DISCLAIMER: This recap of Helstrom episode “Mother’s Little Helpers” is rife with spoilers galore. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome, demon lovers and hunters alike! Hulu’s Helstrom Season One became available to stream on Friday. Episode one, “Mother’s Little Helpers,” dove headfirst into the horror and gore that envelops the Helstrom siblings. While the pacing was a bit on the slower side, this episode possessed enough intrigue to keep me invested. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say the highlight for me was Elizabeth Marvel‘s riveting turn as Daimon and Ana’s cursed mother Victoria. Marvel imbued Victoria with a demonic gravitas that never felt hokey. Side note: Ana is the Gothic badass I aspire to be.
Ready to delve into “Mother’s Little Helpers?” Let’s get to it.
We open with a darkened hospital corridor. Not creepy at all. We see Dr. Louise Hastings (June Carryl) hard at work in her office. She’s typing her notes. Suddenly, an invisible force overtakes her keyboard and begins feverishly typing “no mercy” on repeat. The shelves behind her clatter and rattle without a helping hand in sight. Something demonic is at play here.
Next, Hastings rushes down the corridor outside her office and finds the guard on duty mercilessly slaughtered. Oh, and there are a handful of patients on the loose. That’s not good.
Meanwhile, Daimon Helstrom (Tom Austen) shows up at a family’s home to investigate a boy that’s apparently possessed. His newest sidekick, Sister Gabriella (Ariana Guerra), is eager to see an exorcism in action. Daimon is directed upstairs to the boy’s room. However, he goes at it alone. We see a young boy hiding under his bed growling Latin. That’s usually a key indicator of possession. But Daimon knows better.
When the boy retreats from his hiding place, Daimon splashes “holy water from the Vatican” on him. Just kidding! It was water from the bathroom sink. Daimon sniffed this faker a mile out and urged the boy to come clean to his family. Oh, and clean the excrement off the walls with copious amounts of bleach. Before leaving, he finishes the Latin incantation the boy started. We see a ring of fire materialize and the contents of the boy’s room violently shift. Daimon’s got the power, folks.
Later, Daimon informs the family that their kid is an a**hole. Gabriella balks at Daimon’s callous handling of the situation. He speeds off to go teach a class.
Then, we see Ana Helstrom (Sydney Lemmon) waltzing through an auction hall in San Francisco. She boldly stomps past folks like a model on the runway. I’m already a fan. Her assistant, Chris Yen (Alain Uy), informs her that her meeting has been set in place. With whom, you might ask? Some rich boy who just purchased Napoleon Bonaparte’s sword for a cool seven million dollars.
After the auction, Ana is schmoozing with rich boy. She coyly pushes all of his kinky buttons. Then, she reveals that she knows who he is and what he does. He’s a serial killer that “steals the light from women’s eyes.” She proceeds to kill the shirt out of him and promptly pushes him off the roof. Boom!
Now, we’re in Colma, California in a cemetery. We see the patients that escaped Saint Theresa and the nurse that aided them attempting to break into a secret crypt in a mausoleum. After gaining access, we see them approach a not-spooky-at-all sarcophagus. Said sarcophagus has spider legs adorning its exterior. Again, not spooky at all. Suddenly, the nurse is quickly pulled into the sarcophagus by its spider legs. And crushed in the bloodiest way possible. The two escaped patients’ eyes give off a demonic hue. They’re clearly being controlled by something. Perhaps whatever is locked inside the sarcophagus?
Later, back in Portland, Daimon is teaching a college class. He appears to be more at ease here and less of a dick. Hastings appears outside his classroom for an impromptu chat. She reveals that two patients and a nurse escaped the hospital, leaving a poor deceased guard in their wake. Oh, and to lay off Sister Gabriella. She came highly recommended from the Vatican, after all.
Next, Chris scolds Ana for not being discrete with her killings. He can’t clean up her mess forever, although his work is quite impeccable. Not even Buzzfeed heard about her shoving the rich boy off the rooftop! He also divulges in the crypt incident in Colma. Consider Ana’s interest piqued.
