Helix

7.3 / 10
43 min
Drama, Science-Fiction
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8.5
" gives "Helix - Pilot" a 8.5."
Written by on 22 January 2014.
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Helix - Pilot

A research facility in the Arctic, surrounded by snow and far from civilization. It’s the perfect place for research which is not completely ethically sound, as is shown in the pilot episode of ‘Helix’. ‘Helix’, described as a science-fiction thriller, focuses on a team of scientists from the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) who are sent to this research facility to investigate a potential virus outbreak. Once arrived, they realise the virus is not your everyday kind of virus, and nothing is what it seems. ‘Helix’ keeps you on the edge of your seat, as it continuously raises new questions and mysteries.

The team from CDC is led by Dr. Alan Farragut, played by Billly Campbell (‘The 4400’, ‘The Killing’) and further consists of his ex Dr. Julia Walker (Kyra Zagorsky), new favourite Dr. Sarah Jordan (Jordan Hayes), Dr. Doreen Boyle (Catherine Lemieux) and Major Sergio Balleseros (Mark Ghanimé, ‘Emily Owens M.D.’), who offers assistance from the army. Once they’ve reached the facility, the team is welcomed by the mysterious director Dr. Hiroshi Hatake (Hiroyuki Sanada, ‘Revenge’, ‘47 Ronin’) and head of security Daniel Aerov (Meegwun Fairbrother). Despite the veil of hospitality, it soon becomes clear that the team is not welcome. As if this doesn’t cause enough tension, the virus was created by the infected Dr. Peter Farragut, Alan’s brother and was responsible for the break-up between him and Julia.

Whilst it may sound as though ‘Helix’ focuses a lot on relationship problems, the show manages to balance the big-scale mystery with the smaller-scale tension between the scientists really well. Not just between the scientists from CDC, but also between the team and the scientists from the research facility, who are kept quarantined against their will. You can feel the tension, caused by keeping a lot of people in a small space, through the screen. Another smart move from ‘Helix’ is the order in which the characters are introduced. Since Alan is the first to be introduced and because the victim is his brother, you automatically assume that the mystery will centre around him. However, you quickly realize that Julia is the one who really matters. Subtle hints indicate that Peter (and Dr. Hatake?) has a special place reserved for Julia in his research and the end of episode two promises more clarity on the subject is soon to come.

This leaves us with the big mystery itself, the virus. The decomposition of the two infected corpses into black gunk doesn’t promise anything good should the virus break out. But is it really a virus? How is it possible that Peter’s still alive? And what was he really researching? From the first second in which Dr. Hatake calls Peter’s survival “progress”, we know something fishy is going on. The sinister character of everything that’s going on in the research facility is emphasized by the cheerfulness of the happy lift-music used as soundtrack. There couldn’t be more tension in ‘Helix’ and the complexity of the mystery is increased step by step. The wide shots of the extensive and deserted Arctic landscape surrounding the facility provide an almost claustrophobic feeling, as they make you realize that the scientists are stuck inside the facility and don’t have to count on help from the outside world.

Helix’ is a clever thriller and has convincing actors and excellent cinematography. You can feel the tension through the screen because of the clever set-up of the story, but also thanks to the great amount of ‘did I just see something from the corner of my eyes’-moments. The setting is really thought-through and definitely contributes to the tension; not just because of the isolation but also because you can’t help but wonder what else is hidden underneath the white cover of snow. I for one am very enthusiastic about the beginning of ‘Helix’ and can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store.
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