Warehouse 13: “Nevermore”

Fighting Words

Warehouse 13

Syfy Channel, Tuesdays, 9/7 c
Written by David Simkins
Directed by Tawna McKiernan

“If you tell them, I will drop a dictionary on your crotch.” —Myka

One of the most useless adages ever passed on to me by writing instructors is “Write what you know.” If strictly followed, this advice would swamp the world with novels about the tribulations of struggling writing instructors seeking tenure. In tonight’s episode of Warehouse 13, it gives us a story about… writing. Specifically, the tribulations of the unpublished writer. Myka and Pete are trying to track down the nefarious McPherson (in fact, I suspect his first name really is Nefarious)—played by Roger Rees like an Arctic breeze, cool and dry. Myka, looking through McPherson’s apartment, gets a phone call from her mother telling her that her father, a bookstore owner who just took delivery of a mysterious handwritten journal, is dying. He had picked up the books, and suddenly the lines on the page literally crawled up his arms like ants.

Rushing to her parents’ home in Colorado Springs, she gets two surprises—her father is fine, and Pete is finishing up a plate of her mother’s wings. He has traveled all the way from Montreal, where McPherson nearly killed him by generating a tone using Tibetan finger cymbals, just to support her in her time of need. If this was a romance, it would be aces, but it’s not—and it’s still aces. I love it that Pete settles in in no time as one of the family, and Myka has no problem with that. She does have a problem explaining her job to her parents (played by real-life spouses Michael and Susan Hogan, Battlestar Galactica), who think she is still guarding the President. Somehow she never got up the courage to tell them that she belongs to “the world’s most dangerous antiques road show”. Mr. Bering goes down to look at his book again, more words write themselves across his skin, and he passes out. Myka and Pete think they’ve got the Artifact they’re looking for, and call for backup. It arrives in the form of Claudia, toting the purple Artifact-neutralizing goo. As per orders, they dunk the book into the goo.

Which turns into black ink. Whoops. Papa Bering continues to groan, the crew is confused, and Artie starts mumbling again (that Artie, always up to the mark in a tight situation). Artie says this means that the book is actually a “bifurcated object”, meaning an Artifact in two parts. What could the other part be? This is the first time we’ve encountered such an object, and as always, it expands the possibilities for Artifacts.

Meanwhile, a subplot involves a young, sullen freshman named Bobby (Alec Medlock, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) at a college in Portland who is dodging a bully, mooning over a girl named Tamara (Tamara Duarte, F2: Forensic Factor) who is oblivious to him, and failing English Lit. He wanders by a display case containing a pen once used by Edgar Allan Poe, and it whispers to him (if I had a dime for every pen that whispers when I walk by it…). His observant English professor, Mr. Ives (Neil Crone, Little Mosque on the Prairie), notices his interest and hands him a book of poetry (including Byron and Blake) to woo Tamara: “Let them do the work for you.” He comes back after hours, smashes the case, and steals the pen. Apparently it tells him to write the word FIRE on a card and stick it in the bully’s locker. Just as Papa Bering mutters, “Tiger, tiger!” the bully gets lightly toasted by a jet of fire (Blake’s “Tyger, tyger burning bright!”—as it happens, the school mascot is a tiger). Ives accuses Bobby of theft, and gets handed a card labeled WALL. Immediately, the wall opens and sucks him in, a la “The Cask of Amontillado”. Pete tells Myka to stay with her father and takes Claudia with him to Portland. They quickly free the professor, confront Bobby, who has mesmerized Tamara with the word MINE (“Annabel Lee”, perhaps?). Bobby then retaliates with the word PENDULUM, and Claudia and Pete find themselves tied to the floor under the classic swinging axe.

Artie tells Myka to keep her father from slipping into a coma by reading his most beloved book to him; as it turns out, that book is Mr. Bering’s own unpublished manuscript. As he fights the influence of Poe’s notebook, the Pendulum disappears, and Claudia recovers the quill pen, which has certainly proved as mighty as the sword we saw three weeks ago. Reunited in Colorado Springs, the pen and book are neutralized, and Papa Bering returns to himself. All seems well—until McPherson shows up with Jack the Ripper’s lantern. It mesmerizes the Berings as he holds them hostage until Myka surrenders the book and quill. Looks like McPherson specializes in the macabre; I wonder if he has the original set pieces from Frankenstein(1931) in his back parlor? It would not surprise me. The originality shown in these artifacts continues to delight. And even better, the sibling relationship being built between Claudia, Pete, and Myka is solidifying under pressure—and occasionally being released as humor.

Pete: I think I’m hot for your mom.

Myka: I’ll break it to Dad.

This episode was not anywhere near as fast paced as earlier episodes, and took its metaphor a little too much to heart. The “revenge of the nerd” idea is yawningly cliché by now, the nemesis figure represented by McPherson is old hat, and the guest stars are woefully underused (Michael Hogan literally slept through this one). But the relationship between Myka and Pete continues to sparkle, Claudia is a gem of the first water, and even Artie is starting to act almost human. Claudia proves effective in the field, and we learned a lot more about Myka and her father/authority issues. We are also getting some interesting hints about a link between Leena and Mrs. Frederic. Artie: “What did you do with Leena? Never mind.” Good question, Artie—could they be time/dimensional versions of the same person? Is Leena herself an Artifact? And apparently McPherson, who already considers Myka and Pete “corruptible”, is now going after the agents’ families. Going into the next (and finale) episode, we have a lot at stake.

Warehouse 13‘s next-to-last episode drew 2.93 million total views, with a 2.2 household rating, making it a record-breaking series for Syfy Network. I hope these numbers help convince Syfy and NBC (Syfy’s parent) that scripted series, in the long run, will hold up better and draw more viewers than “reality” shows and ghost hunts. We can only hope. Next week will be our last sight of the Warehouse until the summer of 2010; see you there!