VAN HELSING Review: “Seen You” / “Help Me”


adds a new twist to the modern vampire story with its first two episodes, “Seen You,” and “Help Me.” This is an interesting story about Vanessa Helsing. A single mother living in Seattle when a series of volcanic eruptions in 2016 lead to “The Rising.” Vampires, after spending centuries in the shadows, take advantage of the ashy skies to expand their numbers and challenge the human’s spot at the top of the survival pyramid. Vanessa is so broke, she sells her blood to pick up a little extra cash to buy her daughter, Dylan, a birthday present.

Syfy rolled these two episodes out in reverse order. Episode One, “Help Me,” takes place in 2019, well into “The Rising.” Van has been in a coma for three years and spends at least half this episode on a hospital bed. For me, these episodes make more sense starting with “Seen You,” which sets the stakes. Van Helsing wants to find her daughter. Doc wants to find a cure, all of humanity may depend on it. The Vampires, led by Dmitri and Rebecca, face an existential threat.


A vampire blood dealer, Bob, breaks into the blood bank to steal bags of food for Dmitri and the others. He skims a bag off the top for himself, the bag of blood donated by Vanessa Helsing. Her blood makes Bob violently ill. By the time he returns to Dmitri with the rest of the blood, his body has returned to human form. This is the twist Van’s blood brings humanity back. Dmitri sends vampire henchman Balthazar to retrieve Van, dead or alive.

These opening episodes are pretty straight forward, they answer enough questions to get invested in the show, but not every question. For instance, Van knows how to kick ass. She defends her neighbor, Susan, against her nasty pimp. She also puts up a hell of a fight when Balthazar attacks. Balthazar gets the upper hand and takes a few huge bites out of Van which causes his reversal. She goes into a state the medics assume is death and send her to the hospital because the morgue is over flowing. This is the last time we see Dylan, crying over her mother’s body on their kitchen floor in a huge pool of her own blood.

Doc is the first to realize something different about Van Helsing’s blood. Van is neither dead nor alive when Doc examines her. Doc sends the bloodwork results to her sister in the military. A few minutes later, a squad of marines arrive at the hospital to collect Van Helsing. Doc is stubborn and challenges the Marine authority when a super-volcano erupts and chaos breaks out in the streets. The marines split up, the officer in charge heads back to base, but leaves a few at the hospital to secure Van Helsing and the Doc. A marine, Axel, secures the two women diligently for two and a half years. They learn a little about how to defend themselves from the feeders and the ferals, but seldom leave the hospital for anything except to scrounge supplies. Ted, another marine, goes stir crazy and decides to lead a trio back to base to get reinforcements and orders. His groups is attacked the moment the door opens. Doc is bitten trying to close the door behind the marines. Axel doesn’t kill Doc, but her cages her and keeps her alive another six months, feeding her his own blood on a regular basis. Mainly, he sets traps and defenses in the hospital waiting for Ted’s return, and watches over Van Helsing.

VAN HELSING -- "Help Me" Episode 101 -- Pictured: Jonathan Scarfe as Axel Miller -- (Photo by: Dan Power/Helsing S1 Productions/Syfy)

Ted returns with a small group of survivors six months later. One of the survivors, John, loses sight of his wife on their way into the hospital. He wants to go back out looking for her, but Axel won’t allow anyone else to leave. Ted has changed since he left the hospital. He never made it back to base and surviving in the vampire infested city wore him down. We don’t get to see it, but the Vampires captured him and did something to him to coerce his loyalty. Ted promised he could deliver Van Helsing.

VAN HELSING -- "Help Me" Episode 101 -- Pictured: (l-r) Avery Konrad as Cynthia, Jennifer Spece as Karen, Alison Wandzura as Nicole, Christopher Heyerdahl as Sam, David Cubitt as John -- (Photo by: Dan Power/Helsing S1 Productions/Syfy)

Axel isn’t ready to give up so Ted disables the defenses and lets the vamps in. While Axel is busy fighting one group of vamps, another goes after Van. She wakes up after being bitten again and immediately kills two more vampires. She’s calling out for Dylan, that last person she remembers seeing. Van has no idea three years have gone by, much less the state of vampire affairs. Axel doesn’t have many answers for her, but he won’t let her go out looking for Dylan. He tries to convince Van her daughter is most likely dead. Ted agrees to help Van leave the hospital, but he just wants to turn her over to the vamps. She fights back and kills Ted, but she gets cut and stabbed through the hand in the process. Van’s wounds heal right in front of Axel and the gang. Everyone can see she has something special. Add to this, the vamp that bit her during the attack climbs out of the body disposal chute and claims her blood made him human again.

This show is dark, it lacks the sense of humor of Dark Matter, 12 Monkeys, or Wynonna Earp. I think the tone is right, at least for these first two episodes. They’re apocalyptic episodes for everyone involved. The Marines lose their world, the Vampires discover something that can wipe them out, and Van loses Dylan. That’s heavy drama. Van Helsing has Walking Dead DNA. There is a band of survivors searching for loved ones and a cure. It also promises direct conflict from the vampires. I’m looking forward to next week to see what surprises they have prepared. Volcanoes, Vampires, Van Helsing – the new Friday night.

TB-TV-Grade-ASeason 1, Episode 1-2 (S01E01-02)
Van Helsing airs Fridays at 10PM on Syfy

Read all of our reviews of Van Helsing here.
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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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