Hi Sanctuary fans and hello from Sanctuary Team in Europe!,
We have arrived. After ten weeks of adventures, unforgettable quotes and great characters’ moments we got to the mid-season cliffhanger of Sanctuary. We all dreaded that, knowing that with the minute Hollow Men is over, we will have to last through the mid-season break. But my dear viewers, what Sanctuary creators presented us with on 17 December 2010 was just mind-blowing and it is more than capable to get us through the weeks of waiting for the second half of the season.
So, grab a chair and let us do the review!
After we are treated to the ‘Previously on Sanctuary’ part, explaining the current major arcs, we set off with the Magnus (Amanda Tapping) and Adam’s (Ian Tracey) conversation. They have a quiet argument… battle of wits and their strengths, which is a bit ironic seeing as they are both dying of radiation poisoning.
You can easily see, that Adam is a true villain here… he always tries to angry his opponent and undermine their self-confidence. With Magnus he always attacks her feelings for Ashley, and hits the nerve. Although, by the stubborn expression on Helen’s face we can see that she knows his tactics, we can also sense it hurts her every single time.
After that, somewhat disturbing scene, we are very joyful to see the actual Sanctuary team coming down the hall. Kate (Agam Darshi), Will (Robin Dunne) and Henry (Ryan Robbins) all geared up follow Helen, the obvious leader, and like true friends they offer their support, not letting Magnus go on her little trip alone. I am sure, many of you rubbed their hands together upon seeing the team all dressed in the ‘adventure gear’. This episode truly gave us what we know and love about those people.
And when you think it cannot get better… Nikola (Jonathan Young) and John (Christopher Heyerdahl) show up. John quiet and Nikola obviously.. not.
This scene is one of the funniests in the episode. Tesla’s words like “Huey, Dewey and Screwy” describing Kate, Henry and Will (though no one knows if that is the order he had in mind). Or Helen’s “Don’t be bitter” and Nikola’s “But I do it so well.” – all make for the viewers’ good laugh.
And of course, I should not forget to mention Henry’s grimaced face when he utters “I have to pee” just before John zaps them to the gateway. Hilarious.
Couple of zaps later and we are with the team in a snowy, windy and overally cold place somewhere in the Asian mountains. On the sidenote, this still:
looks to me like a sketch taken from a comic book. My thought here is, that it adds to the, a bit gothic and also comic book-like feeling of the series itself.
But back to the action. After John teleports back and leaves the team alone, they spur back into their task. Locating the door quickly, they place all the pieces together.
“This is so Indiana Jones” – Kate
And we can see Helen is really excited for the journey they have ahead of them. But as usually, the problems will not leave them alone and after opening a few inches the gateway stops. Ahhh… but our heroes are resourceful and soon, they are cutting trough the ice with all they have. By the way, have you noticed the expression on Helen’s face when Henry turns the torch on for the first time and it appears small and weak? Looks trully funny. Amanda Tapping‘s comic talents shine through even in small details like this one, lightening Magnus’es character.
But I digress, after a few minutes of fumbling with obstacles and pushing the doors, with the help of a litlle Earth tremor, the team finally get the door open…. and promptly get locked inside when the heavy stone wall slides closed again after the four of them step inside.
Kate and Helen, already back in the working mode, discover a quartz based electronic eye and deduct quickly that this is what detected and got them locked inside. Team work of the ladies there and then, when the boys still try to gain their bearings.
One has to admit, that the moment the team walk inside and we can see the rocks and artificial lights, one can sense that the CGI will be unforgetabble. And Anthem does not fail us.
At the same time, John and Nikola are left at the Sanctuary with Adam… and that spells trouble. The boys’ club is chatting away, visibly provoking and making each other angry. Surprisingly, Tesla throws a few nasty comments but he is actually the “voice of reason” in their group. He proves that by ‘gently’ stopping John from suffocating Adam, stating Helen might need him.
Then we are back to the four explorers. They have already found the “Vampire detector” and as Helen states, “The light’s on” her source blood shield. However, the viewer can see the uncertainty in their somewhat slower movements and unsure looks. Even though, Helen is in charge of the trip (if not at the Sanctuary), Will steps in and offers the three of them will cross the barrier first. To his surprise, Helen agrees and when Henry and Kate pretend to look around Will decides to be the first one.
We see some cool CGI and then we stop breathing for a second when the barrier turns red while Helen is passing through. But everything turns out good and Kate states “I take back all I’ve said about Tesla” … to which Magnus responds quickly “Let’s not be too hasty”, as if sensing troubles. And right at that moment, the barrier comes to live and flashing red, starts to follow them gradually.
