Hi Sanctuary fans!
WELL…’Haunted’ is definitely an episode over which shippers will squish and thud about, the world over! That said, I must warn you that I am heavily Magnus/Druitt (when appropriate) so please stay with me on this one. This eleventh episode of Sanctuary Season 2 comes as a heavily, profoundly poignant narrative in the series.
Primarily, of course, it gives us a chance to …ahem…rip open (figuratively of course) the mysterious John Druitt (Christopher Heyerdahl) and his relationship with Magnus portrayed by Amanda Tapping, and examine his trouble consciousness. In a manner of speaking, it’s an attempt to shed more light on the man-come-beast who has inhabited a sizeable corner of Magnus’ heart for over a century.
Arguably, as of yet, no other supporting character’s life story has held quite as much sway over the entire plot arc as has Druitt’s; not only because he is so personally close to the enigmatic Helen Magnus, but simply as a member of The Five, and due to the impact of his judgment and actions across the Sanctuary Network itself.
Druitt confronts Magnus in ‘Sanctuary For All’
We first met Druitt in the pilot of Sanctuary (which was yet another testament to the weight of his presence in the narrative), where we first encountered him in his violent exchange with Ashley, and then via Helen’s apprehensive familiarity. Helen and Druitt’s impassioned meeting was mysterious to us then, but over the development of the series we have had the chance to come to understand SOME of the historical weight and the profundity of their personal relationship. I say SOME because, obviously (unless NASA’s space program rockets to new heights), most of we mortals will never experience a relationship with someone or something for that long, or with such intensity.
It was in this revealing and fiercely emotional meeting that we first learned the secret of Ashley’s existence, and since then, we’ve been on some sort of astronomically emotional roller coaster ride, being thrown from a state of hysterical laughter to a state of hysterical grief, and visiting every shade in between on this delicious journey.
We have seen brief flashes of Druitt’s and Magnus’ history in ‘Sanctuary For All’, ‘Kush’, and notably in ‘The Five’ where we saw the integral part he played in the early days of the group, as well as being shown the more human side to the savage rage that fills this man. ‘The Five’ was rather a special episode, it was the first time we were really shown the man behind the beast, a brief touch on the heart, a brief window to the soul of John Druitt, a touch which has been expanded into a fuller, more rounded, symphony in this episode ‘Haunted’. We began to come to terms with his hopes, the dreams he held closest to his heart, the desires of Jack the Ripper through his relationship with Ashley, and revelations of his relationship with her mother.
At the cliffhanging conclusion of Season 1, and the concussive opening to Season 2, Druitt was really welcomed into the fold as a team member, with the reuniting of the Five, and the personal affiliations of their mission. These impacting episodes really served to consolidate his strong presence in the series, his work with Magnus and the other members of the ancient club giving him his own rightful place as a resonant personality and a strong undercurrent in the story arcs. From an independent outsider, he was reunited with his old colleagues (somewhat apprehensively and not without some adolescent animosity), and embarked side by side with them in the greater mission of fighting the Cabal.
His and Magnus’ personal feelings were brutally ravaged as their daughter became un unwitting victim, and the Network that Helen had spent decades establishing was shaken to the very foundations. ‘Eulogy’ brought a renewed, painful separation once again; torn asunder by their loss, Helen’s grief and his bloodthirsty revenge.
Since episode three, we viewers have been given a chance to regain our own emotional footing after this onslaught, have been diverted to other developments. Now, with ‘Haunted’ we once again have the delicious chance to delve into this tragic relationship, and really come to explore more and more of the complex and torn Druitt. The narrative once again poignantly juxtaposes the pressing urgency of the Sanctuary mission, with the personal history and tragedy of the two characters, Magnus and Druitt.
‘Haunted’ is not an episode that can be discussed as lightly as some others, perhaps, could be. The history behind the two weighty characters, and the gravity and urgency of the narrative make this episode cry out for the full and weighty attention it more than deserves. ‘Haunted’ provides a insightful and poignant petri dish that is key to the series. Both these wonderful characters arc hugely in this episode, and there is a definite learning curve between them, or if anything, a series of revelations between them as the struggle to contain the latest emergency (a stricken boatload of Ugandan empaths).
Amidst the chaotic urgency of the opening sequences, there is a definite undercurrent of mystery surrounding Druitt’s presence in this mission; Why is he here? What are his motives? What has he been DOING since we last saw him? Druitt lives on a constant battlefield between his human form, and the unfathomable beast within him, so he is never wholly readable or trusted by anyone, onscreen or off. The intensity of the rescue mission is eventually marked by a scrutinising confrontation between Druitt and Magnus; he, mesmerised by the blood on his hands and she, warily familiar with his possessed focus.
