Talk about an intense and epic climax, this is definitely an episode to remember. I remember when I first heard about the concept of season 2 being about a cult living on an island, I immediately thought about a suicidal scene as it is popular amongst cult followings in the real world. I never thought that the show would've taken it to that point, but my word did it push the envelope this week. Before I get to the iconic moment, let's backtrack to all of the significant moments that lead up that event.
First off, we're finally given the origin story of Michael showcasing not only the era in time in which he begun his mission, but also the reasoning. Narrated by Madam Durant to Julia (continuing their conversation from the last episode), we see the year 1601 as Michael walks along a trail surrounded by peasant workers in the field. I really loved this scene as it illustrated a different atmosphere and setting from what we're used to seeing on the show. One of the reasons that I praise this series so much to others is the surprise and mystery factor that not only lies in it's story but also in it's execution production-wise. You simply never know what the creators will throw at you and here is a perfect example of that. In this flashback, we learn that Michael fell in love with one of the peasant workers and even took the liberty marrying
After it is revealed that the woman was was already with someone, Michael is given a bastard child and eventually finds her and her lover together. Outraged by the situation, he decides to burn them out of his shattered emotions vowing to never endure this type of pain ever again (a very well done scene indeed). Call him an overdramatic man or an overall psychopath, but it was great to finally learn what made him tick.
As Madam Durant relates Michael's story to the present, we learn that for over 400 years, he has been working on an experiment that will cause infidelity to mortal men. An experiment that she has full confidence in him of perfecting. This "cure" is the renegade immortals' anti-genocidal response to Ilaria and the reason for Julia to journey to the island to find Michael (the connecting tissue of Season 2 finally making its debut). I really loved this opening scene as it reminds me of a very important fact about shows like these in general. If something doesn't make sense or connect with you in the beginning, keep in mind that it's all planned out in the long run. I really enjoyed the fact that they showcased the significance of the villain of the show as well as the hero all in one conversation and flashback sequence. It's what I consider to be brilliant writing when a story can give you two of the most key elements in a very short span of time without feeling rushed. The amazing sense of pacing in this season also supports that achievement as well.
Back to our CDC team on the island, we see tensions rising almost pass it's peak as the infected remain hidden from everyone by Olivia's manipulated ambush and the community begins to lose trust in Michael as a leader. During this widespread of paranoia, we see Alan waking up in a confused daze trying to piece together what happened to him (after last week's episode's ending). As Kyle decides to join him in finding Sarah, things begin to stir up during one of Michael's speeches. I really liked this scene as it sort of sparked the fuse in the dynamite that is the ending of this episode. You can really see Michael's grasp on his people loosening as his once cunning words begin to show its weakness and emptiness. Following one of the crowd members throwing something at him, we see this once powerful figure standing at the end of his ropes. Remembering how he handled his emotional problems in the flashback, one can only assume something terrible is about to happen in this present chaotic situation.
We see Michael retreating to his office speaking to the many portraits of his daughters on his wall. Adding to the origins of Michael, we get sort of a run down of all the significant things that each daughter did for him and for the island. I'm actually glad they didn't flashback to each daughter (although not a terrible idea) as it brought more of a mysterious feeling from the shots of the portraits alone as he spoke of each person. Eventually, Sister Amy catches him speaking to the wall portraits (beginning her questioning on his sanity already) and tells him that she had Malcolm (the guy that threw something at Michael during the speech) imprisoned. After Michael goes against his normal methods and tells her to let him free, she begins to question his ways. This results in yet another intense scene involving Michael and one of his daughters (who can forget poor Sister Agnes). As Michael faces Amy towards the portraits, he clamps onto her throat tightly telling her of his many daughters' dedication to the fellowship as well as how they followed him without question. After nearly strangling her to death, he lets her go asking if she's ready for him to pass their legacy down to her. A very eerie and tension driven scene indeed. We'v seen Sister Amy have this rise to power attitude and character arc so far, so it was different to see her completely powerless fearful in the presence of Michael. It was almost as if the show was reminding me that even with all of her successful manipulative ways on the people, she still comes only 2nd to Michael on the villain list of this season.
As the episode continues, we still see our good old friend Peter locked up in the pit. Only now he has an inmate as Sister Anne is also locked up with him through Michael's orders. The two lashes out on each other after Sister Anne tries to explain her beliefs in Michael knowing what's right for her and her people which of course is the last thing Peter needs to hear. What surprisingly happens is the two finding common ground in realizing that their worst position in life is working alongside their family. For the first time that I can remember in this season, we see the two characters actually smiling and laughing at how far they've come in their family struggles. But like said, it doesn't last too long as Sister Amy interrupts by telling Anne about her thoughts on Michael going crazy. Completely defying Anne's orders to still protect Michael even if he doesn't seem straight minded, Sister Amy leaves the two without opening the door causing Peter to yet again stay trapped (the guy can't catch a break at all).
