TV Review – Sanctuary Season 2 Finale: Kali Parts 1 & 2

Well Sanctuary comes to an end of it’s second season though it was it’s premiere in our living room. It manages to go out on a high an occasionally stumbling one but a high nevertheless.

It also a good time perhaps to look back and review some of the charms of Sanctuary and I think I’ll do that towards the end of this review.

Firstly the double whammy: it was a good couple of episodes in a exotic setting of Mumbai, I think with Heroes that Sanctuary might be one of the first shows to have the confidence to set an episode in a BRICS* nation. Generally it works, I’ve never been to India but the setting is portrayed relatively well on the meagre resources of Sanctuary and the portrayal of India and Indians does not come across as unwholesome or patronising. It was nice to see Kate Freelander with a little hint of Indian/ABCD** culture clash combined with some flirting make the most of the background without turning it into an ‘issue’ episode.

The threat is two fold and the human side of it is a little weak. We get a hint of bond villain wannabe or is it someone after creating the rapture. It’s left unclear which is a little frustrating but if it pays off next series it’s a price worth paying.

As to Kali – potential blasphemy aside this is great use of local colour the picks and mix approach Supernatural has taken that it can combine Hindu mysticism and the natural world to create a viable threat that didn’t seem to contradict everything we’ve seen before and rendered the Indian setting more than just local colour and some film library establishing shots. Plus the actress playing Kali in the vision sequences was an absolute tonic but I will stop here before I do all Lesley Phillips.

The bhangra scene was folded into the plot well. If only they’d showed some cricket being played I’d been completely content.

My personal obsessions aside there was also some nice developments on the side of Sanctuary politics with the added bonus that the main mover reminded me of Mark Kermode. Seriously though it was great to see Magnus being hoist by her own petard which raised questions not only about her governorship but also about the organisation she created in her issue.

Oh by the way it’s nice to see the pterodactyl from Torchwood still getting work after Cardiff blew up! Splendid Japanese lizard film references as well.

There was also a nice OMG ending that cannot help but have real consequences on the world and set us up for a very changed landscape in a future series.

On the acting turn Robin Dunne did a fantastic turn as Will under Kali’s influence and the rest of the cast was credible though I felt Forsythe was maybe phoning it in from across the street. And direction was competent.

As to the charms of Sanctuary – first of all it’s the charm of the characters and value of their relationships. Secondly it’s a flexibility of format and globe trotting approach that rivals an old sixties ITC show the CGI may be a little hooey but you don’t care because it’s all done with so much gusto and confidence. Finally the flexibility of the world gives an opportunity to tell many and varied stories – it’s like Philip Jose Farmer’s Wold Newton tuff or Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula it brings so much in there going to be something to love and you can forgive its failures. Compare this with something like Warehouse 13 which nailed its stories to a rigid board of possibilities and the resulting flatness and you could see how it could be so easily messed up. And as three is a magic number I will leave it there just saying I can’t wait for the next series if we are so lucky.

* Brazil Russia India China South Africa the nations identified by economists and political scientists as the up and coming powers. District 9 might be part of the same zeitgeist but that’s a whole other discussion.

** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American-Born_Confused_Desi though confusingly the actress is actually a brummagen – bostin!

GS Reviewer: Andrew Clark

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