SDCC 2014: Syfy’s Helix infects San Diego Comic-Con!


*Warning: Season one Spoilers ahead*

After a tumultuous season one which saw the arctic BioSystems base and CDC team endure vector attacks, twists and turns and the introduction of the mysterious Illaria corporation, fans were left scratching their heads as to where several of their favourite characters would end up.

As the cast and crew ramp up for season two, they had a chance to reflect on season one and share their thoughts on where they expect their characters and the show to end up in Season two.

Neil Napier – Dr. Peter Farragut

With Neil’s character slipping in and out of a coma (and various vector states) for a large part of last system, it was very difficult to pin how his character would progress near the end of last season. As the cast receive their scripts one by one, it was hard for Neil to really describe where the love triangle between Peter, his brother Alan Farragut (Billy Campbell) and Alan’s ex wife Julia Walker (Kyra Zagorsky) would lean towards in season 2:

 “I have absolutely no idea. I don’t know, man, I really don’t know. *laughs* I can tell you what I hope. I mean I hope that we explore that a bit, and I hope that it causes a significant amount of conflict and makes things difficult. That’s what I hope just because I find that interesting and knowing kind of how Helix goes we don’t seem to get the easy resolution to any situation, so I’m kinda hoping it really gets a little ugly. That’s what I hope but I might be sick. *laughs*

It was also a big surprise to Neil along with the rest of the cast to learn of Peter’s betrayal in episode 13, but upon further inspection the actor definitely understood how everything “lined up”.

Steve Maeda – Executive Producer/Showrunner

The man in charge of most day-to-day operations on set, Maeda is confident that the show will evolve by moving away from the confines of the arctic base. He is quick to point out that the show is not a simple ‘zombie’ show and that the creative team makes a very concerted effort to differentiate themselves from other viral shows.

One of the biggest challenges as the show moves away from the arctic base will be keeping the core cast together. As the show attempts to re-invent itself, the motivations behind which characters are together and why becomes trickier as the remote location is no longer a major factor. Maeda hinted to a strong possibility of time jumps where it will not be apparent from day one why certain characters are together in certain locations, but as the story develops the storyline will fall into place.

Steve also joked about their consultancy calls with the CDC, stating it’s more important to ask, “is this possible?” as opposed to, “What’s the most probable?” This could explain the creator’s ability to make two strands of the virus, as they really wanted to create this contagious and dangerous virus that could infect and spread fear as opposed to simply killing and turning its host into a “bag of goo.”

One of the most important things of season one was showcasing Dr. Hatake as a villain, but as a villain with a human elements too. While Maeda was frustrated at first that Hatake came off as a simple villain, he implored fans at the time to be patient. As the show and Hatake progressed, his softer and more human side was revealed.

Ronald D. Moore – Executive Producer

One of the largest attractions to the show for various people was the attachment of Ronald D. Moore to the project. While he was originally skeptical to the project, after reading the script he truly appreciated the human element of it and the drama that accompanied it.

While Moore’s involvement is not day to day, writers will call him up to get his suggestions for the storyline and to hear his recommendations. Moore is also attached to the new Outlander series, and although there is stress with dealing with multiple shows and the hype surrounding his name following Battlestar Galactica, he “can’t imagine doing anything else.”

One of the things that differentiated them from other viral shows was their comical use of music over tense periods of the show. The claustrophobia forced on the characters being stuck in an arctic base also helped to “complete” the story as opposed to “stretching” it.

While season two will see new villains and new heroes, the familiarity the writers have with the cast will now allow them to write to the cast’s strengths and carve out a captivating storyline.

Mark Ghanimé – Sgt. Mark Balleseros

“Different scripts kept coming at us and it was like Christmas day.” This was Mark Ghanimé’s reaction to getting the scripts on a per episode basis, which kept him and the rest of the cast on edge. Although his character had one of the more unique story lines of season one, he also did some pretty terrible things and this worried Ghanimé in terms of whether his character would be killed off in a later episode.

He also mentioned the importance of not coming off as strictly villainous. As Balleseros becomes more and more aware of what is going on at the base and what his employers are truly involved in, he makes the conscious decision to help others, including Anana and her village.

While Ghanimé and Catherine Lemieux (the actor who played Doreen) shared a lot of career firsts, he was still shocked that he was the one who had to kill her. While Balleseros’ main motivation was to protect his mission, there was also a sense of respect and likability developing between the Sgt. and Doreen, which translated well on screen given the actors’ relationship with one another.

As season two jumps to a new location and adds new characters, Ghanimé foresees a familiar air of claustrophobia and a major involvement for several characters.

Jordan Hayes – Dr. Sarah Jordan

After discussing the ins and outs of a busy Comic-Con, the discussion quickly turned to Sarah’s relationship with Alan, where the two started a bit of a romance in season one and helped complicate the already complicated relationship between Alan and his ex-wife Julia. Although there are some sparks between the two, Sarah still views Alan as a mentor, so it will be interesting to see how their relationship dynamic changes.

One of Dr. Jordan’s biggest motivators is wanting to leave her mark on the world. Given her new immortality, Hayes sees a more reckless and risk-taking Sarah for season two. Cured of her spinal tumor (which Hayes thought was a joke when the writers originally told her), Jordan really appreciated the depth of her character and exhaustively researched all of the medical jargon, even going so far as to garner a CDC contact to help research the role.

We also had the chance to discuss the show’s treatment on the subject of euthanasia, as Dr. Jordan must make a very difficult decision as one of her patients is infected with the (at this point) incurable virus. While Hayes was originally apprehensive about the procedure, after laying through the scene with Dr. Van Eigem, she quickly realized why it was something Sarah would do and she hopes the show dealt with the touchy subject in a tasteful manner.

Kyra Zagorsky – Dr. Julia Walker

While the show and Dr. Hatake’s (Hiroyuki Sanada) focus for several episodes was Julia Walker, Zagorsky originally had no idea she would be so close to her father figure. While the show’s creators made no effort to tell her right away, Kyra had it all figured out by episode three where she asked the man behind the show, Cameron Porsandeh, whether Dr. Hatake was her father. Porsandeh was apparently unable to lie to her face, and although the father-daughter relationship is incredibly complicated, there is still a sense of familial love.

Zagorsky also mentioned the research required to know how to pronounce the various medical terms and to truly understand them, as it would not be authentic to simply make a series of “sounds.”

As season one wrapped up we also saw Dr. Walker at the head of the table for the sinister Illaria corporation. Her transformation from CDC Dr. to immortal businesswoman will be one of the most interesting potential story lines of season two.

As season two begins filming in August fans can bank on new locations, new characters, a new timeline  and the same creepy and sinister show as before!

You can check out the SDCC panel here!

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