Horror4MeTelevision & Film

Recap: Nothing Matters More Than the Suspense in VAN HELSING


Van Helsing - Season 1




Episode 106 “Nothing Matters”
Written by Neil LaBute
Directed by Amanda Tapping

[all photos: Syfy]

The episode begins where the previous episode ended, with Vanessa (Kelly Overton) and Susan (Hilary Jardine) desperately continue their escape through the underground labyrinth below the streets. They hear growls and snarls, and are soon attacked by what appears to be one of the vampires that followed them. Vanessa manages to kill it, but not without a brief rage fit where she nearly accidentally strangles Susan and then collapses. Meanwhile, the original hospital survivors remain the prisoners of the Refugees that overtook the hospital in the last episode.


The survivors soon face anger from the Refugees after youngsters Catherine (Sarah Desjardins) and Callie (Macie Juiles) venture into a closed off area (complete with several ‘Keep Out’ signs), only to be nearly killed by a booby trap. Catherine vows to kill them, which the leader Brenden (Terry Chen) takes her aside to talk to her, promising Axel (Jonathan Scarfe) and the gang that nothing will happen to them. However, Sam (Christopher Heyerdahl) uses a mirror and his lip reading in order to spy on Brenden and determine he will execute them the next morning (complete with people asking him ‘What’re they saying’ as if he can hear them).

Susan (Hilary Jardine) comforts an injured and collapsed Vanessa (Kelly Overton)
Susan (Hilary Jardine) comforts an injured and collapsed Vanessa (Kelly Overton)

Meanwhile, Vanessa recovers slightly, telling Susan that usually she recovers faster. Susan then remarks she’s never seen a vampire like the one that attacked them. They manage to get back to the hospital, and the Refugees tell them the situation. Vanessa admits to herself and Brenden that she is too injured to deal with any of it, but she pleads that they leave them alone until she recovers. She also asks for Doc (Rukiya Bernard) so that she can help her with her injuries. Brenden agrees and honors her requests, bringing Doc to her to help her. Vanessa communicates a plan to Doc and Susan, telling them to tell Axel to crawl through the vents tonight into the generator area and shut it off. The darkness will allow him to overtake the Refugees and force them to free the prisoners. Before the plan goes into action, Vanessa meets and bonds with Callie. She tells Callie right before the plan is enacted to hide, allowing her to survive the overtaking unharmed.

The episode then cuts to the Other Survivors breaking into the Power Plant that Sheema (Naika Toussaint) stole plans for. However, the worst occurs as vampires attack and kill most of them. The few who manage to escape blame Sheema and are about to kill her when Rebecca (Laura Mennell) appears and threatens them. She grabs one by the throat and asks for the mysterious ‘Taka’. Apparently, ‘Taka’ is some sort of powerful figure that is an ally to the Survivors and enemy to the Vampires, but no more is elaborated on. Rebecca is satisfied that he clarified Taka’s apparent existence and then kills all of them and free Sheema. Before she leaves, she tells Sheema that she ‘knows her scent’, presumably promising that Rebecca will stalk her anywhere.

Rebecca (Laura Mennell) threatens Sheema (Naika Toussaint)
Rebecca (Laura Mennell) threatens Sheema (Naika Toussaint)

Back at the hospital, Axel executes the plan and kills a few Refugees and disarms the rest. They agree to banish the surviving Refugees, and to Vanessa’s anguish Callie comes out of hiding and joins them. After the Refugees are forced to leave, the rest of the group debates their morality while Doc tends to Vanessa’s wounds. Doc remarks that her wounds aren’t healing, which worries the both of them. The episode ends with Doc accidentally cutting her finger, and sucking on the wound, suggesting the turned vampires still retain some instincts.

Sam (Christopher Heyerdahl) spies on Brenden (Terry Chen)
Sam (Christopher Heyerdahl) spies on Brenden (Terry Chen)

This episode managed to capture the suspense and tension that a show like this desperately needed. The plots in the last few episodes have been intriguing for the most part, but there was no sense of tension inside the hospital until now. The beginning basement sequences were chilling, and the imminent execution of the hospital survivors really kept one worried about the outcome. It really felt like a horror drama.

The murder plot is, again, unnecessary, as this episode proved that the Refugees could have had a reason to imprison them in the first place without any murders. (Even though it was extremely dumb of the children to ignore the constant ‘Keep Out’ signs and then blame Axel for his traps when there are vampires around). The anger and tension reaches an understandable boiling point as neither party trusts each other at all. The original party banishing the new refugees was a decision that definitely will be addressed in future episodes as they question their justification at pretty much leaving that party to die out in the open. It’s a very nice moral quandary that puts guilt on everyone without being too ‘After School Special’. Very dirty but necessary decisions are necessary in survival dramas such as this one, and this episode really pulls that off.

Vanessa’s anguish at not being able to spare Callie is also very well portrayed, as it reflects her guilt over her daughter. I cannot praise Kelly Overton’s acting enough. She is really great and plays her character spectacularly.

Axel (Jonathan Scarfe) banishes the remaining Refugees
Axel (Jonathan Scarfe) banishes the remaining Refugees

The more lingering plot threads now mostly lie with the mysterious ‘Taka’ and what that means to everyone. He’s referred to as ‘he’, so it cannot be Vanessa, thus the mystery remains. This episode slows down the plot, which is a huge relief. One now no longer needs to hang onto every word, which allows for more casual viewing.

Overall, an excellent episode. If the upcoming episodes are at or above this quality, this show will be one to remember.


Van Helsing airs Friday nights at 10/9c on Syfy.


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