Warehouse 13: “Past Imperfect”


Warehouse 13

Syfy Channel, Mondays, 8/7 C
“Past Imperfect”

Written by Nell Scovell

Directed by Tawna McKiernan

“You let him get away. How could you let that happen?” – Myka

After last week’s manic romp, this week’s episode of Warehouse 13 felt like a trip through the looking glass, into a sad and tragic world of loss, betrayal and depression. We already knew that, before she joined the Warehouse team, Myka Bering had become an obsessive, by-the-book agent whose ritualistic adherence to the rules stemmed from the murder of her partner years ago. His murder has always haunted her, so when she spots the assassin during a routine Artifact recovery mission in Denver, she drops everything and pursues him. To do so, she must ask for help from the very agents she worked with many years ago, Zach Adanto (J. August Richards,The Mentalist) and Jim (Yancy Arias, Covert Affairs). What promises to be a straight-ahead police procedural is, of course, derailed by an Artifact.

“While you’re being me, I’ll be you.” — Pete

In pursuit of the murderer who has escaped her so many times, Myka gives way to depression and self-doubt, at one time even trying to hand the case over to Pete and quit. This emotional turmoil is more in Pete’s line than Myka’s; because he is more sensitive than she is, he not only picks up on her angst but accepts it and works with it. As long as she’s taking his emotional role, he decides, he will take on her rational one. It’s a fun turnabout for a few minutes, but nature will out and it is not long before Myka is being her analytical self again, and Pete is spouting cute quotes. Between her brains and her memories of Sam’s character, they puzzle out the real villain behind the murder, one we saw coming about two minutes in. Because, as we all know, nothing in TV is ever as simple as it seems.

“No one has your back like I do.” — Pete

What we did not know in the pilot was that Myka and her partner Sam (Gabriel Hogan, Heartland) were having an affair, despite the fact that he was married. Straight-arrow Myka still feels guilty about it, despite the fact that Sam was estranged from his wife. She is so wrapped up in the emotional backlash that it occurs to her only very late in the game that Sam had other concerns on the day he died, concerns that had nothing to do with their affair and everything to do with their jobs. Pete not only figures this out, but hangs back and lets her figure it out for herself. I love it when Pete gets to be all mature and sensitive, without making a big deal out of it. It keeps his character from becoming a complete buffoon. And Myka, once she realizes that her reactions both during Sam’s murder and the current event are being manipulated by an Artifact, wastes no time in cornering the real killer.

“When something doesn’t make sense, Myka tries to make sense of it.” — Pete

This wasn’t a subtle story by any means. The theme of betrayal is driven home twice: once in Myka and Sam’s illicit affair and once in the solution to the crime. Myka must confront not only her guilt but the actual, real wife she betrayed. Since this is fantasy TV, she gets absolution for her guilt from the only one who can offer it, the wife. Armed with new self-confidence, she goes forth to slay the baddies. It’s vanilla writing, but it works. Both Myka and Pete are considerably subdued from last week’s episode, but then it would be hard to top that one anyway. What bothered me was the clichéd nature of the plot; the identity of the villain was apparent as soon as he was introduced. I kept looking for some clue that he was a red herring, but no, the story really was as straightforward as they come. The one fun bit was, as usual, the Artifact in question, a ship’s barometer from the USS Eldridge, the ship used in the alleged Philadelphia Experiment. As Artifacts go, it’s fairly pedestrian, not nearly on a par with the other Artifact in this episode.

Artie: Claudia, you’re going to write down the license plate numbers.

Claudia: As soon as you bark them out.

While recovering an Artifact linked to the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist fire, Steve and Claudia are tranquilized and robbed of the Artifact. The only witness: a dog. Artie insists on interviewing the dog by use of a mind-reading fez (which breaks his rule against using Artifacts). The dog gets distracted (by the Scarab which keeps appearing throughout this season’s episode) and leaves Artie comatose. Claudia calls the dog using Pavlov’s Bell, whose unfortunate side effect is to leave her drooling uncontrollably. The dog’s memory gives them the license plate of a rental car, which turns out to have been rented by FBI Agent Sally Stukowski. At last, the Warehouse crew knows she’s more dangerous than she looks.

“It’s time to do something impulsive.” – Myka

This is a darker episode, to be sure, but it’s also a necessary one. We’re nine episodes in, and it’s time to start gathering the threads for a wrap-up to the season-long arc involving Sally and her Secret Cabal. We got some actual movement towards that conclusion as the Warehouse agents learn that Sally has an agenda against them. They have not yet discovered that two weeks ago she introduced nanobot bugs into their enclave, but the failure of the purple gloves twice in this episode leaves me to suspect they’ve been sabotaged. It won’t take Artie (or Claudia) long to figure that one out. We’ve probably reached the end of stealth-Sally episodes; from here on out it’s likely we’ll be seeing all-out war. That makes this gloomier episode essential, if less fun.