sanctuary

“To study the miraculous, and to protect against the perilous”: this is the motto and the warning for those who work in the network of Sanctuaries, shelters where supernatural beings are protected and studied. The brilliant scientist Helen Magnus heads one of these facilities and is ready to do anything to help her guests stay away from the human eye.

Have you guessed which show I’m talking about? Just him, Sanctuary, the Sci-fi television series.

A formidable team

Sanctuary (2008) Robin Dunne as Dr. Will Zimmerman
Sanctuary (2008)
Robin Dunne as Dr. Will Zimmerman © IMDb

When for the first time the majestic gate of the Sanctuary run by Helen Magnus opened before us, intrigued like Dr. Will Zimmerman, we crossed its borders with him, discovering a fantastic world of supernatural creatures. Together with him, we understood that many of these abnormals turned out to be aggressive only in moments of great danger, some were creatures of ancient style, at risk of extinction.

Through the eyes of the newcomer, we met Ashley and her fighting temperament, computer scientist Henry Foss (and werewolf), and Bigfoot, the doctor’s assistant: an exceptional team of experts in different fields. It is with their help that Helen manages to cope with the “extraordinary routine” problems that threaten the equilibrium of her refuge.

The soaring spires of the castle that housed the immense beehive of the Sanctuary have always been a temptation to me. It was a kind of Hogwarts for creatures with the most unusual abilities on Earth. A place of terrifying pitfalls and fascinating enigmas that has been able to awaken the attention of millions of viewers.

Helen Magnus: between magic and science

Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary (2008)
Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary (2008)© IMDb

Just like every member of her team, you confess, each of us has been bewitched by the complex yet simple character of Dr. Helen Magnus. Played by the talented Amanda Tapping, her strong point was the calm and intelligent way in which she was able to combine science and magic.

The supernatural is wisely revealed to us and impeccably intertwined with science. This union takes place within the same character: a woman who has achieved extraordinary longevity thanks to the injection of a solution of vampire blood.

Magnus represented the feminine strength; a superfine genius able to stand up to some of the brightest men of all time. At the same time, however, we see her in her most vulnerable frailty after Ashley’s disappearance; in her inability to surrender we find the desperation of a mother.

The five

But the fascinating mystery that hovers around the impassive figure of Helen Magnus was born a century earlier. The scientist was part of an élite eager to push the boundaries of the physical world. Nikola Tesla, John Watson, Nigel Griffin, and John Druitt were also part of this group.

These unconventional characters helped create the perfect oddity floor on which to lay the rest of the show. Watson the devoted gentleman, Tesla the irreverent vampire, and John Druitt the psychopathic maniac disguised as Dr. Magnus’ great love.

A secret club that has defeated the laws of life and death, survived the time. A game between light and darkness, the good and the bad that has always existed within every human being.

Jonathon Young in Sanctuary (2008)
Jonathon Young in Sanctuary (2008) © IMDb

After the second season

While in the first two seasons the story focuses on the refuge and the main characters, from the third season the dynamics of the show change. The awakening of the great Bertha acts as a divider and pushes the series towards more intricate and inaccessible waters, forcing the audience to shift attention to new characters and new themes, along with the discovery of an underground city.

Last season’s finale is noteworthy, although it would have been nice to see Magnus and her team of specialists on new adventures again. But you know, it is often the best TV series that fall under the guillotine of cancellation; the world of show business spares no one.

Curious means tolerant

However, what Sanctuary has left behind are four compelling seasons, with original developments, and a good reflection on what we consider normal and abnormal. Why does the human being always end up becoming the bad guy? Perhaps we know each other better than we want to admit, and we know well that under the shell of false civilization there is an insatiable lust for power and an innate distrust of what is different. Tolerance builds its foundation on our empathy, our ability to understand and accept our surroundings. Be curious and don’t be afraid to ask, discover and know.

Helen Magnus would be happy to know that her Sanctuary has been awarded the Old but Gold Medal of Honor. And before it enters the cloud haunted by forgotten TV shows, let’s carefully store it in our virtual “Gold Sanctuary” to preserve it as miraculous and protect it from the perilous Internet.

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