Episode 104 “Come Back”
Written by Jonathan Walker, Karen Lam and Shevon Singh (Story Editors)
Directed by Micheal Nankin
The episode begins with a very necessary sex scene with head vampire Rebecca (Laura Mennell) that doesn’t at all exist just to show off her (admittedly amazing) body. After the sex scene, we discover Sheema (Naika Toussaint), hiding in a vent, appearing to have spied on the whole event. She leaves the vent and heads out into the open street, where we find a sort of “camp” where humans live in absolute poverty. The humans are allowed to live in exchange for working and giving the head vampires blood every so often. There are also apparently power plants the vampires force humans to operate in order to increase cloud coverage. So it is revealed that the volcanic ash is dissipating.
Cut to Flesh (Vincent Gale) and Doc (Rukiya Bernard) talking about their experiences as vampires. Flesh tells Doc about how he lost all of his humanity and went around killing people, meanwhile Doc tells him that being hungry in a cage for months is no picnic either. They argue over ‘who had it worse’ (C’mon guys, there are more productive things you could be doing, not to mention the fact that there’s no need to be accusatory towards someone for something out of their control). The argument ends as they go to retire for the night.
Flesh wakes up from a nightmare and goes to walk it off in the hospital. He finds Cynthia (Avery Konrad) hanging from one of the escalators, dead. The group discusses what could’ve done this, how they didn’t notice any actions from Cynthia suggesting she was going to kill herself, and how they need to stick together. John (David Cubitt), being the ass that he is, suggests that Cynthia killing herself was a good thing, that death would be preferable than waiting around to be killed with people who allowed his wife to die. (Then why don’t you leave, John, seriously? The door’s right there. Go.)
Axel (Jonathan Scarfe) talks with Vanessa (Kelly Overton), who reminds him that her daughter is out there and she needs to leave to find her. Axel tells her she can’t, but he leaves before we have to witness this argument again, thankfully.
Axel goes to help Doc move and strip Cynthia’s body, when Doc notices unusual bruising on her neck, consistent more with a Ligature Strangulation (aka being strangled to death by someone’s hands) than by hanging. They quickly come to the conclusion that Cynthia was murdered. They then quickly deduce that it couldn’t have been them and then go to confront the group with the revelations.
Meanwhile, Vanessa decides she’s leaving the hospital to return to her apartment to see if she can find Dylan, Dylan’s body if she’s dead, or at least some clues as to where she is. Mohamad (Trezzo Mahoro) confronts her and convinces her to leave with him, as he has a sister to find as well.
Mohamad and Vanessa find her old apartment totally abandoned. Confronted with the reality that her daughter is probably dead, Vanessa breaks down. After recovering, she asks about the brand on Mohamad’s neck. He responds that he was once ‘property’ of the Head Vampires before escaping. Vanessa then finds footprints on the floor that indicate that Dylan left the building, so Vanessa heads out to search the area. They attract some feral vampires and fend them off, finding a few survivors and promising to take them to the hospital for safety.
Axel announces the investigation with John immediately accusing Flesh. Flesh counters that he found her like that. John then starts accusing Doc and Mohamad, citing Doc’s previous vampirism and Mohamad’s absence. Doc immediately spits that he shouldn’t automatically accuse the Black people. Sam attempts to calm John down, only for him to mock his deafness and ASL use while physically attacking him. Axel gets him to calm down while saying that it could be anybody. They then move to ‘bury’ her in the chute.
Meanwhile, Julius (Aleks Paunovic) is informed of Vanessa’s proximity, to which he orders a group of vampires to go and capture her alive and to bring her to him.
The survivors tell Vanessa that they headed west because they heard rumors of safe haven ships free from vampires, obviously to little avail (as of yet). They’re then once again attacked, this time by ‘feeder’ vampires (apparently more powerful than ‘feral’ ones, and they can also track). They demand Vanessa, so she decides to be captured by the vampires in exchange for Mohammad and the group to make it into the hospital safely. The episode ends with the vampires chaining her to a metal grate and dragging her away.
This episode…has a lot going on, and it ends up being a disorganized mess because of it. There’s the murder, which overall is unnecessary and bogs the episode down with needless bickering. Plus, with the new group coming in in the next episode, tensions will rise already. Overall it just padded out an already stuffed episode that could’ve been devoted to developing other plot points. The murder also raises the question as to why Cynthia was murdered, which, unless someone was a spy for the higher up vampires, whatever the answer will be will ultimately be trivial and overall pointless.
Not to mention the murder just seemingly served to make John look more like a terrible person, which was compounded by him serving no consequences. He’s an ignorant weasel that calls a deaf person a ‘thing’ and runs to accuse the two Black people of a crime. Honestly, they should’ve just thrown him out. His character is just a volatile gross person, and the ‘tension’ that he manufactures is just redundant given the already tense situation they’re in. The show doesn’t need a generic jerk and a murder mystery when we could focus on many other things in the show.
Another thing that could’ve used more focus are the Head Vampires’ locations. Julius has to be close in order to capture Vanessa so fast, but where is Rebecca? The show seems to imply that they are, given the hints that Sheema may be Mohamad’s sister. If that’s the case, why are they all concentrated there? Why be close to the one person who could destroy you, especially to the extent where you control the entire society around her, causing more reason for her to attack you? There’s a lot of questions raised throughout this episode that I’m not sure are going to get answered.
An additional problem with so many plot threads at once is there are so many character introductions. We see Rebecca and Julius again, but only for a moment. We get the Rebel Group, but only for a moment explaining their plans to attack the power plant. And then at the end we get another group, but only about two of them are even named. You get so many more characters without characteristics or even names in order to get attached to them. There are way too many things and people to keep track of, especially only on episode four.
I do enjoy Trezzo Mahoro’s and Kelly Overton’s performances in this episode, and their interactions are the highlight of the episode. It also highlights the strength of the show is in its characters, and the show needs to rely more on that than creating more plot devices. Also the world building is nice, with the need for ‘cloud generators’ for the vampires to keep their cover and different kinds of vampires being established. Overall, this is a packed episode, but not a dull one.
This show is showing promise, but it needs to slow down a bit.
Van Helsing airs Friday nights at 10/9c on Syfy.