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Neil Napier Talks Helix and Previews “Vade in Pace” [Exclusive] 

Photo Credit: Philippe Bosse/Syfy
Photo Credit: Philippe Bosse/Syfy

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

I might still be reeling from last week’s “Cross-Pollination.” Michael thinks himself as a deity and, as such, he can determine when his flock needs to be culled. So he performs a Thinning and only a very small amount of his followers are left standing: his most trusted muscle including Landry and Amy, to help repopulate.

In this week’s episode, the Coast Guard finally returns but it’s not with good news. They’ve been ordered to take the CDC team to another island to deal with the spread of the pathogen. Meanwhile, Sister Amy has to contend with Brother Michael and his plans. We also spend some time in the future with Walker and find out what really happened to Sarah’s baby.

Photo Credit: Philippe Bosse/Syfy
Photo Credit: Philippe Bosse/Syfy

I talked to series star Neil Napier last week, so part of our discussion was on “Cross-Pollination.” He talks about being stuck in the pit and working with Severn Thompson, this week’s “Vade in Pace,” working with Billy Campbell and more.

TV GOODNESS: I love that your role this season is so different from last season. As an actor, what’s more fun to play? Or are they both fun and different?

Neil Napier: “They are both fun and different. I really enjoyed playing the monster in season 1 and tried to keep my finger on the man beneath the monster that whole time. So, that was a lot of fun. And it’s just fun being in all that beautiful FX makeup and running around spewing black goo, right? [Laughs.]

Season 2 presented a whole new set of challenges and opportunities for me to play. It’s a lot of fun being ambulatory and not being on a gurney so much and using my words. I get to use my words, which is really nice. It’s been a real joy in season 2 crafting the character and getting to learn a little bit more about him in a way I didn’t get a chance to in season 1. So that was a fun challenge.

And, also playing the conflict of the man. Peter’s got a lot going on with everything that happened to him last year, everything he’s hiding from his brother, from his team, from himself. I think we might find out as we move a little further into this season and Peter finds out a little more about his true nature.”

Photo Credit: Philippe Bosse/Syfy
Photo Credit: Philippe Bosse/Syfy

TV GOODNESS: Let’s talk about that a little bit. Alan and the audience knows Peter is working for Ilaria, even though Peter won’t cop to it – not with Alan, not with Michael – which I think is really interesting. Why do you think he won’t admit to that even now?

Neil: “Peter still thinks that it’s a secret. He is still trying to get done what he needs to get done, if that means trying to keep it as under wraps as possible for as long as possible, that’s what it is.

There’s also an element to Peter that I think we see in the first few episodes of this season, a bit of a petulant child in some ways. We see that with Alan in episode 5 in the pit. And you know the way a child, until he is faced with the irrefutable evidence in front of his face, will claim deniability the whole way. A child can have purple stuff all over his face and, ‘No, mom. I didn’t eat the grape jelly.’ [Laughs.] There’s an element of that in Peter in that there’s an immaturity to him in that way.”

TV GOODNESS: That’s interesting.

Neil: “Yeah, and for me one of the fascinating things of playing this character is he’s not as good at what he is trying to do as he thinks he is. So that’s a fun balance to try to achieve because he wants to be better, he wants to try to live up to his own expectations of himself, the projections he has of other’s expectations – real or imagined – of himself. He’s not quite up to the task most times. I think that goes to the root of his pain, if you will. It’s somewhat existential about not being able to live up. He says as much in the pit in the argument with Alan. He goes ‘Do you have any idea what it’s like being the man who can never quite measure up?’ That’s a bit of a thesis statement on Peter.”

TV GOODNESS: Let’s talk about the oubliette a little bit. Peter had been trapped down there and he didn’t himself, understandably.

Neil: “Yeah. [Laughs.] No good can come of that pit.”

Photo Credit: Philippe Bosse/Syfy
Photo Credit: Philippe Bosse/Syfy

TV GOODNESS: Anne joined him in the pit and they bonded. Can you talk about that?

Neil: “At the end of [episode] 6, what we saw is Anne is railroaded by Landry and Sister Amy. It looks like she’s on her way to be Peter’s new roommate for a little while. I’ll tell you what. It’s a step up from Alan in terms of Peter’s choice of roommate for a little while. That big lug was no fun. [Laughs.]”

Photo Credit: Philippe Bosse/Syfy
Photo Credit: Philippe Bosse/Syfy

TV GOODNESS: I really enjoy your scenes with Billy Campbell. I think that conflict between the brothers is so interesting on many levels. Can you talk about that and what we might see between Peter and Alan in the next few episodes?

Neil: “Yeah, a little bit. But first off, I think everyone knows this how awesome Billy Campbell is. Those scenes in that very contained space where it could just be focused between myself and Billy and the brother relationship between Alan and Peter, it was a fantastic opportunity to take some quiet time in this whole crazy season to get a little bit of truth about these two characters. And it’s great working with Billy. He’s fantastic.

Photo Credit: Philippe Bosse/Syfy
Photo Credit: Philippe Bosse/Syfy

When I first read that scene — I think it was Leigh Dana Jackson who wrote that episode — what I love about that in the relationship between the brothers is the world outside of that pit is coming to an end, but there’s nothing more important that hashing out their history. And that’s really true, I find, of siblings. Nobody can press my buttons like my brother and sister. Nobody. It can be the pettiest, oldest thing you thought was done and there it is in a heartbeat. Everything else takes a backseat for a little while. It’s a visceral thing. That, for me, is a fascinating element about the relationship between Peter and Alan and that’s the truth of it. They have an awful lot of baggage, don’t they?”

TV GOODNESS: They do, but it’s fun to watch it play out.

Neil: “Yeah. And what a little brother line, right? ‘That’s not what your wife said.’ You just want to smack Peter, don’t you? [Laughs.]”

Photo Credit:  Philippe Bosse/Syfy
Photo Credit: Philippe Bosse/Syfy

TV GOODNESS: For “Vade in Pace,” I’m assuming they’re not really letting you talk about it. What can you tease? I thought it was a great episode.

Neil: “Did you watch it?”

TV GOODNESS: I have. I’ve seen it.

Neil: “I haven’t seen it. [Laughs.] What can you tease? Things really get shaken up again in episode 8. I know that happens in every episode in one way or another, but there’s something that happens, that in my mind when I read it I got chills. I was like, ‘Ok. We’re going there. We’re going now.’ Pardon the expression, shit gets real in episode 8.”

TV GOODNESS: It really does though.

Neil: “Yeah. [Laughs.] Yeah. It was a beautiful and difficult episode to shoot and I think Steve Adelson, who is the director and is our consulting executive producer/director, he directed 5 episodes this season. He directed episode 8. From the inside of it – I haven’t seen it all yet – I think he did a fantastic job. I’m really looking forward to seeing it. It’s a difficult episode.”

TV GOODNESS: In terms of Ilaria and Peter’s story for the rest of the season, are we going to find out what specifically he’s doing for them and what he’s done in the past? I feel like there’s still so much we don’t know that I’m really looking forward to finding out.

Neil: “Yeah. I think you’ve noticed already through the season, that we’re starting to as we get four, five, six episodes into the season, you get some more answers from season 1 and answers to some questions that were raised earlier in the season. That continues as we move through the back half of this season.”

Edited for space and content.

Helix airs Fridays at 10/9c on Syfy.

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