Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Review: Sanctuary Season 2

TV Review: Sanctuary Season 2 (2009)

As seen from season 1, the basic premise of Sanctuary is simple - A team of heroes, led by Dr. Helen Magnus have a series of "sanctuaries" based all over the world to protect and house all manner of supernatural entities - this both protects the abnormals from being killed and protects the human population from the dangerous ones. Season 2 moves away from the simple creature of the week formula to actually have a season story arc, and we also lose the annoying Ashley and replace her with tough-talking thief Kate Freelander. Both good moves.

There is hardly any mermaid content in this season, despite the mermaid image still appearing in the title credits. Sally the resident mermaid makes a brief appearance in episode 9: "Penance" - Stargate's Michael Shanks plays Jimmy, a thief who is wanted by the local mob. The mob take Will prisoner and force Magnus to trade - she outwits them by getting Sally the mermaid to send a mental projection of Jimmy (like a hologram) so they think she's made the trade but really hasn't. We see Sally for a brief flash and this is her only appearance in this season.

The use of the mermaid in this episode is pretty insane. Since the plot has nothing to do with water. The previous episode 2.8: "Next Tuesday" is a water-based episode in which a helicopter crashes in the middle of an oil rig and becomes the platform for a battle between a giant squid and a giant scorpion. Magnus and Will are stranded and it seemed to me an ideal opportunity to bring in our resident mermaid, or some other helpful merfolk but are there mermaids anywhere to be seen, are they heck? The whole squid episode makes very little sense (why would squid and scorpions be mortal enemies anyway? What with one living under the sea and the other being land dwelling.) The McGyver style plans like ripping out the helicopter's wiring to create a radio antenna and using a blowtorch to try and sever the cables holding the  helicopter (still with a tank full of fuel BTW) are equally WTF??? Still the squid vs scorpion battle on giant suspended helicopter is visually pretty damn cool.

The other episode with a water-based plot is the season finale "Kali" - This story spans the last two episodes of season 2 and the first of season 3. Despite it again not featuring mermaids, it is by far my favourite Sanctuary story I've seen thus far. Kali is a giant sea spider with the ability to move tectonic plates.  She is controlled by a priest who hosts a tiny spider in his body. The priest sees her not as a spider but as a beautiful goddess (Sahar Biniaz). The tiny spider gets into Will but then is forcibly removed by the villain, great cameo by the wonderful Callum Blue.

Kali starts sending out magnetic pulses which create tidal waves that will destroy most of India. Will, who still has a connection to Kali has to dance for the goddesses approval - yup full Bollywood with backing dancers. He pleases her and she agrees to stop the destruction when one of the other sanctuary heads decides to send depth charges at the spider, which angers her and causes widespread devastation.

We've seen all manner of evil sea goddesses, from Ursula in the Little Mermaid to Uxía Cambarro in Dagon, until Kali though, I'd never seen an underwater goddess spider.  My experience of depictions of the Hindu goddess Kali are pretty much limited to The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - two childhood favourites. Though very different in Sanctuary, and not drawing on any myth I'm familiar with, I thought her portrayal was fantastic! We see her goddess persona in a dreamscape pool and the reflection on the water gives her multiple arms. I was just going yes! yes!

Ok, she doesn't have a fish tail, but - stunning much! And a shirtless Will doesn't hurt this scene much either <g>

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with Sanctuary Season 2 - It's taken some really unusual directions. While I am disappointed that there hasn't been more mermaid content, I must applaud the decision to focus more on plot arc. Also I don't think mermaid fans will be too upset over the portrayal of Kali here - she is an ancient sea goddess and I love the dual aspect, of sexy siren and giant spider. Highly original.

verdict 7/10

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