Martin Carr reviews the fourth episode of Marvel’s Helstrom…
At the heart of this pitch black comic book adaptation sits a moral and ethical quandary. More confounding things are under discussion than mere angels and demons. Matters of heaven and hell pale into insignificance alongside the decisions being made regarding the possessed. Whatever your stance on the subject things are revealed that will leave you shaken. Beyond religious doctrine the methods passed down to deal with such entities has always advocated a purging of afflicted individuals. What is proposed through an organisation called simply The Blood is something altogether more radical.
Involuntary sedation through a medically induced coma condones segregation of an entity within the human host, circumventing any number of human rights debates. It has been widely documented over many years that the torture of prisoners in certain parts of this world is done unlawfully. By turning these people into human cocoons and imprisoning the malicious spirits within the argument goes that millions more will be safe. That this action presumes no free will on the part of the possessed, essentially turning them into little more than a skin suit never comes up.
Much of what makes Helstrom interesting relies upon these debates. Daimon preaches morality to his students but lives his life according to a certain moral flexibility, which finds him emotionally ambivalent to those lessons. His sister is more of a mess finding repulsive motives in others to justify her need for fulfilment through slaughter. Their relationship is defined by friction yet combined Ana and Daimon represent a formidable force, matched only by their father in terms of destructive power.
Elsewhere beyond the arguments of morality comes a literal moment in the sun for Victoria’s demon. Elizabeth Marvel gets to invest this creation with emotion and semblances of loss, allowing audiences to empathise. Apart from the subtle sibling moments between brother and sister, this encounter represents a high water mark in ‘Containment’. It gives the demon a sense of identity rather than keeping things two dimensional, which provides an additional layer of depth overall. With Gabriella working alongside taker in her quest for knowledge, Helstrom is asking more questions and broadening its scope.
In the closing minutes as the minions of hell come to strike a bargain with Ana and her brother, these developments open up numerous possibilities all ripe with dramatic weight. As the performances continue to impress there is little doubt that Helstrom may yet become the hit Hulu deserves.
All episodes of Helstrom are available now on Hulu.