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Eureka: H.O.U.S.E. Rules

... in which Carter becomes fed up with business-as-usual in Eureka and threatens to quit, prompting S.A.R.A.H. to take steps to avert disaster.

This was a strong follow-up to the events of ‘Purple Haze,’ giving several key characters the chance to air their dirty laundry and begin the process of reconciliation. First up, Carter decides to indulge his own feelings of resentment and bitterness by throwing himself a pity party (which only seems fair after everyone else got to do it in the last episode). Henry’s imminent departure, Stark’s apparent victory in the battle for Allison, and Carter’s growing sense that his efforts to protect Eureka don’t make a damn bit of difference have left him feeling angry, depressed, and cranky. Unfortunately, Carter lives in a smart house designed to bond with its owner, so his grumblings about getting out while the getting is good sends S.A.R.A.H. into panic mode and she takes Carter, Allison, Beverly, Fargo, Henry, and Stark (and an ill-fated pizza delivery guy) hostage to force them to work out their issues.

For my money, the confrontation between Stark and Henry was the highlight of the hour. Their debate about the struggle between discovery and results was fascinating, and both sides had some insightful and persuasive points. I love that it not only illuminated their history and relationship, it tackled a core issue at the heart of the series: are the compromises necessary to keep the town going worth it? Or has the town lost its way? Are these people making a difference, or is the road to hell paved with their good intentions?

We already know where Henry stands on the issue. He believes Global Dynamics has become a slave to results, turning noble ideas into weapons and perverting the ideals upon which Eureka was founded. Moreover, he’s deeply disappointed in Stark --- the best and brightest of his former students --- for abandoning his potential and becoming a soulless administrator. “You could have furthered science, in so many ways.” But Stark is equally disappointed in Henry for failing to recognize that “You don’t get to do what you do, unless someone like me does what I do.” Stark hasn’t abandoned his scientific ideals to further his career objectives; he just believes his talents are best used running interference for the idealists. He believes that, on balance, the work done in Eureka does more good than harm, and feels utterly betrayed that Henry wants to leave. Especially after he fought to bring him to Eureka, over strong objections. By the end, the two men reached a sort of d├ętente, but Henry still plans to leave town. Sigh. I don’t want him to leave, but it clearly wasn’t a decision he reached lightly, and I’m glad it wasn’t so easily reversed.

Other Thoughts

I noticed in the “previously on” clips, that when Stark said “I’m supposed to ignore that Mayberry’s hitting on my wife?” Allison responded “soon-to-be ex.” That response was not actually in the previous episode, which painted a very different picture of their status.

After Allison and Stark’s climatic Section 5 embrace last week, I was a bit surprised to see her once again making flirty overtures to Carter. I guess Beverly is right about her: she really can’t make up her mind about the two men in her life.

Of course, the more we get to know Stark, the more we see that he and Carter aren’t all that different. They may not be able to stand each other, but deep down, what drives both men is a strong desire to make a difference in the world. No wonder Allison can’t make up her damn mind.

I loved S.A.R.A.H using scientific data and criminal statistics to sway Carter from potentially “bad investments.”

S.A.R.A.H. (re: Baja): “Criminals are rarely apprehended and prosecuted.”
Carter: “Huh. Sounds familiar.”

Once again, I enjoyed the Jo and Taggart dynamic. Their initial paintball game was pretty funny, especially since it left them covered in fluorescent paint for the rest of the episode.

Boy, when Carter indulges his cranky side, his diet goes all to hell. Beer with cereal and Meaty Meat Pizza with extra meat and triple cheese. Yikes!

Stark reaching over and slowly sliding the beer away from Carter was really funny.

S.A.R.A.H.: “Nathan? What are you doing Nathan?”
She really did go “H.A.L.” on them!

Henry (laughing at the irony): “I’m leaving Eureka because I’m tired of watching noble ideas be turned into weapons. And here we are at the mercy of a weapon that had been turned into a noble idea.”

It was nice to see Fargo getting a win for a change by figuring out how to defeat B.R.A.D. with unconditional surrender. At least, until Beverly ruined it by accidentally revealing that they surrendered under false pretenses.

Fargo: “It was a war games simulation program.”
S.A.R.A.H.: “Shall we play a game?”
All: “No!!!”

Final Analysis: A strong episode focused on personal relationships and the fallout of Henry’s decision to leave town.

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

5 comments:

  1. This episode was my favorite, at least so far. The character interaction in the house, Jo and Matt Frewer doing an assault in paintball gear, loved it.

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  2. Hey Jess, great review :) I watched this episode a while ago, really loved it then, and enjoyed revisiting it by reading your take on it. Although the computer house taking over thing has been done before, I thought the way they did this was interesting as well as funny. The tip to War Games and 2001 was nice as well. Fun stuff!

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  3. I enjoyed it but I think there should have been more consequences. SARAH killed a guy (yes, in a red shirt), but this doesn't get much weight. In general this show is better about that, and it's something I appreciate.

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  4. Just when I was thinking that a house like S.A.R.A.H would be fun to live in...

    I did like all the resolution, but Allison's dithering is becoming a bit old. Beverly's right in that she needs to make up her mind, commit, and move on.

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  5. It is the meaty-meat pizza with extra meat that sells this episode. If this was an option on the menu at any pizza place I'm thinking about 25% of all guys would order it. It is the little details like this that really made this show fun.

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