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Review: 'Sanctuary' - Fata Morgana

The following contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the "Fata Morgana" episode of the SciFi Channel series, "Sanctuary."

It is a dark and stormy night, and Dr. Helen Magnus, Dr. Will Zimmerman and Ashley Magnus find themselves in a small cemetery on a Scottish isle. Soon, all heck breaks loose as dinosaur-skull-headed ?keepers of the dead? attack.

The two Magnuses provide cover as Zimmerman enters a crypt to find three stone coffins aligned in a ?Y?. Stepping into the center he sets off a system that drains, what we discover later, is a cryogenic liquid from the coffins and we discover that three, normal looking women -- very much alive -- are
inside the coffins.

?This might be my first crypt,? says Zimmerman, ?but, aren?t they
supposed to hold dead people??

This begins this week?s mystery. Who are these women? Why were they

inside the crypt? They appear to be normal, but are they?

The title of this episode is ?Fata Morgana,? the Italian name for Morgan le Fay, the half-sister of King Arthur with, perhaps, less-than-fully-human ancestry. This is the first tip off that Danu (Miranda Frigon), Caird (Laura Mennell) and Tatha (Leah Cairns) might not be what they seem.

Dr. Zimmerman starts to treat them as normal girls suffering from severe post-traumatic stress. They speak English like we do -- how could they be anything but?

Then we learn that an ancient cabal of ?collectors? is coming with an army of ?keepers? to take back what is ?rightfully? theirs.

As the episode unfolds, we discover that this trio of ladies are The Morrigan, before whom entire armies died, their souls sucked out of them. But Zimmerman, the kindly man that he is, refused to fear them and believes that they can be free from the cabal and not pose a threat to humankind.

In the end, he is proven, for the most part, correct.

What Worked

One thing I love about ?Sanctuary? and other series like this is how they re-interpret legend and mythology. The Morrigan was one of many triple goddesses found in pantheons around the world, this one from the Celts of Ireland. She/they were the goddesses of battle, fertility and fate. Danu, in Celtic mythology, was the mother of the gods and in this episode, the lead sister. In writing Fata Morgana, Damian Kindler and Martin Wood made good use of Celtic mythology, while still giving is a modern taste.

This episode also established a second enemy -- you may recall that as John Druitt ?died? he said ?others will come.? Now, we have the cabal to worry about, as well. Taking lessons from a background working on "Stargate," the folks behind "Sanctuary" know the value of an array of villains waiting in the wings.

In one scene, where Ashley gets intel on the cabal from an insect-loving old man (?), we learn a bit more about how the world of "Sanctuary" works -- not all abnormals are hunted down and brought to the Sanctuary. Some are allowed to live in the world and have ?networks.?

What Didn?t Work

For my tastes, the lighting is still a bit too dark. I have an HD TV, and I?m still having trouble seeing everything. I hope this improves in future episodes.

I am intrigued by Big Foot. As the episodes progress, small clues
about his personality are being dropped and I want to know more. Call me impatient, but that?s what I want.

After two episodes, I feel like too much is being crammed into each one, sort of what I like to call the "Batman II Syndrome." When there are too many characters to get to know, you don?t get to know any of them very well. Also, the action is the show should be doing double duty -- illuminating character while giving the audience a thrill.

These scenes are close, but not quite there yet.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

"Fata Morgana? was written by Damien Kindler and Martin Wood and directed by Martin Wood. "Sanctuary" airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on the SciFi Channel.

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