Greetings Sanctuary Fans!
Every week, I love Sanctuary more and more. It’s a true factuary. I love that this wee ‘show that could’ is not afraid to say “To hell with the box!!! THERE IS NO BOX…”, and take its fans by complete surprise with every new installment of this epic story it has to tell.
This is where episode dix-neuf of the third season, ‘Out of the Blue’, comes in.
I don’t know what the writers are trying to do. You know, usually they’re pretty merciful, they get the need that we have for inhaling and exhaling at regular intervals. So what changed in the last four weeks? What did we do to deserve this blissful torture!?
First we were given ‘Awakening’, which brought back the dark sultriness of vampires and the earthy underground, then ‘Normandy’ blew our minds to smithereens with the much expected special effects and the return of the Holy Five into the midst of World War II.
Then almighty ‘Carentan’ once again surpassed any expectations by adding to the previous episode with an added humanity, a brief but profound window on Helen Magnus (the elegant Amanda Tapping) and Will Zimmerman (talented wildcard, Robin Dunne) in the face of an ethical dilemma, and their own lives, and sanity, hanging in the balance.
And THEN…there was a little segment called ‘Out of the Blue’. Directed by the brilliant Martin Wood.
Not what we expected. Although with Sanctuary, you kind of learn to do away with expectations because really, our imagination fails compared with what they produce every week.
‘Out of the Blue’ sort of feels like an answer to ‘Carentan’. It does away the drama of physical action altogether and leaves us in a dream world full of confusion and frustrated irony. Like any of our dreams (please keep them to yourself…*COUGH*), little of it makes sense, and while everything is somehow familiar, it is all somehow completely wrong. Disturbingly so.
This is a wonderful character episode, It delves into the psyche, trying to unravel the complexity of human desires in contradiction with reality, and is such an intriguing, and at times painful, insight into psychology of both Helen and Will. It is simple and direct, without heroics or an elaborate storyline.
When we first heard of this episode, the cast and creators warned that it would throw fans off their scent. The fans were teased with the surreal content of the episode, that the characters were unrecognisable, and altogether a bit confusing!
It’s true, nobody could have known, but then Sanctuary fans are renowned for their intelligence and passion, and have quickly learned not to accept events in the show at face value. Besides the obvious, there are so many layers and complexities to ‘Out of the Blue’…it’s one of those episodes that every time you watch, you’re blasted with a new level of understanding.
It’s obvious that something is different from the outset. Will Zimmerman, professional ‘freaky eyes’, in a classy suit running after the garbage truck isn’t exactly how we’ve come to know him. Maybe Robin Dunne would (we could expect anything of that dude), but middle-class suburbia isn’t Will’s regular hangout.
One might jump on the science-fiction bandwagon and suspect alternate-universe-timeline or some other doo-hicky. But then you remember: this is Sanctuary. Convention be damned! There is no box!
Too right! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Heehee.
Couple all that with domestic bliss and pregnant wife Abbie (Corrigan, played by the bubbly Pascale Hutton), and we have ourselves a situation!
Despite the complexities and psychology and what-not, the comedy in this episode is unique. No one-liners, cheeky banter, but simply the funny things that happen to everyone, every day. No effort required to make a dork of yourself! Situational comedy hands down.
Funny things like trying to walk and stalk a talkative kitty that just clawed its way over the warm bonnet of your beautiful shiny Beema.
Funny things like that awkward moment when you have to walk AAAALL the way, breathing heavily, over the street to your hermit artist neighbour (whom nobody REALLY gets), holding a squirming cat at arm’s length and trying desperately to NOT get white fur all over that lovely black, smooth blazer.
Funny things like the deadpan look from Helen Druitt as she stares at you. You, who dares to hold her beautiful white Henry like he’s a filthy football.
Funny things like Monty dropping on Helen’s lawn.
Funny things like Helen. With a lawn. And a house.
WAIT A MINUTE. HOLD THAT TEACUP. Did you say Helen Druitt? *cue shipper squee from the world over* But there’s always so much more to it, we should know this by now! It’s not about mach-making, it’s the fact that tension is so much more satisfying than having every wish fulfilled!
Before we delve into the deliciousness of psychological torture (AHEM), just a few comments on a performance that blew most fans out of the water. Amanda Tapping. Helen Magnus as we’ve never seen her. This was something that was so far divorced from the Helen we know, but at the same time, she was one and the same strong, compelling and complex woman. To see a Helen so confused, anxiety-stricken, insecure and at times crushingly vulnerable, Amanda’s performance was subtly and lightly brushed with effortless English humour, flashes of unique strength and pride, and rippled by a heartbreaking humanity. Absolutely breathtaking… *stops breathing*…
It’s so hard to discuss the intricacies of Amanda’s nuanced delivery without plunging into the psychology of Helen, whom nobody REALLY gets. So back to the Blue we go…
The beauty of this episode is that the prequel to it is important, but is just that, a prequel. It is not until the resolution of the narrative that we really have any idea of the premise, and of WHY all this has happened. Curiously though, it doesn’t matter. Whereas many writers would concern themselves with screening the dramatic events that led to this situation, Sanctuary breaks the mould. Writer Damian Kindler beautifully dispensed with the need for exhibition, and made the point of view to be from the patients: Helen and Will.
