[photos: Ken Woroner/Syfy]
This week, we get to see a little hint of what Pete and Myka would have been like if they’d actually gone down the romantic road not taken immediately after Pete got her pregnant. And Artie takes one small step closer to letting everyone in on the Big Scary Secret That Will Destroy the World.
So, this week’s artifact is something that makes people go all American Werewolf in London stretchy, getting taller as their limbs and extremities lengthen to the point where they start experiencing excruciating pain. The opening bit gives us our first Star Trek gag: Pete actually says, “Hard to believe Commander Data over there hasn’t found his soul mate” when talking about a hypochondriac who’s experiencing the effects of the artifact.
At first, we all think the victims of the artifact are such because they’re all taking an antacid called Reduxin, made by a pharmaceutical company with an over-achiever research rep named Deb, who stumbles across Pete and Myka, flirts with Pete, sleeps with Pete, then follows Pete back to where she discovers that he’s no ordinary Secret Service agent.
OK. That’s a lot to put in a sentence. Suffice it to say, Deb’s a smart cookie, and she hits it off with Pete from the get-go, thus becoming what Myka isn’t: a smart potential girlfriend. It seems the writers are trying really hard to keep Pete and Myka on a brother-sister vibe so the show doesn’t turn into Moonlighting or Lois and Clark anytime soon. Which is a shame, because I thought they were going to handle that in a much different way after Myka had a quiet moment watching Pete a couple of episodes back.
So, Deb seems to be the new love interest for Pete, since Myka’s… well.. not. The writers really must like that whole brother-sister dynamic in this show, because they put it in quite a bit.
When Deb shows up at Leena’s, the artifact of the week falls to Myka while Pete cleans up the mess he’s made by being flirty with a really smart girl. Her “I’ve seen this movie before. People know where I am.” line is cheeky and smart and cuts to the whole bit about people disappearing because they know too much.
This gives us a chance to see something we don’t see a lot: a thoughtful, insightful Pete. Normally, he’s the class clown, but every now and again it’s nice to see the smart side. He’s a Secret Service agent for a reason. He gets it. And to hear him articulate things so well is refreshing. Yes, these artifacts are wondrous and have all these great things they could do, but the downside to just about all of them is so dark and dangerous. As he explains what some of the artifacts actually do, we get a little hint that maybe he pays attention a lot more than he lets on.
On the flip side, Deb makes a compelling case for actually using the artifacts to help mankind, despite the downside. Naturally, her argument is born of ignorance as to the nature of that downside, but her passion is clear and serves to give her some dimension beyond being the new girlfriend. So much so, that she gets recruited to be… a regent? A new agent?
This episode also gives us more hijinks between Claudia and Jinks, now that our favorite steam-hacker knows about their connection. And it’s good to see their dynamic back to almost-normal. Really, some recent performances have been.. well, awkward. Whether that’s the writing, or the fact that they weren’t playing their usual material, it just felt off by a bit. This time out, we get the relationship that actually works – big brother, little sister. With Artie as the father figure.
This also plays into the dynamic as it shifts. We all — at some point in our lives — will experience the moment when the child becomes the parent. The younger one becomes old enough to care for himself, and then grows into the role of caretaker for his parent. Claudia’s conversation with Artie at the end of the episode makes it clear she’s moving into this more mature role, telling Artie that she can help him, that he doesn’t have to do it alone. And even after Artie dismisses them, thanking them for the help (rare), Claudia and Steve — of course — are going to help anyway.
Artie’s arc is getting more twisted and stressed, as his plan to keep things secret keeps unravelling at both ends as more people figure out what’s going on.
His confrontation with Brother Adrian gives us the answer to how the monk has been getting into the warehouse, but still doesn’t give us any more information about the Great Evil that’s about to be unleashed. The writers really need to flesh that out more, because Brent Spiner needs something else to say besides “An evil of your own creation is coming” over and over again.
It’s been pointed out that Artie’s still the only one who’s actually seen the monk, giving rise to the suspicion that Adrian might be a figment of Artie’s imagination. But I’m not buying that theory yet. For one, there’s an actual cell phone Claudia can trace, as well as the information she digs up on Adrian and the Brotherhood of the Black Diamond.
No follow-up yet on how Leena’s going to figure into this arc. Remember, she overheard Artie shouting out at no one recently. But so far, that thread hasn’t been picked up. At least she’s not the mole again…
It seems the artifact of the week has been relegated to “McGuffin that gets us into a different story” status. It’s hardly the focus of any episode anymore, besides giving Pete and Myka someplace to be. In this case, it gets us to Deb. In the last episode — the mirror — the artifact was the plot device that got everyone closer to figuring out Artie’s hiding things. In any event, the artifact is now serving in more of a support capacity.
So it’s almost anti-climactic when Myka finally finds the actual artifact — a bowl made from the marble of the Colossus — because we know the team’s going to find it and bag it, because they always do.
There’s also a bit of a let-down when I see Jaime Murray’s name in the opening guest credits, so it’s not a surprise when H.G. Wells shows up at the end of the episode. Of course, the smart people in the room have already figured out that she’s the one Artie called to find the dagger.
But it is a bit of a twist that H.G. has figured out that Artie did some timey-wimey hokum. Of course, it’s a “duh” moment when she rightly points out that the whole time travel thing is in her wheelhouse, so it’s really no surprise that she would figure it out. She’s even figured out that Artie used Magellen’s astrolabe. And she’s told Mrs. Frederic!
Naturally, this has got Artie going into an apoplectic fit. Because now how many people know what’s going on now? But they’ve all figured it out. Artie hasn’t actually told anyone about the use of the astrolabe, so he’s technically not crossed the line Adrian told him not to cross. My pondering has me going toward the warehouse being ‘sploded again at the end of the season, this time with some permanence.
And does anyone else find it funny that we’re dealing with a Monk named Adrian?