She searches his face for signs of simmering bloodlust, reads nothing and returns to the task of containing the chaos on her hands. Almost as if in answer to Helen’s suspicious scrutiny, the scene closes with Druitt, and the audience gets to see what Magnus missed: the ultimate evil death glare in the history of evil death glares. Actually, this final shot in the scene sets the ground for the menacing events to come, as we are introduced to two key refugees.
Helen’s statement “I couldn’t have done it without you” is interesting; we know that in the past, Druitt depended heavily on her skills in his treatment. Their roles have been briefly reversed.
Helen’s initial edgy suspicions are confirmed at the discovery of poor Nozipho in the hallway closet. Interesting point: In the episode commentary it was mentioned that the victim was originally one of the Ugandan men. Although it was later changed to a woman, Christopher Heyerdahl did comment “See! He kills men too, not just women!”. It sort of makes you think, well…so far we only hear about his victims being female. Perhaps they are easy prey, and when he has a hankering for a real adrenaline rush he hunts the Cabal. Nozipho was an easy target for Druitt, not just as a woman, but as a gentle refugee seeking asylum in the enclosed Sanctuary.
As Magnus aptly put “Exactly… they’re the perfect target”, and her suspicions are realised. Perhaps her request for camera footage of the corridor was a bit of a show for the benefit of her team, or simply to confirm what she dreads she already knows. Magnus seems to know very well who is responsible, yet she never voices it. Throughout the episode, with all the action that goes down, she never discusses it with her staff. Perhaps the personal baggage is something she doesn’t want to open to the world, and so in her usual enigmatic and secretive way, she guides her staff through the situation without having to actually explain anything to them.
AHA…the notorious confrontation in the hallway. Just a side note, but the close-up on Druitt’s face as Helen points her gun is just SUBLIME. The rapid shift sideways from his face gives a dramatic edge to their exchange, and warms us up for the chase. Druitt’s comment “Beautiful” is enigmatic at first, does he really mean the view out the window? No likely, the demonic side of the man almost seems to relish the violence of his relationship with Magnus.
Everyone cringes inside to see Druitt (whom we love despite his evilness) brutally smack his paramour down, so why in the Great British Empire does he menace her so coldly?!?! If you haven’t heard the podcast or commentary for this episode yet, DO…DO! It saves you much angst BELIEVE me. Christopher Heyerdahl’s insight into Druitt’s motives, at this point in the action, gives a slightly touching but violent reason to explain them.
Druitt trusts and depends on Magnus. In the pilot episode of Season One we witnessed his desperate and forceful demand for her blood; her thick, crimson life-force being the only thing that can help keep his power in balance. He knows that as he can’t control, nor end, his wretched battle, Helen must do it. He also knows that she is strong, but she will not let him go. Neither will she will submit to grovelling or pleas. So he does what he knows he must, drive her to the point where she has no choice but to take action, and end his sorry existence.
The only way is to mercilessly prove how dangerous he really is, is to let his demon take him all the way to the brink of utter chaos, and force her to face what she must do. It’s painful…All his language is geared toward convincing her just how dangerous he, Druitt, is: “I am who I am, and it’s high time you did something about it”, as with lightning speed he flings his blade into the wall beside her (note: not AT her), and runs. Helen Magnus has no choice.
Kate looks on while Magnus is desperate
Inevitably, Helen tries to bring him back, which young Kate absolutely CAN’T fathom. It seems Magnus knows what Druitt’s motives were, that unspoken understanding of people who have known each other for two lifetimes, “It’s more about compulsion than murder…he wanted me to kill him”, and Kate is dumbfounded, “you guys have a seriously messed up relationship”. Obviously such a long-term relationship is completely out of this world for any of us to comprehend (well, maybe in fantasy *COUGH*), but her forwardness with Magnus really shows how enmeshed she has become into the Sanctuary family.
Rather than spend a precious entire eight days explaining her reasons to Kate, Helen ends all questioning with a clipped “it’s complicated…charge the defibrillator”. Kate has no option but to comply. Magnus’ determination to bring back Druitt becomes apparent to her when she is instructed to raise the power output dangerously, which ultimately surges the electrical system, and causes events to spiral from here in. The confusion on Druitt’s face is evident; to see him awake from what he thought was a peaceful end to the torture, to a completely alien peace of mind and a strange calm.
He questions Helen “Why did you bring me back?” Well, we know why. Nevertheless, over 100 years of distrust seems to have become a sort of habit with the doctor, she’s not taking any chances, therefore into the Shoe it is. Please note that it’s a VERY long time before that gun lowers from its target.
