Eureka: Season 4

I’m new to Eureka. From the promos, I’d always thought the series looked like great, quirky fun, but it just didn’t intrigue me enough to add it to my summer viewing schedule. This year, however, the addition of James Callis and the promise of a time travel story resulting in big changes proved too alluring to resist, and I decided to give the show a whirl. I’m very glad I did, because Eureka turned out to be the summer show I most looked forward to every week.

The “previously on” clips and the altered reality conceit made it surprisingly easy to get up to speed with the series. Within two or three episodes (and a little help from Wikipedia), I knew the characters and their relationships pretty well, and I grew quickly attached to the Eureka-ites, their eccentric town, and the wackiness that ensues there. The show makes me smile and laugh on a weekly basis, and the main characters are all very appealing. However, my favorite aspect of this season has been the continuing focus on the personal fallout from the timeline changes. It seems rather ridiculous that personal relationships and job responsibilities for a few characters are the primary differences in this altered reality, but these subtle changes have been so interesting to explore that I've decided to overlook the hinky time travel mechanics.

Most “sci-fi lite” shows would resolve a situation like this within one or two episodes, so I’m immensely impressed that the changes appear to have become the new status quo for the series. Even better, I really appreciate that they haven’t shied away from the emotional complexity of the situation for everyone. I love that the “Eureka Six” (to borrow a phrase I’ve seen in other reviews) didn’t find themselves in a clear cut “We have to go back!” situation. Allison and Henry have stakes in this reality, and at this point likely wouldn’t want to hit the reset button. Because of his relationship with Allison and Kevin, Carter, too, has a stake in this reality (since he’s been reassured that Zoe and his relationship with her haven’t been substantially altered). Now that Fargo is becoming more comfortable with his new role as head of Global Dynamics, he also has a stake in this reality, and may not want to go back. At this point, only Jo seems to have substantial reason to want to go back. She got an awesome promotion, but she lost her love and her house, and life in general has been pretty miserable for her since arriving in Eureka 2.0. If they do get a chance to change things, I can easily see her leading the charge.

I’m curious if that’s the direction the season is headed in. Will this reality remain the new status quo, or will things revert at some point? I’m not really sure how I feel about the latter. I’ve become invested in the characters in their current roles and relationships, and I don’t think I want things to reset. And as noted above, at this point, I doubt most of the characters would want the reset either. Which, of course, probably means the endgame is to restore the old timeline, since losing everything gained in this reality would lead to more angst and some great storytelling opportunities. When the series returns, I'll be tuning in to find out.

Other Thoughts

I like James Callis as Dr. Grant. At first, I was completely thrown by his different accent and by his “man of the ‘40s” lingo. I adored his performance as Gaius Baltar on Battlestar Galactica, and his change in accent for this role was quite jarring and tended to throw me out of the moment for the first episode or two. But I quickly got used to it and came to really like the character. I especially liked that after the initial “wow” factor wore off, he experienced a good deal of regret about his decision to come to the future (his scene with Henry, while working to restore the bridge device, was particularly strong). I was very sad to see Grant leaving town at the end of the summer season. I hope he returns.

Erica Cerra has been doing outstanding work as Jo. My heart really breaks for Jo. I don’t have any previous investment in her relationship with Zane, but watching her cope with the devastation and loss really makes me want those two to get back together. I want to see her happy and enjoying her new job as head of GD security.

Of course, I'm partially rooting for Jo and Zane because I want the Zane and Zoe pairing to end. It is creepy. She’s a freshman in college, yes? She should be dating college guys and he should be dating a grown woman. I can’t believe Carter hasn’t ripped him a new one. Maybe he’s waiting for Jo to do it.

While the overarching character issues are my favorite part of the series thus far, I have largely been enjoying the “malfunction/disaster of the week” plots. Even though the “mysterious” source of the shenanigans is sometimes painfully obvious. (Who didn’t immediately realize that the bee-calming ray gun was responsible for the rage zombies in ‘All the Rage’?) My favorite disasters of the season were the oxygen build-up during the rocket race (‘The Story of O2’) and the people turning to stone (‘Stoned’). The robots getting overly emotional in ‘Momstrosity’ was kind of fun, too. Especially Deputy Andy falling for Sarah, Carter’s house computer.

By the way, I love Kavan Smith as Deputy Andy. I always enjoyed him as Major Lorne on Stargate: Atlantis, and am endlessly amused by his robotic chipperness in this role.

I like Carter and Allison together, but wish that Stark really had returned in ‘The Ex-Files.’ It could have been a very cool twist to have someone else from the original timeline suddenly appear. Then again, I’m sure all those Carter and Allison fans out there are tired of constant obstacles to their relationship and were much relieved when Stark turned out to be a minor psychological bump in the road.

I found Henry’s dilemma with Grace fascinating. I give him lots of credit for coming clean after he realized he was falling for her. It probably wasn’t the most logical decision, given that he violated his own warning to the others about the need for discretion and could have screwed them all royally, but I respect him for wanting to be honest with Grace before really embarking on a relationship with her. (I was kind of surprised that the others didn’t give him grief for outing their secret.) I was glad to see that, after Grace’s initial hurt and devastation, she and Henry started finding a way back to each other. Henry’s ‘She Blinded Me with Science’ attempt to woo Grace was my favorite moment of the season. I was grinning so hard in that scene that my face started to hurt.

My second favorite moment was the ridiculous zombie chase in ‘All the Rage.’ It was very cliché, but the way it was shot just made me laugh. And I loved that it was actually Fargo’s idea. Wil Wheaton was great fun in that episode, too.

Biggest disappointment: the crossover appearance from Warehouse 13’s Claudia ('Crossing Over'). I adore Claudia, and had to laugh when she greeted everyone with “Whassup, bitches?” but she and Fargo being all over each other just felt sophomoric and nauseating. It was slightly less irritating than his visit to Warehouse 13, but that’s not saying much. I just wish they had focused more on Claudia’s innate coolness and tech abilities (she’s such a natural fit for Eureka!) and less on her romantic entanglements.

Final Analysis: Eureka is every bit the fun and quirky show I always suspected it was, but Season 4 also offers surprising character depth and emotional complexity. I’m thoroughly delighted that I started watching, and eagerly anticipate its return.

Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.

4 comments:

Josie Kafka said...

Jess, what a fabulous review. When I heard about this season's time-travel twist, I though I'd give Eureka a try, but I worried I wouldn't be able to catch up. Your review not only reassured me, but made me want to watch it.

Jess Lynde said...

Thanks, Josie! I definitely encourage anyone who may be interested in starting Eureka to just jump right in with Season 4. Like I said in the review, it was very easy to catch up and I don't really feel like I've missed much of anything not having seen the first three seasons. I'll probably go back to fill in the blanks at some point, but in the meantime, I'm finding the show quite enjoyable.

mcihem55 said...

I have to say, that it is worth it to go back and watch the first three seasons, it really is an enjoyable show -- interesting (although farfetched) things always seem to happen, just a whole lot of fun :o) If you have Netflix, I believe that you can watch the first seasons right online ... also, because of the big time line reset - if you go back now and watch those earlier seasons, this season will not spoil much of what has already happened for you.

Josie Kafka said...

I did it! After much dithering and some forgetfulness, I got around to watching this season. Just in time for the second half that starts on the 11th, too.

I liked it, for all of the reasons you mentioned it. The show is a bit episodic for my taste, but it's quite pleasant to watch, the characters are fun, and I've started to develop some pretty strong loyalties.

I hope Jo finds someone soon. She needs somebody to rub her feet at night. Maybe Fargo?