Eureka: Family Reunion

... in which an overhaul of the Cryogenics unit reveals that Fargo’s missing grandfather has been frozen for the last fifty years. Meanwhile Jo and Zoe try to uncover the identity of the mystery woman to whom Carter is sending flowers.

Well, after several strong episodes, we got our first underwhelming episode of the season. I’m always eager to explore our characters’ pasts, so I love the idea of learning more about Fargo’s family and Carter’s youth, but I wasn’t overly impressed with the execution or some of the story choices in ‘Family Reunion.’ Pierre struck me as rather bland compared to Fargo, and the primary mystery of what had happened to him was fairly predictable (Androv was too obvious, so “old friend” Charlie immediately floated to the top of my suspect list). Obviousness isn’t anything new for Eureka plots, but in this case the humor and character touches that often make episodes so enjoyable were largely absent and weren’t able to make up for the predictability. Plus, the extremely dark turn in the Carter subplot was too stark a contrast with the relatively light touch of the rest of the episode. The show often manages to balance serious events and character developments with completely outrageous comedy, but this particular twist didn’t work for me, despite the loose “the past always catches up with you” theme.

What were the writers thinking when they decided to burden Carter with this depressing bit of backstory? Doesn’t the guy already have enough baggage with the failed marriage, losing his alternate life with Allison, having his mind-wiped, and being duped by his “best friend” Henry? Eureka (at present) certainly has a dark and serious undercurrent running through it, but for the most part, Carter and his misadventures trying to save the town from itself are the comic centerpiece of the show. Weighing him down with the guilt of inadvertently causing his girlfriend’s death as a teenager just seems far too bleak for this character. Did the writers think he needed some Big Reason for being so uptight about teaching Zoe to drive? Because it was fine for him simply to be a nervous, overprotective dad. Did they feel he needed some Deep, Dark Motivation for being such a stickler for people taking responsibility for their actions? If so, I think it was completely unnecessary. I have never questioned why Carter feels so strongly about making a difference and ensuring justice is served. He’s a cop and he’s a good man; that’s enough in my book. Not all characters need to have dark tragedies motivating their choices and actions. This isn’t NYPD Blue or Rescue Me.

On the flip side, we learned that Fargo comes from a long line of seemingly cursed screw-ups, which informs the town’s general attitude towards him. “Trust me, nobody treasures Fargos.” Or at least, that’s what everyone thought before defrosting his grandfather and learning that, although ill-fated, Pierre was the real genius behind the scientific advances pioneered by the town’s Albert Einstein. Moreover, he was a stand-up guy who never would have run away from his expectant beloved, Belle. While I didn’t find this particular plot terribly engaging, the developments it yielded are great for Fargo, and I hope the discoveries about his grandfather’s brilliance gives him the self-confidence to reach beyond everyone’s underwhelming expectations for him. I also hope it gives our favorite Eurekans pause, and maybe makes them look at Fargo with new eyes. He’s an incredibly smart and talented young man --- even if he does have an abundance of annoying character traits --- and it would be nice to see him develop into something more than everyone’s favorite punching bag (even though he’s pretty entertaining in that role).

Other Thoughts

We did get some nice follow-up on Carter’s anger toward Allison over her betrayal in the last episode. Although I think she was projecting her guilt a bit, too.

I couldn’t place Fargo’s grandpa while watching, so I looked Tygh Runyan up on the web and realized he recently played Dr. Caine on Stargate Universe. Doh! I totally should have recognized him.

Carter: “Is anyone curious as to how he got in there?”
Stark: “He’s a Fargo. Are you really surprised?”
Fargo: “I am standing right here.”

Global Dynamics got a team to the moon in 1962, but didn’t go public until 1969. Tee hee!

Pierre: “I’ve seen the way people treat you around here, and getting fired could be a blessing.”
Fargo: “True.”

We got some nice beats between Henry and Nathan and learned a bit more on Henry’s investigation into Kim’s death. He now believes that Beverly and whoever she works for sabotaged Kim’s equipment to prevent Stark and Kim from learning more about the Artifact. I guess Carter is no longer the only one Henry blames for Kim’s demise.

I thought it was cute when Eugenia and Irvin got together in Season 1’s ‘Dr. Nobel,’ but Pierre and Belle reuniting was a bit saccharine for my taste. Way more “gack!” than “awww ...”

Final Analysis: Not a strong episode, and I really didn’t care for the completely unnecessary revelation about Carter’s past, but it was a nice “win” for Fargo.

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

4 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Total agreement, Jess. It's been awhile since I saw this one, but I remember thinking that Fargo senior's reaction to what happened to him wasn't anywhere near what it should have been. Oh, okay, I'm suddenly a whole lot older and most of my life is gone without my having experienced it, but at least I have my honey. Uh huh. This should have been a better episode.

Victoria Grossack said...

I think Pierre, when he woke up, was still obsessed by the same things that had obsessed him when he was put under: Belle and his research. I don't think the loss of years had hit him yet.

I was glad that Carter was not so ready to forgive Charlie the criminal. He was tactful about it - "It's not up to me" - but you could tell that he thought the crime was serious.

Jess Lynde said...

Thanks for reading and for commenting, Victoria! It's good to know the series is still being enjoyed, and new perspective is always welcomed. You make a good point about Pierre perhaps not really processing the loss of years right away.

Plus, I always enjoy getting comments on episodes I haven't seen in a long time, because I invariably have to read through the review to remember what the heck happened in the episode, and that always serves of a nice reminder of how much I enjoyed the show. Despite the assorted ups and downs, it is a great little series.

ChrisB said...

I was surprised by Carter's backstory and, like you, thought it was a tad dark and, ultimately, unnecessary.

But, the final shot of Fargo with a huge grin on his face was worth the price of admission.