In its most simplest form, Helping Hand feels like an animated tribute to the motion picture Gravity. With a solitary character trapped in the vast expanse of space, everything from the cinematography to the long shots of emptiness behind the lonely astronaut feel similar to the film.
The story here is relatively straight forward. Alexandria is an astronaut working on a space station who finds herself thrown off the shuttle after an accident. As she begins floating away from the ship, her oxygen levels become critically low. Bill tries to reassure her via intercom that help is on the way but Alexandria realizes there just isn’t enough time. As she prepares for the inevitable, she has an idea that might just save her life.
As she removes the sleeve to her astronaut suit, she throws it into space, in the hope to project enough velocity to push her back to the shuttle. It’s a bold idea and something that works well, until Alex misses her mark and finds herself back in the same position she was previously in, floating away from the ship. In a morbid turn of events, she stares at her cold, dead arm and rips it out of its socket. In doing so, she throws the hand away and manages to make it back to the ship, safe and sound. The episode then closes with one final shot of the astronaut, reflecting on her ordeal and flying off into the sunset.
Artistically, the episode looks great. The pale colours and thin slivers of light do well to show off the facial expressions of our astronaut in another excellent slice of photo-realistic animation. It’s a trend that’s seen throughout the series and really helps showcase how far animation has come over the years.
Helping Hand is an enjoyable episode but one that does borrow some concepts from Gravity. The overall score and cinematography of the episode feel ripped right from the aforementioned film but the dark twist in the tale does just enough to avoid this one feeling like a direct replica.