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Van Helsing - Outside World - Review

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'Outside World' felt like the end of an arc for Vanessa and the beginning of a new one.

Throughout the first two seasons we had seen a Van Helsing fueled by rage, often times making her a protagonist hard to sympathize with, puzzling since she is supposed to be the main hero. However, over the past couple of weeks the show began to give reason for why her character was written in the way she was. Vanessa's arc over the past two seasons led to the crux of these past few episodes - a descent into the darkness.

That brings us to 'Outside World,' a complex character study that saw Vanessa, left hanging and trapped with a hook entrenched in her back, confronted by the ghosts of both her past and present, each temping her either to the dark side or the light side.

It was great to see the return of David Cubitt as John, who Van Helsing mercilessly killed back in Season 1 upon wrongfully suspecting he was a murderer. This was an engaging interaction to start things off driven by the screen presence of Cubitt, whose David reminds her of the vampire beneath her human self. He accuses her of enjoying his death, and she admits it - the first temptation into the dark side.

Other figures from the dark included her arch nemesis Sam. The once deaf survivor reminds her that she chose to maim him and left him to suffer rather than giving him a quick death. He tells her she did it because of her pleasure in inflicting pain. In this case, how is she any different than him? Less engaging of a conversation was with dark Julius who further temps Van Helsing to unleash the vampire within her.

Amidst all those figures from the dark, were also some figures from the light. Human Julius reminds Vanessa of the goodness inside of her after all the forgiveness she showed to him and all the people who she helped. Believe in your heart, he reminds her. Both Dylan and Susan also appear to remind her of her capability to feel love - the one thing that separates the human from the vampire.

I especially loved the interplay between Susan and Sam - the angel and devil on Vanessa's shoulders. It was like watching a play being acted out, but without feeling overdone or forced.

Ultimately, the episode didn't entirely affirm which side Vanessa has chosen, but we get the glimmer of hope that she is leaning towards the light and her fellow survivors are essential to her finding her humanity.

We see this with Mohammad, who she turns back into a human, the last of the survivors to be brought out of their vampirism. It offers an interesting parallel how despite the darkness and questionable killings she had committed, there were also people like Flesh, Doc, Julius, Axel, and now Mohammad whose humanity she helped rediscover. The onus will be on them to do the same for her, chief among them her most recent save who chooses to secretly follow her as she finds the fourth elder.

'Outside World' was an reminder of the moral complexities we face as humans. It was a well thought out and written exploration of Vanessa's inner turmoil, recapping all of the events of the past two and a half seasons to now as she is confronted with her demons.


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