As Alan and Kyle begin their search, we see our beloved Sarah waking up in a horrific environment also having memory flashes of the incident like Alan. Both memories seem to depict a surgical operation being done on Sarah in which we can only assume as being Michael's people removing the immortal baby that Peter told him about. What follows through with Sarah in this episode is what I believe to be Helix's horror element finally ranking up and fully being realized. There is great sense of a genuinely terrifying atmosphere surrounding her as distant screams, eerie sounds, and dead bodies decorates this dark dungeon. As a big fan of horror, I ate it up the entire scene like a kid running to food samples at a grocery store. It was a well executed scene and I hope to find more like this in the future of the series. To make things worst on the CDC scientist, she wanders past an infected lunatic slamming his head on the wall repeatedly leading to a couple of children hiding from the same guy (revealing to be their father). As Sarah quickly locks the door trying to keep the children safe, the intensity only rises up more as their infected father bangs on the door furiously. I felt not only worried for Sarah and the children, but honestly scared personally after imagining myself in that situation with them. It takes a lot to get me anxious in a horror film which is why I emphasize on how well this scene was done. The children were great too as they seem scared for their life, but more importantly avoided getting in the way as you normally would see in these situations onscreen. As the infected father moves away from the door eventually and the the children alongside Sarah makes their escape, we join back with Alan and Kyle's search.
As the two head closer to Sarah's location, Alan begins to question the pathogen's fast paced killing trait. He states that it doesn't work as a regular pathogen would (which normally takes time to spread to others) claiming that it could've more likely been tampered by human hands to alter its process. Of course, we've been countlessly reminded of the power of nature being controlled and changed by human hands on the island, so his statements here are very significant to one of the core elements of this season overall. As the tagline of the Season 2 posters states, "Play God. Play The Price". The two finally comes across a bloody hospital bed in a locked room causing Alan to have more memory flashes of Sarah's surgery. Kyle not knowing what to believe aims his gun at Alan in paranoia (the center feeling of this episode) demanding answers. After mumbling scattered thoughts about what it could all mean between Sarah, Ilaria, and everything else, Alan's eyes begin to dart similarly to the manipulated children that attacked Kyle in an earlier episode. This of course causes Kyle to realize that Alan has also been under the influence of a mysterious drug in which the two try to figure out. If there were any reasons for me to dislike the character of Kyle earlier, they flew right out of the window in this scene as well as a few other moments where his character was helpful in past episodes. He could've easily been a paranoid jerk and shoot Alan, but instead he keeps a clear head realizing that Alan is not the enemy in this situation. Rarely in television shows, do I ever find a character that makes an attempt to understand what's going on before doing something moronic instantly. I'm happy to say that Helix has one of those rare cases in Kyle (so far anyway). He has been the most helpful and significant in the scientific and medical aspect of this island cult story and earns his right to join the "characters that should not die yet" list.
As the two decide to split up with Alan claiming to run out of anymore good ideas, we get a brief heartfelt moment of Sarah telling one of her CDC stories to the little boy to calm him down. Sure on the surface it felt a little unnecessary, but it sort of adds to her character as being the lighthearted innocent member of the team. During her story, she tells of a little boy who tied a towel around him to be just like Superman as diseases do not affect him. There is a moment where you can tell that she may have lied about the ending where the little boy in her story survives. Without a flashback needed at that very moment, I started to think on how interesting it would be see some of the team's disease fighting days before the whole Ilaria story arc. It would make for an interesting spin-off mini series (tho I may just be asking for too much as I love these characters). Interrupting this lighthearted moment, the infected father finds them and chases after them until Alan comes to the rescue killing with a needle. After ensuring the kids their safety by having them go to the dining hall with everyone else, Sarah tells Alan about something possibly being wrong with the baby (which is hinted beforehand with her constantly holding onto herself in pain as well as the surgery-related memory flashes).
With Alan and Sarah using an ultrasound machine to find the fetus within her, the screen remains blank with no results. This in addition to everything else terrible that's been happening begins to weigh in on Sarah's emotional state which eventually fully fires out on Alan after he reveals that to be the one that attacked her. Although he explains that he was drugged, Sarah doesn't take the time to try and understand or believe him as she yells at him claiming that he did it on purpose in his hatred of immortals. This was honestly an emotionally powerful moment as I couldn't blame any of the two characters after what they've been through. You knew from before that this potential baby would be trouble for them, but all of the events leading up after her first reveal of being pregnant to him completely overshadowed it. It's great to see the writers utilizing every single weapon (possible character arcs) to fire at their cast in the future no matter how far along its been when it was first talked about. As Sarah cracks and lashes out at Alan, I remembered the conversation she had with Sister Agnes about her child and the father not being there. Its as if this slowly brewing pot of depression and fear finally reached its boiling point with Sarah and Alan so happen to have been the one getting burned (poor guy). I don't think Sarah will stay mad at him, but I do think it would take something very impactful for her to snap out of her emotional state of mind.
