VAN HELSING Review: “Stay Away”

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VAN HELSING makes a bold challenge for viewers to “Stay Away.” Sometimes a title says it all. There are just three episodes left to Van Helsing and too much has to be explained. In fact, I’d skip the explanations and move right into entertainment. Van Helsing needs to up its entertainment level as it runs out the clock on its rookie season.

Is Axel really gone, or is he going to Han Solo in at the end? What about Van’s daughter? She seems in no rush to find her. We haven’t seen the consequences of Julian’s action against Dmitri and still have no clue what Dmitri’s purpose is. These are not good suspense building questions, these are missing, misplaced, or miscalculated questions.

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“Stay Away” might as well be a warning to the viewer. The last big story beat was the loss of Axel. This episode did not move the story along, but I am open to hear theories. Lets look at the pieces. Van leads her group from the farm towards the sound of the bells. Soon they are attacked and overwhelmed by ferals. This is the sort of thing Axel would have handled better but that won’t stop Van from putting down his concept of seciurity later.

Van’s team is saved by a team wielding swords and arrows. They lead her back to a community led by Micah. Beth, another member of the community wants Van and her people to move along after lunch, but Micah is interested in letting them stay. They pin the discussion when vamp, Magdalena, arrives early for her offering. The people of Eden have a deal with Magdalena, they supply her with jars of blood twice a month and she keeps other vamps from bothering them.

Under the circumstance, this doesn’t seem like a bad deal or bad storytelling, but hold on. Sam follows one of the Eden workers, Xavier, into a basement where Xavier locks him up and tough talks deaf Sam with, “Curiosity killed the cat.” Maybe a five on the terrible scale, lip reader or no. Sam looks for a way out of the cell and finds pre-rising, framed portraits of Micah and Magdalena, his wife. So Phil became Flesh but Magdalena has a relationship with Micah? This is a huge inconsistency, possibly a deal breaker if there weren’t so many other issues.

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Susan and Van notice a number of pregnant women walking around, but no children. This is interesting. Van thinks maybe it’s something culty Micah is into, but he assures them, the women are resistance fighters who seek medical help at Eden until they give birth, then head back to the resistance. Theo, the hunky sword wielding PE instructor that saved Van says he was told the resistance took back Seattle months ago.

Van knows that isn’t true. Doc helps deliver a baby when the mother requires a C-section. Van and Theo follow Beth who takes mother and newborn down the road to meet with the resistance contacts. In reality, Beth just hands mother and child over to Magdalena. However, this time, Van and Theo won’t allow it. They let Magdalena go in exchange for the mother and her baby, and return to Eden to educate the rest of the people. Is this possible, that none of the resistance fighters have returned to Eden looking for their wife and kids? This is a crazy leap.

Sam eventually escapes his cell and finds Mohamad who’s been recovering from a bad mushroom. Xavier walks in on them and Sam kills Xavier. Mohamad tries to stop Sam, but Sam is intent on killing. Okay, we don’t know enough about Sam. This is interesting, but it does nothing to move the story forward. “Stay Away” is a contained story in the worse way, filled with inconsistencies and narrative brakes. There is another wasted beat when Doc tells Van she just left Axel in the bunker, locked him in with Gorman. Van rubs Doc’s face in the fact that Axel kept her alive with his own blood for months and says she never wants to see her again. Later, when team Van leaves Eden, Mohamad notices Doc is missing. She was leaving with them anyway? Another wasted beat in a lame episode.

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Where Doc went is even more frustrating because it actually adds information to the overall story. Doc goes ahead to warn Magdalena Van is coming for her. She explains she was a vamp but Van’s blood reversed her. She prefers to vamp again and begs Magdalena for a bite. Magdalena’s bite does nothing to change Doc. The new piece of information is; once Van bites you, there is no going back. Great, but not enough.

Magdalena leaves Doc behind. She kicks her into a ditch filled with skeletons; babies and they’re mothers. It is dark and creepy, but makes no sense at all. There is nothing wrong with Van Helsing visually. The sell the drama, the crew creates the world, all of that is solid. It’s the storytelling where Van Helsing loses its wheels. Inexplicable decisions and unexplained or unsolved mysteries make this story hard to follow or defend.

Season 1, Episode 10 (S01E010)
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.
Follow Eric on : @Etom2012
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