So I finally watched the first episode of Helix...

Now in the episode a few things happen.. and one curious thing happens towards the end. As to stop spoilers I put a spoiler quote.

The main character's brother is infected and has been working on mutations at the artic base. You also find out that they use RFID chips in the hand to let people have access to rooms and parts of the base. So the brother eventually escapes through the vents, turn off his RFID chip, and then they send a search party to locate him into them. The main character locates what he thinks to be his brother but it turns out to be a dead search party member which had his part of his arm / hand cut off. Now if they are all scientists and are supposed to be smart wouldn't they have realized that the infected brother cut off or removed the guys arm and hand to be able to access the rest of the base? Wouldn't they have at least turned of the deceased search party member's RFID chip just in case?

  • Helix bothers me for this reason. They never seem to put two and two together. Yeah, they disabled his RFID chip, yeah he tore someone's hand off, no, he probably won't use it to get into restricted areas. – Will F Jan 21 '14 at 14:43
  • He already did at the end, though not to get into a restricted area but still. – DoctorWho22 Jan 21 '14 at 14:52
  • Restricted to anyone without an RFID chip, bad wording on my part. Researcher living quarters seem to be RFID locked iirc. – Will F Jan 21 '14 at 15:00
  • As they arrive they are also only fairly certain others are not infected. Still they have no issues with being injected with RFIDs in the hallway in to the base. Even entering the base without any sort of protective gear is bad. Then, finally with it on, taking it off after insufficient time or knowledge to determine how it is spread is likely bad. – user13500 Apr 18 '14 at 14:21

In episode two, this is mentioned by the Dr. Hatake in passing. He is skeptical that

Peter turned himself in

and sarcastically remarks that only hours previously he had cut off someone's arm for the rfid access.


I can actually speak pretty closely to this in reality - I'm in charge of a badge system for access to my company's offices.

In these systems (if you're responsible), you have processes in place for an employee being terminated, a badge being lost, etc. It's no big deal to decomm a badge. But we don't have a procedure for someone, for example, being taken hostage and being forced to use their badge. That's just not in our brainspace, and spending a lot of time figuring that out would be a waste of time.

Furthermore, our access system is for preventing theft and protecting access to data, for the most part - I think that the system on Helix is for the same. We / they're just not thinking in terms of someone's ARM BEING CUT OFF FOR ACCESS. In particular, if you have a procedure for death when the RFID chip is embedded in the body, you're not in a big hurry to deactivate it, because your procedure probably assumes that the RFID is locked in the corpse.

TLDR - everyone was so shocked they didn't think to do it. It's perfectly credible that the security guys would have forgotten to do it for a short window.

  • All of the people in the show had it embedded in their hands... It's safe to assume that if part of the guy's arm / hand is missing that's kind of significant though you are right they were probably shocked. – DoctorWho22 Jan 23 '14 at 17:17
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    Yeah, and I can't stress enough that there's a kind of security thinking around protecting intellectual property, and an entirely different kind of thinking around actual physical security. – Chris B. Behrens Jan 23 '14 at 18:47

From memory, the chronology of events isn't clear - the scene where the security guards body (missing his hand) is shown first, followed by Peter accessing a lab with the aforementioned hand. However I think it's possible that these events could have occurred simultaneously, or so close together that the security team didn't have chance to deactivate the RFID chip before Peter got into the lab (i.e. they did deactivate it but too late and this wasn't shown as it wasn't relevant to the plot). Theoretically Peter could have even used the hand a little earlier than the body was discovered, but for dramatic reasons it would not make sense to show these scenes in that order.

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