With Sarah and Alan out of the picture for the moment, we meet up with Kyle still on the search for Sarah only to end up in Michael's botanical lab. Being a fan of old classic horror films, this struck me as sort of the damsel in distress or even the hero discovering the evil mad scientist's lab. At every corner something could've jumped out and killed Kyle (or so it felt anyway). That's the beauty of the Michael character being a mystery when it comes to his work on controlling nature. We've seen his high intellect and powerful grasp on nature, but who knows how much dangerous experiments lies within that lab. It's what I consider to be the villain's lair in this season much like Hiroshi's arctic bio lab was in the first season (a place of infinite possibilities of evil). As Michael unexpectedly shows up, Kyle quickly hides on the upstairs library to witness Michael working on a mysterious concoction. Speaking of classic horror villains, the guy even plays an old record player of classic music (just what every villain needs). As Kyle continues to stay hidden, he begins glancing at one of the books in front of him trying to make sense of all of the names and timelines listed in the book. It would seem that Michael has catalogued everything through his many generations on the island all in that one library. On a side note, this would make for a great extra content feature on a Helix website or DVD (just throwing out an idea).
Making another unexpected surprise, we see Sister Amy storming in to speak to Michael about her individualism (something that was bound to happen eventually). It's interesting to see how certain characters share similar character progression as both Sarah and Sister Amy lets all of their emotions out after brewing in it for a long time. What's great about this scene is how much yet again, Michael brings out her vulnerability by revealing how he knew every single thing that she did. The manipulating, the tainted honey, and everything else was completely thrown in her face by Michael almost completely taking away her edge against him. It shows that even if it seems that Michael has no control or knowledge of a situation, there's a high chance that he is already one step ahead of it. Michael then reveals his plans on "thinning" which really defines as killing everyone on the island to start over fresh. The calmness in his attitude as he speaks to her about literally engaging in genocide is very twisted and downright evil considering how much these people has done for him (definitely earning that "great villain" recognition from me). After Sister Amy opposes, he locks her up in a glass container seemingly holding dangerous plant life. This almost officially puts a seal on the Sister Amy character ever becoming more than just a power hungry teen who thought she was above everyone. If she ends up dying in the next episode, I wouldn't be surprised honestly, but if she doesn't, then I would suspect her possibly finding a way to defeat Michael. As for the whole genocidal thing, it's interesting how we're seeing the exact same plans being in place by Ilaria on a wider scale. It's interesting to see Julia's reaction when/if she meets Michael eventually (should be quite the conversation).
With Kyle also leaving Amy in the glass container and escaping, he eventually finds Peter and Sister Anne in the pit. Just the sight of seeing him there had me thinking "Thank God, someone not cult-related found this guy. Honestly, how much longer will they keep him down there?" As Kyle helps the two get out, Sister Anne tells Kyle that the plant experimentation that he saw Michael doing is used for a "thinning" which we've learned before as being a genocidal event. Peter catches onto Michael's plans while making references to other similar events that has taken place in history such as "Jonestown" (confirming the climatic moment that's about to take place). One of my favorite things for films and shows to do hype up a climatic scene through the fears of characters beforehand. I would say this entire episode minus the Sarah segments is one big fear inducing hype creator for the ending scene (and a great one too).
And now for the beyond insane finale that blew my mind out of the water. As Michael walks in with that two sided grin of his claiming that the CDC has found a cure, there's a very subtle foreshadowing as the little boy from earlier pretends to fly past him (still with Sarah's calming story in his mind from earlier no doubt). It's that little moment where I knew things were about to get ugly with a no exceptions rule. As Michael's fake cure gets passed around the innocent and relieved followers, he tells Landry to get his men outside (more foreshadowing). Malcolm asks if it's safe to drink whereas Michael simply drinks it in front of them knowing that his immortality will stop the effects. What follows the rest of the scene can only be described as horrific, tragic, twisted, evil, and quite bold to say the least. We see Peter, Anne, and Kyle rushing over to the hall just to discover that it's too late via the locked doors. We get a very hopeful, yet hopeless scene where the little boy continues to run around like Superman accidentally dropping his cup. As he hides it with his "cape", he glances up see everyone quickly dying around him from the poison. In a very dramatic and quite impactful scene, we see Michael calmly walking through the surrounding death before him as Peter, Anne, and Kyle continues to bang on the door trying to break through. What happens in the end is the real tear dropper as Michael approaches the little boy, gently taps him, and gives him a cup to drink. Although we don't actually see him die, it's obviously implied through Michael's grin. As the scene fades to black and credits began rolling, I found myself genuinely stunned at what I just saw. This was everything a mid season finale should be (although I'm not sure if this was a mid-season finale or not). Character secrets being revealed to one another, bigger story lines being set in stone, and an ending that would make you chat for hours and hours about your reaction after seeing it for the first time. This is by far the most impactful episode of Helix in the entire series thus far with an ending that will be remembered in the years to come.