And when Hank and Kate jump up on a rock, while trying to avoid the red ‘thing’ (for the lack of a better word), they both stumble not-so-gently down the shaft when another Earth tremor hits. You cannot help but feel sorry for them too, always bruised or beaten, especially when Helen calls after them, fear for her friends visible in her eyes.
But she is not the only one worried. Back at the Sanctuary the Scary Duo, Nikola and John, detect the tracking device signal died. Worry written across their faces. When John is all about rescue, Tesla surprises us again, sitting calmly in front of the computer and investigating the cause of lost singal.
When the team is separated down in the Hollow Earth, we feel a bit sad, because we love the group dynamic. While Kate and Henry try to piece themselves back together, Magnus and Will explore the tunels further. Helen obviously fascinated by each small thing and the realization they “might be the first people in centuries who walk these corridors”.
Here comes a great scene… with a bridge… and a hole in it… sounds weird, huh? But believe me when I say that Helen Magnus can do anything!
Instead of jumping across at once, which as Will says “they can easily do”, Magnus sees the opportunity to cheat the red alarm thing chasing them. To her companion’s surprise, she swiftly does an impressing acrobatic act and is already hanging from one of the bridge’s bars!
It may seem I describe every movement, however, some of them have to be mentioned. They simply are the highlights of the episodes, which are brilliant anyway, but at such moments we go “Woohoo! Yeah Magnus!” or shout something similar in front of our TV sets. Remember Magnus wit a rocket launcher in Kali 3…
When poor Dr Zimmerman slowly follows Helen, we can see that it was a good idea after all (not counting the rockslide which leaves them bruised a bit) as the laser field passes them by and it is them now, who follow it to the city. But before that, we are privy to a nice moment between our heroine and Will. You can see he is worried about her, tries to get her to rest for a bit.
Will: “It’s just adrenaline talking.” Helen: “Well, yeah.. any port in the storm.”
And speaking of moving moments… at the same time one takes place between Kate and Hank. He is resigned, bleeding and bruised, she is too. However, when he wants to give up Ms. Freelander gives him a nice little talk why she needs Henry.
See, those are really the elements that keep us all watching Sanctuary. Visual effects are astonishing, stories breath-taking, jokes hilarious. But it all comes down to the creators trully caring and developing the characters and giving them fabulous interaction moments. In every single episode.
All right, the moving moments are over and we are thrown back into action with Helen and Will coming across the “armed escort”.
Helen: “At least we know there are humans down here.”
Luckily they avoid being detected and the security guards go back to their zeppelin, which Will propmtly states “Is. Awesome.”
Truly the CGI are mind-boggling. After a short ‘deep-breath’ moment and uncovering some ‘leftovers’ from an unknown (yet) species Magnus turns into a researcher. It is fascinating to see the many facades of hers – explorer, scientist, fighter – changing over so often and so quickly in her. Besides, it is always fun to see Will almost vomiting at something which Helen is sort of, fascinated by.
Then the next minute, what you know, they are running away from a basilisk! Magnus catching her wits about her in a record time, pulling her phone out to act as screen, she advices Will not to look at the creature.
“But that’s like saying… Don’t think of yellow rhinoceros!” Zimmerman says, covering one eye and stealing a glance at the creature with another. It looks really funny and gives us a good laugh.
After a bit of running, being almost burnt with fire, the protagonists meet the Nomadic culture representatives who save them from the basilisk. I have to say here, that when the man says “Apparently you speak ours [language]” is a nice twist to the ‘why they speak English’ nagging question appearing when you watch some other shows.
When the didvided team try to make the heads and tails of their respective situations and get to the city in one way or another. Adam, John and Tesla are again ‘chatting’ in the Sanctuary.
While, Nikola and John want to help Helen and the rest and they are truly worried, the change in Adam’s behaviour is obviously suspicious. However, Ian Tracey‘s acting skills are admirable, especially when it comes to the tone of his voice. He modules it whenever he slips from Hyde to Adam.
Meanwhile, Magnus and Will are treated to some food and they can witness what is the cultivation field of the Nomadic culture. Fantastic CGI. After quickly learning that they should have a clearance to get into Praxis (the name of the Holow Earth’s city) they are not at all discouraged in their quest. And by the way, one has to wonder why meeting another culture equals trying their not so tasty food….
