Monday, February 6, 2012

Review of Sanctuary Season Four

At this point, I have no idea whether or not Sanctuary is coming back for a fifth season, but if they choose not to, the end of season four actually works quite well for a series finally.  There were no storylines left hanging, and a very strong hint that the Sanctuary would be heading in a very different direction from that which we have become accustomed to.

At the end of season three, Kate left the Sanctuary to work in hollow earth.  Her return did not mean that her character got very much attention this season at all and instead she was little more than a messenger girl, when she wasn't trying to soothe angry abnormals.  I did not expect that the result of this action would mean that she would largely be absent from this season, and I must say that I was gravely disappointed with the result. 

Instead of focusing attention on the awesome Kate, we got far more of Abbey Corrigan, FBI agent and Will's girlfriend.  This for me was a terrible substitution, because Abbey reads as completely Mary Sue.  Could they have written her character to be any more cloyingly sweet and annoying?  When I finally got around to watching Fugue, the horrible musical episode, I could not help but hope that they would simply let the character die off.  Really, what purpose did she serve?  The only good thing to come from Fugue was the tension that developed between Will and Magnus, which would set the stage for what would come later in the episode.

In The Depths, Magnus and Will travel to a cave to prevent the capture of an extremely rare abnormal. When Will consumes ground water, it heals him instantly but causes him to experience a rage.  He tells Magnus some hard truths about how he feels manipulated by her and he figures out the degree to which she has continuously interfered in his life.  Much of his anger is blamed on the side effects of the water and though they do agree to let bygones be bygones, it is clear lasting harm has now been done.  Will has great respect for Magnus and even loves her to some degree, but now there will always be niggling doubts in his mind.  This is then reinforced by Magnus sending him to work with government, and ending his access to the agency is later episodes. She steadfastly tells him to trust her, but she gives him no reason to trust.

The supernatural creatures from Hollow Earth make their first appearance cohesive appearance on the surface and these of course leads to panic. Some claim only to want the opportunity to start a new life and rebuild their civilization, while others seek to claim territory from humans and assert their supremacy. There were a lot of analogies to race during this period. The problem with this is that supernaturals from Hollow Earth actually represented a threat to humanity, whereas; people of colour constitute no such threat.  I understood the discussion of how harmful "othering" really is, but outside of Biggie, these creatures do not constitute a good example.

Throughout the four seasons of Sanctuary, the show has been resoundingly straight.  It is until episode 4, entitled Moonson, when Magnus travels to meet a new financial adviser that this changes.  At the very end of the episode Magnus is kissed by one a woman who was held captive with for a time.  At the end of the kiss, the woman pauses to ask if her instincts were correct, and Magnus responds that she has not been kissed like that for a long time.  This is only reference to same sex attraction in 4 seasons.  It is one brief kiss, and then Magnus goes back to saving the world, and we never see her hear about the woman again.  Throughout all four seasons the writers have always found a way to insert some kind of relationship for the straight characters, and it is rather telling that when it comes to the bi-sexual character, the only ongoing relationship that we learn about is heterosexual.

Throughout the four seasons, Sanctuary has had the most annoying habit of inserting Magnus & Co. into history.  With the creation of the 5th ward, the writers chose to co-opt history.  Magnus specifically references the Jewish ghetto in Poland and how it's creations essentially meant the end for the Jewish population.  Granted, the human government had every intention of killing the abnormals, but I fail to see why it was necessary to link this to real human suffering.  I very much feel that it cheapened the lives of all those who died under Nazi occupation.  We don't need a superficial analogy to tell us that cordoning off people and then slaughtering them wholesale is wrong -- we simply need to look to historical events.  There is nothing like the holocaust but the holocaust. 

In the end, it turns out that while Magnus was waiting to catch up with history, she spent the time creating a brand new sanctuary.  Her decisions were based upon the government believe that the sanctuary was something that they could not only control but destroy at will.  This is why (spoiler) the Sanctuary is destroyed.  Weeks later, Magnus guides Will to a new state of the art sanctuary.  All of this has however come at a cost because now Biggie is dead. Magnus did however achieve her goal.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, at this time, SYFY has not announced whether or not Sanctuary will come back for a fifth season. I cannot imagine the show without Biggie and I will certainly miss his interactions with Henry. If they do decide to carry on,  the state of the art Sanctuary we know that it will only a matter of time before humanity must deal with the fact that we share the earth with several species.  There is still so much to learn about Hollow Earth.  There is also Tesla, and really, who couldn't use more of him?  I really want to see where the writers take this story and I believe that the new state of the art Sanctuary is the perfect foundation for wonderful new stories. I suppose until Syfy makes their decision that we are simply going to have to keep our fingers crossed.