There’s Two Sides Of A Helix
Normally I do not want to review season opener episodes (besides season one openers of course) for three reasons:
- There are so many pilotes out there and one of my biggest mistakes of the past was losing focus in doing too many different things and neglecting the main thing.
- In most cases there is very little new things in a season opener: You know the characters, you know the setting, you know how the show looks like. Why recite it all over again?
- Generally by then you either watch the show or you don’t. You won’t need any advise.
There are rare cases in which a review is interesting and useful enough to make it. Helix is such a case. This is not only about a season opener, a continuation of a serial drama, it’s not even about some changes they made. This is about how tearing down a whole show that took the wrong lane, stripping it to the bone and then building it up again.
If it wasn’t for these changes (I read about some of them like leaving the arctic setting in advance) I probably wouldn’t even have come back for season two since the first season started as an exceptional virus thriller circling around a big mystery and ended as a messy zombie apocalypse having lost any focus long ago.
Season two entirely reboots the show. It doesn’t ignores about what happened before but it doesn’t care either as of now. Instead the season opener “San Jose” is setting up a complete new environment. The arctic station is gone, we’re now out in the jungle of a small remote island. All the secondary characters are gone, also most notably former main character Hatake who played an important role in the messy mythology. There is no zombie attack (I have to point that out because Helix had these in everey episode of season one) but diverse elements of backwood horror. We barely get to see the main character, a second main character is divided from all the rest the entire episode (and probably even longer).
These are brave decisions the producers made and they work. Helix feels very fresh again, it feels like there’s a real plan behind all of this and it feels like they won’t drop the old mythology but handle it with care. Also: the island looks amazing and is much more fun to watch than sterile science labs. Other than moste season one episodes that were more brutal and disgusting, “San Jose” is really creepy some times. And it has a super clever, fantastic looking pivotal scene right in the middle which stands out as a key visual which makes the frozen monkeys fade in comparison (if you’ve already seen the “rolling rat” you know what I mean).
I can’t in any way promise this will not end in a disaster again, but it seems the producers learned a lot from season one and want to take this chance to make it better this time. If you lost interest during season 1, just give it a second try. “San Jose” is worth it.