WAREHOUSE 13′s Mid-Season Psychotic Break

Posted on October 2, 2012 by

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Episode 4.09 “The Ones You Love”
Episode 4.10 “We All Fall Down”

[photos: Syfy]

Last week’s episode really is a first part leading into this week’s, so let’s take them together and follow Artie down the rabbit hole to Crazy Land.

SPOILERS AHEAD

In a “divide and conquer” maneuver, our antagonist has sent artifacts to the relatives of each of the team – Claudia’s brother, Myka’s pregnant sister, and Pete’s ex-wife – putting them all at risk and splitting everyone up to run rescue operations. Meantime, Steve and Mrs. Frederic go to Rome to make contact with the Brotherhood of the Black Diamond and see if they can negotiate a truce of some sort.

Thus leaving Artie at the warehouse by himself. Or… is he?

Let’s take the artifacts first. Over the last few weeks, the show has been touching on the theme of family, mainly from the perspective that warehouse agents don’t get to have any. Pete’s wish that got Myka pregnant, Steve’s trip home, Myka finding out her sister is pregnant, Artie dating Vanessa — all serve to show the agents in a more domestic light, thus making it an interesting twist to see relatives feature so prominently in an episode, and all at once, too.

Myka’s sister has an artifact that puts her in a murderous rage, while Pete’s ex gets a tattoo that started out on the body of a suicide bomber, and Claudia’s brother gets trapped in amber. And in the course of an hour, we get some really nice back and forth between our heroes and their family. Pete’s banter with his ex-wife, and the revelation that she still loves him, was a fun bit. Myka gets the “Marcia Marcia Marcia” treatment from Tracy.

It’s like recent episodes of Doctor Who where several companions come in to help the Doctor. In this sense, the extended family guest roster serves to distract the agents from the real problem, which is Artie’s confrontation with Brother Adrian. It’s Claudia’s discussion with her brother that turns the episode on its ear, and she figures out Artie isn’t quite on the level as it concerns Adrian and the artifacts. And the build-up into the final moments — Steve and Mrs. Frederic figuring out the entire Brotherhood leadership has been trapped in a painting for months, Pete getting vibes after Claudia figures out Artie’s been lying — all pay off with the revelation that quite a few fans speculated would be in the cards:

Artie’s cracked.

Brother Adrian is a figment of Artie’s imagination, and it’s a moment that’s been building for a few weeks. The reveal that everything’s been in Artie’s mind — and the scenes showing Artie really talking to air — adds to the creepy factor as the moment builds to the moment when Artie realizes Adrian doesn’t really exist. That little head twitch as his demeanor changes… you can see him break in half in that moment, and the last ten minutes of the episode deliver a wonderful performance from Saul Rubinek and Genelle Williams.

Leena’s breakdown as she watches Artie crack. She’s really been the soul of the warehouse, just as Mrs. Frederic has been the body and Artie the brain. On the one hand, it’s great that Leena wasn’t the mole again. It’s great that Leena actually got some meaty scenes. But why does it have to be another “Skin of Evil” bit, where some of the character’s best material are also come of her last?

For Leena is dead. Or is she?

It’s an easy assumption to make: Leena isn’t really dead. After all, this is science fiction (ok, science fantasy, but still…), and in this genre death is a temporary state in some circumstances. Not very many minutes after Myka declared with certainty that Leena is well and truly dead, Pete starts seeing her spirit guiding him through the warehouse to find H.G.’s research about the dagger. (except for Williams getting a “Special Appearance By” credit, which means she’s gone. For now.)

And we’re off on a quest to stop Artie from retrieving the dagger along with a Chinese orchid that caused a massive plague.

As Steve and Mrs. Frederic and Brother Adrian search the records in the library – finding very little detail about the dagger or the astrolabe – Claudia tries to pin down the location of the plague orchid, tracking it down to the old Warehouse 8. Steve meets up with her as they descend deep into the bowels of an insurance company in Berlin, while Pete and Myka go after the dagger, a leftover from the Holy Roman Empire. All the while Artie is on his own search for the missing artifacts, knowing who really has the orchid and manipulating circumstances so he finds out the location of the dagger.

As Mrs. Frederic says, Artie is a formidable foe because he knows the team so well. But I couldn’t buy that after all this time, he’d be able to push Pete and Myka’s buttons as easily as he did. Bringing up Pete’s alcoholism and Myka’s fear of being an old maid, might have worked better in the first season, but now it seems a little forced, even though it’s played brilliantly by Rubinek.

And we get another Star Trek joke! Pete calling out the “Klingon Battle Axe” was a fun bit.

Of course, Artie’s vision of Claudia with the dagger has to come to pass, and it’s interesting that Claudia says “I cast you out!” as she’s stabbing Artie in the heart. All through the episode, I got the impression that Artie – speaking in the third person – is possessed by another identity. And this seems to jibe with Claudia’s line, although she could have just been guessing because she has a holy dagger in her hands.

But it’s too little, too late, as the orchid hits the ground and releases the deadly plague over the world in a matter of minutes.

Now, one must note that the show took care in showing us the plague matter entering the bodies of Artie, Myka, Pete and Steve — but not Claudia. This, to me, is significant. What does that mean for the next 10-episode season?

And does Leena’s passing mean H.G. takes over the B&B? Someone’s going to have to keep an eye on Artie while he’s recovering from the whole heart-stabbing thing…

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[Official Show Site at Syfy]         [Previous recap: "Second Chance"]

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