Eureka: Phoenix Rising

... in which an eclipse coincides with a series of deaths by spontaneous combustion.

‘Phoenix Rising’ was a strong season premiere, resetting the stage in many ways, while still building on the events of the first season finale. I didn’t initially find the central mystery terribly engaging, but I loved the way the overall story allowed us to explore the emotional fallout of Kim’s death and Henry’s attempt to save her. Then, Carter realized the deaths were directly linked to the events of the finale, and the story as a whole became a lot more compelling.

The twist with Kevin is incredibly unsettling. Is the seemingly dead Artifact the real phoenix of the title? Has its energy gone into Kevin? If so, was this an accident that occurred because he was with his therapist and “the man downstairs” when the Artifact blew? Or, was this the intended result of a Section 5 project? Man, that’s a disturbing thought. I wonder if maybe this is linked to Kevin’s ability to reproduce Walter’s equations back in the series pilot. Whatever was going on between Kevin’s therapist and the scientist studying the origins of the Artifact, Stark doesn’t seem to know anything about it. I hope that’s true, because after he cheated on a drug trial to protect Kevin, I’d hate to think he’d betray Allison’s trust and risk Kevin’s safety all for the sake of understanding his precious Artifact.

As disturbed as I was by Kevin’s clay model of the dead Artifact, I was even more distressed by the twists with Henry. Apparently, he’s going to try to save Kim again --- consequences for the universe be damned. I hate what Kim’s death has done to Henry. His turn to the dark side certainly makes for a good story, but I love the kind, idealistic, and caring man we originally met in Season 1. It is crushing to see him degenerate into a bitter, angry man, all too willing to compromise his ideals for selfish ends. What’s more, I hate to see the friendship between Henry and Carter unraveling. How awful was it when Carter accused Henry of murder, or when Henry smashed the mind-wiping device and angrily swore never to forget Jack’s role in Kim’s death? I understand why Henry feels the way he does, and a mind-wiping reset for both men would feel like a cheat, but it pains me to see their wonderful dynamic destroyed. I wish things were different.

Generally, I’m not a fan of “the reset button” at all, but I did like the way the story built to a reset for Carter. It was fun for awhile, seeing him make temporal dislocation boo boos --- like being overly familiar with ‘Ally’ or forgetting Zoe’s age --- but as events continued to diverge from the timeline he remembered, it became increasingly difficult to watch him struggle with the changes. By the time he confessed his pain and sadness at watching the woman he loved slip away, my heart was breaking for him. I wanted Henry to mind-wipe him, if only to spare him that anguish. That said, I was glad we got a small hint that maybe he hasn’t been completely wiped when he took the book of sonnets.

Other Thoughts

Allison replacing Stark as director of Global Dynamics should prove very interesting for both characters and their relationship. I look forward to seeing them take on new roles.

Assuming Stark stays, of course. I can certainly see why he’d be tempted to leave. He’s been demoted, apparently his divorce has gone through, the Artifact still holds a powerful sway over him, and his guilt over Kim’s death is weighing heavily on him. Time and distance from Eureka probably seems quite attractive at this point. However, while he may not be up to the challenge of running Global --- “With everything that’s happened, I don’t even think I could do the job anymore” --- he still has a lot to offer and I’d like to see him flexing his science muscles for a change. Henry seemed to accept Stark’s apology, and I think those two would make an interesting team (in spite of Henry’s questionable endgame). I hope Stark stays.

Zoe: “You hooked up with a guy, whose age difference with you is the same as me and my dad.”
Jo: “That did it. Thanks.”
Really? Is that the end of Jo and Taggart? If so, that’s kind of disappointing. I enjoyed the slow build of their relationship in Season 1, and will be ticked if Zoe’s “perspective” puts an end to things.

Is Carter confused about which Henry he’s dealing with, or did Future Henry jump back from four years in the future, too? (Is that why it took four years for the alternate timeline to start falling apart?) Carter was acting like Henry had all the same memories he did, but this is not the Alterna Henry we saw for most of ‘Once in a Lifetime.’ Rather, it’s a version of Henry that suffered over Kim’s death for four years while trying to reassemble the tachyon accelerator, and now he’s had to lose her twice. I guess it isn’t really surprising that he’s so angry with Carter.

The pile of human flesh? Gross. The pile of human flesh exploding on Jo and Carter? Horrific.

Henry: “Intellectually, I know that you had to prevent me from saving Kim, but emotionally ... I blame you for her death. I can’t look at you without thinking you’re the one who did this, that you’re the one who took her away from me. [...] And I will never forget.”

Bear McCreary is doing the music for the series now. Awesome! I like the new end credit music.

Final Analysis: I’m rather unnerved and upset by some of the twists, but ‘Phoenix Rising’ was a strong start to the season.

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

4 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Wow. And I repeat, wow. The Henry/Carter thing with the memories
really got to me.

inspirejenny said...

i am watching the series through netflix and just finished this episode... i am such a fan of henry and carter's friendship that i found myself really disturbed at the idea that henry is holding carter responsible vs. stark or global. i hate that he was all sweet to carter at the end yet he really is filled with rage.. now carter has no ally and no henry.. that guy needs a break!

Victoria Grossack said...

I love the relationship between Henry and Carter too. Carter earned a great deal of Henry's respect when he showed his practicality in suggesting that they take out the batteries from something (I think the pilot).

But Henry is brilliant, absolutely brilliant, in a way that Carter is not, and so while Carter may feel that he can share everything with Henry, this feeling is not reciprocated.

ChrisB said...

This one got to me as well. I gasped when Henry destroyed the thingy.

I was interested in Carter's confession to Henry. Did he love Allison before the second timeline or did he fall in love with her during it? Either way, my heart broke for him.