Warehouse 13: “Trials”

Losing Your Self

Warehouse 13

Syfy Channel, Mondays, 8/7 C

Written by Drew Z. Greenberg

Directed by Constantine Makris

“There’s no chair for me.” — Myka

So, as we expected, Myka comes back to the Warehouse, but as I expected, she has to go through some angst first. I’d pay extra money to skip this step and have Myka just step back into her role, but of course that would invalidate all the (fake) angst she went through to step out of it. I really wish TV would grow past these fake cliffhangers that only screenwriters still believe in. We start with an introspective voice-over from Myka about how she’s being truthful with herself and she’s uncertain about her place, especially with a new guy in the mix, etc. I doubt anyone was really listening anyway, at least until we got to the point where Artie started handing out assignments around the breakfast table. Then Pete responds through a mouthful of sausage, Myka is called upon to translate, Claudia notes with amusement that she still understands “Pete-speak”, aaaaand we’re back! Awkward reunion complete, and we can move on. Relief.

“We think it’s some kind of accelerated Alzheimer’s.” — Doctor

Since we’ve got extra agents on hand now, our writers expand the scope of the story, not necessarily in a good way. Splitting the team only dilutes the impact of each story, as well as the emotional heft of the revelations therein. Not to worry, though, each story gives us a satisfying blend of humor and tension. Artie’s first concern is an airline pilot who suddenly developed Alzheimer’s in mid-air, forgetting how to fly a plane. He dispatches Myka and Pete to investigate, and Myka notices pretty quickly that Pete is holding back from his usual effervescent behavior. She believes he has something he needs to say to her, and keeps encouraging him to open up. Annoyed, he finally agrees — only to fire off a half-dozen movie references in as many seconds, effectively shielding himself from her concern. Meanwhile, a surgeon loses her memory in mid-operation, and Pete and Myka step up their investigation. Or at least, Pete does. While Myka mopes about Pete’s attitude and consults Leena about his aura, Pete actually investigates the victims and discovers a link to a restaurant that was the scene of a murder. Both victims witnessed it, and now the suspect’s best friend comes down with memory loss. Before long, a reporter joins them.

“Everybody keeps leaving me.” — Pete

Eventually, Pete himself succumbs, regressing to his fourteen-year-old self (which is actually not a regression, since Pete habitually behaves as if he were twelve). This strips him of his adult armor, and he is able to open up to Myka enough to show her the deep wounds he suffered when his father died and his mother emotionally abandoned the family. Myka tracks down the artifact at fault, discovers the true murderer’s identity, and restores everyone’s memory. She also finally realizes that while Pete may not have anything to say to her, she has something to say to him: “I’m sorry.” That moment fit in perfectly with both Pete and Myka’s characters, and saved an otherwise blase story.

“Come back with the artifact and then tell me it’s too easy.” — Artie

Now that Myka is back, Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore, Smallville) has become a third wheel. Artie pairs him with Claudia on a routine field assignment, which involves nothing more than bidding on an artifact being auctioned. Steve complains about this boring assignment, while Claudia exults in finally being the senior field agent. This scene gave us so much delightful interplay between Jinks and Claudia I almost (not quite) hoped he would stick around, but my instincts tell me he will be gone by mid-season. Their assignment, naturally, goes sideways, and Claudia is forced to improvise. Her self-esteem is not helped when Artie shows up, having dropped by to spy on her first assignment. At this point the byplay begins to suffer, as the writers resort to a forced-awkward moment during a stakeout to reveal that Jinks is gay. This would be a delicate moment under any circumstances, but Claudia’s relentless clumsiness here plays as self-involvement rather than endearing geekiness.

“I made a mistake.” — Erik

So much for the bare bones. For the most part, this was an easy and fun hour of escape. My only quibble was the way the murder story was written. Integrating a murder into a comedy is tricky enough without dismissing its gravity. Here, we are told at the beginning that it was a “grisly” murder, yet later Myka expresses sympathy with a cold-blooded murderer who “made a mistake”. What kind of “mistake” brings about a “grisly murder”? You can’t have it both ways — either it was a terrible tragedy, almost an accident, or a crime deserving punishment. Since the murderer took pains to conceal his crime, going so far as to frame his buddy, he does not deserve Myka’s, or our, sympathy. This is more muddle-headed PC-thinking on the part of oblivious writers, and another reason why Warehouse 13should steer clear of stories involving deliberate murder.

“I just nailed a one-inch light switch from 20 feet away; I’m okay.” — Myka

Warehouse 13 clocked in with 2.5 million viewers, and an 18-49 share of only 0.9. This tells me that its audience is outside the target zone for most advertisers. I hope this does not mean the producers will panic and start changing things just to change them. For my money, the Warehouse is perfect as it is right now.