VAN HELSING – Season 1 Episodes 1 & 2 – SPOILERS
Episode two, written by Simon Barry, is an excellent starting point for VAN HELSING. The only information to be gained from the first episode is that Vanessa heals very rapidly. It is curious that she never discovered her ability to heal quickly before the apocalypse, given her pugnacious nature. Perhaps she needed to be attacked by a vampire to trigger this power.
Shortly after she is rudely awakened from a three year coma, Vanessa exhibits a Buffy-like stabbiness in killing one of her attackers. Vanessa is a serious-minded anti-vamp, who moves as though she has had some military training. There is no one around who understands her powers and can explain them to her. so she’ll need to figure them out by trial and error.
Seattle’s vampire community, led by a Romanian named Dimitri (Paul Johanssen), have been lurking in the shadows for a very long time because untraviolet light is toxic to them. When Yellowstone erupts, volcanic ash clouds block out the UV, freeing them from nocturnal restriction and they go on a mad feeding frenzy, expanding their numbers as they bite. The debris cloud from the volcano would be mostly restricted to the Northern Hemisphere. The safest place for humans would be south of the equator, or on an ocean-going vessel heading south.
The last big Yellowstone eruption (640,000 years ago) had a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8. For comparison, the 1883 Krakatoa eruption (the largest in recorded history) had a VEI of 6. (The index is logarithmic. like the Richter scale.) In the year following the Krakatoa eruption, average Northern Hemisphere summer temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 degrees Celsius, and did not return to normal until 1888.
Understanding the vampires is going to be a key part of understanding this show. Showrunner Neil Labute said there are at least three different kinds of vampires in the VAN HELSING universe. “Physically,” he explained, “we’ve tried to create a few levels of vampires – Ferals, Feeders and Elites – that have very individualized looks but still do what they must do to scare you as a viewer. That part is always important: creep the audience out whenever possible.”
Before the eruption, a vampire hired to raid a blood bank appropriates a packet of blood for himself. The blood was donated by Vanessa, and the vampire turns human immediately. Before and after his transformation, he did not seem vicious, so he must have been a feeder. The other vampires including their leader also seem quite civilized (except for where they vivisect the unfortunate fellow to find out how he was made human again.) Where do the feral ones come from? They would have been noticed in pre-apocalyptic Seattle. Are they newly minted and confused vamps? Can they be educated to become feeders?
When Rebecca identifies the vampire delivering blood stolen from the clinic as a reversion, she says: “I haven’t seen this since…” She never finishes the sentence, but it seems that Vanessa’s abilities have been encountered before.
Vanessa, we learn, has a daughter named Dylan (Hannah Cheramy), an ex-husband in Denver, and a best friend named Susan (Hilary Jardine). When Vanessa thought she was dying, she told Dylan to go find Susan, so it is reasonable to expect the two of them to be in the same place. Despite the fact that Axel wants to keep Vanessa under his protection, it seems pretty necessary to the furtherance of the story that she escape from custody and locate Susan and/or Dylan (after a dramatically appropriate period of searching).
It doesn’t matter if Susan has been turned into a vampire. Vanessa can restore her humanity. For that matter, that talent may be a family trait and Dylan might be able to do that as well.
Kit Kat bars get a plug when Axel (Jonathan Scarfe) says he misses them. Doc (Rukiya Bernard), who has no first or last name yet, is quickly bitten and turned. Axel, a military fellow, keeps her in a cage and feeds her his own blood. Let’s hope that Vanessa will make her human again soon. This show has plenty of gunfire from automatic weapons, but the weapon they need to develop is a tranquilizer gun with darts loaded with Vanessa’s blood. That would be more effective against free roaming vampires than an M-4.
Rukiya Bernard (Doc) will be Maggie in LITTLE PINK HOUSE, the story behind the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision Kelo v. City of New London. Based on Jeff Benedict’s nonfiction book of the same name. Catherine Keener will play Susette Kelo, the Connecticut nurse who found herself at the center of a political firestorm when the city of New London, Connecticut used the power of eminent domain to claim ownership of a working class neighborhood. Residents fought a five-year court battle to stop the expropriation, and Kelo’s renovated pink house became the symbol of the fight. LITTLE PINK HOUSE is director Courtney Balaker‘s first feature film. No word yet on a release date.
Hannah Cheramy (Dylan) will be Rose in the made for TV movie ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY, based on the book by Chris Grabenstein, the tale of twelve 12-year-olds trying to escxape from the most ridiculously brilliant library ever created. Filming has begun in Vancouver, and the film will air on Nickelodeon sometime in 2017. A trailer is available on YouTube. Cheramy also is young Gloria in the scifi thriller COLOSSAL, about a woman (Gloria) who discovers a mysterious connection between herself and a giant monster wreaking havoc on the other side of the globe. Rukiya Bernard is also in the cast. COLOSSAL will have its world premiere at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.
Alison Wandzura (Nicole) will be Fran Johnstone in STORY OF A GIRL, a film based on the 2008 book by Sara Zarr, about a teen who must deal with the ramifications of a sex video that goes viral. It will be the directorial debut of Kyra Sedgwick, who optioned the story several years ago. Production has begun in Vancouver for a 2017 debut on Lifetime following the film’s festival run.