Something's gotten loose in the Comic-Con trailer for Ronald D. Moore's Syfy series Helix, and we're talking about more than just a virus (although by the looks of things, there's a virus loose, too). We've got your exclusive look! Plus, the show creators give us some context.
"It's very character-oriented and internal and claustrophobic," Moore told the Comic-Con crowd. "It's [set at] a secret base in the Arctic Circle, and there's an outbreak in first episode. The CDC is sent to contain it and they realize that the research they claimed the were doing in this extralegal base isn't what they said it was. The deeper they go, the more they realize the research has potential to save and destroy humanity. The stakes are the literally the world."
The world is in the hands of Dr. Alan Farragut (played by Billy Campbell), a man who understands diseases much more than he understands other people. This is possibly why his wife (played by the recently announced Kyra Zagorsky) had an affair with Alan's brother — who has come down with a mysterious disease only Alan can cure.
The first season will contain 13 episodes, each one covering a single day. “It's a season-long mystery and we wanted the pace to be frenetic,” explains writer Cameron Porsandeh. “You start two weeks before the story ends. The show is a mystery and it will unravel slowly. Clues are hidden here and there. I think it lends itself well to repeat viewing.”
“There will be clues, and they will pay off,” adds showrunner Steven Maeda. “Our goal is to unpack things deliberately and hide things and make you go ‘wait, did that mean something?’ and hopefully go back and rewatch it when we get to a big reveal to see what was really going on.”
And the CDC team will find a lot more than just the black goo virus. "In the service of developing that particular [virus], they've done other experiments as well," Moore told reporters later. "There's other technology that the CDC will discover as they investigate. There are different layers to the base and they discover other experiments that have been going on down there for some time."
Syfy also announced that Hiroyuki Sanada and Mark Ghanime have joined the cast. Ghanime will play military liaison to the CDC; Sanada will be the man in charge of the Arctic research facility where the show takes place. “It's his little playground above the Arctic Circle where international laws don't apply,” says Maeda of Sanada’s character. “Unpacking that character will be fascinating. He's very mysterious.”
The creators point to The Thing and The Andromeda Strain as obvious inspirations, as well the videogame Portal and the movies of Stanley Kubrick. One show they didn’t want Helix to emulate was Moore’s Battlestar Galactica. “[It’s] not a war show like BSG, but it shares the idea of being all in one place,” says producer Mark Stern. “It's kind of a spaceship in one sense — the place is claustrophobic — but when you look out the window, there’s this vastness, so it doesn’t feel like you're in a tin can. It's a cool dichotomy.”
“We made a decision not to ape BSG,” adds Maeda. “It's very high-tech, sleek. But there are levels underneath levels. What you see at first isn't necessarily all there is. There's more to it later.” Indeed, Moore and the other already have plans for season 2. Each season will be a chapter, according to Stern, and the second chapter will also be set in an entirely different environment.
“Helix refers to DNA, but also there's the duality of the helix,” explains Porsandeh. “There is a mythology involved and this second strand will be emerging and linking us to next season.”
Helix will premiere on Syfy sometime next year.