by Jess Lynde
… in which Sykes set his final plans in motion.
Wow. Another shocking ending. And a surprisingly high body count for these last two episodes. Wow.
So, Walter Sykes needed H.G. to unlock the emergency escape portal that connected the Warehouse to the Regents’ Sanctum. Her former teacher constructed the lock to secure the portal when the Regents decided to abandon that failsafe over 100 years ago, and she was the only one who could figure out how to open it. After defeating the lock, then activating the Remati shackle by firing Black Barty’s cannon at the Warehouse, Sykes planned to reclaim the Collodi bracelet and return to the Sanctum, leaving behind his chair and an artifact nuclear bomb.
Surprisingly, aside from getting killed by the portal during his attempt to return to the Sanctum, Sykes’s plan seems to have gone swimmingly. He opened the portal, got his bracelet, and destroyed the Warehouse, killing Mrs. Frederic and H.G. in the process. The only catch is that Artie, Myka, and Pete survived the blast, and Artie has a pocket watch that may have the ability to turn back time (I’m assuming). So we left the season on a devastating note, but with a small glimmer of hope.
I’m not really sure how I feel about the final reveal. I’m all for undoing the destruction of the Warehouse, but I don’t think I’m down with undoing the deaths. At the very least, Jinks needs to stay dead. The series has to have stakes. I know it is often a light-hearted romp, but the show has never been mindless fluff with no consequences. The character’s emotional states are nearly always taken seriously, and the effects of actions and choices are deeply felt by the characters and the audience. If the writers just undo all of the massive damage they inflicted in this two-part finale, it is going to be a lot harder for me to invest in the show going forward. You don’t get to emotionally wreck me, and then just make it all better by hitting the reset button. If you want me to invest in your characters and your story enough to be devastated when you fell a team member, then you need to follow through. Carry the weight and make the damage stick.
That said, given the massive scale of the carnage that occurred in this finale, I can live with a certain amount of resetting. But there still has to be a cost. And, in my opinion, it should be Jinks. Jinks’s death will carry the most weight going forward, because Claudia, Pete, and Myka will collectively continue to feel his death the most keenly. And given Claudia’s belief that the Regents treated him as nothing more than a pawn in a war they were too scared to fight themselves (putting her in direct conflict with Pete’s mother), Jinks’s death seems to have the most story potential going forward.
Moreover, I think it is time for the audience to truly understand “the cost” of being a Warehouse agent. We’ve gotten a lot of talk about how dangerous it is to be agent, and how many friends, partners, and subordinates Artie and Mrs. Frederic have lost over the years, but we’ve never really experienced it except through guest characters or characters we haven’t truly come to care about. Jinks is different. He’s an agent we came to know and care about. He’s extremely important to another agent we love. Losing him has tremendous impact. I’d hate to see that impact undermined.
Overall, ‘Stand’ was a strong season finale, but not quite as emotionally powerful as ‘Emily Lake.’ The opening and closing moments were quite affecting, but the larger part of the episode felt more like solving a puzzle than an emotional journey. Let’s see what Walter will do next and how the team will ultimately defeat him. Let’s watch Walter force H.G. and Pete to threaten the people they love. Let’s watch Walter spew years of bitterness at Jane, while she tries to talk him down. How will Leena survive her encounter with Marcus? Except for a few moments with Claudia and the closing moments with H.G.’s sacrifice and the destruction of the Warehouse, I just didn’t feel as connected to anything that was happening. I was just going along for the ride to see how things would resolve. I guess Jinks’s death had such a huge impact on me that anything less than a truly life or death circumstance seemed inconsequential. (And, no, Myka in the chess chair didn’t count.)
My biggest quibble with the episode was that Pete and Myka seemed to have a number of easy opportunities to take Sykes out before things went so far. Why didn’t one of them just shoot Sykes in the head as soon as he called them into the sanctum? I know he was controlling H.G. and had her pointing a gun at Myka, but surely a head shot would have disrupted his hold on her enough to keep Myka safe. They were certainly close enough to make the shot. Or why couldn’t have Pete or Myka just physically overpowered H.G. after putting down their own guns? Does being controlled by the riding crop give one superpowers? Pete had a couple good chances to rush H.G. before Myka went into the chair. It just seemed like all the pain and loss at the end could have been so easily avoided!
