Eureka: If You Build It ...

... in which town residents begin building a mysterious device out of a random assortment of items while in a trance-like state.

Yea! We finally got some honest-to-goodness forward momentum on the half-season arc! Plus, a doozy of a cliffhanger that left us with some genuine fodder for speculation! Woo hoo! Of course, I’m pretty much flummoxed by the final reveal of the episode, and haven’t a blessed clue what’s going on, but I’m very, very eager to find out. It was incredibly difficult to not dive right into the next episode before reviewing this one.

So, what the hell is going on here? Zombie Zoe tried repeatedly to reassure Carter that everything would be OK, and said the device was “helping a friend.” Who’s the friend? And how did an advanced spacecraft capable of high-velocity space jumps and mind-controlling the masses end up with United States markings? Where did the ship come from? Are we back to time travel and tears in the space-time continuum? And why the hell does Henry suddenly seem to be in the know? As soon as he heard the device was a “Boson cloud exciter,” he had some sort of realization and immediately took off for the landing site. He knew what he would find on the underside of the craft. But how? Is this arrival linked to something from his past? Did Henry suddenly remember something from previously living through these four years? (Fat chance, I know. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the writers pretending all the timeline tinkering and mind-wiping from Seasons 1 and 2 never happened.) So many questions and so many fascinating possibilities.

Unfortunately, this intriguing A-plot was countered with a substandard and rather annoying B-plot featuring Fargo, Larry, and Tabitha, the A.I. for Fargo’s car. I might have enjoyed this subplot if it had actually attempted to delve into Fargo and his relationships a bit deeper. They could have explored the way Fargo’s social awkwardness leads him to develop significant relationships with artificially intelligent objects instead of people. They could have tied the story into his recent romantic connection with Julia, and potentially told a poignant story about him giving up artificial relationships for a real human connection, or something along those lines. But instead, all we got was some superficial “Fargo realizes he should treat his car better” nonsense, with some cat-fighting with Larry and allusions to Christine thrown in for “fun.” The whole thing essentially amounted to none-too-subtle product placement for Suburu and a stalling tactic to keep Fargo’s discovery about the device under wraps until the last possible second. Incredibly lazy and annoying. Especially when they kept cutting away from the interesting part of the story to show Larry and Fargo whining in the trunk. Ack!

But let’s get back to what did work this week. I really liked the more serious tone the show took with the main plot. The junk towers and the single-minded zombie horde were incredibly creepy --- much more the “disturbing X-Files weirdness” vibe the show used to employ, rather than the “amusing Northern Exposure quirkiness” it’s favored of late. Colin Ferguson is often the comic highlight of Eureka, but this week he brought tremendous weight to what could have seemed like a ridiculous zombie plot. Carter’s concern for Zoe and his sense of fear and helplessness really grounded the episode and made the stakes feel much higher than usual.

Allison’s hardcore demeanor also helped to raise the dramatic stakes this week. She’s certainly seeming much more competent as the head of Global these days. She’s become more proactive and decisive, with very little hand-wringing and waffling in recent weeks. I’ve been really impressed by her harder edges and her seeming willingness to do whatever it takes to protect Global’s and Earth’s interests. She’s no longer the insecure woman we first saw taking over Global back in ‘Try, Try Again.’

Tess: “Al, you’re letting this guy run wild.”
Allison: “I’m doing what needs to be done.”

It’s almost ironic that after becoming pregnant --- a condition you’d expect to soften any edges and make her more emotional --- she’s become much tougher and no-nonsense. On the other hand, after losing Stark and almost losing Kevin, it’s perfectly logical that carrying a new life might make her much more steely and determined to protect her loved ones and her community. At times, the new attitude makes her seem not as compassionate as she once did, but I’m glad to see the change. Without Stark or Eva around to take the lead at Global, Allison really needed to step up.

Other Thoughts

Coming from a transportation planning background, I got a real kick out of Eureka using a high-tech, “smart asphalt” network to automate driving. Of course, it was immediately obvious it was going to cause or otherwise tie into the disaster-of-the-week.

When did Erica Cerra, Niall Matter, and Neil Grayston get bumped up from “guest starring” or “recurring” status? When the opening credits got dropped? After the mid-season break? Regardless, congratulations!

I like the slower approach they’re now taking with the Tess and Carter relationship.

Tess: “Stakeouts are fun.”
Carter: “They’re more fun with, um, pepperoni, than with, uh, organic tofu.”
Tess: “You mean, ‘thank you for the pizza’?”
Carter (smiling): “That was ‘thank you for the pizza.’”

Loved the quick little update on Doctor Suenos. He’s been doing research on a zero gravity mattress up at the space station for the last year.

It took way too long for someone to realize the non-terrestrial signal was causing the trances. As soon as Henry mentioned that a radio signal could be the cause, Carter’s mind should have immediately jumped to the impending alien arrival.

So whatever happened to Fargo’s new girlfriend, Julia? Did she get redacted after her ethics review?

Fargo (trying out names for his new car): “Shanaynay lookin’ good!”
OK. This subplot did manage to elicit a small laugh from me with this line.

For me, the arrival scene really evoked movies like E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I’m not sure there were any direct homages in the staging, but something about the lights and the field setting reminded me of those movies.

I really loved Tess’s unabashed awe and giddiness and at the prospect of meeting an alien intelligence. The perfect reaction for a woman who used to work for SETI.

Allison: “Oh my god.”
Carter: “It’s one of ours.”

Final Analysis: A solid step forward on the half-season arc, but I really detested the Fargo subplot. Such a wasted opportunity.

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

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