Does anyone else remember the tragic day when WWE first hijacked SyFy? Probably one of the biggest "WTF" moments ever for the network's viewership. I'd love for someone to explain what WWE Smackdown has to do with science fiction, though a lot of popular networks these days seem to be abandoning their demographics left and right to pander to the vapid mindlessness of cheap entertainment. MTV did it, TLC has done it, VH1 did it. It's like no one wants to think anymore.
When SyFy took the fall, it left my head spinning in a rage. How could they do this to us?! But then early last year, something very unexpected happened. Out of the ashes sprung the most delicate of poisonous flowers to infect my story-craving mind, and that flower was called [Helix](series:822306). And Helix is by far the best choice the SyFy network has made in years. Here are just a few reasons why you should watch it if you aren't already.
#5. A Breath Of Fresh Air
It's always a fair bet that any television show or movie involving the CDC has to do with a zombie outbreak, but Helix is much different in that regard. The show centers around a small CDC team who work to contain small viral outbreaks and investigate the cause--an effort which leads them to strange and unexpected conclusions in which they learn more about themselves and each other than they ever thought possible.
There also seems to be a real scientific explanation for every discovery. The NARVIK-B virus, for example, piggybacks on a certain set of foreign DNA strands which merge with that of humans to rewrite their genetic code, creating zombie hive-like behavior and symptoms. The immortal characters have lengthened telomeres, which is believed in the modern scientific community to be a primary key in anti-aging research. So far, there seem to be no supernatural ties to anything in the show, despite the presence of an elite group of immortals with Illuminati-esque goals. And while I do enjoy supernatural things, Helix does a great job of standing on its own by not only lending some scientific credence to the viruses, but also creating a fascinating and unexpected story arc that twists and turns much like its namesake. Who'd have thought a CDC team could be just as entertaining as our heroes from The Walking Dead?
#4. Its Formula Is Similar To 'Lost'
Let's face it. Even if you weren't a huge fan of the ending, no one can deny that the writers of Lost could weave one hell of a story that left you begging for more. Helix is no exception in that regard. The narrative draws you in to a remote, mysterious place where it immediately becomes clear that something is off. From the Arctic Biosystems base to the island of St. Germain, there's a very deep sense of mystery and intrigue that works just as well as Lost, and Losties will probably find it irresistible to draw a few parallels between the two. After all, executive producer and showrunner Steven Maeda was one of the writers for Lost. And Hiroyuki Sanada--easily recognizable for his role as Dogen in the sixth season of Lost--makes a prominent appearance as Hiroshi Hatake. Is it possible that his immortality in Helix is similar to that of Richard Alpert's in Lost? Some fans have even theorized that Helix may in fact be a prequel to Lost, as there are some familiar elements which could cross over (Arctic Biosystems/Mitelos Bioscience, Ilaria/Dharma Initiative, the second season takes place on an island where people are infected with a strange disease, the clever use of the song "Do You Know The Way To San Jose" seems to echo some of the music choices, and now there are even flash forwards happening in the second season...sooo much like Lost!). But while it seems very doubtful at this point that it's a prequel series, it sure is fun to think about!
#3. There's Always A New Virus, And Thus A New Mystery
If the show continues to follow suit in the third season the way it has in the second, there will likely be a new virus--and thus a new cause--to uncover. This makes for a fascinating story in the midst of evolving character arcs. Last season, there was NARVIK-B which caused hallucinations and aggressive horde-like behavior and this season, there's TXM7, which seems to cause delirium, hallucinations, blindness, and aggressive behavior culminating in death. The fear of not knowing the cause of the virus seems to be a primary staple. In my opinion, it is the show's greatest strength; the idea of keeping up an investigative mystery of how the virus works while also tying all the character arcs together. They've so far done an amazing job this season of jumping forward and backward in time to keep you wondering what will happen next, or even if the true cause of the virus will be determined as in season two, thirty years have passed and it's even killing the immortals who have thus far been immune to every other pathogen.
#2. The Characters Aren't What You Expect
Almost everyone seems to be hiding a deep secret of some kind, often leaving you wondering who the good guys really are. In this sense, the entire show itself becomes much like the classic model for a pathogen: there's always something to uncover, a mask to remove and a root cause to find. Betrayal is a recurring theme throughout, as most of the characters put up a front to cover up their true nature at one point or another. Just when you think you know something, the story mutates into something different. Whether characters are hiding their immortal silver eyes behind contact lenses or acting as double agents within Ilaria and the CDC, the allegory is continuously played out in a multifaceted array of events much like an actual helix. Where the strand leads is anybody's guess.
#1. The Future Of The SyFy Network Depends On It
As I outlined in the intro to this article, SyFy seemed to have been really lowering their standards before Helix came along. They had not produced a decent original show in a few years (I'd argue at least not since the Stargate incarnations), and they were taking the plunge toward reality TV with shows like Face/Off, Ghost Hunters, and for some reason airing WWE crap. And while the occasional rerun of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate Universe or heck, even Sharknado proved to be entertaining, none of that in a million years could match up to the precious original gem that is Helix. Honestly, it's a show I would have expected to air on ABC, considering the horrible lull SyFy seemed to have been stuck in for the last few years. I guarantee this show single-handedly redeems the entire thing. But as one commenter I read on another site suggested, "if you like this show, keep telling everyone you know so SyFy will continue to make more shows like it!"
I couldn't agree more. So what are you waiting for?! Head over to Netflix and start binge-watching the first season! I promise you won't regret it.