Helstrom- A Review

Posted: 10/30/2020 in Uncategorized

Well, this was a very cool run. There were aspects I liked, others I loved and some I thought were okay. If this is to be the coda to the Marvel television universe, I am more than fine with how it has ended. The finale left some cliffhangers but based on the effort exerted by Marvel to promote this series, it is evident that these will not be pursued. In any case, more good than bad occurred in my estimation. Now on with my review.

The series very much pushed its supernatural aspect. It opens with an exorcism …of sorts… featuring Ethics professor and resident occultist Daimon Helstrom (Tom Austen). He is surly, intelligent and quite dismissive of nun in training Gabriella (Arianna Guerrera). The moments with the ‘family in crisis’ ends with Damon calling the man’s ‘possessed” son an ‘asshole’ which was grimly funny and apt. We later meet Ana (Sydney Lemmon)…short for “Satana”…a name never mentioned sadly. Her occupation is a seller of antiquities; her mission is something else entirely. Her demonstration of power is effortless as is her will to deal with evil. Her partner Chris Yen (Alain Uy) seems her long suffering collaborator until we learn that he is so much more. His snarky humor balances her exceedingly sharp edges. The chemistry between the duo is one of the stronger facets of this series. His story arc is quite amazing and elevates the series as well.

We meet Daimon’s and Ana’s mother Victoria (Elizabeth Marvel) possessed by a demon and living in an institution for twenty years. Her guardian is a former nun, Dr. Louise Hastings (June Carryl) who looks after her patient as well as focuses on managing Victoria’s son. The dynamic between Louise and Daimon is assuredly parental. Her backstory ties into well…everything. Daimon’s mission to liberate his mother of her possession is one undermined by his own guilt. His attempts are a lake lapping at a monolith. He gets moments with her but cannot keep her free for more than a few instances it would appear.

Louise’s involvement with the Helstrom family extends to her friendship with Caretaker/Henry (Robert Wisdom). The banter between the two and later familial dynamic between “Taker” and Ana fleshes out the series via his connection with an order of demon hunters known as “The Blood”, a group which would very seamlessly tie into the Ghost Rider series featuring Gabriel Luna which sadly did not move forward.

This series is supernaturally mired but is heavily family centric and the powerful performances by Lemmon and Austen reflect this keenly. She is far more glacial than him in her demeanour but when we learn her past trauma, the viewer’s empathy quickly shifts to her. That she is even remotely stable is testament to her core strength and resolve.

Elizabeth Marvel does a terrific job at playing someone/something other. The vocal enhancement adds to her portrayal. Her slips in and out of sanity are delved into with aplomb. The origin story of the Helstrom children is eked out tightly with a ten episode parameter gamely set to reveal as much as possible in a very short time.

As the protagonist siblings are lesser known, the writing team is allowed to deviate from the original source material. There is a massive horror element and the gore while not “Boys” level is still far above most Marvel fare. That this series was at one point poised to blaze the trail to a supernatural series of franchises starting on the small screen and extrapolating to such big screen material as the next Dr. Strange film is sadly not to be.

The serial killer parent angle we know will evolve to something grander. In this respect, the series sputters a bit. There are grand reveals, particularly where the Helstrom siblings’ father’s true nature is concerned. There is never a due manifestation however. There are superior battle segments with unsettling imagery. There is a thematic narrative switch from Daimon’s journey to Ana’s and she comes off better for it. She grows as a character, becoming more grounded via her role as ultimate saviour, where Victoria is concerned, takes lead.

Daimon starts off fairly kick ass, particularly when he lets himself go. A segment between him and Gabriella could easily have led in one direction before taking a more mature trajectory. The connection between these two pushes forth the value of redemption and what is good…initially.

The last part of the series mildly devolves into familiar fare and upon its exploration, the direction one character will take is telegraphed from a mile away. Nonetheless, the journey is still one well worth taking. The false ending turning into something really tasty….though unlikely to ever properly develop.

Props must be given for a solid effort overall in which the origin material was properly respected and an ambitious narrative was put forth pushing beyond such. This was a really good first attempt. A subsequent season could continue to swing for the fences. If it is not to be, we still got 10 episodes of great television ending Marvel’s small screen legacy.

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