The most pressing need for them, and for us as the audience, is to make darn sense of all these disparities, to understand why on EARTH Helen drinks coffee, wears lumpy cardigans and paints all night, and why Will doesn’t understand how he married Abbie and became a surgeon. What engages us is not how they came to be in this situation, but the journey of both these characters as they struggle to make sense of their lives. Ultimately it is about the personal journey from moment to moment, more so than the destination.
The first …well…’abnormal’ clue is actually from the very first moment that Helen opens her front door to rescue her precious feline creature from her fastidious neighbour. “DECLAW?! He’s an innocent creature!” Over her shoulder, Will spies the ghostly phantom of what seems to be…a creature? Symbols? But it is gone from his and from our sight before we can fathom what we are looking at. It is as fleeting and surreal as if it were a dream. He is brought jolting back to his ‘reality’ with an indignant English woman demanding he get out of her house. The true nostalgic spirit of Dr. Helen Magnus shining through in this neighbours-at-war scenario.
Also, I think many fans will be naming their future kittens ‘Henry’. The irony is too side-splitting! What would a werewolf think? Ravaged by self-cannibalism?
The ironic paradox is also Helen the painter. What happened to the feisty, gun-toting 159-year-old doctor, hell-bent on abnormal salvation?! The levels of irony in this 19th episode ebb from hysterically funny, to cruelly tragic. In the real world, Magnus and John Druitt (the versatile and immensely talented, Christopher Heyerdahl) were torn apart by his ferocious demon, followed by a century of revisited pain and anger, torn by what-might-have-beens and the birth of a daughter.
It seems like she can’t have it both ways! In many ways, ‘Out of the Blue’ reflects the innate desires and dreams of Helen and Will; if Helen had followed her young dreams and married the man she loved, if Will had ignored his intuitions, and had become respected in his field. It just goes to show that maybe, after all, everything in life happens for a reason.
As Helen says “I got married because it was supposed to make me happy!”, and yet it didn’t, while in reality having their daughter was everything to her, besides her work. The angst and tension between Helen and Druitt is one and the same, the same betrayed love and trust, the same frustrations. The confrontations between the two of them calls for some of the most sublime deliveries from both actors, as Druitt gently asks, what is it that Helen wants? GOOD QUESTION! Helen herself doesn’t seem to know, her face twists in confusion and anxiety as she tries to make sense of herself, of John, of the whole damn situation! Everything just seems WRONG. Her frustration and loneliness is no different from the real world, and yet back when she was young and in love, it had been everything she wanted. Or so she thought.
And for God’s sake, she’s not Scottish.
Intuitionally, this Helen knows that her life is wrong, there is so much more that she is capable of, work that will actually make a difference to the world!
“I don’t know! Help homeless children! Work with animals….GOD SOMETHING!… BLOODY AGENTS!!”
And once again Helen asks Will to take a leap of faith. And die. Again.
Will, losing patience with Abbie’s “tinky woo-woo crap” (IRONY!), can’t remember the basic names of drugs and medical conditions, not a good headspace to be in with an upcoming bypass surgery. Instead both he and Helen find themselves saying and doing things that, out of context, make no sense at all! Semblances of their real selves start to poke holes in the fabric of this reality, which seems to be making an enmeshed plot out of suppressed desires, which, like all dreams, confuses us as our brain tries to make sense of the disparity between this dream-world, and what it knows to be a fact.
But then again, what would we be without our dreams? WHO would we be? As Will says. “Our dreams are actually our reality”, and while it may be literal in their case, so it could be for the rest of us. Thought-provoking, no?
There is something delightfully homey about this episode. No big guns or historical heroics, but the simple struggle of two human beings who can’t make sense of themselves. It is an episode about the people, not so much about events, and everything within the setting, the plot, the delivery by both main characters, even the glorious music (SOUNDTRACK DO WANT) and pseudo-psycho shimmering mind flashes, all contribute to the very delicious human quality of the story it tells. Flashes of the lost Ashley (Emilie Ullerup), and Will’s mother give a very nostalgic and very anguished frustration to their mindset.
The music. OH the music!! The mere thought of Helen painting through the night in a lumpy cardigan and sound system blasting is hysterical, but Andrew Lockington’s absolutely perfect soundtrack gives Helen’s existence a very artsy, very alternative, very grungy café feel…it positively embodies the hermit and enigmatic painter that she seems to be. The tortured, starving artist. Hah!
This episode bears the true Trademark of Sanctuary. It is not afraid to venture into the unknown, not afraid to demand thoughts and questions from its audience, not afraid to question not only what defines it’s characters, but what defines us as human beings. It tears down the barriers between our internal realities, and the world in which we live.
I’m curious to see what effects the events in this episode have on Helen and Will. Will they remember their experiences? What effects will it have on their respective relationships, in particular, Will and Abbie?
And how wonderful to revisit an old stooge, Virgil St-Pierre! We barely touched on his character in Hero II, so what does this mean for his mercenary relationship with the Sanctuary team? Twisted as he is, there’s something endearing about his arrogant dudeisms. He reminds me of our beloved Edward Forsythe!
And for crying out loud! What in God’s name can be going on in Hollow Earth? What global Sanctuary alerts? I sense another of Damian Kindler’s infamous cliffhangers…
Stay sane for the epic finale of an EPIC SEASON!
If you can. I’ll be sitting here. Chewing up my cushions as usual. Waiting! Rocking in my corner… In the meantime we include the full Sanctuary episode courtesy of Syfy via Hulu!
Thanks to Kenn for staging, hyper-linking and extra image insertions, and thanks to you for popping by WormholeRiders News Agency and reading my reviews!
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