Oh, dear Sanctuary fans! Lions and tigers and bears….Oh my?
Nope. Lycans, ex-vampires and private hidden facilities in the middle of Oldham, England!
‘Animus’ is one of those episodes where we find ourselves being pulled right into the turbulence. It’s also one of the first episodes in which we truly see the HAP (Hyper-Accelerated Protean a.k.a Lycan) in fully-fledged form (Anthem FX), once again, MASSIVE respect for all of you).
We’re taken on a journey, we get to laugh with the characters, tear up with them…and chew through our pillow at appropriate moments. One could argue that this is what most Sanctuarians go through on a weekly basis! However this episode feels more like we are seeing the characters in their ‘natural habitat’, so to speak. It has a particularly ‘Here Come the Boys’ theme to it, as Will (Robin Dunne) and Henry (Ryan Robbins) team up to go off to middle England, visiting Oldham where there has been a recent HAP sighting.
By the way, Oldham is a real English town, about 7 miles outside of Manchester. Being from good old blighty myself, my ears did pricketh up at a story line being set in the cold, damp island… in which I live….
The opener is sneaky, creating suspense from the very first few seconds (thanks in part to the wonderful writing of Andrew Lockington, our ever-present musical genius). We then have what appears to be two friends, in some sort of institution. One can’t sleep, so the other gets woken up in an abrupt manner. Frankly, if you had woken me up by clamping your hand over my mouth, you probably would have come away handless, and had a far more disgruntled customer on your hands.
A wonderfully lilting conversation takes place at this juncture, which warmed my heart because any time I hear regional dialect from the UK, it JUST makes me smile! Settling back down in to my cushions on the sofa after having a mild coronary, I felt that it had just been tipped the wink that it was going to be ‘one of THOSE’ Sanctuary episodes, where my cushion ends up disintegrated into piles of fluff by the end of the journey.
I digress. Things calm down and it looks like it’s going to be an innocent card game, however with the music in the background gearing up, you just know it’s going to end in tears. And it does. Well not really tears. More like, well, Death. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my this is not……..
Now we switch to the Sanctuary. It appears that while the boys are to enjoy this rare opportunity slip away for a wee while, Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping) is well and truly ensconced in the Virtual City that we touched on briefly (and tantalisingly!) at the end of ‘Firewall’. Will, turning to Henry, suggests ‘Let’s go. A road trip. Just Butch and Sundance’, to which Henry replies, ‘What about Magnus and the Magnet…?’.
By ‘Magnet’, of course, he means the wonderfully enigmatic Nikola Tesla (Jonathon Young), who is currently also ensconced helping (or hindering) Helen as she works to unravel the city’s secrets. Looking at the excitement on the two boys’ faces, at their thought of doing something…a little bit on the sly… you just giggle knowing that at some point, they are going to land up in a heap of trouble. After all, boys will be boys…
When we cut to Helen and Tesla, we discover that they have indeed been entrenched in their own little world, for 6 whole days so far (during all of which, apparently, Nikola is yet to bathe…!).
Now. I am loving the relationship that we are seeing between Helen and Nikola. We get to see two true colleagues working side by side, and you can sense the immense history they have in even the simplest of sentences. The way Helen knows that Nikola has a tendency to ‘jump the gun’, where Helen would take her time trying to find logical steps through the puzzle presented before them. We get to see their unique thought processes. And we can see each of them in turn, excited in their own way at the tantalising mystery they are working on. Of course Nikola, being Nikola, jumps right in with both feet…every time…
Switching back to that small damp island, we see Will and Henry having a jolly jaunt through the rolling woods of Oldham. Will’s character, I feel, blending with elements that are truly ‘Robin Dunne’ as he entertains us with his drunken accents and his dismissive mockery of the local leprechauns. Apparently, Will’s mother is from Ireland. Dublin to be precise. Who’da thunk; little Will is an Irish lad at heart. Unfortunately the banter is interrupted by the lovely remains of a shredded goat, and this isn’t your average Mongolian takeaway version.
