Review of Entire Season HERE
It was a dark and stormy night…
Okay, it’s Portland, so that’s not a unique situation. We’re starting this show by staring straight up at the exterior of an imposing stone hospital during a thunderstorm, so someone’s brushed up on their horror tropes. This is the Saint Teresa Center for Mental Health, an honest to goodness mental asylum where a demon lives in a woman who lives in an empty padded cell that’s basically a vault, like it’s 1920 instead of 2020. As soon as the Trump era is over and we have some standards again, someone should report this place.
TV World does love an outdated mental ward. For the sake of telling a dramatic story, let’s pretend that isn’t offensive. To some extent, this show mirrors the look and feel of the Netflix MCU’s gritty, worn, slightly retro style, even though it takes place on the West Coast rather than NYC. Theoretically, Helstrom is not in that universe, but I caught a few visual references. Others caught newspaper references to the wider MCU.
Thematically, Helstrom also follows in the footsteps of the Netflix MCU by examining the Helstrom family’s trauma, loss, mental illness and ongoing recovery, but also, more subtly, focusing on the complicated nature of privilege. As opposed to the MCU’s broad methods, Helstrom uses subtle, quiet methods to show how characters who were born with their powers, but are passing as humans, can inadvertently use them to take advantage of others, regardless of their intentions. There are no Tony Starks here.