DEADtime TV: Helix ‘Scion’

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If you didn’t know what a scion was, Helix very quickly tells you thanks to a helpful dialogue between Brother Michael and Sister Anne: it’s a grafting term, where a twig is grafted onto another stock. But “Scion” has a double meaning in this episode; sure, Brother Michael and the rest of the people at the abbey have been doing a lot of experimentation with plants and altering their genetic makeup, but at the same time Helix brings back Hiroshi Hatake and his children, 30 years in the future.

Hatake’s return is overshadowed, though, by the episode’s first scene – a handjob, given very clinically, to a man as they discuss the problems on the island. It’s gross and weird, way too up in the guy’s grille to be erotic, and yet it’s Helix at its finest; it takes a regular conversation and makes it unnecessarily wacky, the kind of thing that made the show’s first season so crazy and then so disappointing.

That’s a good statement for “Scion,” because despite all of the things going on in this episode, it generally feels boring and overly bloated with nothing in particular. Helix throws a lot of events at the audience all the time, and using that type of storytelling for long periods often feels like sensory overload, to the point where surprise becomes expected. “Scion” is constantly doing new things; the handjob is just one of many scenes where Helix breaks from tradition. But all of these new events get no closer to explaining any of the madness going on at St. Germain, and they’re certainly no relation to what happened back at Arctic Biosystems.

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The problem with Helix’s second season reboot is that it often feels detached from everything that happened before it. I like that they’ve gone with a new virus, but at the same time, the Narvik strain has disappeared into thin air, and I would be really surprised if Helix is able to tie this new plant-based variety to Ilaria besides the easy explanation that Brother Michael and company work for them, engineering terrible new viruses to spread on humanity.

As Helix continues, it loses those connections to the first season by adding even more weirdness. This time, though, the plant-based virus isn’t as interesting or thrilling as the Narvik strain. Part of that is the absence of anyone infected with it; in “Scion,” we see one guy foaming at the mouth with the yellow-pustule virus, but other than that, despite Sarah and Peter’s claims that this is a wide-spread outbreak, the audience has yet to see any of that. But Helix is also mixing its viruses up too much to follow. In this episode, there’s another plant strain that causes all of the children to go nuts and beat up Kyle with a bunch of stones.

Where did that come from, some would ask? Is it because Kyle is getting too close to the truth with Sister Amy? One wouldn’t know, because so far Helix has done a poor job of characterizing Kyle besides his southern hospitality and charm, and it’s kept Amy at an arm’s distance away to the point where her interactions leave nothing but questions about who this girl is and what she does around the island.

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In the same way, “Scion” sets up some stuff with Alan (his presence is also a mystery) where he investigates a locked warehouse where casks of not-wine are stored. He sneaks in, gets beat down by Peter, and that’s where that ends. Likewise, the flash-forwards continue to give the viewer very little new information about anything going on in the world 30 years later. Not only are they unnecessary at this point, but they’re so elusive to the viewer that they just frustrate.

Hatake does come back, though, and he’s now super crazy. He sees the ghosts (or figments of his imagination) of Daniel and his wife Jane, and when Julia comes to visit, he forces a truth serum into her so she’ll explain what she’s doing on the island. Nothing much comes of this that we don’t already know – immortals are getting sick, she needs to find a cure, and she also has the virus. The only thing that “Scion” reveals is that Hatake has really lost his shit this time, keeping strangely well-preserved bodies of Daniel and Jane at the dinner table.

Unfortunately, “Scion” is a turn for the worse this season. It’s not a terrible episode, that being based on the usual quality of Helix and now television as a whole. But at the same time, the frustrating way that the show is yanking the viewer around, hoping that some parts of this plot will stick, is cause for concern on the direction of this season. Worse than that, though, is that “Scion” is just plain uninteresting, even with that clinical handjob.

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