CliqueClack TV

Sanctuary does Tron and The Matrix

Adam Worth returns for another awesome, fun-filled episode.To prevent a Praxian artificial intelligence from overtaking Sanctuary’s computer, Tesla and Magnus go DEEP into the machine.

- Season 4, Episode 9 - "Chimera"

In “Chimera,” a Praxian artificial intelligence forms in the Sanctuary’s computers, appropriating Adam’s Jekyll and Hyde personality as its avatar. James Thorpe wrote some of my favorite Sanctuary episodes including “For King and Country,” “Carentan,” and “Hangover.” While this week’s tone and writing style felt closer to the “Hangover,”  I still enjoyed it. Like the real Adam, the AI went from thirsting for friends to thirsting for blood.

Because “Chimera” didn’t pull from the overarching Magnus-versus-international-governments theme, this felt more like a stand-alone episode. However, I can’t believe we only have four more episodes until the season finale. Is that enough space to solve the multiple plots of the Hollow Earth rebellion, the telepathic abnormal, and the newly legalized anti-abnormal detention centers and the covert dissatisfaction of Sanctuary leaders? Of course, they set up a lot for season five with the birth of Henry’s kid. Last year, when I saw a decrease in quality, I hoped Sanctuary’s producers would shorten the episode count. But, because of this season’s incredible writing, I feel they could increase it to fifteen.

With the exception of one or two shows — specifically “Home Coming” — season four proved incredibly strong. The writing for each individual episode felt incredibly cohesive. The writers and directors finally figured out their groove. And, this season’s cast chemistry proved the best. They removed the one-dimensional characters while continuing to play to the characters’ strengths. Because Amanda Tapping continues to surprise, they’ve started “tapping” Magnus’ dark side. The writers no longer use Henry (Ryan Robbins) as straight up comic relief, while playing to his dramatic strengths and converting his formerly buffoonish humor to smart, casual sarcasm. And, Biggie (Christopher Heyerdahl) evolved beyond the grunting one-man mountain.

This week’s episode fit into season four’s well-plotted paradigm. Last season, I complained about the episodes excluding the entire cast. While I couldn’t  whine this week, I definitely squealed. I loved the strong  on-screen chemistry  between Henry, Will, Tesla (Jonathan Young), Magnus, and Biggie. And, I loved the increased physical on-screen flirtation between Tesla and Magnus. Yes, Tesla always hit on Magnus, but I never quite believed his interest. I never observed  physical interaction between Tesla and Magnus on the same level as Magnus with Will/Druitt/Henry. Tesla might intensely LEAN into Magnus’ space, but nothing more. Tesla’s deliberate touching, shows more comfort between the actors while conveying more of Tesla’s personality. He IS the type of guy to keep touching a woman to show his feelings. But, what happened to Tesla’s scientist chippie? And, when are Magnus and Tesla going to GET IT ON?

I loved when Thorpe experimented with the gang’s verbal shorthand. As a group and individual pairs, they each have their own communication style with each other. I laughed when Tesla asked for Henry, without naming him, yet Will automatically knew who he meant. I enjoyed the guys’ geek-speak  as well as the Helen-Tesla unspoken language. How cool was it that Will knew what Magnus wanted while on two different planes?

For awhile I feared for Will. Last week, he practically called the surgery an abomination. This week he called the AI mind-meld “insane.”  I loved the season one Will that challenged Magnus, yet met her tit for tat in experimentation. I wondered if Will’s “abnormal” thought processes which killed Magnus to save her in the sub and isolated him from his FBI cohorts, had normalized. Luckily, they had not.

And, wow, Ashley came back …. almost! Considering they’ve increasingly mentioned her this season and included season one flashbacks, I suspect we might fully see her in the future. However, I don’t want season one’s one-dimensional, immature warrior babe with a mommy-complex. In the second season’s “End of Days” two-parter, the writing improved dramatically for Ashley. Additionally, Emilie Ullerup cut loose and didn’t allow the basic template to confine her. If they bring Ashley back, I want a more mature Ashley and one who uses all of Ullerup’s talents.

If we don’t get that, Sanctuary has survived two seasons without Ashley and we could survive many more. The show has reached such a strong point, that I don’t want the writers or actors to backslide into bad habits. And, I don’t particularly know if we need Ashley anymore. Some characters work better as core members and others work best as cameos. If Ashley came back I might prefer her in a cameo role similar to Papa Magnus (or Kate in this season). Heck, we didn’t even need Druitt this season and normally I LOVE Druitt’s angst-ridden appearances.

