Director: Martin Wood
First aired: 2008
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.
Helen 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.
Now 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.
We 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.
Magnus 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”).
Suddenly 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.
Tesla 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.
Of 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.
Still, 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.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Director: Martin Wood