DEADtime TV: Helix ‘O Brave New World’

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The biggest question going into Helix‘s second season finale “O Brave New World” was about the risky time jump thirty years into the future in the season premiere: was it worth it? Season 2 began a new plot that used little from last season’s exploits at the Arctic Biosystems base besides the immortality of certain people and Ilaria’s involvement in world domination; adding another maneuver like a flash-forward seemed to distance Helix even more. Throughout this season, the show eventually dropped the future timeline once Julia found her way to the abbey, a subplot seemingly forgotten during the more action-oriented pieces of the puzzle. “O Brave New World” returns to the future to explain itself, and to deliver a few answers.

In short, the time jump was a small success. Taken in context with the rest of the season, the elements did come together to form a cohesive storyline that connected with the events in the past/future. At the same time, the venture was probably somewhat unnecessary, used mostly to draw viewers in with a shocking moment early in the season. That it dropped out as the plot progressed caused some unneeded confusion, and coming back to that element in the last episode was a risk if the viewer didn’t remember or care about the flash-forward.

But it did set up an interesting theme about motherhood that runs throughout Helix‘s second season. There’s a Mother tree that gives life and causes infertility; there was a mothering operation run underneath the abbey that forced mothers to give up their children to people who could raise them; Sarah struggled to maintain control of her unborn baby; and Amy, obsessed with power, wanted to use people to become the head Mother of the abbey. Before “O Brave New World,” these were just moments in a show full of seemingly unconnected plot strings, but with the jump thirty years into the future, it becomes clear that motherhood is a new issue for the people of Ilaria. With the fungus from Mother, Ilaria is able to limit the fertility rates of women, and the quick teaser at the end of the episode hints of the new normal pregnancy scenario in 2039.

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That’s what it all culminates to, but the lead-up in this episode is pretty good too, considering the fact that Helix rushed to make Peter into a bad guy in the last couple of episodes. Most of the villains come back in “O Brave New World” for one last hurrah, but the episode is forced to quickly mitigate these threats because of the shortened time it has. Soren gets a final stab at Peter, while Amy makes a return only to get her comeuppance at the hands of all the mothers she impregnated and imprisoned. These are quality moments that allow some much-needed revenge, and it’s good to see Amy (who has been almost insufferable after Michael died) get what she deserves.

But most of the bad guys don’t lose, and they don’t win. They’re stuck in limbo: since Sarah and Kyle are able to call out to the military for an escape, everyone is picked up and brought back to a hospital. Peter’s taken into custody, but it’s clear that he’s already fulfilled his legacy by handing over the fungus to Ilaria. Sarah loses her baby, which should come as no surprise considering it was leaking fluid all over the place, something not even Juicy Fruit can stop. Alan barely survives, but he’s turned into an immortal all the same. And Soren is used by Kyle and Alan to create a virus that kills immortals, with only his blood carrying the cure.

Interestingly, it’s difficult to tell who to root for anymore. Neither side is doing much good, both waging a war to stop the other by murder and viruses. Helix‘s plot this season didn’t come together as well as I hoped, but at the same time it did have some inventive moments. Unfortunately, the creativity was at the cost of making sure all of these pieces connected; the first half of this season at the abbey feels overwhelmingly different than the last six episodes.

But “O Brave New World” does manage to show some foresight at the end of the episode. This season was always looking ahead to the future; it was crafting a story about motherhood that would, eventually, lead Sarah to want to join Ilaria to help people eligible for pregnancy in a world where infertility has been manipulated by man. It was looking ahead to 2039 but also making a statement about human choice, not just for the birth of children – although that’s heavily implied – but also about family, relationships, and everything else that makes us human. It was about finding Alan’s path to creating a virus that would kill off immortals, and then allowing Julia to make a choice, in 2030, about crafting a cure. Helix leaves all of these elements unanswered in the finale, setting itself up for a third season should SyFy choose to renew (UPDATE: Nope, not renewed).

Yet working towards the future leaves the present in a state of chaos. Helix might have had an endgame in mind – and as finales go, “O Brave New World” is much better than season one’s “Dans L’Hombre” – but the episodes leading up to this reveal are filled with holes. That’s not the path to a good show, and despite all the fun I’ve had with Helix this season, I can’t say that it was particularly effective. Setting up that future was important, but there was consequence to that focus that the show couldn’t overcome, at least not until the end.

pros

  • The future timeline connects to the past better than I could have expected
  • Leaves things well-defined for next season
  • Wrap-up gives a few people their due revenge
  • Doesn’t skimp on the crazy, for a fast-paced episode

cons

  • Season hinged too much on the set-up for a season that might (edit: will not) come
  • Peter’s madness explained because he was stuck in a hole for a little while
  • Leaves quite a bit of plot lines unresolved

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