Honestly, I don’t why I watch Sanctuary. I’m not sure why I still like it but I do. To be honest, the second season arc with Big Bertha and Kali proved almost too much for my patience but I soldiered on. I was rewarded in season three with an eclectic collection of episodes that were full of adventure, action and mystery. Sanctuary truly engages me.
I believe that Sanctuary has a special place in my sci-fi heart because the show started out filming in a basement with a shoe string budget and was only being released as webisodes. Anyone else used to buy the episodes?
The Sanctuary is a place for abnormal human beings to go if they don’t have a safe place among humans. It’s a world where few people know that there are werewolves, vampires, shape-shifters, time-travelers, etc. Season 3 started with the closure of the painful-to-watch storyline with Kali. I’d hoped they’d drop the story and pretend it never happened in the new season. They wrapped it up and dealt with Will’s emotional fall out of dying. The bottle episodes begin with ‘Bank Job’ where we spend the entire episode in a bank lobby. ‘Hero II: Broken Arrow’ was funny in that a bug-like abnormal forms into a bodysuit that latches on to Kate to give her super-powers. Henry finds a hospital full of werewolves in England. They are controlled by the hospital until they discover via Henry that they are not monsters and can control their powers. In ‘Breach’ we spend the entire episode in an abandoned building watching Helen Magnus being assaulted by what turns out to be Adam (Jekyll & Hyde). It appears that even his Hyde personality is a jerk.
Mid-season 3, the show went beyond the actual Sanctuary to the discovery of Hollow Earth, a vibrant literal underworld fully inhabited by abnormals. When we learn that Polly Walker is cast as Ranna, the leader of Praxsis in Hollow Earth, we know that some evil will certain be afoot. We aren’t let down and are rewarded with Ranna putting the Sanctuary team to death. It is a loose thread that continues for the rest of the season between the bottle episodes. In ‘One Night’, Will met Abby the FBI agent and they decided to go on a date but never make because they are kidnapped by underground gang unknowingly lead by an abnormal. The ‘Hangover’ deals Magnus coming home to a disheveled Sanctuary and the crew unconscious. No one remembers anything and through a series of clues and video footage, they piece together what happened. In ‘Metamorphosis’ will is infected by an abnormal and turns into a Spiderman-like creature. The side effects were fun until he starts to lose his humanity, control over his body and is dying. In ‘Wingman’, Will and Abby try to go on another date this time it is a double date with Henry and his girlfriend. The plans are altered by Mangus who put in a request for them to transport an abnormal. Needless to say it does not go well. Magnus goes on an investigation with Tesla in ‘Awakening’. They discover a Queen of the Vampires and have to put her down because she wants to enslave and feed on the human race. The show takes a cinematic and epic turn with ‘Normandy’. We go back in time to the WWII-era to see a memory of the decisions made by Magnus, Tesla and Druitt. We also find out that Will may have his job because of one of his heroic descendants. This information leads to ‘Carentan’ which shows how the decisions in ‘Normandy’ created uncontrollable time-bubble that is spreading to the rest of the planet. After that, in ‘Out of the Blue’ Will and Helen are trapped in dream that traps them suburbia with their lives being controlled by the Sanctuary team via a not so upstanding thug. The season finale, ‘Into the Black’ deals with abnormals escaping from Hollow Earth. Syfy uses this opportunity to cast a wrestler and we get to see the destruction of Praxis, an abnormal camp, the capture of “Big Guy”, and a low-rent but dangerous skirmish between members of the Sanctuary and the captured abnormals.
At first I was put off by the partial linear nature of Sanctuary. It seemed as if threads were constantly dropped and they were doing a horrible job at being serial. By the episode ‘Normandy’, I’d realized that the story isn’t supposed to be linear. The writers are loosely tying the stories together while trying to make each episode its own individual universe. It’s not like Eureka where everything is mostly tied up by the end of the episode and begins anew with the next. It’s not like Battlestar Galactica where every episode ended with a cliff-hanger and is addressed at the beginning of the next episode. Sanctuary is a bizarre combination of both of those styles. If I had to compare it to any show, I’d say that Sanctuary is most like Community. The characters are dumped into vastly different situations each episode but have to react and solve problems within the confines of their given skills, personality and experience. We can be in a building the whole episode, in the past, stuck in time or in the mind of a character and somehow it maintains a level of disconnected cohesiveness that is subtly masterful. Sanctuary is not afraid to take us new places and show us new things in unexpected ways.
Sanctuary will return in the fall on Syfy.