It’s a fun awkwardness with the Sanctuary lock down! Every single person is at their complete discomfort, and it allows a whole new look into each of their personalities. Let’s have a look:
Kate and Biggie in the jammed elevator.
Biggie is trapped in a giant shaft, and he can’t take care of his friend and mentor as he usually does. Logical, wise and calm that he is, he also happens to be trapped with the young wildcard of the team, who never ceases impatiently chattering in his year. Kate’s cellphone has no reception (CRISIS ARGH!) and hates rides, which is interesting for the tough cookie that she is, but it also makes her more human and…normal. She’s trapped with a big, smelly abnormal who really doesn’t say or explain much…and puts his hands in inappropriate places.
Henry and Musa in O.R, Will on Medical level.
Henry spreads loveage to his machines, people; he’s not so comfortable with. Yet he’s trapped in with a distressed post-operative patient, whose language he doesn’t speak, and whom he can’t help either medically, nor with councelling (he’s just not that good at it). Not only that, but he has a technical breakdown on his hands, is away from his equipment, and is locked out of the mainframe.
Ironically, the person who CAN help calm Musa is two metres away behind a piece of glass. Will, the forensic psychologist-come-monster-hunter, is trapped on his own in Med level, and with all his intuition and experience, he can’t help calm the refugees. Poor Musa is isolated from her loved ones, in pain, distress, and can feel the darkness swamping her from all around. No matter how hard she tries, she can’t explain it to her rescuers. She can sense the mingled panic, confusion, frustration from everyone in the vicinity.
Magnus and Druitt, in the Shoe.
She has a gun but he can unlock his cuffs. Druitt is experiencing the first inner silence he’s had in over a hundred years, a forgotten peace, and feels completely out of his zone. Meanwhile, Magnus has lost complete control of her facility. Magnus not in command does NOT go down well, as we saw for the first time in ‘Requiem’. It scares her. Not only that, but she’s locked in a high security vault with her, potentially homicidal, former lover.
Helen’s frustration at losing control of her facility mounts, and as the lights flicker “WHAT IS THIS?!” vents her confusion and frustrated helplessness. On his knees, gun aimed at his head with his hands in the air, Druitt’s mind visibly ticks over as slow realisation dawns on his features. Inevitably the two of them put two and two together, and thus the perpetrator is identified.
Now Magnus has a footing, and regains control of the situation as she assertively delegates tasks to her worthy staff. Once again, she is in control. It is a difficult thing for her to accept; that, after 100-odd years of pain and having somewhat resigned herself to her loss, it may in fact be due to none other but an abnormal creature, intertwined within the very soul of John Druitt. She knows this is too good to be true, though Druitt hopefully suggests it:
“The darkness within me is gone, far more than when Tesla shocked me. That was appeasement, this….is so peaceful…”. Helen’s reaction is hesitantly doubtful:
“Oh John, I want to believe you, but it’s far too easy to blame everything you’ve done on something else”. Ultimately, Druitt has the last word. The feeling of peace and release inside of him is too convincing to be dampened by Helen’s doubts “That thing WAS my rage, I am sure of it” and Helen’s face is a torn battlefield between her hopes, desires and the reality she dreads.
Ahem. If you’re not aware, the next time you watch this beautiful episode, listen out for one Robin Dunne’s Bruce Willis impression a la Christopher Walken as he crawls through the heating system. As each of the pairs commence their work, the music at this point is fabulous. Slightly funky, with an edge that mirrors the situation, it drives the narrative forward with its building rhythm.
Our resident geek, Henry, is a true techie to the letter. As soon as he mingles a Eureka-moment with the frustration of a man pushed to his limit of patience, the guy becomes UNSTOPPABLE with his determined zeal. We can see why Magnus relies on him so; Henry owns his job. Gadgets are his life, he understands the language better than anyone. So, at this point, ‘Electra’ doesn’t stand a chance.
Henry Foss is on the warpath, as he sweats and frets, curses away and bit by bit regains some control over his domain. Though Henry is not much good with counseling, Musa can feel his determination, the joy of his success, and feels the darkness slowly weakening around her. It seems to do her more good than any amount of talking could have. Henry is the direct opposite of Will, Will understands the psychology, he dabbles in the ebb and flow of emotions and the enormous maze that is the human (or abnormal) mind.
It’s fortunate that they both ended up trapped on the same level. Or rather, we have some flipping clever writing to thank. CRIMANY!
Henry finally manages to gain control over the facility as Will restarts the main power. The lights flicker back into normality, Biggie and Kate still clinging to the top of the elevator shaft. As it becomes apparent that the situation has been contained, the retreat of the energy being to the lab is reminiscent of what Dr. Magnus stated earlier, as she and Druitt mulled over the situation :
“Energy beings behave like a virus, they form a parasitic relationship with whatever host they can invade”. Not only does this echo John Druitt’s historic internal battle with the creature, but it labels him as a carrier for the being. As they reach the door to the lab, he knows that as the carrier for this creature for over a hundred years, he is the only possible solution to this dilemma. The clock is ticking.
