The following contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the latest episode of “Sanctuary,” a SciFi Channel Original Series.
The third episode of “Sanctuary” begins like a normal crime procedural. There is pawnshop robbery. The cops pursue a suspect, who flees into a basement. And then the weird begins. The suspect squeezes his head and body to flee through a 9-inch pipe in the wall.
Enter our heroes, Dr. Helen Magnus, Dr. Will Zimmerman, and Ashley Magnus. As the episode “unfolds,” we discover that this crime and an unsolved crime from Will?s past are linked.
There is a subculture of abnormals who have extra ?hinges? in their skeletons and are, therefore, able to fold themselves and fit through tiny space no normal could go.
A criminal folding man, known only as “No Man,” is sucking the youth of this culture into a life of crime. This evil genius is getting his followers hooked on a drug made from gold and using their addiction to control them. In fact, he is planning on taking over the drug trafficking empire of the city and taking down the current mob boss, a Mr. Jones who can fly with bat-like wings.
In some respects, this episode reminded me of the “X-Files” episode “Small Potatoes,” where a shape-shifter takes the form of a variety of men so he have sex with their wives. The “biology” behind his shape shifting ability is reminiscent of the “biology” behind the folding men.
But, where the “X-Files” used the concept for a comedic story, ?Sanctuary” uses it for commentary on the link between drug addiction and crime.
Okay. I’ll admit it — I’m a science geek. So, one of the things that really works for me in this series is that all the ?abnormals? are not always of supernatural origin. In fact, most — so far — can be explained by genetic mutation. In this episode we are treated to an x-ray image of a folding man?s skeleton that looks quite believable.
Peter Outerbridge, who is the guest star of this episode, was brilliant as both self-loathing victim going through the throes of detox and brilliant criminal mastermind. There is something about his eyes that is able to convey tortured innocence and calculated malice. He is no stranger to genre fair either, having appeared in TV shows such as “Forever Knight,” “Highlander,” “The Outer Limits,” and, most recently, “Fringe,” as well as movies such as “Land of the Dead” (2005), “Mission to Mars” (2000). and “Escape Velocity” (1998).
Unlike the previous two episodes, “Folding Man” was very focused. We?ve gotten to know the main characters, and the stories can now be told unfettered by multiple character development.
The closing line — brilliant piece of writerly work: “Sometimes, you gotta know when to fold them,” Will says to an ex-colleague after lying to him about not being able to solve his old mystery case.
What Didn?t Work
Mr. Jones, the underworld crime lord with wings like a bat, seemed not only shallow, but almost not needed. There was something about him that was just slightly off. The scene — and the one where they find him dead on the ground — just didn?t really need to be there. The information could have been delivered a different way without adding a character they were just going to take away a few minutes later.
I also have one pet peeve. Will Emilie Ullerupp please cut her bangs! They hang so low and close to her eyes — they are driving me crazy. I keep wanting to brush them away from her face. Erg!
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
“Sanctuary” stars Amanda Tapping as Dr. Helen Magnus, Robin Dunne as Dr. Will Zimmerman, and Emilie Ullerupp as Ashley Magnus. “Folding Man” was written by Sam Eagan and directed by James Head. “Sanctuary” airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on the SciFi Channel.
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