You know, when I started Van Helsing, I wasn’t expecting much. I had a long weekend on my hands, no plans, and this show featured an actress I liked, so I thought why not? It’s not even my kind of show, as I really, really don’t do horror of any kind ever.
But I decided to give this a chance and, boy, am I glad I did. Once you get past the graphic stuff — and it’s really, really gross and gory and there’s a lot of blood — Van Helsing is really, really good. Compelling characters, great storylines and amazing mythology. I burned through the first two seasons in a weekend and I just couldn’t get enough.
Fast forward to season 3, episode 2 “Super Unknown”. Directed by Jonathan Scarfe (who plays Axel on the show), this episode had everything that made me fall in love with this show in the first place. Before we dive into the episode per se, I just wanted to give kudos to Scarfe for an excellent job. I didn’t know he was also a director — only found out after I watched an interview earlier this week — and he has been doing amazingly well taking on the director’s hat as well. He directed the season 2 finale and that was one of the very best episodes of the show, bar none. He did not disappoint in “Super Unknown”.
I loved that Vanessa was front and center again, as Kelly Overton plays her intensity and tenacity beautifully, especially when we find out she has been struggling with her abilities and her new found craving for human blood. But more about that in a second.
First let’s talk about how she’s been unnervingly quiet ever since she reunited with the group and set out on a journey with Scarlett, Axel and the Elder. They are looking for the Elder’s totem and Vanessa is just freakishly focused on the mission. Scarlett and Axel are kind of freaked out, especially when her eyes start flashing red. And that begs the question — did the fact that the Elder bit her made her maybe absorb some of his powers? Or did the bite only enhance whatever abilities she already had?
Ancient, but still lethal
Speaking of powers, I’m really digging these ancient vampires that are being introduced. The vampire that resided in the asylum’s mausoleum had a pretty awesome, kickass power and his blood was silver, which just makes me have so many questions that we never got any answers to in this episode. But the fact that all of his children had the same power probably goes hand in hand with the theory that the Elder did transfer some of his power to Vanessa with that bite.
The Elder is obviously very powerful, but since he has pledged to serve the Van Helsings, he can only use his powers as they see fit. Which doesn’t mean that he will do it willingly or with a smile on his face. His never ending banter with Scarlett will forever amuse me, because she just has zero patience for his crap, but he really seems to be enjoying himself — especially when he’s being particularly cryptic, like “when you see it, you will know”. I was about ready to deck him, so I’m pretty sure Scarlett was this close to chopping his head off.
I love love love the fact that the Elder took Susan’s persona, so Vanessa would be more comfortable. I really loved Hilary Jardine in season 1 and I was devastated when Susan died. Jardine has excellent chemistry with Kelly Overton, but throw Missy Peregrym into the mix and it gets even better. Scarlett’s attitude towards the Elder is hilarious, especially when she starts bossing him around, and Jardine just takes what Peregrym hands to her and runs with it — and vice-versa. Their entire exchange about how he was completely useless had me laughing out loud.
The Van Helsing sisters
Now let’s take a moment to talk about the vampire hunter twins. Vanessa and Scarlett are incredibly badass on their own, but together? They’re unstoppable. That entire fight sequence in the asylum with all those vampires was amazing, even if Scarlett was feeling the full force of the ancient vampire’s powers. In that moment, it’s pretty clear that Vanessa obviously is a hell of a lot more vampire than her sister, because — while Scarlett isn’t quite as easily affected as Axel is — she clearly feels the effects that those powers have on humans.
The guy that she turns back to human is a shady old dude, who claims he was a doctor there before the vampires attacked. He didn’t seem right in the head from the very start, but when he told them that Lilian Van Helsing was buried in the cemetery in front of the asylum, and then lured Axel back inside to look for some shovels, I knew for sure he was bad news.
