Van Helsing Season 5, Episode 1: "Past Tense"
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Van Helsing Season 5, Episode 1: "Past Tense." Credit: SYFY

Recap: Van Helsing's Season 5 premiere sees Jack travel to the past to rewrite all of vampire history

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Apr 17, 2021, 1:57 PM EDT (Updated)

If you could go back in time and kill Dracula before she had the chance to spawn her armies of lost souls and take over the world — would you take it? Even if it meant having to sacrifice innocent lives? Even if it would render Blade, the Twilight series, and, dare we say, Van Helsing nonexistent?

Such is the opportunity presented to Jack (Nicole Muñoz) in the Van Helsing Season 5 premiere, in which she is sent centuries into the past in a last-ditch effort to thwart The Dark One before she can conquer all of humanity.

**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers ahead for Van Helsing Season 5, Episode 1, "Past Tense."

It's fitting that in the final season of this epic, globe-trotting, time-jumping series we actually kick things off with a kind of origin story. Though true to Van Helsing form, this one is as unconventional as the show.

It starts with Jack in a coffin in the Dark Realm, as one often is when trapped there by The Dark One. Upon waking, Jack finds before her a swirling portal in time that's been opened up by Vanessa (Kelly Overton). The thinking is: If Jack can figure out a way to vanquish The Dark One in the past, the Van Helsings might not have to deal with her in the present.

So Jack takes the plunge.

She lands in Abel, what appears to be a peasant village in medieval Transylvania — aka, vampire Ground Zero. Florian (Matúš Kvietik), one of the villagers, is the first person of that era to meet Jack; and when he does, he (understandably) sh**s his pants. Or breeches. Or lederhosen. However, he was already on edge to begin with because Abel has been besieged by vampires who are claiming his countrymen and women. They've even turned his sister Alexandra (Sarah Aratoóvá) into one.

Initially mistaken for and then imprisoned as a witch by the villagers (and considering her grand supernatural entrance, can we blame them?), Jack eventually wins over her captors by repulsing another vampire attack and turning Alexandra human again. As we come to learn, Alexandra, like the other vampires of the Sisterhood, are under the control of none other than… Michaela (Heather Doerksen).

Yes, that Michaela.

In the guise of a nun and midwife, Michaela's insinuated herself into the inner circle of Count Dalibor (Kim Coates) and his wife Olivia (Tricia Helfer), the benevolent rulers of Abel. By employing her dark magic in the castle keep, Michaela has contrived a way for Olivia to conceive and give birth to a child — something both she and Dalibor had given up hope on. Not only that, but she's also using her potions and tinctures to put Olivia in a coma and then Rosemary's Baby her in order to prepare her to become the next vessel for The Dark One. But why Olivia?

Because, as Jack learns by looking at a portrait of Count Dalibor, Olivia's last name is… Dracula. Remember when we said this was an origin story? What's more origin story than that?

Suddenly it clicks for Jack: She must stop Olivia van Dracula from becoming The Dark One, either by thwarting Michaela's plan or by killing Olivia outright. Of course, a preemptive strike of this magnitude would imply all kinds of ethical quandaries, which are not lost on the moralizing Florian. So, while the utilitarian Jack is determined to eliminate Dracula one way or another, she agrees to confront Olivia the next day at the Abel town fair before resorting to more extreme measures.

Van Helsing Season 5, Episode 1: "Past Tense." Credit: SYFY

The next morning, Count Dalibor and Olivia appear before the woeful peasant folk to debut their new child, Christoff, a beacon of hope amidst perpetual darkness. That bit of pomp complete, Olivia meanders through the fair and winds up in a soothsayer's tent. A soothsayer by the name of... Bathory (Jesse Stanley). Only, at this juncture, Bathory isn't yet the Oracle, but rather the valiant leader of a vampire hunting cadre. While reading Olivia's tarot, Bathory throws some inauspicious cards, predicting bad things ahead.

Or, more precisely, right outside, for as soon as Olivia steps out of Bathory's tent, Jack pounces on her, fatally stabbing her in the middle of the town square. Jack had considered taking a more diplomatic approach, but intuition urged her in another direction. It's a six-of-one scenario, really.

Will Jack's murderous intervention in the past change the course of history for the centuries yet to come? At least in the short term, it seems to have disrupted Michaela's ritual to embody The Dark One in Olivia's living form. Michaela, however, has more tricks up her sleeve, and something tells us this hiccup won't deter her from using them.

New episodes of Van Helsing premiere every Friday at 10 p.m. ET on SYFY.