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'Helix' Recap: 'Pilot/Vector'

By Brian Brown,

Syfy’s new suspense series begins with an intense 90-minute double episode.

The pilot begins with a flashback going to and from a pair of hazmat suited figures walking menacingly down a long corridor away from the camera, and a frightened man who they are presumably pursuing, Doctor Peter Farragut. Peter goes through a red gate and closes it behind him. He stops for a split second to catch his breath before he is pulled into the darkness by a pair of mysterious hands. When the hazmat figures open the gate, Dionne Warwick’s “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” can be heard coming from an MP3 player’s speakers. The hazmats approach a lifeless body and one of them kneels to get a better look, revealing his face for the first time, that of Doctor Hiroshi Hataki. Then the hazmats come to Peter, who is writhing on the floor. Hataki offers him water, then squeezes the liquid into his mouth, causing Peter’s throat to shudder strangely. Hataki’s companion, Daniel Aerov, inquires about what happened, and Hataki simply replies “progress.”

In the present, Doctor Alan Farragut, who is Peter’s brother and clearly the hero of the story, and Doctor Sarah Jordan are bantering playfully while looking for a water pump handle in Alan’s office at the Centers for Disease Control for Alan. Alan uses the handle as a prop in an anecdote about cholera he is telling to new CDC field agents. At the end of the speech, Alan’s ex-wife Doctor Julia Walker enters through the door.

Walker, along with Major Sergio Balleseros of the U.S. Army, has come to Alan for help with a potential outbreak at a private research center in the Arctic. The Major reveals that Walker was specifically requested, but she asked for Alan to be involved. Walker then drops the bomb that Alan’s brother is among the infected.

Day 1 begins and Alan, Sarah, Walker, Balleseros, and Doctor Doreen Boyle, a member of Alan’s team and the comic relief, arrive at the Arctic base. The group is introduced to Hataki, the head of research, and Daniel, the head of security. The group is debriefed and have ID tech inserted under the skin of their hands, which will allow them to open the doors.

Alan and Walker then attempt to question Peter who is isolated in intensive care. He struggles at first, but manages to mention a mysterious white room. Meanwhile, Daniel tells Sarah that he was adopted by Hataki when he was young. Walker discovers that Peter’s blood is black, which seems to cause Peter to Hulk out and become paranoid, saying “you lie. Everyone lies.”

Next, we see Doyle and Balleseros inspecting the lab under supervision. Doyle is surprised to learn that the lab rats don’t have genitals and especially that there are no monkeys at the base. Elsewhere, Walker, Alan, and Sarah prepare to examine two dead bodies. When Sarah opens the first body bag, black blood leaks out and a particularly unattractive skeleton is revealed, to which Sarah does not respond well. Meanwhile, Doyle becomes confident enough that the virus is not airborne that she takes off her hazmat helmet. Then she and Balleseros discover monkey hair, proof that they are being lied to. This causes them to look for, and eventually find the monkey cages, abandoned except for one hairless infected monkey.

In Peter’s office, Alan finds a research video of his brother, in which he makes a secret signal that the two developed as children, to warn the other of their abusive drunk of a father. Walker then arrives to reveal that Peter has disappeared from his bed and escaped into the air ducts. Daniel floods the ducts with knockout gas, and then Alan crawls in the ducts with a gasmask to look for his brother, but instead he finds a member of Daniel’s security team who has had his hand removed by Peter.

While Balleseros is outside sending a secret message, he comes upon a graveyard of frozen monkeys. When he comes back in, he chats with Hataki, exposing the two share an enigmatic employer.

Peter walks with his back facing the camera while “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” plays. He then uses the severed hand to open a door, because his ID has been deactivated. When he enters the room, a woman screams and blood splatters on the window.

Day 2 begins with Sarah interviewing three of the people who were attacked by Peter. They describe his animalistic assault, including mouth to mouth transference of the virus. Three more ran off, their whereabouts unknown. Alan tells Sarah to take care of the three people she just interviewed in isolation and tells Walker to study the lab rats to find the rate of infection. She is reluctant and believes that she would be of better use at his side looking for the missing people, but she gives in because he’s the hero.

Walker does not spend much time studying the lab rats. She feels something is not right and leaves to look at the security tapes. She and Hataki find a disturbance in Peter’s lab.

Doyle is dissecting the monkey that she and Balleseros found when she is approached by one of the missing people, Doctor Tracy. Tracy is clearly infected, and behaves with paranoia much like Peter. She even mentions the white room.

While on the search for the missing people, Balleseros and Alan are confronted by people who want to be evacuated from the base. Alan convinces them that it’s best to stay there.

Sarah leaves isolation to get medicine for one of the infected people. Peter sneaks up on her in the storeroom, and mentions Walker before disappearing back up the air vents. When Alan and Balleseros arrive, they discover that Peter was there to self-medicate with morphine and find that he left a trail for them to follow.

Balleseros crawls in the vents following Peter’s bread crumbs while Alan observes from a tablet that is connected to a camera on Balleseros. The Major quotes Die Hard, which he saw in third grade, emphasizing the generation gap between the two men. Peter appears in the vents, knocks out Balleseros and takes the camera from him, but leaves him mostly unharmed.

Walker and Hataki study the rats and chat. Hataki says he misses lab work, and Walker talks about her late mother, who was also a scientist. Before she can talk about her father, an infected rat breaks through his glass cage and attacks an uninfected rat.

The people in isolation are becoming more agitated, and one of them holds Sarah ransom for exodus. Attempts to calm them are unsuccessful until Alan enters the isolation room, and takes off his hazmat suit as a sign of trust.

Back in the lab, Walker reveals that the virus changes the brain, causing the infected to desire to spread the virus. This information angers Alan and he confronts Hataki about his deception and secrecy. Balleseros finds one of the people who wanted to be evacuated attempting to leave on a snowmobile. When the man threatens to tell the world about what is happening in the research base, Balleseros stabs the man to death.

Doyle arrives with an unconscious Dr. Tracy. When she, Walker and Sarah attempt go through isolation to put Tracy in intensive care, the three infected make their move to escape. While Balleseros buries the body of the man he killed, Sarah suffers from hand trembles caused by shaken nerves and Hataki sits alone looking at a scrapbook full of pictures of Walker before taking out his contact lenses, revealing bright glowing eyes.

Finally, muzak that echoes “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” plays while Walker showers. Peter enters and attempts to kiss her. She pushes him away, but he forces himself on her and infects her.

Image: NBCUniversal

 
 

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