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Review: ‘Sanctuary’ – Requiem

The following contains MAJOR SPOILERS for “Requiem,’ Episode 10 of the SciFi Channel series “Sanctuary.” If last episode’s “Edward” focused intensely on developing Henry’s character and his budding wolfishness, this week devoted the viewers attention entirely to Magnus … and with limited success. The opening scene is one of murder. Zimmerman heartlessly locks Magnus in […]

The following contains MAJOR SPOILERS for “Requiem,’ Episode 10 of the SciFi Channel series “Sanctuary.”

If last episode’s “Edward” focused intensely on developing Henry’s character and his budding wolfishness, this week devoted the viewers attention entirely to Magnus … and with limited success.

The opening scene is one of murder. Zimmerman heartlessly locks Magnus in a pressure chamber/airlock and turns off the air and turns on the CO2. She dies. Then we flash back six hours to get the story leading up to it.

The entire episode occurs inside Magnus’ submarine. Initially there is a video conference with Henry back at the Sanctuary and some jokes here and there. Henry and Dr. Zimmerman reveal the premise by indicating ?Sally,? the mermaid in the care of the Sanctuary back home, sensed some psychological ?scream? from her people in the Bermuda Triangle. That?s the last we see of any other living character for the remainder of the show other than Dr. Z and Magnus.

As it turns out, the mermaid population has undergone a mass murder/genocide. Magnus brings the partial remains of one onboard the sub to examine and they learn that there were no other signs of predators or human interference, etc. So it?s difficult to imagine what would slaughter this race of peace loving intelligent beings.

During the course of the autopsy Magnus discovers a clear fluid in the brain of the victim and wonders at its presence. The camera focuses on her manipulating the fluid between gloved fingers, but of course we already know she’s been infected.

The remainder of the show borrows somewhat on a couple movies: The fluid is an infection that alters the mind of the host, somewhat like “X- Files: The Movie:” You BECOME the infection. Later during loss of her mental capacities and constantly seeking more depth to alleviate the pain the infection causes Magnus to crash the sub on a precarious ledge, a la “The Abyss.”

While dealing with how to get unstuck, Magnus makes Zimmerman promise he?ll finish her off in a creative fashion if she loses control, having lived a long life already and to continue the work she does.

After some back and forth between the two we finally make it back full circle to the opening scene where Zimmerman kills off Magnus by asphyxiation. The fluid crawls out of Magnus and Dr. Z freezes it, then resuscitates Magnus.

What Worked

If you?re watching the show to build character, then this episode is worth a one-time watch. Most of the interesting information comes up front in the first five or ten minutes though. We learn presidents are abnormals, and past scientists, authors, etc. We also find that Magnus does have a deep respect for Zimmerman and they trade compliments. It?s nice to see them relate on a close plutonic relationship as opposed to the events in the “Nubbins” episode.

Also of note: Thank goodness the lights were turned on inside the sub for the whole episode. I?m starting to get tired of the dark and oppressive confines of the Sanctuary. Why doesn?t she invest in a little more lighting in her home? The other interesting thing is how much of this tiny set with which the two actors had to physically interact. Having been a set designer and tech on a couple student films while studying film in my younger days I?m really curious how much of the sub was green-screen and how much was actual props. It seemed that a lot more of their environment was tangible this time.

Amanda Tapping also portrayed psychosis rather well.

What Didn?t Work

Are you looking for a lot of action? Are you looking a lot of drama? Well, you may be better suited to awaiting the January 19th “Battlestar Galactica” event far more than watching this episode.

“Requiem” needed some side stories. It would be nice to have more about Henry or ANY other character just to break up the monotony. I think perhaps it was for effect and to help build tension for Zimmerman?s impending murder of his employer. Even though the title aptly described the events of the story, various media in music, film and art, etc., have brought a connotation to the word ?requiem? that would seem to imply much more intensity, perhaps some adventure, etc. In all, this storyline was lacking any real interest and certainly did not require a whole episode all on its own and frankly it was very predictable.

Also, if you know anything about magazine loaded handguns you?d be wondering why no one ever cocked a gun, loading one bullet in the chamber even thought Zimmerman had removed the clip. IE: By rights Zimmerman should be dead after Magnus tried firing at him. But we?ll overlook this one: my son gave the producers an out by suggesting while I complained that maybe neither ever cocked the gun since Magnus was going crazy.

While I have noted before that ?Sanctuary? is a slow-moving show built more around characterization than adventure, and that in a lot of ways that?s just what I?m looking for, this episode is liable to turn off a lot of viewers.

I?m glad to know that “Sanctuary” has caught a lot of attention. In fact, this week while at work I met someone wearing a very freshly minted hoody with the show?s title emblazoned on it.

But in order for this production to last I really think they?ll have to step up the action a bit. No, I don?t want the show to be strictly a battle between the Cabal and the Sanctuary staff or abnormals every week … then we?re facing some of the dilemma that both “Stargate” shows have had, especially since I enjoy character development so much. But my 12-year-old son who is also a fan nearly walked out on this episode last night. I think that pretty much says it all: capture the short attention span of the current young viewers or the show will die with a following unobserved requiem of its own.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

?Requiem? was written by Damien Kindler and directed by Martin Wood. ?Sanctuary? airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on the SciFi Channel and stars Amanda Tapping, Robin Dunne, and Emilie Ullerup.

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