VAN HELSING delivers another artistic episode with “Help Out.” There are times when I get art and others when I have to stand back and watch someone else get it or explain it. I know a lot of talented people worked on tonight’s episode of Van Helsing, but I don’t understand what they were going for. For instance:
Rebecca is one of the vampire elites, one of the original much older vampires. She has some sort of agenda that Dmitri does not trust. Last week, she was showing Sheema her maternity ward, this week she marches Quaid through a resistance camp to convince Taka she’s a traitor. To sum up, Quaid, a character we’ve seen for maybe 40 seconds before in the series is used to create a dilemma for Taka, a guy we’ve only heard about in the series. One character we don’t care about is used to betray another character we don’t care about. This is an example of two screenwriting elements.
First is; show don’t tell. Van Helsing is solid in the “show” department. This Quiad sequence is active. However, the only reason I know what’s going on is because they are using a trope I’ve seen many times before in cop films. Make a group of baddies believe that someone is a rat to either force cooperation or distract from another rat. It seems like Rebecca is using Quaid to draw attention away from Sheema. Why? What does Sheema have to offer? Besides being Mohamad’s sister, why do we even care about her and why aren’t they looking for each other? Too many questions this late in the game; some more “tell” would help.
Character vs. Plot. There are rare cases where plot might lead character. Plot is like a garden; it just doesn’t exist without a character putting work into it. A good plot is like a garden in a spot someone else wants to use for some complete different purpose. This whole Quaid sequence, filled with characters we don’t care about, is pure plot. We don’t care if Quaid dies, if Taka lives, or Sheema for that matter. This sequence is all weed.
The bad news is; it wasn’t the most shocking decision of the night. There were some compelling moments, secrets revealed, cuddling here and there. Mohamad meets Emma, a lovely and trusting young woman. They hide when a vamp patrol is spotted, she kisses him, then takes off right in front of the baddies. Mohamad waits a moment and follows. The vamps just keep patrolling, they don’t chase. It’s as if, Emma is a part of the vamp community somehow. It’s possible they patrol to ensure her protection.
Susan and Van enjoy a little cuddle session. I understand Susan needing someone, she just had to fight off John, maybe she always had a crush on Van. Doc and Gorrman seem to like each other, who doesn’t like Gorrman? Doc discovers the bunker is filled with increasing amounts of radiation. They have to find a way out or die. She confesses to Axel that she never tried to save Smitty. Axel forgives her and reminds Doc she never said she did, he just assumed it went down that way. Axel also confesses to Van that he took her file from the base to read it. Figured he was owed that much. She thinks he’s hiding something he read or knows. Van thanks Axel for having her back but also turns on him for this whole file thing. It’s a weird beat on both ends. The big reveal tonight is, Van was some sort of a military project from the time of her childhood.
Sam discovers a vent that leads out, but Gorrman is missing and Doc won’t leave without looking for him. Axel won’t leave without her. They stay behind to find Gorrman while Van and the others escape topside. Axel finds this new kind of superferal running around the halls of the quarantine area. Axel wounded it and Gormann killed it but turned feral in the fight. Feral Gorrman attacks Axel. It looks like Axel kills Gorrman a few times, he keeps coming back. Doc shuts the quarantine door on Axel and leaves him in the bunker with indescribable Gorrman.
Van wants to go it, maybe she can save Axel with her blood, but there are too many ferals up top, they need to evacuate the base. When Wanda, the ambulance Axel built up runs out of gas, the head to the sound of the church bells on foot.
Last week, they introduced Gorrman and a much needed sense of humor. This week, they took him and Axel from us; for what purpose? This show is about a woman who has blood running through her veins that reverses the effect of a vampire bite. All Van really cares about is finding her daughter Dylan. That’s the concept and more episodes than not have little to do with it.
Season 1, Episode 9 (S01E09)
Van Helsing airs Fridays at 10PM on Syfy
Eric lives in a world where the television is great, the smiles are warm, the pizza is hot, the puppies are playful, and the zombies are slow and meander while he reloads.
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Eric Rodriguez | Contributor