Season 3, episode 11: “Emily Lake” and episode 12, “Stand”
[All photos: Syfy]
This is a game-changer and a half. Or is it?
Apologies for the delay in getting this to you, but it’s one of those things where that “real life” thing happens, and then I had to (absolutely had to, mind you) get to Star Wars Fan Days for some interviews…
Right, then. SPOILERS!
I’m not going to go blow-by-blow on each hour. There’s a lot happening in these two episodes. The first half deals with finding H. G. Wells and restoring her memory, which was taken by an artifact called the Janus Coin. The Regents used it instead of bronzing Wells again. So H. G. is in some out-of-the-way town thinking she’s a schoolteacher named Emily Lake.
And she has a cat.
This is all revealed in the encrypted Atlas 66 file that’s supposed to be hacker-proof, but gets hacked by Tyler, the computer guru working for Walter Sykes, and Claudia, who still has issues over Steve Jinks getting fired (but we all know it’s a sekrit plot, right?)
So, Sykes needs H. G. so he can open the Sanctum, a secret chamber that was buried during the time of Warehouse 7, with an added security trap devised by Helena’s mentor, Caturanga (played with zesty relish by Eric Avari, who doesn’t get enough work).
It’s also revealed in this episode, that Marcus Diamond can’t die. Obviously, there’s an artifact involved. But when Marcus manages to snag “Emily Lake” – with the help of that wretched traitor Steve Jinks, grrr! Right? – Pete and Myka are left playing catch-up to figure out what Sykes wants with H. G.
So, Sykes gets the Janus coin, restores Emily to full H. G., and proceeds to use Cecil B. DeMille’s riding crop to control people around him. Spiffy.
In the meantime, Jane has to keep the team from flying off to rescue H. G., telling them the Regents have a plan in play already.
That plan? Steve Jinks, of course! He blows his cover with Claudia in the woods after Pete tries to destroy the Janus coin so Sykes won’t get his hands on H. G. Claudia has to bring Pete and Myka in on the deal, revealing everything that we in the astute crowd already figured out.
As pointed out over at io9, it’s not an intellectually challenging story, but a fun roller coaster of character bits where people get to reveal who they really are. It’s a good point, as pretty much all of the characters (except Leena) get one of these moments of exposure. H. G. especially gets this – mainly in flashbacks to her start at Warehouse 12 – and she gets the opportunity to redeem herself in a big way at the end of “Stand” (more on that in a moment).
Now, let’s talk about something difficult: the death of Agent Steve Jinks. I’m not even going to address the whole “gay character” thing, because it was a non-issue from the get-go. We never got any big hoopla about Jinks’ preferences in that regard, so it’s not like the writers killed off the token gay guy to make a statement or anything….
(OK, I addressed it a little bit there.)
Anyhoo, I think this was probably one of the most gut-wrenching moments in the show. Not because a likeable character died. Not because it puts the bad guys ahead. No. This is brilliantly executed by Eddie McClintock and Allison Scagliotti. When Pete tells Claudia to go away, you know that she’s going up the stairs, and you know what she’s going to find. Scagliotti’s performance during this sequence is true and honest and dark and riveting. You can see the switch get flipped, and knowing some of her history from previous episodes, you start wondering just what she’s going to do. Because now we know she’s capable of some Very Bad Things.
Remember, she’s destined to be another Mrs. Frederic, who showed what she’s capable of a few episodes back when she tortured Sally Stukowski. Claudia is going to go down a very deep, dark well next season.
Speaking of Mrs. Frederic, she’s just in time to save Leena from Marcus Diamond, the man who can’t be killed. And it’s because of a metronome that belonged to the composer Johann Maelzel. Not sure how the metronome keeps Marcus alive, but it’s a sure thing he’s dead when Claudia stops the metronome from ticking.
In the meantime, Sykes has gotten into the Regent Sanctum in Hong Kong, and has poor Tyler the Red Shirt playing chess in an effort to get past the giant death trap blocking the way. Naturally, Tyler doesn’t make it, and Myka’s in the chair next. So H. G. has to talk Myka through the chess game that unlocks the Big Steampunk Machine of Death (which, of course, she does…) and that opens the back door into Warehouse 13. Sykes gets through and shuts it down before Myka and H. G. can follow.
So the girls are stranded in Hong Kong, with the clock ticking. So they reset the chess set in order to try to open the portal again.
Now, wait a minute. If the Regent Sanctum has been abandoned since the days of Warehouse 7, why would it have a portal to Warehouse 13, which didn’t exist until over a hundred years later?
This is a sticking point for me. This implies that all of the Warehouses are connected no matter when they’re built. I don’t recall anything in the mythology that supports this, so is it a new characteristic of the Warehouses that we’re just now getting to see? Or is this an “oopsy” in the writing?
So, Sykes gets in, there’s a massive shield over the Warehouse keeping anyone from getting out, and after taking the Collodi Bracelet, Sykes starts to make his way out with a fine “how do you do”. And of course, there’s a chase, punctuated by Jane giving Sykes a nice uppercut. It was nice to see her showing her “Star Trek” cred as she’s stalking through the Warehouse with a Tesla in her hand…
Through various chases and twists and turns, Sykes gets the upper hand and gets Jane through the portal, obviously intending to keep her as a hostage for some nefarious scheme. But it’s Pete to the rescue, keeping him from getting through all the way before closing the portal while Sykes is still in it.
Another niggling point: this big build-up over the season to get to this point, and we never really explore Sykes’ end game. What was he going to do once he was ambulatory? What real difference did it make if he could walk or not? Granted, the whole “bracelet corrupts” idea is good for a certain distance, but it doesn’t get us over the finish line. This feels like a half-formed thought, a way to build up to the season ending:
blowing up the Warehouse.
Really. That’s what this feels like. A way to get us to an end point without too much development along the way. While it’s been a great season for character development, it hasn’t been one for else-than-thin plot. But in a show like “Warehouse 13” it isn’t always necessary to go deep. Except when it does, as in the case of H. G. Wells’ final act of redemption. Her sacrifice was well-played by Jaime Murray and Joanne Kelley, where they have a final moment of understanding that this is just what Helena had to do to save her friends.
The explosion is spectacular, with everything going up in flames. Windows blow out. A car flies. A blimp explodes. All sorts of artifacts get seen as the entire Warehouse gets leveled by a nuclear-level artifact bomb. The death of the Warehouse is a glorious one, made more emotional because it’s also the death of Mrs. Frederic.
Or is it?
Here’s the last point where I’m tempted to call “foul” depending on how they play this in the next season. Artie has James MacPherson’s pocket watch. What does it do? Can Artie manipulate time with it? If so, what are the limits? Is this just going to be a Bobby Ewing pocket watch? (You youngsters go look it up…)
If the watch is a big “reset” button, I’m going to be very disappointed.