In an episode which continues last week’s trend of eliminating major supporting characters in surprisingly brutal fashion (so long, Rebecca, Taka, Brandon, Sheema, Anastasia, we hardly knew ya), “In Redemption” brings back two lost Team Vanessa members in profound ways. Three if you count young Callie, who was cast out of the hospital with the rest of her people in season one.
Last week’s season two jumped out of the traps, leaping well ahead of most returning shows. A blood-curdling, bloodstained, and traumatising escape from Dimitri’s Citadel took its toll on all the major players, and while Vanessa managed to get out with her daughter, Dylan is forever changed. Doctor Sholomenko saw to that, genetically modifying her vampirism to such an extent that even a bite from Mom would kill her rather than restore her humanity. Dylan can even survive direct sunlight. But she’s still harking for Rebecca, her vampire Mom.
Mohamad is trying to make up for betraying Vanessa to Dimitri. Vanessa knows this, so she’s willing to allow him to tag along with her and Dylan. She doesn’t know that Mohamad killed his sister to prevent her from turning. So when he puts his life on the line to help the women escape from Anastasia, it seems fitting he should go this way. But help comes from an anonymous ninja, which leads to Anastasia taking a knife to the head. Mohamad lives to brood another day, but he and we don’t know who his saviour is. I initially thought it might have been Axel, but I’m proved wrong later in the episode. Flesh and Lucky find him just about alive and take him away with them.
Dylan and Vanessa have a bonding moment after leaving Mohamad behind, but this is ruined when Dylan answers a vampire howl from outside their shack. Dylan slits her mother’s throat, but thanks to Vanessa’s healing abilities this is little more than a flesh wound. She catches up with her daughter, only to see her in the clutches of Julius, who’s only too happy to take her back to Dimitri and Rebecca. When Vanessa tells him she killed Rebecca, Dylan turns on her, leaving Vanessa blindsighted to Julius’ attack. Things get mighty interesting when Vanessa takes her chance and bites into Julius’ neck. While tending to her daughter once more, Julius’ humanity returns. “Thank you for saving me,” he says to Vanessa. This is one of those WOW moments this show is becoming notable for.
As if this wasn’t enough excitement, we catch up with Doc, who’s tending to the medical needs at the resistance camp. She has struck up something of a friendship with Jolene, one of the resistance fighters. Their leader, Raul, worries on Taka and Brandon’s fate (he shouldn’t – they’re both dead), and what the group’s next move should be. There is talk of Denver. Doc is struggling, though. She’s holding on to the guilt of Axel’s death and Vanessa exiling her. She doesn’t have much time to fret further as Callie returns in good health. Hoping Callie won’t let her secret out, Doc trails her to see where she’s getting her rabbits. As it turns out, Callie is hiding Vampire Axel from everybody, as well as bringing him fresh blood from the resistance’s fridge. Doc knows there’s trouble ahead for everybody.
Axel is straining to hold on to what’s left of his humanity. He won’t kill humans for their blood – not right now, anyway. But he holds a deep resentment against Doc for leaving him as she did. It’s totally her fault he’s a vampire now. So she has to make amends. She returns to the camp and steals some blood for him. Jolene catches her, and there’s a tense standoff between the two women, but Jolene lets her go, much to Raul’s disgust, who orders Axel’s death and Doc’s immediate return.
Axel meanwhile wants Doc to take him to Vanessa so she can change him back to human. It’s going to be a difficult journey for them both, especially when they’re attacked by a Feral, who rips through Axel’s blood supply.
It was always going to be a matter of time before Axel and Doc re-entered the fray. It’s good to see them back together, regardless of the understandable tension between the two. Both Rukiya Bernard and Jonathan Scarfe are exceptional in their scenes together. Bernard sells Doc’s internal trauma effectively, while Scarfe shows a different side to his talents that weren’t too obvious last season. I look forward to seeing how their fraught relationship develops over the season.
There are now three disparate groups in Van Helsing: Vanessa, Dylan, and now Julius; Flesh, Lucky, and now Mohamad; Doc and Axel. Each of these small bands has its own tensions and divisions. It’s going to be exciting to see them all collide later.
Van Helsing S2E2 Review Score
Van Helsing – S2E2 | Starring: Kelly Overton, Jonathan Scarfe, Trezzo Mahoro, Vincent Gale, Rukiya Bernard, Aleks Paunovic, Paul Johansson