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Love in the time of the post-Rising. Is it possible? If so, what does it look like? And how does it feel?
It's these questions that our winnowing band of heroes grapples with in the most recent episode of Van Helsing, "Deep Trouble." With all that's happened over the course of the series, it's easy to lose track of what really matters in life. What better setting to hash out the meaning of life than a disused amusement park?
As Jack (Nicole Muñoz), Violet (Keeya King), Ivory (Jennifer Cheon Garcia), and Axel (Jonathan Scarfe) wind their way through the treacherous tourist destination full of old-timey attractions and family-friendly death traps, they confront demons both figurative and real, and find themselves the wiser for it. All without having to pay admission.
**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers ahead for Van Helsing Season 5, Episode 8, "Deep Trouble."
While our heroes are en route to D.C., their truck craps out, and they have to make the next leg of the journey on foot. Axel notices that Violet is suffering from survivor's guilt over Julius' (Aleks Paunovic) death and tries to console her — but the plan backfires, and she challenges him to open up about Scarlett's (Missy Peregrym) death. The confrontation leaves them both shaken.
A heavy shelling from an overhead helicopter shakes them all up even more, blowing up their cache of weapons, and they have to take immediate cover wherever they can.
That just so happens to be an abandoned-mine-turned-Wild-West-theme-park. As they're left with literally no other options, the gang grabs some maps and sets out spelunking.
Not long after they've busted down a barrier and passed through a prohibited section, they get preyed upon by a feral vampire covered head-to-toe in animal pelts. The wild thing is strong enough to take down Axel, and Ivory, Violet, and Jack open fire to save him. Which, in hindsight, was not the best idea, as the brittle cave starts to crumble from the blasts, and a wall of boulders separates Jack and Violet from Ivory and Axel.
The pairs go their separate ways to find a way out of the mine, but as they plumb the cave ever deeper, so too do the questions they ask each other, and themselves, become more profound.
Ivory is feeling insecure about her relationship with Jack, especially considering Jack was incommunicado for some 300 years (or possibly just a few days). Seeking clarity, Ivory asks Axel if he regrets having loved Scarlett, knowing how painful it was to lose her. Axel is ambivalent, probably because he hasn't really processed Scarlett's death. Also, they have to leap across an abyss Indiana Jones-style, so that takes precedence.
Meanwhile, in cave No. 2, Violet and Jack are having some real-talk about the kinds of sacrifices that may need to be taken very soon in order to defeat The Dark One (Tricia Helfer). Like Ivory, for instance. Violet tells Jack that "love can cloud your vision," and sometimes you have to leave people you love behind in order to carry out your destiny. Jack doesn't take kindly to this advice, but Violet tells her about how she had to do the same with her boyfriend Lee (Ryan Jinn). This is the first time Jack's heard about this, and it definitely strikes a chord.
Continuing on, Jack and Violet find a little girl seemingly abandoned among the rubble. With rudimentary language skills and a homemade clay doll, the foundling is able to communicate that the feral vampire is her father. Violet and Jack resolve to find him, turn him, and give the little girl a second chance at life. However, the girl has other plans: She snatches the amulet from Jack's neck and takes off.
That girl's father has found his way to Ivory and Axel, and pounces on the latter. Ivory is about to kill the feral with one of the few remaining coated bullets when Jack, who's shown up, stops her by… shooting her. Effective? Yes. But as any couple's therapist will tell you, such a technique should not be the first strategy for de-escalating conflict. Luckily, Ivory heels back.
The feral runs off, and Jack explains her plan to the group. Understanding they mean to help, the foundling returns the amulet. Jack and Ivory pursue, while Axel, Violet, and the little girl wait behind. Jack cuts her hand to bait the vampire out with her blood, but he quickly swats Jack away, and breaks Ivory's arms, rendering her powerless.
Hearing screams, Axel, Violet, and the girl rush in. Jack goes hand-to-hand with the feral long enough for Jack to regain consciousness, jump on the vampire, and turn him. After purging himself of his monstrosity, father sees daughter. Father hugs daughter. Father loves daughter.
Once out of the mine, Axel breaks the difficult news that they're all going to need to split up. If that jaunt through mordant mines taught them anything, it's that they can't risk all going down together.
And if the father-daughter reunion they facilitated taught them anything, it's that, as Axel says, they've got to "love fast and love hard." You never know when a mine shaft is going to open beneath your feet, or a boulder is going to drop on your head, or a feral vampire is going to skin you alive.
So, to answer our questions from before: Is love possible? More than possible, it's necessary. What does it look like? Complicated. How does it feel? Oftentimes messy, and occasionally fatal.
Sounds like love to us.