Warehouse 13: Secret Santa

... in which Pete and Myka head to L.A. to investigate a Bad Santa attack, while Claudia celebrates her “first time in forever” holidays with people in her life by attempting to find the perfect gifts for her Warehouse family.

This was an enjoyable episode, but not an instant holiday classic. While I appreciate that the show went for overall theme about fathers and estranged children and letting the time slip away (“Cat’s in the Cradle, huh?”), the main plot with Santa Newley didn’t really work for me. It was mildly entertaining at first, with the zaniness of Angry Badass Santa threatening the mall developer and calling him “Larry Noodle,” but by the time it devolved into the whole “rich dude who’s too busy to spend time with his kid learns important life lesson and has big cheesy bonding hug with his family” conclusion, I was groaning and rolling my eyes. Whereas the Eureka Christmas episode managed to ground its predictable and sentimental holiday lesson in the emotions of its main characters, the A-plot for ‘Secret Santa’ was based around some guy we didn’t really care about, so the resolution ended up feeling forced and cheesy instead of sappy, but still kind of sweet.

On the other hand, the subplot with Claudia, Artie, and Artie’s father was rooted entirely in our main characters’ histories and emotions, and as such, it was fun and emotionally resonant. I got a huge kick out of Claudia’s maneuvering to get Artie and his father to repair their rift. Her dual “he’s dying” lies were hilarious, especially with her brother’s exasperated background reactions. “Holy Mother of God!” And every scene between Judd Hirsch and Saul Rubinek was chock full of awesome. From their tentative awkward overtures, to hugging it out, to their angry accusations upon discovering no one was dying, to finally bonding over the annoying Gentile who reminded them of “Trudy.” Plus, they effectively managed to undercut any excess in sentimentality during the piano scene by having Artie and his father fall into mild bickering and kibitzing. “You’re ruining a perfect moment.” “You’re ruining a perfectly good piece of music.” Although, to be perfectly honest, in this case I wouldn’t have minded if they’d just let it be emotional.

Likewise, the closing dinner scene and the few schmaltzy holiday beats with Pete and Myka worked pretty well for me. I loved Pete and Myka’s usual sibling banter (“Do not eat the stuffing out of the bowl! … I don’t want your cooties!”), but I also really enjoyed their short scene discussing their relationships with their dads, and their final recognition that they were with family for the holidays. Because we know these characters and their relationship, the latter moment felt sweet and earned instead of cheese-tastic. And since they didn’t really let the sap linger too long, how could I object?

Pete: “I realized I was already with someone that I cared about and that’s what matters, right?”
Myka (smiling): “Don’t you get all mushy and sweet.”
Pete: “Oh, all right, Ophelia Tetons. Bam!”

Other Thoughts

Given how many times the ornaments for Callie were mentioned, it seemed pretty clear that one of them would turn out to be the artifact. I gotta say, I didn’t quite understand how the thing worked. It was just imbued with wish-granting powers because it was created on a special day in history chock full of unusual good will? Weird.

The holiday changes to the opening credits and the commercial cutaways were fun!

Claudia: “Poor, Artie. It must be exhausting to be that grouchy without even time off for the holidays.”

Mr. Weisfelt: “Hearing the little bastards bang out ‘Moonlight Sonata,’ no wonder Beethoven went deaf.”

I’ve often wondered: does the Warehouse Team have some kind of magical transport device? Because I don’t understand how Claudia and Joshua made it to Philadelphia and back (with a piano!), seemingly within the space of a few hours. On Christmas Eve, no less!

Mr. Weisfelt: “She’s not yours, is she?”
Artie: “God, no, no! She wasn’t even born of man. She nudged her way into existence.”

Loved, loved, loved the personalized t-shirts featuring the artifact that almost killed each of them. “Oh my god, I LOVE IT!!!” Just hilarious.

I’m assuming this episode is supposed to take place at some point during the events of last season. Of course it would have to be after ‘Merge with Caution,’ given that Mata Hari’s stockings was the artifact on Artie’s t-shirt.

Final Analysis: A fun outing, featuring an entertaining and sweet "Ardia" subplot and plenty of witty Warehouse banter, but I could have done without the predictable and overly sappy “Scrooge sees the light and changes his ways” ending for the Bad Santa story.

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

2 comments:

Paul Kelly said...

Yeah, I agree, Jess. Mucho good stuff... spoiled slightly by the lacklustre main plot. I too was a little confused as to where this episode was supposed to fit in chronologically. Last time we saw Myka she was on her way out the door.

Is the Eureka Christmas Special as stand alone as this one? I've only seen half of season one. Will I be able to follow what's going on, or should I wait until I'm fully caught up and watch it in sequence?

Jess Lynde said...

Well, the characters are clearly living in S4's altered time line (some job responsibilities are different), but the relationship dynamics are fairly generic and didn't seem in sync with the current S4 status quo. So you probably could watch it without being too confused at all. I read that they wanted to feel like it could stand apart from the S4 story lines.