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A presidency without precedent: Van Helsing's 'E Pluribus Unum' wrestles with post-rising politics
In a world gone mad, do ideas and ideals like honor, loyalty, and civic duty even apply anymore? When daywalkers and dark magic rule the day, what are we to make of constitutional laws and political norms?
Stranger still, if the president is a vampire… can you strip her of her power? Can you do what needs to be done, even if what needs to be done is tantamount to sedition?
Violet (Keeya King) and Axel (Jonathan Scarfe) find themselves having to grapple with these very questions in the latest episode of Van Helsing, after an unexpected run-in with a VIP from America’s future past. The answers just might determine the fate of the country.
**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers ahead for Van Helsing Season 5, Episode 10, "E Pluribus Unum."
While en route to D.C., Axel and Violet have made a pit stop at a remote outpost looking for documentation that can give them entrée through the wall. Axel steps away from the truck for a hot second, and Violet gets approached by a suspicious character who offers the known fugitive a trade: He won’t blab about her whereabouts, and together they can help each other get to the capital.
Before Violet can learn more, some mean-looking bikers swarm the young man, throw him in their van, and take off. Violet is determined to find the stranger, and when Axel gets back, the two bribe a local merchant for some information: The kid’s name is Aaron, and he’s being held captive in a heavily guarded fortress outside town.
But heavily guarded fortresses have never deterred them in the past, and Violet and Axel make quick work of breaching the defenses and making contact with Aaron. You’d never guess from his humble, earnest, and almost geeky appearance that he’s actually the son of Davis Park, the 45th President of the United States, and currently a vampire that Aaron is keeping locked in a cell.
We’ve got questions, Axel and Violet have questions, and Aaron’s got answers. Apparently, when Dracula took over the body of the dead President Archer (Jill Teed), she also had the former President Park ambushed, bitten, turned, and stripped of any of his remaining security clearances.
Aaron’s been building a high-powered communication device with the hopes of making contact with his mom and sister, who were separated from him and his father on the day of the coup. Aaron’s willing to let Axel and Violet use it to make a call, too, if Violet helps turn Park human again. It’s a deal.
That’s when the mean-looking bikers, charged with protecting what’s left of the President and first family, burst in, guns drawn. Bullets fly as Violet makes a mad dash for Parker, bites his arm, and delivers him from evil.
Things cool down considerably after that, giving everyone time to get to know each other. Hopper, the head biker who found Aaron and Davis after their convoy was ambushed, confides in Axel that he voted for Davis’ opponent in the previous election — couldn’t stand the guy. However, when hell broke loose, Hopper chose to set aside his partisan beliefs out of principle and do what needed to be done. After all, whether left or right, this guy was still the president.
As the only non-vampire president around, Park still has a duty to the nation. At least that’s what Aaron, Axel, Violet, and the rest are trying to get him to understand. But he’s reluctant to make a comeback: After all, he was legally stripped of his presidential powers, so wouldn’t his meddling in politics at this juncture constitute a coup of its own, setting off a kind of civil war?
Aaron’s adamant. So adamant he whips out their ace in the hole: the nuclear football. They’ve been lugging that thing around with them, waiting for the day when a non-feral Park could open it again. With the living Park, the nuclear football, and his new comms device, Aaron is sure they’ll be able to make contact with the Pentagon and reconnect with his mother and sister.
That’s when Park drops some heavy news on Aaron: mom and sister? They’re dead, casualties of the Rising. A search party would be futile. The ever-hopeful Aaron can’t accept this, and together with Violet makes off in the truck to the last-known coordinates of his family’s convoy. Halfway there, they get attacked by daywalkers and barely escape.
Meanwhile, Axel, Hopper, and President Park are hot on their trail when they’re also attacked by some of the same daywalkers. Hopper ultimately sacrifices himself for the president and takes a spear to the back before Axel can dispatch the vampire.
The two parties converge at the coordinates, and Aaron finds out for himself that his father was telling the truth: There were no survivors from his mother’s convoy. Then, when he learns of Hopper’s death, Aaron is pushed over the edge. Moved by his son’s pain, Park makes the decision to reclaim the country from President Archer. He took an oath to serve and protect the Union, and that’s an oath one is bound to for life.
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, and President Park phones up the Pentagon. He’s coming home.
Episodes 11 and 12 of Van Helsing are airing later tonight on SYFY. The series finale is slated to air next Friday, June 25 at 10 p.m. ET.