Having ascertained that the bloody trail veers towards the private institution in front of them, they stop by the UK Sanctuary for some much needed information. Declan McRae (played by Robert Lawrenson) happily divulges the information that it is a privately run facility, so they can pretty much do as they please. Twigging that the boys are here ‘unofficially, but on holiday’ he just offers advice to tread carefully, and enjoy their stay. With a quick, English ‘whatever’ and shifty glance from Will, you just know that a plan that has already brewed itself in their minds. Yup. Henry gets himself admitted to unknown territory!
Meanwhile – back to the wonder of mysteries and ancient Cimmerian symbols, Tesla has managed to successfully fudge up what appears to be a holographic combination lock. The whole thing emits an EM pulse, which not only kills Helen’s phone (just as she answers Will with a giddy “hello!”), but also most of the Sanctuary electric systems. Yanking Nikola’s chain pretty hard, (‘there’s an old vacuum tube generator I am sure you could breathe life into’) Helen effectively snaps her fingers at Nikola and tells him to ‘Fix her house’. Nikola, taken aback, asks what is he, her house elf?! To which Helen throws over her shoulder as she is walking away from him ’Thank you Dobby!!!’ At this point I had to pause the telly, as I couldn’t stop laughing…
Henry, having managed to get himself successfully admitted to the clinic after being interviewed by Lillian (Allison Hossack), and then assessed by a rather lovely assistant named Erica (Pauline Egan), quickly finds out that there is more than meets the eye to this facility. After palming the meds they’re each given, he quickly sets to work on hunting down the answers to the mysteries surrounding this institution. Upon bedtime, he steals out from his bedroom and heads toward the morgue, having learned about the early murder that took place; a murder where a patient (Joe) murdered his best friend (Liam).
The discovery in the morgue is a gruesome one for Henry, and you can see the fear, anger and revulsion on his face as he sees that the murder victim appears to be half transformed into a HAP. I feel the remnants of the Kabal science experiments ghosting through his memory as he rounds on Erica who has appeared behind him. He is stunned into an emotionally choked silence when she reveals that she is just like him. That they are all, indeed, Lycans.
While Henry has made the rather lovely discovery that he is no longer alone, Will, on the other hand, comes face to face with a rather large Lycan. Yup. That’s right. It’s Liam, the escaped patient who fled after killing his own best friend, Joe. Will handles himself well, and it is here you can see how far he has, in character and personality, come. How the extraordinary is now the ordinary, in the world he now resides in. But, for the record, Will. When face to face with a Lycan. Just run…..fast.
Whilst things are looking like they are coming up roses for Henry, things get interesting in the Sanctuary. Helen has taken to bed, to recharge her batteries, and is rudely disturbed by Nikola brazenly breaking into her room (after using his magnetic ability to unlock Helens door). After hastily pointing a gun at him, (the lady sleeps with a gun under her pillow. Mucho respecto) she concedes to listen to his elongated and eloquent twitterings as he roundedly gets to the point.
He states that he can make the crystal do their bidding by hitting it with a certain spectrum of light. This little scene, truly, shows the power that Helen Magnus holds. After declaring him brilliant, he decides to push his luck, but she cuts him short with ‘Now get out’, which he obeys immediately. Nikola really does know where the line is drawn, to some degree…pity it’s never before someone wants to head butt him though…
Now here, for me, is where Henry (Ryro) and Will (Robin Dunne) have switched places a little. We normally get to see Will in his boxers, or bare-chested at least once during an episode of Sanctuary. And he (Robin Dunne) is a little famous for dropping his kecks backstage.
This time, we are treated to Henry ‘nekkid as the day he was born.’ After falling out with Alistair whilst having a discussion about the change that HAPs undergo, Erica takes him aside for a chat. It is then that Henry discovers that these Lycans are suppressing their HAP side through propagandised fear and drugs. Here is where we get to see how the Henry has changed since we really last touched deeply on his HAP side.
