Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Helix has a MacGuffin and I think I know where the show is going

No, Doreen! You can't be dead. This really did kind of suck. Sigh.
So, I've been watching SyFy's Helix on Friday nights (yes I know my social life is just banging) but as one who is all too familiar with "income inequality," it's the more affordable mode of entertainment for me (that and cooking my meals at home really does save money). However, since it premiered about three weeks ago, I've been a little "meh" about the series as a whole (wrongfully comparing it to The Walking Dead at times). I have my reasons for my immediate eye-rolls in watching the episodes. For example, I don't really like anyone in the cast, the weird "elevator" music when the title credits roll took a bit of getting used to, and I was kind of primed for this to be a twist on zombies in the arctic. Either that or a really cool Outbreak-esque apocalyptic tale. But both of these scenarios never really materialized, and I think that's a good thing.

In addition, it turns out that the whole "zombie breakout" thing that I expected turned out to be a MacGuffin. Do you guys know what this is? In fiction, a MacGuffin is a plot device that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation. MacGuffins are usually the central focus of a film's first act, and decline in importance as the story progresses. This is exactly what's going on in Helix, and the result has finally piqued my interest (if just a wee bit).

Now, I don't think that I have an unusually short attention span. In my defense, I tend to hold onto a series a lot longer than I should (this is happening with Almost Human, which has just about reached the intolerable level in the "boring" department). But I was just about ready to give up on Helix when the episode this last Friday aired and everything seemed to coalesce.
Dr. Peter Farragut infected with the Helix Vector (they call the zombies "vectors".)
Mysteries in Helix are plentiful much in the vein of Lost, but by far the most intriguing thing about the show are the characters themselves. At the center of this evolution are characters who may act like psychopaths but may in fact be on the side of good. Peter (brother to Alan) is one of these as it turns out that he was doing grunt work, i.e., he knows nothing about the disease. Hiroshi was the one running the show the entire time, and Hiroshi has this whole creepy fascination with Julia (which seems oddly compelling). This "creepiness" gets another layer when Julia comes to a realization that she's been to the arctic laboratory before and doesn't remember any of it. Why?
Hiroshi Hatake with the strange glowing eyes that he hides behind contacts. It's
another mystery that needs some explanation. But then I'd also like to know about
all the frozen monkeys and about the message supposedly encoded in the RNA
strands of the Helix Vector disease. Sigh.
Is it possible that Hiroshi used Julia as one of his experiments? And what do we know about Hiroshi? One, he has many secrets. He has a secret scrapbook of all things Julia, a secret stairway down to the quarantine level, and has the ability to stare down one of the zombies (and they just let him walk on by). He's also a cold-blooded killer, willing to murder unarmed men over clean air (when they could just open a window to get clean air).

Then we have Sergio who murdered Doreen and fed her to hairless rats right after a great bonding moment. WTF? For the record, I really liked Doreen. She was the one true scientist on the show, given that Alan is self-absorbed and incompetent and Sarah is just useless. It's unfortunate really that she pretty much had a target on her back, being the one that got close to Sergio and being fat and unattractive (as deemed by Hollywood). This show also has other problems: the "zombies" are all black people with the exception of Peter, and the "villain" is turning out to be a Japanese guy. It makes me wonder if the show's being written by paranoid white men who secretly wish we could return to a time when it was okay to sexually harass a young attractive woman (and suffer no repercussion).

I hope they explain the black goo before the series finale though. I have so many questions about it.

TL;DR: Helix has a MacGuffin, and I think I know where the show is going.

19 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I watched the first half of the premier and still haven't watched the second half. Need to catch up before I fall too far behind.

Pat Dilloway said...

Being fed to hairless rats? Gross. Why do these shows have to invent some stupid word for zombies? They should know all of us pukes in the real world are just going to call them zombies, not "walkers" or "vectors" or whatever other stupid name they use.

I like "Almost Human" so it figures that's the one SF show in the known universe you wouldn't like.

Shawn Yankey said...

I jut may have to give this show a chance now. I haven't tried it or Almost Human but now I'm interested in Helix. Great post!
Laughing at Life 2

Sarah Ahiers said...

What an apropos post because i was JUST going to ask you if you were watching Helix

I'm glad to hear that it picks up some. We watched the first episode and were disappointed, but not so much that we weren't going to give it a few more episodes.

On the other side, we love Almost Human, and since JJ has a tendency of starting shows sloooos (like Fringe took more than half a season before it got suddenly amazing) I'm willing to let it shallowly entertain me while i wait for the bigger story structure i think is coming.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I tried to watch the first show and couldn't get through it. I just couldn't feel any tension or care what was happening. Maybe I'll try it again.

Stephen Hayes said...

I believe it was Alfred Hitchcock who first used the term MacGuffin. You explained it well.

mooderino said...

I watched the fist couple but lost interest. Not sure what it's meant to be and I'm not falling for the "what does it all mean..." type approach. Lost cured me of that.

mood
Moody Writing

Liz A. said...

This one is piling up on my DVR. I'm going to get around to watching it one of these days...

Rusty Carl said...

I didn't read a word of what you wrote. I missed the last episode and don't want it spoiled. I'll try to catch it before the next one airs.

M Pax said...

It's been on the same time as Dracula, so I've only seen the pilot so far. I tend to give shows a chance too, but already gave up on Tomorrow People, SHIELD, and... something I can't remember.

Helena said...

I saw only a few minutes of the pilot, and I did like how they had a middle-aged woman of average appearance, just like a real scientist. But from what you say it sounds like she's now dead, which means only the attractive women will live. And you say there's a race problem too? Sigh. Hollywood can be so tiresome.

Andrew Leon said...

I quit reading, because I'll probably watch the series some year.

Cindy said...

You sure stick with a show a long time before giving up on it. I'm not that patient.

Madeline Jane said...

I've been watching Helix, and I'm sort of hooked. I didn't think that they'd be able to draw out all the virus's "secrets" for too long, but last week's episode kind of proved me wrong. There's a lot more secrets than I originally thought. And I'm extremely mad about Sergio killing Doreen. It was so cute, and then all of a sudden there's a needle in her neck and infected rats on top of her dead body. . . so adorable.

Trisha F said...

I guess if I watch it I'll need to stick with at least a few episodes to get to the intriguing stuff. :)

Elise Fallson said...

I haven't started this series, but I have started Almost Human, sorry to hear it's going down hill for you, and I was having such high hopes for this series, <3 Michael and Karl.

Lady Lilith said...

I have not heard of this series but it sounds good.

DEZMOND said...

that first rat picture just scared the coon's tail out of me....
How do you like THE MUSKETEERS and BLACK SAILS so far?

Jay Noel said...

Dang. The rats freak me out big time.

I stopped watching Helix. Just didn't keep my attention, but that might be partly my fault.

Sometimes, stress from work does affect how much I pay attention to anything I watch, which might be the case here.