Helena In ‘Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny’: Did Indy Find His New Protégé?

The Indiana Jones franchise has, time and again, introduced some of the best-supporting characters, without whom Indy’s adventures would have remained forever incomplete. In his on-screen journey encompassing four decades, Indy has found a trustworthy, charming friend in Sallah; a quippy, brave sidekick in Short Round; and a witty, clueless colleague in the curator Marcus Brody, all of whom became much endeared to the audience through the years. Indy was yet to find a worthy successor who could keep his legacy intact, and even though his son Mutt could have fit the role, poor audience reception of the character portrayed by Shia LaBeouf in Kingdom of The Crystal Skull resulted in the character’s off-screen death.

Finally, in the last chapter of Indy’s journey, Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny, the character Helena ‘Wombat’ Shaw makes an appearance, whose actions, motivations, and growth as a character have solidified her as the protégé Indy deserved, and none except the talented Phoebe Waller-Bridge could have aced the role with such badassery and grace.

Spoilers Ahead


A Past To Remember

Helena’s life is intricately connected with a particular event that involves both Indy and his archaeologist friend, Basil Shaw, Helena’s father. During the late phases of the Second World War, Indie and Baz managed to sabotage a Nazi plunder train, where they came across Jürgen Voller, a Nazi scientist. Voller had one-half of the mythical Archimedes’ dial, the Antikythera, which he believed to be capable of detecting fissures in time, thereby essentially allowing anyone to move through a timestream. Baz was captivated by this hypothesis, and later, as he and Indy managed to take the dial off Voller, he became maniacally fixated on the thing. His obsession with the dial took a toll on his mental health, which led to an estranged relationship with his adolescent daughter, Helena. Indy, who was a godfather to Helena, noticed this and tried to warn his friend of the possibility of a deteriorating relationship between the father and the daughter. A crestfallen Baz asked Indy to take the dial away and destroy it. Indy took it with him, never to return again. Helena was a witness to the entire conversation, and as Baz breathed his last soon after, she unknowingly became attracted to the field of interest her father spent his life on.


Part-Time Adventurer, Part-Time Con Artist

Like her father and godfather, Helena takes up history and archaeology as her vocation and excels in it, so much so that she learned the disciplines of deciphering ancient scriptures, both in the Polybius square, could decode archaic riddles, and knew historically significant places like the back of her hand—no small feat for a young researcher like her. However, Helena didn’t put this talent to good use in her early life, as she used her skills to procure rare antiquities and sell them at a high profit in black markets worldwide, which dragged her into a lot of trouble. Understandably, as she has had to fend for herself since a young age, the only truth in an unforgiving world she has known is the importance of money. In conversation with her, Indy chastises Helena for devaluing the significance of the artifacts, and she unabashedly states she would rather be financially stable than muse on the past and lose everything while doing so. A street-smart, proactive Helena proves throughout the course of the movie that she is as fierce on the field as a survivor and adventurer, as well as being well versed in her subject.

Helena gradually turns her attention to the dial, devours her father’s research about it, and approaches Indy to know its whereabouts—only to trick him at the end and steal the dial. Her activities drew the attention of Voller and his men, who, along with Indy, set out on her pursuit in search of the same dial, now determined to make things right by accessing the timestream. Through a series of events, Helena and Indy join hands and get into a cat-and-mouse game with Voller to locate the other half of the dial, which will allow them to complete the device. Assisting the duo is a teenage associate of Helena, Teddy.


An Emotional Connection

Helena and Teddy’s relationship totally mirrors Indy’s relationship with his former sidekick, Short Round, to whom we were introduced in the second movie of the franchise, Temple of Doom. Even the similarity is deliberately kept identical in the way the duo met with each other: Helena reminisces about her meeting with Teddy while he was trying to steal her purse, similar to how Short Round first met Indy while stealing his belongings. Short Round provides emotional depth to Indy’s character, and a similar feat is achieved by Teddy in the context of Helena’s relationship with him as well. All the recklessness and money-minded chatter aside, Helena still longs for an emotional connection, which Indy correctly assesses by seeing the way she values her father’s work and gets concerned about Teddy’s fate when the latter gets abducted by Voller. She tells Helena about this realization of his, and she can’t ignore the fact as well, although what Indy doesn’t state to her and never confesses during the movie is that Teddy’s bond with her reminded him too much of Short Round as well.

After Indy, Helena, and Teddy end up in the  distant past during the siege of Syracuse, Helena’s growth as a person becomes most apparent. An injured Indy almost pleads with his goddaughter to let him live through history as his last wish, as he feels there is nothing left for him in the present in a miserable existence bereft of his loved ones. Helena insists and forcibly brings him back into the present and reunites him with Marion, as she has learned through experience how important the association with loved ones can be, and now she truly believes that too.

Helena’s characterization is kept totally in sync with how Spielberg envisioned Indy as a character—a fallible, relatable, and determined individual imbued with enough charm and wit to get the audience hooked instantly. Even though Indy has decided to hang up his fedora at the end of this movie, the makers can very well take Helena’s character and turn her into an iconic adventurer for a new era.


Subscribe
Notify of
guest

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

Latest articles

Featured