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Eureka: Right as Raynes

... in which Callister Raynes --- a beloved computer programmer who left Eureka after a fire destroyed Stark’s lab --- returns, just as the town begins experiencing a series of electrical hiccups.

I really liked this episode. Not only did it completely shock me with the revelation that Callister was an artificially intelligent being (“OK, not where I thought this was going”), it did an amazing job of deepening Stark’s character. Last week, we got a glimpse at the softer side of Stark, with his genuine concern for Allison and her son, but ‘Right as Raynes’ gave us a far more complete picture of the man within. We’ve come to know Stark as a focused and demanding leader; a self-assured and incredibly smart guy who does what it takes to protect the interests of Global Dynamics, even if those actions sometimes require operating in some morally gray areas. This episode initially trades on that image to make us think that Stark is up to something sinister with Callister, but then flips our perceptions on their heads and reveals that Stark does, in fact, have a moral compass. Despite being driven by a desire to push the boundaries of scientific knowledge, he doesn’t believe in advancing our technological superiority at any cost. “I wasn’t about to let DARPA turn him into another military project.” I was incredibly moved by how far Stark went to protect his “son,” and his pain at losing him. Their final scene together was just heartbreaking.

Callister: “What’s gonna happen to me?”
Stark: “Remember what Alan Turing said?”
Callister: “He figured God could give a computer a soul if he wanted to. Do you think that’s true, Dad?”
Stark: “I know it is.”

It looks really cheesy written down, but damn if Ed Quinn didn’t sell the hell out of it. I cry every time I watch it.

This episode also did a great job exposing the lingering issues between Carter and Zoe. Their friction is usually played for laughs, but underneath it all are some serious abandonment and trust issues. It was good to see them really put their cards on the table instead of burying their feelings beneath sarcasm, snark, and Zoe’s typical teenage rebellion crap. (The red hair was horrible.) I was floored by their confrontation at Beverly’s, which was very well played by both Colin Ferguson and Jordan Hinson. Jack’s anger and Zoe’s distress and fear were very palpable and entirely believable. I actually got excited when Zoe subsequently told Vincent she said she wasn’t going to let her dad send her away. I thought (like Vincent, no doubt) that she was going to take a stand with him and refuse to leave. That she wanted to face and deal with their issues. But no. She was just pulling a “you can’t fire me, I quit” move. Sigh. At least they got to have some honest conversation at the bus station. “Zoe, you’re my daughter. And I will never, ever be done with you,” was a much needed moment for both characters.

Other Thoughts

It’s funny. Just after I decide I’m on Team Stark, they start pushing the Carter-Allison connection even harder with the “this could be our thing” coffee bit and the extremely awkward magnetized fence scene. (I was fairly mortified for Carter in that scene.) But I’m still rooting for Stark. They’ve turned him into a genuinely sympathetic character now, and, quite frankly, I think he needs Allison more than Carter does.

So the coffee at Café Diem is free? Is everything there free? Zoe doesn’t pay for milkshakes, apparently.

Jo: “What happened between Callister and me was private.”
Carter: “Yeah, I gathered that from the way you handled it so discretely in a very public café.”

I loved Carter using Fargo’s Sarah Michelle Gellar doll against him. Nice callback to ‘Many Happy Returns.’

Allison: “Why keep him a secret? This has to be one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of the modern age.”
Stark: “So was the atomic bomb. Doesn’t mean the world was ready for it.”

The scene between Stark and Carter in the car was very nice. “I’m a father. Of course I understand.” An honest-to-God, authentic moment between the two. Whoa.

Jo: “Just my luck, right? All the good ones are either gay, married, or robots.”

Final Analysis: A powerful episode that really dug into the Carter-Zoe relationship and brought even more depth to Stark.

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

4 comments:

  1. I really disliked Stark at the beginning of the series, but he was starting to grow on me at this point.

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  2. Loving the reviews on Eureka back-episodes. I plowed through Seasons 1 and 2, and do enjoy coming back and reading your reviews. This too was a great episode for me...and yes, that scene with Stark and his "son" dying really got me. Well done by both actors.

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  3. Just when I think I have a found a lovely, light little show, along comes an episode that makes me cry into my coffee. A lot of tears, by the way.

    All the emotion was handled so well. Not OTT or maudlin, but very real and very on point. The further development of Stark was beautifully done.

    I am completely Team Carter (sorry, Jess), so that scene at the fence made me grin like an idiot.

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  4. No apologies necessary for being Team Carter, Chris! This is one of those situations where I may have rooted harder for a particular coupling, but I never bore any ill will towards Carter. He's wonderful, and has great chemistry with Allison, too. So I totally get it.

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