Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sanctuary – the Five – review (TV Episode)

title screenDirector: Martin Wood

First aired: 2008

Contains spoilers

This is the episode of Sanctuary I mentioned when I looked at the series finale, Revelations Part 1 and 2. At the suggestion of Everlost I picked this up on the ITV’s online catch up media player, as such I couldn’t screenshot it so thanks to AJ for grabbing some screenshots for me.

I mentioned previously that Sanctuary is a programme in which supernatural creatures, the abnormals, are real and the Sanctuary – run by Dr Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping) – is both a holding area and safe area for such creatures. During this episode Ashley Magnus (Emilie Ullerup) is captured by a newly reformed Druitt (Christopher Heyerdahl), who knows Helen is in trouble – for a to the rescue moment at the end of the episode – whilst at Sanctuary Will (Robin Dunne), Henry (Ryan Robbins) and Bigfoot (also Christopher Heyerdahl) deal with an uninvited guest.

Amanda Tapping as Dr Helen MagnusHelen meanwhile is giving a lecture on abnormals in Rome when she is given a note from Nikola Tesla (Jonathon Young) warning her to get out or, in three minutes, she will die. She adjourns the lecture and meets Tesla, who suggests that if she gives him a kiss he’ll save her life. It has been sixty years since they saw each other. Helen is about to question him when Cabal agents storm the lecture room, she and Tesla head into the catacombs.

serum made with vampire bloodNow on their journey through the catacombs, and through Druitt’s conversations with Ashley, we begin to learn a lot about The Five and about the abnormal species Sanguis Vampiris. The Five were a group in Victorian England, at Oxford University, dedicated to expanding their knowledge. The vampire race had been hunted to virtual extinction and the survivors sterilised but Helen got hold of a sample of pre-sterilisation vampire blood and made a serum from it, which they all injected. It caused an evolutionary shift for each, granting each a different gift. She gained Longevity, Watson (Peter Wingfield) found his mental acuity increased, Griffin could go invisible at will, Druitt was able to teleport and Tesla found that he released latent vampire traits.

Tesla reveals his natureWe see Tesla vamp out as he grabs a cabal agent. His mouth develops rows of sharp teeth and claws sprout. Helen is shocked and asks whether he is still taking his medication – indicating there is a way to control his baser instincts. He reminds her that he vowed never to feed on humans and that he intends to keep that vow. We hear that the ancient vampires were the Caesars and Pharaohs of the ancient world and enslaved humanity – of course this has a touch of Stargate and the Goa’uld.

accidental stakingMagnus is sympathetic to the uprising against the vampiric masters, after all humans were slaves, but Tesla states that it was a golden age of art, science and architecture and that when the “church folk” had finished the world was plunged into the Dark Ages. Worse vampires became a cultural joke – he finds the notion of turning into a bat or being warded by garlic to be insulting. Tesla is caught by a pulse from a sonic weapon (the irony being he held the patent on that weapon and sold it to Edison) and is accidentally staked on a wall – it isn’t enough to kill him and he is not above telling his own cultural joke (opening his eyes when staked and saying, “I vant to suck your blood”).

the rebirth of the vampire raceSuddenly Tesla declares that the playing field has been levelled and cabal agents start falling. Helen sees two figures come towards her and they are cabal agents now turned into vampires. Tesla declares that she is at the rebirth of the greatest abnormal race but he needs Helen’s help. We discover around this point that he has already been to Druitt and, when Druitt refused to give the help, the electrical attack inflicted by Tesla ‘cured’ the brain damage that made Druitt a serial killer.

reviving the deadTesla raises the dead by feeding them his blood and then using his control of electricity to revive them. The use of his blood, thus his DNA, means that he has control over the vampires but they are essentially mindless. He wants Helen’s help to create an army of intelligent vampires. It should be said that the way the vampires were done reminded me, to a degree, of the vampires in 30 Days of Night, and making them vicious killers was no bad thing.

reminiscent of 30 days of NightOf course, Helen refuses and the question then becomes can she escape Tesla and his vampires and can Druitt and Ashley get there in time… which is the problem with the episode. We have three lots of stalking/chasing stories, as it were. We have the cabal hunting Helen and Tesla, Tesla hunting Helen and something stalking the corridors of Sanctuary (unrelated). The problem is there is a whole sense of dread that the director could have put in that is missing. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good episode, and I loved the way the vampires were done, but a whole lot more could have been done with it. This is probably because the dialogue and exposition fed more into the over-all arc to the detriment of the actual episode’s story.

dead cabal agentStill, it was a satisfying way to spend 40 odd minutes. 5.5 out of 10 reflects that it more takes storylines forward for the series rather than punching its own episodic weight and so it isn’t as good as it could have been as a stand-alone.

The imdb page is here.


Uranium Willy said...

Hey Tal thanks for the info on Zombie Astronaut. I went there and checked it out but was a little lost. Seems maybe the site is under construction. I could not find your contributions. I listened to a couple episodes and it is pretty polished. Very good. I noticed how much smaller their file sizes were than mine and reduced mine with an editor. I had to get some Lame Encoder Codec but it works now. I only halved the size but I will get better at it. I do not want to have the file size too large of course.

I am not familiar at all with some of your recent postings. I have become more of a vampire in film/media lover since your site.

Do you know a film by Tobe hooper called Lifeforce? I will check your listings after this to see if you reviewed it. It is set in London and is certainly a vamp or not vamp post.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hey Bill. Which of the zombie astonaut sites did you go to. The one I meant was The Frequency of fear.

You won't find seperate posts from me. My collumn occurs during (most) of the podcasts.

I have reviewed lifeforce, and see you have found the review. I won't reply to your comment over there until you re-comment, as it were, as you mentioned you'd post again after rewatching it.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

further to the last comment - mostepisodes that have myn collumn in mention so on the episode description - but I do appear in episode 48, the credit is missing from the description however.