'Van Helsing' Episode 12 Review: 'Three Pages' is an episode filled with uneasy tension as the team prepares for the end
With the three pages finally in hand, it’s time for what remains of the Van Helsing team to take the fight to the Dark One. There are just two problems they need to deal with - the fact that they still have no idea how to create the weapon that kills her, and more pressingly - the Oracle. The penultimate episode is filled with quiet tension, as Violet (Keeya King) and Jack (Nicole Munoz) make their final preparations to end the Dark One once and for all.
Bathory (Jessica Stanley) has placed the ball squarely in the Van Helsing-lings court, as she’s seen that her best way forward is to stay right where she is. It leads to a quieter episode as Team Van Helsing figures out what they need to do next. They’re aided by Colonel Nicholson (Aaron Douglas) who is still having trouble wrapping his head around the bizarreness that everyone else on the show has been dealing with. This season has been all over the place, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s still nice to have the Colonel sum up everything we need to know right at the start of the episode.
Jack and Violet don’t take long to reveal what’s written on the pages by using their blood, but aren’t able to read a word on it. For that, they need the help of their father. Still injured from Bathory’s interrogations, a weakened Wilhelm (Dakota Daulby) takes the girls on one last trip into the past before the season’s end. In his mind, we see Neil McDonough’s return as Hansen, guiding his daughters through his past before revealing that the weapon is, in fact, them.
Hansen’s relationship with his daughters, how good or evil he ultimately was, and the mystery of the weapon are three of the season’s most enduring loose ends, and they all are tied up rather neatly in this flashback look into Wilhem’s mind. Unsurprisingly, but compellingly, how good or bad Wilhelm ultimately is isn’t clear-cut. He has done some terrible things, that no amount of love for his daughters can quite make up for - that Violet points that out really underlines that point. Hansen’s tale is a tragic one, of a good person who went deeper and deeper into darkness in the beliefs that good intentions would not somehow lead to Hell. His death at the hands of Bathory happens before he can see his daughters reach a better world, and Hansen’s final moments sell that pain of not knowing hauntingly.
Bathory has been a bit of a weak point all season long, but this episode, she shines. It would seem that her strengths lie in her knowledge of victory - there’s a fierceness to her quiet confidence that is chilling. At every turn, this episode, she bears the air of one who at long last has won a hard-fought battle, and it is unnerving given that the final fight has yet to happen. Every action series works to establish stakes before their season finales, but Bathory sells a knowledge of victory that establishes something else altogether. It is a hopelessness. It is doubt. It is the feeling that all is lost before the fight’s even begun, and while many villains claim that that’s true, it’s a rare one that ever manages to actually sell it.
The ending of the show is uncomfortably tense. Violet and Jack, pages unlocked, dive into the Dark Realm and come out moments later. We are not told how much time has passed, or what has happened in there. We’re left with the mystery of what Bathory has seen, what happened when Jack’s pentagram brand, put in place by Bathory, began to burn. We’re told that the Dark One has been ended, but as Jack’s heart’s stopped and Violet goes into a seizure, there is cause enough to doubt Jack’s statement, and even if it is true - has it come at the cost of something much, much worse?
The penultimate episode does more with quietness than a violent struggle to the finish line could ever achieve. It winds its audience up, creates a discomforting tension, and encourages an abandoning of hope. Despite news of the Dark One’s passing, resolution one way or the other is tantalizingly out of reach. It’s an effective way to keep an audience on the edge of their seats for the finale, keeping everyone wondering not what will happen - but what has already come to pass.
The season finale of ‘Van Helsing’ airs on Syfy on December 20.