But that left Vanessa and Scarlett alone for a moment and that was all we needed for them to finally talk. Scarlett is frustrated that Vanessa has been basically a robot ever since they were reunited and yells at her that they’re sisters, but all Vanessa has done since the moment they met is constantly shut her out. That scene is incredibly powerful and Kelly Overton and Missy Peregrym knocked it out of the park. What started as a minor tiff about Axel, developed into a full confession from Vanessa that she hasn’t been feeling right ever since the Elder bit her.
When she confides in her sister that she is craving human blood, you can see the fear in her eyes that she might be turning into a full fledged vampire. Vanessa tried to get Scarlett to promise that if that ever happened, she knew what she had to do, but the ninja wouldn’t even hear it.
That is probably going to make for an excellent conflict for Scarlett down the road, because she was a lone wolf before she met Vanessa and the rest of the group. Everything was black and white for her: human good, they may go on their merry way; vampire bad, must kill. But now she knows these people and she genuinely cares about them. Vanessa is her twin sister. When it really comes down to it, will she be able to kill her own sister if she becomes a threat? Is that the path they’re going to walk on this season? Having to choose between doing what’s right and family?
Whatever it is, I am so glad that Scarlett finally managed to get through to Vanessa. They’re stronger together and it was high time Vanessa realized that.
Scarlett and Axel
These two are adorable and adorably dorky together. After a quick search, I was surprised to find out that I seem to be in the minority for shipping Scarlett and Axel. While I was binge watching, I thought they were going to pair up Axel and Vanessa at some point, and I was surprised when he and Scarlett started flirting and then became a thing. That being said, though, I have to say, I really don’t hate it.
Maybe it’s because Jonathan Scarfe and Missy Peregrym have this incredible chemistry together, but I was completely, one hundred percent sold on them by the end of “Wakey, Wakey” last season. They have each other’s backs no matter what and they make a fantastic team, but what really makes them so likeable for me is that their camaraderie is unparalleled. They have a lightness to their relationship, even when things are pretty dire — which is very often in this show — and their banter never fails to make me smile.
In “Super Unknown”, they banter about telling Vanessa about their relationship and it feels like they’re in a good place with each other. It may not be serious, but it’s clear that they’re both on the same page and that they have a good thing going — even if Scarlett tells Vanessa that they don’t have anything going on between them, that it was just a moment and it’s over. We can all see you lying through your teeth, Ms. Harker.
I truly hope they both manage to survive this season and that this really goes somewhere. Living in a post apocalyptic world is already hard enough and they could both definitely use some loving.
Lilian Van Helsing
We only caught a glimpse of her badassery in this episode, but it looks like we are about to find a whole lot more about her in episode 3. Before Axel managed to kill the newly turned human — who turned out to be a psycho and tortured Axel in an electric chair — he finds out that Lilian’s remains are actually in the mausoleum.
Before they can get to it, however, they need to face the ancient, silver blooded vampire there, who is just way too strong for both Scarlett and Axel. Vanessa manages to fend for herself, but tells Scarlett to get Axel out of there and send in the Elder to help her. I love that the only thing she needs to do is say “attack” and the Elder rips that powerful vampire apart in no time.
They finally find Lilian’s body — which is in remarkably good condition for someone who has been dead for over a hundred years — and the Elder’s totem. Vanessa obviously doesn’t let him have it, which is endlessly amusing because he pouts like a child. But what’s really interesting about this scene is that Lilian was laid to rest with a sword, that the Elder strongly advises against touching. Vanessa sends Scarlett and Axel ahead of them to try and find the trail back to the cabin, before obviously picking up the sword.
The Elder tells her that she still has so much to learn and that she is definitely not strong enough to go up against another elder. When she asks him to teach her, he transports her mind to another place, over a hundred years ago, probably to Lilian’s body when she fought an elder herself.
And that’s where we will pick up in this week’s episode. I am so. freaking. excited. Can you tell I love this show?
Van Helsing airs on Fridays at 10/9C on SYFY.