Warehouse 13: “The New Guy”

The Human Lie Detector

Warehouse 13

Syfy Channel, Mondays, 8/7 C
“The New Guy”
Written by Jack Kenny
Directed by Stephen Surjik

“Congratulations. You were almost killed by an artifact. You are now officially a Warehouse agent.” – Myka Bering

At the end of last season, Agent Myka Bering suffered a crisis of conscience and left the Warehouse, in a move that probably convinced absolutely no one. Certainly anyone with access to an online celebrity website would know that Joanne Kelley is signed for another year on Warehouse 13, so she was bound to be back sooner or later. Apparently, we’re going to have to work for it, though.

“You’re lying.” — Jinks

While Myka’s been away, her partner, Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) has been trying to work missions solo, with middling success. We meet them in mid-mission, trying to keep the actual guitar Jimi Hendrix set on fire now threatens to shut down the entire Eastern seaboard’s electrical grid. Unable to neutralize it himself, Eddie has called in Artie and Claudia, yet still the static discharges rage out of control. Into the middle of this frantic situation drops Stephen Jinks (Aaron Ashmore, Smallville), an ATF agent with his own unique talent: he can instantly tell when people are lying. Must be a hell of a talent to have in a government job. Realizing that Artie’s mad explanation for their presence is the right one, he allows them to go ahead with their shutdown of the guitar, which of course must involve Claudia playing her best version of Pete Townshend, with Jimi’s own tremolo bar. All of that before the credits. I love this show.

“I’m not a laugher.” – Jinks

Deciding that Pete needs more help in the field, Artie has Jinks re-assigned to the Warehouse, where he is bewildered in turn by Claudia’s insouciant hipness, Pete’s jokes and Artie’s usual incoherence. Unlike Myka, whose serious demeanor was regularly undermined by Pete’s wickedly sly humor, Jinks (Jinx?) is dry, focused, and solemn. He warms up a little, but it’s not until he, too, is nearly killed by an artifact that he starts to take all of this seriously.

“Don’t touch the bombs.” — Claudia

Their first case involves a series of murders. People have died onWarehouse 13 before, but it’s not a regular occurrence, so already we’re into some heavy drama at the beginning. Each person received a drawing, spasmed and died, and then the drawing self-destructed. The victims’ dying words in Latin or Greek are a tip-off, and before long Pete and Jinks and Myka (reluctantly) are chasing down a Lost Folio of Shakespearean plays which had been cursed by a failed actor. And I thought it was dangerous just to whistle in a theater…

“Don’t touch the bombs.” — Claudia

Of course we have a B story, in which Artie, Claudia and Leena try to figure out why a statue of Zeus keeps hurling thunderbolts. It’s a nice Classical counterpart to the Cleopatra and Caesar death scenes we’ve already been shown, as well as typical sniping, snapping and snarking at one another. There’s also the problem of smart-alec FBI agent Sally Stukowski (Ashley Williams, Saving Grace), who keeps blocking Jinks and Pete’s investigation, and seems impervious to Pete’s charm.

“Artie made cookies.” — Claudia

I was glad to see some changes from last season. Artie seems to have mellowed; at one point he even smiled. There’s hope for anyone, I suppose. Claudia is, if possible, better than ever – smart, trendy, funny, sassy. She is clearly being groomed to replace Artie some day, and I think she’ll make a very lively Warehouse boss. Besides, she’s got some righteous chops on that guitar. When the story finally brings Pete face to face with Myka, who has gone home to her family bookstore, he takes refuge in the kind of hurt feelings one expects from a younger brother bewildered by his older sister’s behavior. The only really wrong note struck in their reunion was Jinks telling them to “work off this sublimated sexual tension”. Oh, please don’t go there. The wonderfully unique thing about Pete and Myka’s relationship all along has been the sibling vibe that gives such a cozy feel to the show. This is one change from last season I don’t want to see.

“Yeah this is Steve, my new Myka. Steve, the old Myka.” — Pete

Much as I loved seeing the show again, I have to say that this first episode felt downright frenetic. There’s fast-paced dialog, and then there’s machine-gun delivery. I lost a lot of good lines, buried in overlapping dialogue. In this single episode, we get a tour of the Warehouse from Artie (to bring new viewers up to date), a new partner for Pete, a new baddie working for an even badder baddie, trouble in the Warehouse, a complicated mission and a turf war with an FBI agent. Too much, too much. I could have done with less flash and more substance, even in this cream puff of a show. For a show that usually nails the perfect pacing needed for this level of energy, it was a shade too far this time.

“Don’t think I didn’t get into a ton of trouble for that.” — Pete

Everything else worked in this season premiere. The new guy works. The new baddie works really well, and really believably – of course the Warehouse would have its own shadowy enemies, who doesn’t? The artifacts, as always, were fun and unique and clever. If Pete is not quite as hilarious as usual, I put it down to missing his perfect foil, Myka. Otherwise, the series is as strong as ever, with the same wit, style and goofy charm. I look forward to a strong third season.