powerful team together as a mentor-student duo. I can see them having the type of team dynamic that involves them constantly getting at each other's throat, but still admiring their work in the end. As Alan wakes up from his hallucination thanks to Winger, he tells her that they're getting very close to the cure (via a "Juicy Fruit" rapper of course) convincing that they should't leave the only chance that they have of finding the cure. I really enjoyed these Boyle hallucinations as it not only adds a little more to the character, but it also gives redeeming quality to Alan as possibly becoming the CDC leader that he was instead of a murdering fugitive. Not to say that the show needs more of these character throwbacks, but I would be pleased if we could see a little more of either her character pointing him out on his issues or another character from the past. Also, it's great to see Winger again. I feel like there's a target painted around her as a possible character death coming up, so hopefully they give her something to do in the meantime (she's still fresh in the season after all).

As Julia opens up one of the infertility fruits given to her by Anne, she realizes the lack of seeds which goes against the idea of planting more for the human race. This of course leads Anne to reveal the tree in which they call "Mother" (which would explain the cult's tree symbol) as being a plant that Michael discovered by accident after seeing that it survived a plant killing fungus by absorbing it. Also discovering the plant's fruit baring attributes causing mortal men to lose their ability to bare children. As Anne takes them to the tree's location, she discovers it to be missing which can imply that Amy may have taken it. That or Michael might've moved it to a different spot as a precaution before Amy took advantage of him. I'm leaning towards the Amy direction myself as it would make sense for her to want more power over the Abbey. What better way to control of a community than to hold its most precious item for herself.

I think the writers hate me

I think the writers hate me

As Kyle finally escapes the clutches of the infected crazed couple, he desperately grabs the honey as a last resort. Knowing that if he is infected himself, others won't eat him as told by the woman. Kyle always seem to take one for the team, but after seeing him eat the honey, I'd say he's taken one two many. As the couple catches up to him still willing to kill him even if they can't eat him, Winger and her men show up just in time to rescue him. However, Kyle just infecting himself with the honey tells Alan that they need to find the bleeding tree before he dies out. So we basically have different ticking time bombs going off at the same time. We have Landry's unknown transformation (or death) taking place with Sarah being locked with him, Amy's threats to kill Sarah's baby who already has a few weeks to live within the chamber, Jula and Sergio's mission to stop Ilaria's genocidal plans, and now we have Kyle's infection beginning. I guess it's safe to say that the rest of the season will be a line up of explosions happening (conturing the ticking time bomb comparison) and I am more than excited to see it all. This was yet another great episode slowly but surely tying everything up together with the different timelines explored. I say Helix has made the biggest transition of any show that I've seen as a series getting increasingly better in every way possible. I hope that this streak continues as I have now placed this show on a pedestal of currently being the most interesting series out there in the market.

Things To Point Out:

1. Landry's Death? Or Something Else?

2. The Bleeding Tree