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Van Helsing - Dark Destiny & Dark Ties - Double Episode Review

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Season 4 kicked off with an unofficial two-parter, 'Dark Ties' and 'Dark Destiny,' which saw Vanessa's journey after her confrontation in the maze with Sam and The Oracle continue, while Julius and Doc's storyline in Denver was also furthered along.

With Axel not appearing at all in these first two episodes, as well as, the departure of Van Helsing's two most charismatic and humorous characters - Mohamad and Missy Peregrym's Scarlett (whose death still doesn't make any sense - you kill me and you become the light? OK?) - the Dark two-parter did feel a bit dry.

Granted, there were some exciting action sequences like the opening fight between the Van Helsings and Sam, in which we saw Lillian damn near behead the Fourth Elder, before he rose, put his head back on, threw some punches, and gouged Vanessa's eyes out.

Thankfully the Oracle had a plan that ultimately stopped him from killing them both.

After escaping, Vanessa had some bonding time with her newly resurrected great-great-grandmother, Lily, as they ventured out to retrieve the Van Helsing book. It seemed like they were building up the Van Helsing ancestor as a replacement for Scarlett, someone for whom Vanessa could play off of while also getting mentored. But alas, Lily gets killed off randomly by a bunch of feral vampires to end the premiere.

The death happened way too quickly - at least another episode would have helped achieve a better bond between Vanessa and her great-great-grandmother, thus making Lillian's death more impactful. However, in her limited time resurrected, the Van Helsing ancestor did help give some fresh perspectives on the situation, while her death fueled Vanessa's anger even more.

All the while, the resurrection of The Dark One aka Dracula looms.

Finding herself alone again, Vanessa's journey in 'Dark Ties' saw her getting closer to understanding her role as 'the light.'

The episode opened with the Van Helsing descendant saving a group of survivors, led by Jack (Nicole Munoz) while giving in a few pointers on vamp killing.

The cold opening had me questioning why Vanessa keeps killing these vampires, especially as brutal as she did in this scene. It does tie into her lust for blood and her aptitude to savagery, which we have seen throughout the series, but at the same time, it makes her a hard protagonist to like, knowing that she can easily turn these vamps back into humans.

However, kudos to the writers as this scene was a build up to the the overarching theme of the episode. Vanessa admits to Jack during a heart-to-heart that she "can't keep killing." The vamp hunter realizes her true role as "the light" when she rescues Tabby, bringing her back her humanity. It all amounts to Vanessa giving her sword to Jack claiming that she now "saves." This is a character arc that is long overdue, but it comes at a time when the darkness is more prevalent than ever.

Elsewhere, in Denver, Julius' confrontation with Scab that the Season 3 finale teased essentially amounted to nothing. Julius did manage to severely injure his former underling, but I think this would have been the perfect time to kill Scab as his character has long served his purpose on this show.

The bulk of Julius' time in these two episodes though was spent training Violet, the adopted daughter of Hansen and apparently another Van Helsing? This storyline so far serves a purpose in giving Julius a storyline to bite his teeth around, but whether introducing this character is really necessary remains to be seen until we get to know Violet a little better.

While Julius was training Violet, Doc was playing a chess game with Hansen at the Denver compound, trying to get in the good shoes of Hansen, and thus Avery - the more reasonable, if not, the more supportive of the two - who has files on her friend's whereabouts.

The pairing between Doc and Julius has been a smart pairing - one using her brains to help them survive, the other his sheer strength and physicality - and over the course of the Denver storyline, the two have developed a strong chemistry.

Overall, Dark Destiny and Dark Ties set up the season well, albeit with many dry moments - the charisma of Axel, Scarlett and Mohamad was missed. Vanessa, Julius, and Doc are all in interesting positions we've never see them in before with Vanessa embracing her role as a saviour, Julius becoming a mentor to another possible Van Helsing, and Doc, well, she's still being Doc but imprisoned for running her mouth as usual.

The main story of The Dark One, who we know is Dracula, and everyone converging to the point of her rise loomed over these two episodes, adding plenty of intrigue to this season's narrative.


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