Previously on Van Helsing: Base Pair
After the sharp turn of events in “Base Pair”, we’re left hanging on Vanessa’s fate for not just one episode, but two. “Be True” catches up with Sam and Mohamad, while “Crooked Falls” finds Axel and Scarlett arriving at the place, a research station, which the balloons and maps have been leading them and us to since the beginning of this season. Both episodes are successful in fleshing out character backstories, with “Crooked Falls” proving the most relevant in moving the narrative forward. It’s interesting to point out that both of these installments are directed by cast members. “Be True” has Jonathan (Axel) Scarfe in the chair, while “Crooked Falls” is helmed by none other than Dimitri himself, Paul Johansson, who also directed “Base Pair.”
What makes “Be True” a good, if not terribly important, episode is the way it establishes the connection between Sam and Mohamad. In a flashback scene we see how they first met. It was the early days of The Rising and Mohamad came across Sam and was just about to warn him of an impending feral attack when Sam basically bludgeons the fiend to death. Later, when Sam attempts to end his own life by hanging, Mohamad saves him by communicating in ASL. Sam later reveals that this was a ruse; he meant to kill Mohamad that day. Fast-forward to the present time and Sam can’t wait to turn Mohamad so the two of them can buddy-up. Mohamad isn’t having any of it, though, but we know Sam’s never going to take no for an answer.
The location this episode takes place is important to Sam and to us. It’s where he grew up, apparently. It holds painful memories for the vampire serial-killer. His father was a preacher, and as some preachers do to their kids, he instilled brutal discipline on young Sam, though for good reason – Sam took a liking to killing animals from an early age. When Sam had enough of one particularly savage beating, he stabbed his father in the eye. However, Preacher struck the sides of Sam’s head so hard, the blow permanently deafened his son. Now it’s revenge time. Sam holds his father and others captive and uses them as a source of blood to feed his vampiric appetite.
Mohamad has company in the form of Cora, another captive whom Sam uses to take care of his prey. She cleans Mohamad’s wound and together they plot an escape plan that doesn’t go at all well. It goes so badly in fact, that Cora now finds herself on the same seesaw Sam’s now dead father was tied to. It’s too late for Cora, though, as Sam bites her. Mohamad takes drastic action and kills Cora before she can turn. He then turns the scissors on himself, but Sam bites him to stop Mohamad from dying. It appears he’s too late. Sam is in despair and he cuts one of his own fingers off and adds it to his necklace. He sets out to hang himself one final time. (Can vampires be killed through hanging? Hmmmm.) And just as he does, Mohamad comes to – sort of – but he’s now a vampire. It’s an infuriating cliffhanger, to be honest. This pair has been separated from the main groupings for so long, I wonder why we’re supposed to care about who is or who isn’t dead and/or vampire.
“Crooked Falls” is the penultimate episode of season two. With Van Helsing returning for a confirmed third season next year, this installment throws a fresh ingredient into the pot. In short, the vampires are evolving in a way no one expected. This raises an important question: If this evolution has been engineered, who or what is behind it?
Axel and Scarlett arrive at Crooked Falls, a sparsely populated research station that’s run by the Boss, a woman who’s a vampire hunter by day, a scientist by night. She patrols the perimeters on her own, and on one of these patrols she picks up a dehydrated and deeply distressed Doc. Boss isn’t just suspicious of Doc, she’s also very aware that ferals have begun to set traps and organise themselves in groups, unlike in the past when they were very much independent and chaotic.
Scarlett is plagued by dreams of her childhood, and now the Elder, seen for the first time, is manipulating them. He says that only Scarlett can now unleash him back into the world. This can mean that either Vanessa is dead (unlikely) or out of the game entirely (likely, but not wholly accurate). The payoff for this comes at the end of the episode.
Meanwhile, Flesh, Lucky, and Jolene make their way to Crooked Falls and bump into Callie, professional apocalypse survivor par excellence, where they are safely guided through the gates by Axel and his new friends. One of the mainstays of Crooked Falls, Dennis, is turned by the vampires when he runs after his dog. The gang bring him back in after Scarlett coldly takes him out. Boss then turns her scientific eye to his corpse. She and Doc, who in a tender scene later with Jolene we find out is called Sarah, figure out that his blood work is different than other vampires. He can in fact regenerate. It’s a case of the Undead becoming more undeader.
Axel finds it hard to trust Doc (we’ll keep calling her Doc) anymore. He believes she left Julius to die and it’s totally her fault Dimitri now has the Key to unlock the Elder’s crypt. Try as she might, she can’t make him see sense, although Jolene is certainly warming to her. Callie, meanwhile, is busy confirming mine and Doc’s suspicions that she’s not who she seems to be. No one is that cheerful. She sets herself the task of fixing the radio that Jessie uses to contact the outside world. Meanwhile, newly-regenerated Dennis escapes the compound just as the Vampire with the Scar attacks once more. He’s brought a wounded Julius with him as well, who later backs up Doc’s story to Axel. Scar and his gang snag Lucky and Flesh (both of whom have shared poignant moments this episode, when Lucky says she might be pregnant). Lucky is bitten and when Scar waits for her to turn, she and Flesh set off a grenade that blows everyone, apart from Scar, to high heaven. When everything kind of settles down, Boss and Scarlett take on a new mission, away from Axel and the others. Boss knows more about the Elder than she lets on, and she admits as much to Scarlett. Another secret she confesses to is being Scarlett’s mother. But after events of Base Pair, can we take this as gospel?
The season ends next week. I’ll see you there.