Henry has a zen-like aura about him as he talks about his true, abnormal self, and you can see his crestfallen reaction when Erica calls the HAP side, ‘That Thing, That Monster’. The wound is deep, and the disappointment evident that they have not truly embraced who they are. Erica starts to walk away from him and, to prove a point, Henry shifts to full Lycan mode, dropping to stand in front of her, then slowly morphing back into his human-form.
At first she is so amazed by what she has just seen, that she doesn’t twig that he is nekkid. And then she does. In true Brit fashion: with a rather soft ‘oh’ followed by Henry’s embarrassment as he realises that he has been standing there, displaying his tatty bo-jangles.
Back at the Sanctuary – Nikola has an intrigued Helen with him as he demonstrates how his idea works. And it does. To some degree, until the crystal scans them, detects the source blood, and then thinking they are vampires, once again shuts down, leaving them a lovely present: A bomb. Clever crystal = 1 ; Magnus/Magnet = 0.
The ‘Human Magnet’ manages to stop the bomb from gearing up to boom, but needs to stand with his hand on it. It is here that Helen, with that brilliant brain of hers, has a light bulb moment and instructs Nikola to deploy an EM bubble around them, blocking them from the scans and thus tricking the Crystal. Open, and on to the next Level…Crystal = 1 Helen = 1.
Switching back to Henry who, enraged with the fact that there must be something in the medication that ‘Aunt Lilian’ is handing out, confronts her in a face-off, desperately explaining that HAPs DON’T kill. Meanwhile, Will has run into the human form of Liam who, bless him, is beside himself with grief. Telling Will that he can’t possibly go back into the Institution, Liam lets him know of a way in.
However, by now Henry has been overwhelmed by guards, strapped to a chair, and the wonderfully caring ‘Aunt Lillian’ (who is FAST becoming Dr Mengala in my eyes) injects him with whatever it is that not only makes the HAPs go postal when they change, whatever it is that makes them attack the first thing in front of them. Henry looks terrified, because (again linking back to the Kabal; well I wouldn’t want to be experimented on again would you?!) he knows it’s all about to go wrong. Will can’t contact Magnus (courtesy of Nikola’s EM shield) and he can’t wait for Declan.
So, following the way in which Liam had indicated, Will walks into the basement where Henry was strapped. Yup. ‘Was’ being the operative word. Yeah. Fully enraged HAP on the loose boys. This could be a ‘clean up on aisle 5’ incident.
(Just to pause for a moment here. You truly do forget that this is all on a green screen. That NOTHING you see on the screen, apart from a few key props, is actually THERE. It really is testament not only to Anthem but also to the actors who bring everything to life around them….Anyway, enough geeking out!)
Henry, CLEARLY under the influence of more than just your average clubber drug, goes nuts and lunges at Will. Will, (obviously sick of being knocked unconscious) pulls off some fairly cool moves to stop himself being turned into a Lycan scratching-post. However in a lovely twist, Erica and ‘Aunt Lillian’ appear just in time, with Auntie waving a gun in Henry’s direction. Erica goes HAP and the two battle. Obviously having burned off the rage, they both then morph back to human form.
Nekkid human form.
The lesson to be learnt: never be afraid, or ashamed, of who you are. (Well afraid, perhaps, if you were Druitt with a malevolent creature inside you, hell-bent on murdering people… maybe then, be afraid).
The UK Sanctuary team then come into the facility. ‘Aunt’ Lillian is led away, and quite rightly so. No Tea for her, Declan! That wily Lycan… Meanwhile Henry, bless him, gets a lovely on-screen Kiss. GO HENRY!
Switching back for the wind up to the pitch that is the seemingly never ending holographic puzzle, Magnus and the Magnet are going through one of Helen’s books, checking off the symbols. Helen is reading them out loud and when she says Gateway (In Cimmerian) the whole thing shuts down leaving only a giant holographic sphere. The orb appears to be permeated with lines and angles, and what looks like a pocket inside it, slightly off-centre. Helen quickly twigs that this is not an ‘off-world’ adventure, but one upon which they are literally standing on.
The sphere…is Earth………
Thanks for popping by WormholeRiders News Agency and reading!
Please feel free to comment below.
Or you can visit me on Twitter by clicking my avatar below right.