Meanwhile, Daimon pops by the hospital to pay Mommy Dearest a.k.a. Victoria Helstrom (Elizabeth Marvel) a visit. Daimon attempts to interrogate Victoria regarding the escaped patients, but he gets rebuffed at every turn. Mama isn’t home, dear. He also notices a peculiar symbol scrawled in blood on the wall of her room. Again, Victoria refuses to proffer an answer. She is cursed, so she resorts to some fun demon mind games. Marvel is mesmerizing in this. Victoria tries to thwart Daimon’s attempts at information by claiming that when she was pregnant she drank an overabundance of alcohol to kill him. Mother of the Year here, folks.
Then, Ana winds up in Colma to check out the crypt. She finds the sarcophagus completely bereft of humans or beings of any kind. Even the two patients are gone. However, a one-eyed skeletal form remains in its wake. Ana inexplicably connects with the one-eyed skull, so she grabs it prior to leaving. Regardless, something got out that wasn’t supposed to leave.
Later, Daimon catches Gabriella and Hastings up to speed regarding his meeting with Victoria. Of course, he has nothing. Gabriella is frustrated that Daimon won’t involve her in the matter. She asks to see Victoria by herself, as an impartial person who can intricately examine the situation without bias. Daimon essentially insults her and Gabriella leaves in a huff. Hastings urges him to apologize and gives us a bit of backstory into Gabriella. Apparently, she studied for six years in Rome and her expertise lies in exorcisms. So, bro, let her in!
Next, Daimon decides to send Sister Dearest a.k.a. Ana a text. They don’t get along because of their tempestuous past. But bygones, right? Ana is busy researching her new one-eyed skull friend on the internet when she receives Daimon’s text. She promptly ignores him. We see him getting inked up at a tattoo shop. However, his powers prevent the ink from staying. Perhaps this is a coping mechanism for him? Feeling the pain of a needle without leaving a mark?
Then, Daimon leaves an apologetic voicemail for Gabriella. Hastings finds the nun and convinces her to stay on the case, despite Daimon’s callousness. The good doctor plops something in Gabriella’s hand that will be of use to the latter — a key.
Now, we see Gabriella back at the hospital with full access to the Helstrom family’s files. Additionally, there are newspaper clippings of headlines that proclaim unspeakable acts, like murder. She learns that Daimon and Ana’s father was a serial killer. The father also kidnapped Ana when she was little. Hastings returns and fills in some blanks. Victoria was cursed for what she knew regarding her husband. The Helstrom family was enveloped by evil more than a case of nondescript tragedy.
Meanwhile, Ana draws blood from her hand and smears it on the skull. Suddenly, an actual eyeball appears in a flash. And, in a flash, it disappears. Ana decides to put her skull away with the other demonic artifacts she’s acquired over the years. She procures what appears to be an antique jewelry box and is overcome with childhood memories.
Next, back at the hospital, Hastings falls victim to a coughing fit. We see blood on her hand, but she attempts to conceal this from Gabriella. Just as Hastings flees the scene, Gabriella sneaks off with the former’s key to pay Mama Victoria a visit.
Of course, Mama Victoria is elated to find “fresh meat.” The pair square off, but Gabriella’s Vatican training is no match for the demonic momma. She throws Gabriella around like a ragdoll. Thankfully, Daimon enters the room with Hastings in tow. He effectively puts Victoria in her place. We see a glimpse of the real Victoria break the surface as she tearfully urges Daimon to run. The trio make a break for it.
Then, the trio treat themselves to liquor because demons are exhausting. Daimon reveals that he discovered what the symbol in his mother’s room means. It’s an ideogram that roughly translates to “consumption.” How ominous.
Later, Daimon finds Ana walking toward him in the parking lot. She swore she would never set foot in Portland again, yet here she is. “Just tell me the b*tch is dead,” she says. Ah, family reunions!
Meanwhile, at a truck stop, we see a trucker board his rig to find the nurse from earlier that was crushed by that sarcophagus. He looks about half dead, as half of his body is covered in blood. He lurches toward the truck driver.
Now, I tend to go easy on pilot episodes because, frankly, most pilots aren’t perfect. Far from it. Helstrom‘s first installment isn’t perfect, but it sure is intriguing. The horror elements, the fractured family dynamic, the performances and the score are enough to keep me sated. God, this episode boasted a darkly haunting score that perfectly complemented the action. I’m in it for the long haul, folks. I hope you are too.