For the first three seasons of VAN HELSING, the life expectancy of the average character was not long. Of the 13 credited characters in the first episode, eight were deceased by the end of the thirty-ninth episode. Some characters were even brought back seemingly for the sole purpose of having them killed. Christopher Heyerdahl‘s character Sam is as much a source of carnage as the vampires, and eventually becomes a vamp himself. (He seemed naturally suited to the vampire lifestyle.) The travels of Vanessa (Kelly Overton) and her tribe were largely restricted to the U.S. Pacific Northwest. They met other tribes of human survivors occasionally, and in the third season managed to get all the way to Denver (where most everybody dies). Vampires developed the ability to move about in daylight (thanks to the researchers at Blak-Tek) and were briefly led by someone called Scar Face, but his brood of vamps was quickly absorbed by The Sisterhood, an ancient society led by ruthless vampires Ivory (Jennifer Cheon Garcia) and Scab (Rowland Pidlubny). The Sisterhood breaches the defenses at Denver killing most of the humans there, then Hansen (Neal McDonough) drops poison gas on the rest of them to keep them from being turned. Vanessa flirts with the dark side and, at the end of Season Three, kills her sister Scarlett (Missy Peregrym).
Jonathan Lloyd Walker took over as showrunner for Season Four, and introduced the next generation of Van Helsings. (He actually wrote the last two episodes of Season Three, so the break isn’t entirely clean.) We meet Violet (Keeya King) and Jack (Nicole Munoz), Vanessa’s children who were created artificially by Hansen without her knowledge. (The assumption is that these are Vanessa’s offspring and not Scarlett’s, although eggs were harvested from both the Van Helsing sisters.) Once Violet and Jack are introduced, Vanessa is quickly trapped in the Dark Realm, leaving earthbound anti-vampire activities to her newly discovered progeny. Sam is figuratively de-fanged (VAN HELSING vampires have no fangs to begin with). He turns into a suit-wearing clean cut Fourth Elder and doesn’t kill people anymore. He survives until Episode 4.7 in which he is sacrificed in the ritual to conjure the Dark One. Ivory is re-humanized; The Oracle and Hansen are revealed to be less than entirely villainous and even occasionally heroic. The Van Helsings get all the way to the U.S. East Coast, and one of them gets to Europe.
Black humour makes an entrance into the show. Hansen (we are told) collects Putin memorabilia. (Think about it.) Perpetual rivals Julius (Aleks Paunovic) and Scab are forced to fight in a no-holds-barred gladiatorial contest that has a quite funny Ringmaster (Adam Greydon Reid). Relationships flourish. Flesh (Vincent Gale) and his wife are reunited and leave for parts unknown; Doc (Rukiya Bernard) and Jolene (Caroline Cave) manage to survive and remain a couple; Jack has a continuing relationship with Ivory, and Violet’s lover, Lee (Ryan Jinn) does not die, but is taken to (presumed) safety by a coyote hired for the purpose.
Two Fourth Season episodes exemplify the new showrunner’s approach to the story particularly well. Episode 4.2, “Dark Ties“, which introduces Jack to Vanessa, and in which Vanessa changes her approach to one of healing vamps rather than (primarily) killing them, and the award-winning “No ‘I’ in Team” (Episode 4.9), which chronicles Jack’s activities on the day of The Rising, when she was still blissfully unaware of her genetic heritage. When we first meet Vanessa (in Episode 1.1) she is comatose in an embattled hospital. When we first meet Jack in Episode 4.2 she is drinking home brew, and participating in karaoke night.