Seeing Claudia’s agony as she held her dead partner’s hand had to bring back some incredibly painful memories for Myka. Is it any wonder she had to keep focused on the task at hand to keep herself from falling apart?
Pete: “Myka, Steve is dead. How can you just be business as usual?”
Myka: “Because if I don’t, I will lose it. So you need to help me.”
I’m glad we got to see Artie and Mrs. Frederic securing Jinks’ room in the deceased agents vault. “It doesn’t get easier, does it? To lose a fellow agent?” A nice bit of continuity, and a good reason to bring the watch back into play. Plus, seeing that Steve kept a picture of himself and Claudia in their Civil War re-enactment gear made me smile. Then sniffle.
Mrs. Frederic: “Are you angry?”
Artie: “Does it matter? There’s always a cost.”
Mrs. Frederic: “The Warehouse has always endured, Arthur.”
Thank goodness the video on Steve’s lighter drive was able to give them a lead and turned out to be the key to Marcus’s undoing. I’m down with accepting his death, but a senseless death would have been much tougher to process.
Pete and Myka casually discussing very private Warehouse business on a Farnsworth in the middle of a relatively full plane seemed extremely incautious and very ill-advised.
About the only character that managed to sustain real emotional heft throughout the hour was Claudia. Every scene she was in oozed with the pain of losing Jinks.
Claudia: “Let’s face it, Jane. This was never about the good of the world, was it? This was about your guilt. You made Walter Sykes.”
Jane: “No, Claudia. I tried to prevent Walter Sykes from being made. If we’d gotten to the artifact in time ----”
Claudia: “But you didn’t, and he became a psychopathic killer. And now all you care about is fixing your mistake, no matter who gets hurt --- or killed ---- along the way.”
Claudia: “I see you and the Regents for what you really are: cowards. Steve was worth a thousand of you.”
I wish they had gone for a few more shades of grey with Jane’s role in causing Walter’s condition. Claudia gave voice to the notion that Jane felt guilty for creating Walter, but I don’t think she really did. Maybe she felt remorse for not acting quickly enough, but she never had to truly question whether she made the right call. With Sykes or with Jinks. Both she and the audience can easily brush Claudia’s comments aside as nothing more than a grieving woman who’s lashing out and misplacing blame for her loss. I know Warehouse 13 isn’t really the kind of show to question the validity of the heroes’ mission, but I guess I can’t help longing for a more ambiguous approach to the actions taken in the service of the “greater good.”
Marcus: “I’m impressed.”
Mrs. Frederic (deadpan): “Imagine my delight.”
Why did Marcus wait to kill Leena? To lure Mrs. Frederic to the B&B?
Marcus: “You have no idea what’s about to happen.”
Mrs. Frederic: “Oh, but I do.”
Did she? Did she know that the Warehouse was going to be nuked? I don’t think she did.
We learned that, yes, Marcus was the living dead, being kept alive by a metronome. Creepy. Even creepier was Claudia wanting to use the metronome to bring back Steve. “I’m tired of arbitrary rules.” Hasn’t she ever watched Buffy or Supernatural? The dead never come back right. If this horror does come to pass, I hope it is only for an episode and that she learns her lesson by the end, because much as I hate to lose Jinks, I don’t want him back as the undead.
I was a bit tweaked by Walter saying he wanted Jane to feel the pain of having something she loved ripped away. She already has, you nimrod! Her beloved husband was killed in a fire! She knows that pain all too well. Didn’t you do your research?
Myka: “You did say that we’d … go out together.”
Pete: “I always figured we would.”
Artie: “Not me. I was planning on outliving both of you lunatics.”
Another affecting parting moment for Myka and H.G. And the Warehouse. “I smell apples.”
So, did Mrs. Frederic die because she hit her head, or because the Warehouse died? I’m thinking the latter.
If the pocket watch does undo all the carnage and damage we’ve just witnessed, I’ll at least give the writers credit for using an “out” presented in an earlier episode. Way to make past continuity work for you!
Final Analysis: This season has had a number of episodes that ranged from “meh” to “not great,” but these last two have been very strong. I hope the writers use next season to take things forward from this point and don’t just hit the reset button.