I’ve watched Sanctuary off and on for four seasons, and checking in always carries a mixed bag. A Syfy show, produced on DVD and Blu-ray by Entertainment One, the show follows Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping of the Stargate series) as she makes the world safe for humans and beings of special powers alike. This fourth season finds Magnus at the turn of the 20th century and follows her through an ongoing abnormal/human confrontation in its explosive conclusion to this chapter.
Tapping is spectacular as an amalgam of the heroines of the past and present, like Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, or Amelia Earhart. She’s part-huntress, part-protector, part-detective, and always a leader. It’s spectacular stuff with a hazy, moody delivery of mood and cinematography that rarely finds Tapping bringing it down, even if some of her castmates don’t exactly deliver.
Another actor who brings his animated delivery to the role of Bigfoot/John is Christopher Heyerdahl, who also plays the daunting Swede in Hell on Wheels. He’s dark, and fans will know that his tortured soul represents the frequent juxtaposition between the good and the evil that’s depicted in all beings presented by Sanctuary. Heyerdahl’s persona lends itself well to this, and we see a bit of that backstory in the time Magnus spends in the past.
But back to the Abnormals. What dominates the season is the mission by Magnus and her team (Robin Dunne and Ryan Robbins are the other regulars) to create a sanctuary where those who aren’t “normal” can find safety. It’s an interesting spin you should consider if you haven’t already: what if those we thought of as scary or dangerous actually perceived us as scary and dangerous? What if we were the threat?
Like Grimm, Sanctuary hinges on a blend of science/fantasy/mythology that brings together some ancient stories with some newer ones. But if the ultimate endgame is that everyone deserves a safe sanctuary, then we could apply that to any number of situations, just as Bryan Singer’s X-Men series did. What we see is that everyone deserves to be included, accepted, and respected: we’re talking the kingdom of God kind of imagery here.
Through thirteen episodes on four discs, the fourth season of Sanctuary takes us through the past and present of Magnus’ dream to give every wounded creature a chance to be safe and keep the public safe as well. Bonus features include a day in the life of Tapping (”Amanda Cam”), the making of a musical (”Fugue”), behind-the-scenes of the opener (”Tempus”), and a look at Dunne’s direction on “Homecoming.” Of course, with all of the special effects in action and character, paying a little extra for the Blu-ray is certainly the way to go as you explore the magical, fantastic world of Sanctuary.