The Season Three mid-season finale of SyFy’s hit Sanctuary left everyone hanging…literally. In the final scene of “Hollow Men,” Magnus and the gang are executed by the ruler of Praxis, the mysterious underground city they spent the entire season searching for. Turns out Gregory Magnus, Helen’s father is a traitor and the rulers don’t want to believe Helen and the gang are there for peaceful reasons. Which brings us to “Pax Romana,” the Season Three mid-season premiere which was full of dramatically improved CGI, a lava shark and a whole lot of solving problems by waving their hands.**
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Here’s what happened: Magnus is revived by Ranna, the ruler that turned them all into fried chicken at the end of “Hollow Men.” (Insert hand wave #1 for the magical way they’re revived from death and the icky protein slurry they have to drink to recover the nutrients they lost). Magnus explains to Ranna that she’s only looking for her dad and that Adam Worth is her enemy too. Ranna believes her and revives the others. She soon figures out that Magnus is, of course, the only one that can help save the city.
See, one of the avatars that Will saw when he was dead and having his Kali dream was Kanaan. If you don’t remember, he was the one in the utilikilt, which is apparently popular wear for god-like “superabnormals.” Anyway, Kanaan hasn’t been answering his phone. He was supposed to be relieving the pressure pocket that was building up beneath the city causing the tremors. Magnus looks at a real-time picture of Kanaan lounging in his lava bath and asks them to adjust the contrast. In looking at the image, Magnus speculates that Kanaan has renal failure.
The gang dress Magnus, Ranna and Kate in special fancy suits that will keep them from overheating when they reach Kanaan who is resting in a pool of lava. When they find Kanaan they find Gregory Magnus who tells them that he’s already treated Kanaan’s renal failure and it was a bust. HOW he did this we don’t know. (Hand wave #2). Helen comes to the conclusion that the abnormal bugs that live in the caves were disturbed by the tremors and the queen sought out a new host (Kanaan), which made him too sick to control the tremors. It’s up to Magnus and Ranna to remove the bug. Kate makes the wise decision to stay behind with Gregory. Smart girl.
Magnus and Ranna go into the lava chamber to discover Kanaan relaxing in the hot magma. It’s also at this point where we discover Kanaan is really a giant shark…a giant shark that lives in lava. So what do they do? They repel down onto his back and proceed with trying to save him by removing the bug. We are expected to believe that their fancy suits and a shield Henry created using the completely foreign technology available in Praxis, are enough to stop Magnus and Ranna from literally frying to death when surrounded by a large pool of 700 °C to 1300 °C (or 1300 °F to 2400 °F) molten earth. Considering it’s speculated that the human body can withstand temperatures up to 104°F (40°C), those must be some pretty fancy suits. It’s a good thing they solved those pressure problems too! (Thank you “The Core”). Let’s not forget the unexpected/totally expected and “exciting” part where Ranna slips and nearly falls into the lava. Don’t worry, Magnus saves her and she didn’t even break a sweat. Since saving Kanaan was essential to the plot, and the magma was beautifully generated, I’ll suspend my disbelief and let the hand wave go on this one. At least I got to scream “LAVA SHARK” at the screen.
While Helen’s away, Will rediscovers the reason why he is a main character, which seemed to have gotten lost in the end of Season Two and the first half of Season Three. We see him flexing his profiler muscles like he did in Seasons One and Two and it’s refreshing. He and Henry discover some interesting things about Adam and catch him stealing one of Praxis’ most volatile weapons. Henry “hacks” into the computer system composed of completely foreign technology (hand wave #3) and finds out what Praxis has been hiding about their friend. Adam has been playing with a device he invented called the calorem, which helps him to cause rifts in time. As powerful as it is, it’s equally unstable. If Adam completes his plan to blow up the city he’ll be unstoppable.
The gang chases Adam into one of those transport ball thingies and Helen shoots him. She hits his shoulder then hesitates instead of shooting him again. I believe I was shouting “shoot him! Shoot him!” at the screen right about now. The doors of the transport close and it’s whisked away. Ah, but Adam would have probably fared better in the hands of Helen Magnus. When the transport stops John Druitt is waiting for him. It’s moments like this that make me remember why I loved Druitt as a villain. His menacing stare always sends shivers down my spine. The transport returns to Magnus and crew with a grisly message written on the inside:
With all problems solved, and no real hint at what the remainder of Season Three’s story arch will be, Magnus says goodbye to her father and Ranna and returns to the surface. We’re left to believe we’ll see the residents of Praxis again, but not any time soon.
I’m curious to see what the overall arch is for the rest of this season. Judging by the preview trailers it’s going to be exciting. I give the Sanctuary Season Three mid-season premiere “Pax Romana” three out of five wagons for excessive use of hand waving, considerably improved CGI, Magnus’ continued badassness, the rediscovery of the reason why Will is a main character, and for being a hell of a lot better than the Season Three premiere.
** Hand Waving- the act of solving a problem through assumption, ignoring outside variables, and/or magic. Commonly used when writers are unable to solve something using a plausible or scientific explanation.