Review: Sanctuary, “Normandy”

My blog has reached its second post; hurray for follow through!

For my first review, I will be discussing the latest episode of the sci-fi/fantasy web series turned TV series, Sanctuary.

Since this is my first time reviewing an episode of Sanctuary, I will give a little backstory on the series for those not familiar with it. Sanctuary follows the immortal Dr. Helen Magnus (played by Amanda Tapping of Stargate fame), the head of global network of secret “Sanctuaries” for various mythical and mutant creatures (referred to as “Abnormals”), and her assistants as they capture monsters and save the world. It’s a bizarrely inconsistent show that can be fantastic one week and soul-crushingly awful the next.

What makes Sanctuary interesting is a group of characters called the Five. The Five were scientists in the 1800s who gained superpowers by injecting themselves with ancient vampire blood. The Five are Helen Magnus, Nicola Tesla, John Druitt (better known to history as Jack the Ripper), James Watson, and Nigel Griffin (AKA the Invisible Man). Each of them is an interesting character in their own right, and the dynamics between them are a delight to see. Tesla and Druitt are especially enjoyable, and the show’s quality invariably peaks when they’re present. The problem with Sanctuary is that, with the exception of Magnus, none of the Five are regular cast members, and they only show up once in a while. Episodes without them are always much less interesting.

Now, onto “Normandy.” This episode is entirely flashback and depicts the Five attempting to stop an Abnormal-powered Nazi superweapon on the eve of D-Day. Oddly, this is the first episode in Sanctuary’s three seasons to include every member of the Five in a major role.

Considering my comments on the Five above, it should come as no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed “Normandy.” I would, in fact, rate it as one of the best episodes of the series. I mean, when Jack the Ripper shows up in a Nazi uniform and claims that he turned coat “for the attire,” how can that not be awesome?

It’s a fun caper with great character interactions in the spirit of Sanctuary at its finest (as opposed to Sanctuary at its worst, which is cheesy, poorly written, and borderline nonsensical). It’s one of those episodes where there’s not a whole lot to say because everything was good.

Only two significant complaints come to mind. One is the inclusion of an ancestor (or distant relation; it’s unclear) of Will Zimmerman, Magnus’s assistant in the modern era, played by the same actor as Will. It was cheesy and ultimately added nothing to the plot. The elder Zimmerman could have just as easily been some random red shirt for all the difference it would have made.

The second problem is a plot hole regarding Nigel Griffin. Every other member of the Five has an explanation for why they haven’t aged since the 19th century, but no reason is given for why Griffin (who must be about eighty or so by World War II) still appears to be in his mid-forties.

Still, “Normandy” is on the whole enjoyable enough for me to overlook these minor hiccups.

Overall rating: 8.9/10. A fine episode.

Does this post have you interested in Sanctuary? Why not pick up some DVDs on my Amazon affiliate page. You can get caught up, and I can eat for another day. It’s win-win!

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