Syfy Channel, Mondays, 8/7 C
Written by Bob Goodman & Holly Harold
Directed by Tawnia McKiernan
“What difference does it make if it’s part of a master plan or dumb luck?” – Myka
I’ve read criticism of the character of Pete Lattimer elsewhere: that the character is jejune, silly, immature. I usually prefer to think of him as boyish, fun-loving and free-spirited, but this episode of Warehouse 13almost made me agree with those critics. For the first time, Pete came across as whiny and self-centered. Up to a point, it was understandable; not only is his mother in this (and if anyone is going to have mommy issues, it’s Pete Lattimer) but together they must revisit scenes from his childhood, where he discovers some surprising truths. It’s that assault on his memories that explains Pete’s sudden obsession with his own past: for most of us, we are our past, and when memory goes, we lose ourselves. Pete suddenly learns that his childhood was not what he thought all these years, so who is he now?
“I have a very bad feeling.” – Jane Lattimer
Having discovered last week that Regent Jane (Kate Muldrew, Star Trek: Voyager) is his own mother, Pete is awash in a sense of betrayal. He is outraged that she kept this secret from him, an outrage that only grows as he learns how far back this deception goes. Mrs. Frederick has no time for his personal crisis, however; whoever is targeting Regents is still after them, including Jane, who is now the “Guardian” (whatever that is). Their only clue is Jane’s vague feeling that the clue they overheard last week – “A to Z Technologies” – is important. But she can remember nothing more about it, so she uses an Artifact to delve into her own mind. Artie warns her that she might get lost in her memories and never find a way out (talk about hammering a metaphor!), so Pete volunteers to go with her. Using a pair of bronzed baby shoes (awww) they jump into Jane’s memory. And “arrive” on the day of Pete’s father’s funeral. Ouch.
“If I’d known, I’d have gotten you a mug that said, ‘World’s Greatest Secret Overlord’.” – Pete
Fascinated by this visit home, Pete is distracted first by the sight of old friends, then by the knowledge that his mother was a Warehouse agent. When Mrs. Fredericks shows up, looking exactly as she does today, he greets her – and she walks right through him. Turns out she was good buddies with Jane back in the day, so Pete’s sense of betrayal worsens. Has he been a puppet for these two all his life? Has his whole life been a dance on strings? Jane doesn’t understand why they’re here, when they should be searching for “A to Z Technologies”. She watches as Mrs. Fredericks persuades her younger self to return to duty long enough to retrieve one Artifact from a child.
“All I knew then was that you were keeping secrets and I felt left out.”
Bewildered, Jane and Pete follow her younger self as she confronts a young boy batting balls into a ball cage in his front yard. Younger Jane questions him, but the boy’s eyes turn black and he fends her off suspiciously. The next thing we know, a younger Artie and younger Macpherson are retrieving the boy’s Artifact, one which gives him “powers he should not have”. Throughout this story, Pete continues to berate his mother for not telling him things no young boy should have been told, for keeping secrets she was sworn to keep, for allowing him to believe his life was normal and ordinary. Pete’s complaining gets more than a little annoying after the initial moments. As a man, let alone a Warehouse agent himself, he should know that Jane was only doing her duty to both the Warehouse and to him. By the end of the episode, he and his mother have reached a plateau of understanding, so I get it that he spent the first half bitching and whining as a dramatic counterpoint. Even so, I didn’t like him in this episode and would like to see him return to his usual ebullience.
“This is not snag, bag and nag.” – Artie
One of the fun aspects of this season of Warehouse 13 has been the mix-and-match nature of the retrieval teams. We’ve had team-ups of Pete and Steve, Claudia and Steve, and Claudia and Artie. Now we get Myka and Claudia together, and the vibe is definitely big sister/little sister. It works wonderfully well, with Claudia’s smart aleck attitude acting as the same foil Pete’s usually does. This time they’re off to figure out what vaporized a man mowing his own lawn. Their quest takes them to a T-shirt factory full of disgruntled hipsters (including a Goth girl whom even Claudia finds disquieting), a couple of mysterious burn marks, and finally to a terrified girl huddled in her own living room. Megan (Alessandra Torresani, Caprica) believes she is cursed, and that she is responsible for killing her boss, her boyfriend and various other people who have made her angry.
“You’re cursed, too. Congratulations.” — Megan
Claudia reacts to this miserable young woman first with suspicion, then with empathy. She sees enough of herself in Megan to gradually overcome her first instinct to zap her with her mini-Tesla (so cute!), and to eventually talk to her. Their I’m-unluckier-than-thou contest is funny, in a kind of sad and bitter way that perfectly suits the Warehouse ambiance. It takes a while, but Myka finally figures out that the hot flashes that are vaporizing people are also generating electromagnetic pulses. The EMP plus the flash of light equate to a nuclear device of some kind, and she kicks the investigation into high gear.
“We’re bonding over our ability to repel people.” – Claudia
I liked the no-nonsense Myka of this investigation, one who delegated the suspect-minding duties to Claudia and let that sharp mind of hers run the show. When she finally realizes Megan is the target of an Artifact user, not the user herself, it does not take the team long to track it down. The Artifact is a pair of binoculars used by the pilot of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, a dramatic and poignant use of history to imbue into an Artifact. They are being used by a stalker to pick off people who annoy Megan. I was a little let down by discovering that such a powerful Artifact was in the hands of a nebbishy little cliché, but otherwise this was a solid B-story.
“It would have planted a seed of darkness in his soul.” – Mrs. Frederick
So what about Jane and Pete’s mission? Only after they “return” to reality does Jane realize that the “A to Z Technologies” is a distortion of the name of the baseball team on the cap of the young boy batting balls: his team was the “Aztecs”. As Mrs. Frederick explains, the Artifact in the boy’s possession gave him abilities he would not otherwise have: the ability to walk, for one. Now, without the artifact, he is confined to a wheelchair, deprived of the bracelet (ironically, made of puppet strings) that once let him walk and run and swing a bat and dream of a career in the majors.
“Jane Lattimer and I are going to get together very soon.” – Walter Sikes
So now we know who the Wheelchair Man is: Walter Sikes (Anthony Michael Hall, The Dead Zone). This is a first class villain, one we can actually feel sorry for even as we hiss and boo. Thanks to the Warehouse, he was deprived of the ability to walk. No wonder he burns for revenge. And even as he directs his henchman Marcus (Sasha Roiz, also fromCaprica) to dispose of the most recently murdered Regent, he hints that Steve Jinks may be next. I hope Claudia’s buddy is watching his back.
“This isn’t where I’m supposed to be.” – Jane Lattimer
If Pete was having an “all about me” day, Jane was at least spot-on. I liked her coolness, her controlled reaction to re-visiting what had to be one of her worst days. I liked the scenes where she watches her son bond with his now-dead father. And it was not lost on me that this episode, airing the day after the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, featured a dead firefighter talking about heroism. Also? Claudia, in the warehouse, with the laser scanner, for the win. It is not possible to praise this character too highly, one of the most fun and original characters I’ve ever seen. The addition of Kate Mulgrew to the series is a fun development. Given the perversity of television writing, I’m just hoping she survives the season finale next week.