“Reunion” still feels like Helix is rebooting itself for season 2, albeit a little less franticly now that the premiere is out of the way. The show is using basically the same format it did in its first season: a team of CDC scientists attempt to isolate a virus in a confined space before that virus can wreak havoc on all of the people at said facility; along the way, the people that originally asked for help have secrets to hide, and there are things that the scientists don’t know and things Helix isn’t telling us. This time, the virus happens to be on an island, and the scientists are Sarah, Peter, and Kyle, but the rest of the stuff is really quite formulaic.
In “Reunion”, Helix gives us a better look at the island and the strange religious sect that resides there. Led by Brother Michael, all of the people on the island have a very different outlook on life; they worship every day at a chapel, they all have jobs to do that mostly include dealing with plant life like an apple orchard, and they allow the children to pick who will best care for them. It’s not unheard of for some people to want to remain off the grid, but the people on St. Germain island seem to know quite a bit about happenings on the mainland for people who have spent much of their lives secluded in the middle of nowhere, so either there’s something they’re not saying or they’re getting intel from outside. Whatever the case, the whole thing has a very peculiar feeling to it, and Helix is actually doing a good job spreading that.
With that said, Brother Michael is a lot like Hatake from season 1. He asks Peter and Sarah for help, and yet he’s obviously somewhat reluctant to let on to what these people are doing on the island. There’s a weird worship happening here, and it’s clear that plant experimentation is the name of the game whether the scientists have figured it out or not. The show hasn’t revealed what it all means, but by the nature of the virus, the viewer can take a guess that the virus is again a man-made disease using plants as an example – it seems, in one encounter, that the virus spreads via a spore-like substance expelled by the victims.
“Reunion” does a better job of explaining itself, of allowing the team to really get in there and do some digging. Alan shows up in this episode as a brother himself, calling himself Jerome to avoid detection. In not-so-subtle flashbacks, Helix shows us that he went on a killing spree with employees of Ilaria, attempting to figure out what’s going on with them. He doesn’t reveal his motives to Sarah, who gets to talk to him quickly, but it would seem as though he knows this group on St. Germain are related to Ilaria in some way.
What Sarah does reveal, though, is that she’s pregnant with Alan’s child. Except she’s never had the child, because once she got a transplant from Julia, she became an immortal and the baby stopped aging. It’s an interesting setup, but it also feels unlikely to play a large role in Helix since Sarah will never have the baby.
There’s definitely some good going on with the new virus; I like how different (and similar!) it is from the Narvik strains, and I’m enjoying the total reversal of setting. What’s unfortunate, though, is that the spread of this virus feels much less terrifying than the Narvik strain at Arctic Biosystems. That was a very enclosed space, and everyone was at risk for the virus; here, we know that Sarah and Peter are immune, and the island is a lot larger and more open, so there’s no claustrophobia to add suspense.
Likewise, the flash-forwards Helix has been using to show Julia in the future are not utilized well in “Reunion”. In this episode, Julia is mostly relegated to digging up Alan’s grave, only to find that his body’s not there. There’s also a secret on the island that she’s got to explore, with more bones and more questions to ask. Other than that, though, Helix doesn’t spend a lot of time on this subplot, and right now it seems like an unnecessary addition to a show already chock-full of ideas it needs to take care of.
However, I am still willing to give Helix the benefit of the doubt. It’s been a crazy ride, no doubt, but it still remains a very entertaining one. With a new virus and some new characters with their own secrets, season 2 definitely seems like it has enough story to continue the two-week period the show is giving its scientists before the Coast Guard return to the island. I’m sure a lot will happen in that time; it’s up to Helix to juggle its present-future transitions better, and to make sure it incorporates the Narvik strain in this season or risk dropping important plot elements.