Review: Sanctuary, Tempus:
Warning: the following review contains vague spoilers.Watching Sanctuary is a bit like being friends with Doctor Jekyll (no pun intended considering most recent episodes have focused on that character). You never know what you’re getting: the good, the bad, or the ugly.
This episode, I’m pleased to report, falls under the “good” category.
The episode picks up immediately from where the last one left off, with Adam Worth (Dr. Jekyll) traveling back to the 19th century to attempt to cure his terminally daughter, and the series’ protagonist, the immortal Helen Magnus, following him to prevent corruption of the timeline.
“Tempus” has Magnus simultaneously struggling to stop Adam, who plans world conquest once his daughter is cured, and to prevent herself from contaminating the timeline while interacting with fellow Five members John Druitt and Detective Watson and the past version of Adam Worth.
Things are complicated by the fact that they have arrived during the height of Jack the Ripper’s killing spree, which, as any Sanctuary fan knows, were committed by Druitt, who was Magnus’s fiance at the time. So while all the craziness with Adam is going on, we’re also treated to many interesting little moments between Druitt and Magnus (both her past and future selves), which give some very interesting revelations into their past relationship. Druitt is easily the most interesting character on the show, so this was a very welcome addition, in my view.
The entire episode takes place in the past, with no mention of the other difficulties taking place in the future (or present, depending on your perspective), which is frankly welcome. This show is always at its best when focusing on Helen and the Five at the expense of its far less interesting modern characters.
Ultimately, the struggle to preserve time is a very common one in sci-fi TV shows, but this episode managed to set itself away from the pack, at least a little bit. It felt a bit more edgy and dangerous (words I would generally never use to describe Sanctuary). Normally, these episodes end with all problems being solved and all time changes turning out to be what was supposed to happen anyway.
“Tempus” didn’t end nearly so neatly. While it’s true that Magnus achieved her goals, it ended up feeling like a Pyrrhic victory in my view, and I found the ending rather heartbreaking.
Furthermore, the events of the past did end up being changed significantly. We’ll have to wait until future episodes to see if these changes have any lasting impact. Given this show’s spotty history, I find myself doubting the possibility, but there’s always hope. This show could really use an ongoing crisis to keep it interesting, and a world irreparably changed by time travel seems like just the thing.
If I have any complaint about this episode, it’s that I would have liked to see the Adam Worth arc drag out a bit longer. But at the same time, they couldn’t really have given it a better ending than this, and the door is left open for more appearances by the character.
Overall rating: 9.1/10 A good start to the season. Let’s hope they keep this level of quality consistent for once.
If you’d like to get caught up on Sanctuary, you can buy the DVDs on my Amazon Affiliate–now includes the third season.