"Sanctuary" has always been a murky, shadowy series, but the second season makes everything much, much darker -- death, insanity, and the biggest baddest Abnormal since... well, ever. The handling of the Cabal and Ashley are pretty clumsy, though the stories that follow are more solid and intense than those of the first season.
In the aftermath of the Cabal's worldwide attack, the gang encounters a young con artist named Kate Freelander (Agam Darshi), who has been hired by the Cabal. But when Magnus (Amanda Tapping) and Will (Robin Dunne) go hunting for the Cabal's headquarters, they encounter Ashley (Emilie Fullerup).. who is leading an all-out assault on the Sanctuary.
The Sanctuary gang also have to take in hundreds of new Abnormal refugees, in addition to their usual problems -- a future scenario filled with cannibalistic zombies, a flying superhero, Henry's old flame is attacked by a peaceful Abnormal, a vampire squid, a rageaholic Abnormal mob boss, and a gang of trust-fund vampires. Even worse, Druitt (Christopher Heyerdahl) seems to have returned to his "Jack the Ripper" ways, and Magnus seems to be going insane after shooting Bigfoot (Heyerdahl again).
And a trip to Mumbai goes horribly wrong when Will becomes the host to a bizarre Abnormal, which connects him to Big Bertha, a vast, ancient Abnormal "who raises the seas and shakes the land." Problem is, someone else wants that power instead.
Maybe it's just my imagination, but "Sanctuary Season 2" seems considerably darker than the first season (although it has more sunlight). It starts off rather wobbly for the first few episodes, which are basically devoted to writing both Ashley and the Cabal out of the story -- and it's done in a painfully contrived manner, especially since the Cabal seemed to be the Big Arc Villain.
Fortunately the standalone episodes, and the ones involved with Big Bertha, are far better -- lots of buttkicking action, gruesome murder (knives, spores, zombies), some truly bizarre abnormals, and the usual gothic gloom and rainy skies. But there's still an undercurrent of quirky humor (Henry and Bigfoot go off to geek it up at Comic-Con... especially since nobody notices the Big Guy there). And the whole episode with the Adjustor was just hilarious.
Tapping has some of her most brilliant performances here -- grief, paranoia, struggles with her ex-lover's killer nature, and even the possible loss of the Sanctuary network. Heyerdahl is amazing as both the bloodthirsty Druitt and the gentle (if grumpy) Bigfoot; Dunne is awesome as the gentle, intelligent Will (as well as the hardened, cold "future Will"), and Ryan Robbins gets a great episode devoted to Henry's personal issues.
The one false note: Kate. Darshi is a good actress and the character has promise, but why replace the annoying blonde with an equally annoying brunette? Fortunately, there are some excellent guest stars -- Michael Shanks, Erica Cerra, and the villainously hot Calum Blue.
"Sanctuary Season Two" has some stumbling blocks (I want more Cabal!), but the actors are still brilliant and the storylines are picking up. Worth seeing despite the wobbly first few episodes.