On a side note, now Biggie is going to Hollow Earth? Is he coming back? Are they just exiling all the characters to Hollow Earth they no longer want to use ? I hope they don’t get rid of Biggie permanently. We need his acerbic smart alecky personality around.

Normally, Sanctuary does tech with the best of them. But, this is the second time the writers referenced cloud computing. I do that for a living when I’m not doing this. Remember when rapping came out in the 80s, and every show and commercial incorporated it to seem “hip” and “cool,” when they weren’t? OK. That isn’t a full analogy. Remember when every single sci fi show in the 90s referenced nanotechnology? Well, cloud computing is the ’11 equivalent. Additionally, I’m typically annoyed by the “a virtual death equals a real world death” argument. I understand writers need it to increase urgency, but it still annoys me.

So, what did you guys think? Did “Chimera” make you high five yourself, your TV and your cat?


  • Did anyone else enjoy the delicious man meat sandwich of Will and Henry in their PJs? How about the delectable treat of Ian Tracey with his neatly trimmed beard and understated intensity? I greatly admire his acting capability. Tesla proved equally delectable with his non-stop flirting.
  • How did Tesla get there so quickly? I know he’s a vampire, but it took him less than five minutes to arrive after Hank started poking around. I initially assumed that Helen hacking into her own network during the premiere had opened up the hole.
  • In season one, the writers portrayed Biggie and Henry more as best friends who went surfing and comic conning together. However, I assumed Biggie served more as Henry’s foster father. I loved watching Biggie paternally smooth Henry’s anxious neck.
  • Thorpe just went crazy including past jibes. I loved Magnus’ “Really?” to Tesla,  Tesla’s argyle zinger to Adam and Adam’s remark about Tesla’s weight.
  • Robin Dunne did a good job on Ian Tracey’s Jekyll/Hyde voice, but he looked more like someone doing an impression of Ian Tracey’s Adam at a cast party, than Adam himself.


“Berate me if you must.” –Tesla
“I must.” – Magnus

“It’s kind of awesome.” – Tesla [about entering the computer]
“I beg to differ, I saw Tron.” – Henry

“What did you expect?” -Magnus [after entering the computer]
“I don’t know, something cooler like The Matrix or Vienna in Springtime.” – Tesla

“I don’t like it when you visit.” – The Big guy to Tesla

“If this was a movie, right now the audience would be screaming ‘don’t open the door.’” – Tesla

“How’s your magnestism, now?” – Helen
“You tell me.” – Tesla
“Really? Even now?” – Helen
“Sorry. It’s automatic.” -Tesla

“Adam?” – Helen
“Did not see that coming.” – Tesla

“It’s bits and bytes and brains all in one.” – Henry

“Ohmigod …. Were these drapes always this hideous shade?” – Tesla

Photo Credit: SyFy

One Response to “Sanctuary does Tron and The Matrix”

December 6, 2011 at 10:10 PM

Thanks for the great review, An! It’s not easy to find critical reviews where the author loves the show, too. I came over to Sanctuary after Stargate Universe was cancelled, and there’s a lot I love about the show. I really enjoy the sense of family, and the tolerance the Sanctuary represents. The banter that goes on between Biggie, Henry & Kate or Magnus & Tesla, is a lot of fun.

I find I enjoy Sanctuary more the 2nd time I watch it, just because the CGI can sometimes feel cheesy the first time, and Sanctuary needs to be appreciated on its own: it’s kind of what Stargate SG-1 was compared to Battlestar Re-imagined, a lower budget show with a lot of heart, rather than a shocking, critically acclaimed drama.

An example of the best Sanctuary for me is 3×16 “Awakening”, because of the love/ha-ir pulling relationship between Magnus & Tesla, and because it gave the rest of the team a chance to stand on their own (Biggie,Will&Kate). The lost vampire empire was a cool thread, too.

Also,Magnus can really overshadow Will or Kate, and the attention usually focuses on her. Amanda Tapping really charms with her smile, but her character, Magnus, hasn’t been smiling much in Season 4. She’s actually been kind of cold and b****y, like some teachers I remember, ;).

The whole Adam Worth/Hollow Earth thread was awesome, and Chimera feels like closure for that. Adam Worth is the perfect case file for Magnus, because she could have done more, or empathized more, with Adam losing his child. At the same time, she stopped the evil Adam allowed himself to become, because it was clear at least 3x (“You killed me once, twice … no 3 times”) he would sacrifice many lives to save his daughter, and would not stop there with the power he attained. Still though, I liked his complex character and that he was partly sympathetic (i.e. Praxis oppressing the outland tribes, etc).

Enough said for now, but thanks! Dean

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