It is moments like these in the series, when listening to cast and crew pod-casts is absolutely invaluable. At this point in the podcast there ensued a heated debate between Damian Kindler, Martin Wood and the wonderful Christopher Heyerdahl concerning Druitt’s motives into re-hosting the bloodthirsty parasitic entity.
A key point from this debate was reiterated in the commentary, namely, that some part of self-sacrifice is selfish. We won’t be assigning percentages here, but one of the more obvious reasons for Druitt’s actions is the tragic hero that he is. Despite the pain he has caused Helen Magnus, he will do anything to keep her safe (as seen in ‘The Five’), the act of a man for the woman he’s loved for over a lifetime.
Yet there is another side to this impetus. Is it possible, that although he loathed the violence and chaos that had plagued him in the past, half of him craves the vicious freedom and satisfying bloodlust that came with it? It’s as if he has a dark craving for the irresistible attraction of vice. His haste in his actions, in his speech with Magnus, is half that of a smitten man who would sacrifice anything for her, and half that of a man plagued with a hunger for the familiar bloodlust which has invariably been a part of him for over a century.
This scene, outside the lab door, is one of the most poignant and soul-stirring of the entire series. Beautiful in it’s simplicity, even Henry and Will realise the weight and significance of the moment; the two protagonists wrapped in their own bubble as it were, an entire century of pain, love, and doubt passing between them.
Druitt’s words strike deep within Magnus, yet she is still, it is perhaps the first time she has heard the words fall from his lips for many decades. It is a promise that will hold despite anything that has happened, or that will happen, yet the slight guardedness in her eyes mirror what is perhaps a sense of the demonic hunger that stirs deep within him.
“For all eternity…” the very weight of this sentence, and everything it implies, is underlined by a gruesome irony. These words echo that which he uttered in their passionate youth, and since then they have been torn apart. People say “till death do us part”, but in their case it seems to be the very opposite which applies. This moment between the very depths of their souls is at once the climax and resolution of the entire episode. It carries all the weight of their past, but also rings the knell for what is in store for John Druitt.
The final, electrifying melding between the ever-torn John Druitt and the parasitic being completely motivates a whole new phase in the history of Druitt, and all whom he touches. From the passionate, calm gentleman to the violent and unpredictable killer, the change is sudden and confronting. “I don’t need your help!!” the brutality of this is in direct contrast to the history of he and Helen Magnus; she has always been the one he turned to for help, to keep his demon at bay, to guide him.
Having spent most of her life negotiating the demon in Druitt, Helen Magnus is calm in her acceptance of his fate “It would have killed a lot more if it were not for you. You kept it at bay”. Perhaps Druitt really is the only person who can possibly have any control over this destructive force, having spent most of his life with it, his whole body and consciousness are geared to harbouring it.
For the record, the fan speculation at the conclusion of this weighty episode was HUGE! Druitt’s last words “I have no destination in mind”, reacted distraughtedly by Magnus, inspired a massive debate as to his fate. Don’t worry guys, we have the whole of Sanctuary Season Three to witness (MASSIVE SQUEE). And the commentary does provide some comfort. To quote Damian Kindler: “If he had wanted to kill himself, he would have teleported to Mars”. ‘Enough said. Thank goodness *wipes brow*.
Throughout the entire episode of ‘Haunted’, Helen Magnus exercises a wary air of caution. Although she is usually one of the most rational and calculating of scientists, her caution throughout the events of this episode is unwavering with a wary sense of familiarity. The arcing of her character takes place on a delicately personal level, as she comes to experience what she hasn’t for over 100 years, while Druitt himself embarks on a journey of self-discovery, taking his audience (and Helen) with him.
This is the first time we have been able to see the enigmatic John Druitt through a magnifying glass, and the experience is invaluable for us, allowing us to appreciate the rough edges of his personality, to understand his unrelenting inner battle, and the sheer power of his possession.
Since Druitt was integrated with this demon over a hundred years ago, Magnus has had to wage an unrelenting battle with the consequences of his bloodlust, and her relationship with him has become one of suspicion, alertness and some accusing disappointment, heavily underlined by the warmth of their past. Druitt is complex too, he’s not a villain, he’s not some sort of one-sided antihero from a comic book. The tear between what he was, a passionate gentleman, to what he has become is an ebb and flow, and we as the audience get to see this wavering battle between the two essences of the man.
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