While Magnus is still exploring the Nomadic habits, we get a first glimpse at Ranna (Polly Walker), and immediately you feel she is cold and dettached. And when, in calm voice she orders to look for the travelers, you think – troubles.
At the same time, poor Kate and Hank are still trekking through the labirynth of caves… But they find something… Plumbing!
Henry: “And where’s plumbing, there’s…”
But the funny moment is over soon enough when unidentified monks appear and they promptly knock both of them out. Quickly and efficiently. Advanced civilizations like to act in such manners…
Part of the reason why we love the series so much is the way they edit the episodes. Especially those when you follow multiple storylines. In Hollow Men, when we are privy to one conversation and then cut to another one, we are not surprised to see it has already progressed. Actually, we are pleased to see the plots are constantly unfolding. In addition, evertyhing is quickly explained in a few efficient sentences or a quick dialogue.
That way, we are back to Dr Magnus and Will finding, what can only be called, “mass transit”.
Before you know, Helen, always the adventurer, is already getting inside one of the “Ping-Pong balls” and Will quickly follows her, truly surprised at her energetic behaviour. It is not like she is not always like that. However, there is something about Magnus in that episode that makes everyone wonder. Probably, it is the overwhelming need to meet her father mixed with finally seeing the breath-taking Praxis.
When they are both inside, you are able to feel their excitement, it is so huge. They glance out of the windows, outwardly fascinated and when Helen explains how the transport must work, you go all melting in your seat at her techno-talk. I know I did.
See, ther is a moment when Will tries to mimick Helen’s accent. It sounds funny and it is an interesting element of his character, however, it does not sound anyway near as fabulous as when Helen speaks.
But I digress. Even though they figure out they are heading into a trap, we all know there is no other way. So we wait in excitement, to see what is going to happen next.
And next is the scene back at the Sanctuary fort. The scary trio try to figure out a way to get inside the Hollow Earth. It is interesting to see them work together. And Nikola’s face expression when he gets left behind… priceless.
The viewers just know that John is heading into troubles. Do not trust the man with split personality. And we learn there are more pale friends of Worth’s, when they attack and cease John. This espisode nicely explains that there are many different cultures, creatures in Hollowth Earth. Each of them with their own agenda, history.
While that is happening, Freelander and Foss are thrown into a holding cell, and having a “Vista moment” as Henry puts it, after being knocked out. On the other hand we have Helen and Will, being captured upon getting out of the mass transit.
Helen: “And I believe this is our stop.”
Although, we all are sad they are held prisoners, we are thrilled to see how they will get out of it, after all it is what they do…
The duo is being led through an amazingly looking streets of Praxis. It is mind-blowing what Anthem can do with CGI. Just look at that:
And to think it is green screen, is just beyond imagination.
Next thing we know, we are overjoyed to see the gang back together, though in a holding cell. Fascinating to see here is, how much information the writers managed to fit in that short scene. And with a couple of jokes too. Investigating Henry’s wound, he will live. Exchanging information on how they all get there – “Let’s call it a tie” (Helen). Anger at unwelcoming greeting – them being from surface. And last but not least, acknowledging the Earth tremors and power fluctuations, which can be a means to escape, seeing as vast majority of Praxis’ technology works on it.
Personally, I also loved to hear how Helen turns to Kate when she asks about possible plan of escape, it shows the trust between them, again.
And then we are finally at the scene when Magnus and Ranna meet. Many waited for this. Magnus is, in some way, happy Ranna knows her, but that joy quickly fades away upon learning Ranna orders to execute them. Polly Walker does an admirable job here. Her face blank, betraying no feelings at all. The plot transforms quickly into another scene. The Sanctuary team hanging from the ceiling on some sort of electric handcuffs, really angry (politely putting it). We, as viewers, are also surprised when Henry is not able to transform and when, along with the team, we learn the Hollow Earth society is not as tolerant to abnormals as we all thought they would be. Seeing they want to simply kill the newcomers without sparing any moment to hear them out, we know they are not as advanced as we thought. Ranna, even though, answering some of the team’s questions, seems to be cold and distant.
After a few sentences, to our great surprise Helen, Kate, Henry and Will are electrocuted and Ranna walks away, while the screen fades away.
If they are dead, we do not know. After all it is a cliffhanger. I need to add, that the twist on the episode’s title was great, considering what happened in it. It was a cliffhanger with a kick, as it leaves so many plots unanswered and unresolved. The wait feels long, but look at it another way. You have much time to analyse the epsidode again…and again.. and think of possible rescue ways for the Sanctuary team.
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