If you’ve seen the premiere of the Syfy channel’s new original series Helix, or really, any of the promotional materials, then you know it centers around a virus that turns your blood black. (I’m certain that’s not all it does.) Since the show is just getting started, we don’t really know where it’s heading (like another of Ronald Moore’s Syfy series). Here are some theories about what we might see, in no particular order:
Hypothesis: Currently, the biggest sci-fi properties on TV and in movies revolve around people with superpowers: Agents of SHIELD, Arrow, Supernatural, The Tomorrow People, and anything with cyborgs. None of these are on the Syfy channel, though; just a couple of series about vampires and werewolves. While we wait for the time traveling supercops of Continuum to find their way back down to the States, perhaps Syfy feels it’s time to give us some “enhanced” humans.
Evidence: Dr. Hatake (Hiroyuki Sanada, The Wolverine) claims the experiment that created the black ooze was focused on mutagens, substances that produce mutations. Remember Magneto’s plot in the first X-Men movie? He wanted to turn humans into mutants, which in his mind would be a vast improvement (even though some mutants apparently had the “power” of really weird tongues). Sure, the infected people on the show looked really gross (like some of the X-Men), and were clearly paranoid (again, like some of the X-Men), but one of them jumped up into a ceiling duct “like Spider-Man”. (Spider-Man, you’ll recall, was also the “victim” of a science experiment.)
Conclusion: The Syfy channel is building up a plot to infect the whole world with a virus that will, at least, give some of us terrific jumping power, and at most, trigger the next stage in human evolution.
Hypothesis: We all remember the black ooze from The X-Files. It was aliens! They somehow made it to Earth and infected humans, as they had apparently infected other species across the galaxy, turning them into slaves. The ooze in Helix seems to work the same way.
Evidence: Not only does the virus increase paranoia and strength in the infected, but it also makes them act in concert with each other. There’s something, or someone, coordinating their efforts to keep spreading the infection. Seems like a winning prelude to invasion, as The X-Files clearly agreed.
Conclusion: Season Two of Helix will either begin or end with spaceships in the sky.
There’s Magic in the Air
Hypothesis: Magic is something that has been distinctly lacking in TV shows and movies in recent years, The Lord of the Rings notwithstanding. With the exception of Once Upon a Time, Game of Thrones, and a couple of shows with witches, everything has to be “explained” by science. (Midi-chlorians, anyone?) Syfy, the (U.S.) home of Lost Girl and no fewer than two werewolf shows this season, has an opportunity to “capture the magic”, so to speak.
Evidence: Sure, there’s a lot of “science” in the show already, but Battlestar Galactica also started off as being hard science fiction, devolving into a show where angels guided humanity’s path and the power of love could lead to robots having babies. How long before we learn that Ronald Moore (who was also heavily involved in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, aka Star Trek: Sisko Was a Prophet of God All Along) is introducing a magical plague into the world?
Conclusion: The power of love will turn zombies into humans again, à la Warm Bodies.
It Was Just a Dream
Hypothesis: Dr. Alan Farragut (The Rocketeer‘s Billy Campbell), struggling to recover from finding his brother Peter (Neil Napier, Riddick) in bed with his wife Dr. Julia Walker (Kyra Zagorsky, Soldiers of the Apocalypse), drowns himself in single malt Scotch every night, wondering how, if ever, he can reconnect with them. In a drunken stupor, he mishandles a case for the Centers for Disease Control, leading to the death of an entire village in South Africa and his dismissal from the CDC. In his grief, he imagines a scenario in which, not only did he not screw up, but he’s being called to save his brother’s life with the help of his ex and a former assistant of his for whom he always had a thing.
Evidence: We know, first of all, that Alan likes his Scotch because he pretends it’s cholera in an effort to shock his new teammates at the CDC (perhaps it was an outbreak of cholera he failed to contain). We also know that, so far, there are a lot of coincidences in this show about a virus that takes over human minds, from his brother and ex-wife both needing his help, to all the women on the show admiring him, to a somewhat young Army Major Balleseros (Zagorsky’s Soldiers of the Apocalypse co-star Mark Ghanimé) knowing the same movie references as him. All this makes more sense if you consider this is all happening in his head, a not uncommon “plot twist” in sci-fi and non-sci-fi shows alike.
Conclusion: The series finale will be Alan Farragut waking up surrounded by dead cholera victims.
Humans Are the Biggest Monsters of All
Hypothesis: Dr. Hatake is a standard issue mad scientist who doesn’t care about things like “goals” or “plans”, as long as he can keep poking around in his lab and seeing his “work” come to fruition. He created a bug, gave it to Peter, and now is just waiting to see what happens.
Evidence: His general sense of wanting everyone (except the hot Dr. Julia) to leave the Arctic lair–I mean, lab–and his statement at the beginning of the show that what happened to Peter was “progress”. Also, those glowing green eyes certainly suggest he’s his own best test subject (or he’s an alien).
Conclusion: This act of “playing God” by the vaguely racist stereotype will be tense for a few episodes before it deteriorates into a serious yawnfest.
Stephen Monteith is secretly hoping for the “magic” answer. You can read his original fiction at Lulu.com.