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Eureka: Insane in the P-Brane

... in which Allison appoints an old friend as the new head of (the recently reopened) Section 5. Meanwhile, one of GD’s top theoretical physicists comes to believe he can contact the spirit world.

‘Insane in the P-Brane’ was a semi-amusing romp designed to introduce a new character who’s going to factor into the half-season arc and to incrementally advance Lexi’s story. The various subplots were loosely connected by a “reconnecting with old friends and loved ones” theme, but there wasn’t much depth to the episode. It almost seems silly to expect deeper meaning and subtext to ponder in a Eureka episode, but the creative team has delivered that so many times in the past that I guess I get a bit disappointed when an episode ends and all I really have to write about is plot points and funny quotes. But there you have it.

Meet Tess Fontana, our newest addition to Global Dynamics. She’s an elite astrophysicist, although one who’s not terribly respected by the larger scientific community, seemingly due to her cavalier and entirely unfiltered personality. “You talk a lot.” Tess pretty much says whatever’s on her mind, no matter how random or potentially insulting. However, she also happens to be an old schoolmate of Allison’s, so she can still get a primo gig like Head of Section 5 at Global Dynamics. It also doesn’t hurt that she used to work at SETI and, thus, has experience searching for and/or interpreting extraterrestrial signals.

Oh, and in case you somehow managed to miss all the incredibly obvious telegraphing, she also seems destined to become a love interest for Carter. Man, did these two spend a lot of time all up in each other’s personal space, or what? It seemed like they were constantly being forced into physical contact or intimately close situations. First, he tackled her to save her from the flying espresso machine. Then she tripped and fell into his arms. Next, she hugged him to prove they weren’t dead. They were practically on top of each other every time they stepped on that portable dimensional travel device. Carter had to physically restrain Tess from trying to help H.J. when he was getting cooked on the device. Finally, she ended up lying in his arms on the road after they reentered our dimension. OK, I get it! They have romantic chemistry! What’s next? Are they going to get tangled up in a net together? Sheesh.

On the Lexi front, we got to meet her baby daddy and spend an hour watching her fret and equivocate. Sigh. Look, I get why Lexi would be nervous about revealing the truth to Duncan, especially given how advanced her pregnancy is. It is completely understandable that she’d have fears about making him feel trapped or being stuck in a relationship with a man who may only be with her because he knocked her up. But this kind of story drove me nuts back when I watched the soaps, and it drove me nuts here. Just be honest, then deal with the fallout! At least we had Zoe trying to act as the voice of reason. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave ...” And, fortunately, Lexi finally came clean in the end. Now Duncan can go have his freak out, and then the two of them can address their situation. I’m sure he’ll come around soon enough, and then they’ll head back to the Third World together to raise their kids and help people. And they lived happily ever after. The end.

Other Thoughts

Even though it tied into the resolution of the fifth dimension problem, I largely found Murray Drechmeyer’s attempts to contact “the other side” as tedious and irritating as Allison seemed to. The campiness just seemed way over the top, even by Eureka standards. I did get a good chuckle out of Madam Drechmeyer (who looked like either Murray or Nathan Lane in drag), but for me the best part of this thread was seeing Agent Pendrell (Brendan Beiser), my favorite Scully-worshipping nerd from The X-Files. As a man obsessed with the paranormal, no less! It made Tess’s crack about Murray being “Dr. Spooky” that much funnier.

I’m familiar with Tess from later episodes of the series, and was surprised by how dismissive and unfiltered she was in this episode.

Tess: “Well, the universe does things for strange reasons, but my gut tells me explaining that you could be kind of a time suck, so …”

Whatever happened to Carter’s last girlfriend, Callie? She and Carter showed up together at Zoe’s party in ‘All that Glitters,’ presumably returning from their weekend getaway, but then we never saw her again. And she hasn’t been mentioned since. Did the weekend go that horribly? They seemed friendly enough at the party. I wasn’t invested in their relationship, but it seems strange that she just vanished without a trace. I wonder if she’s still running the dry cleaners.

Murray: “My TIRD-meter is going wild.”
Vincent: “Hey! So is mine. [Whispers to Carter] He’s scaring people. Do something.”

Mary Beth: “We weren’t romantically anything. We were married for 12 years. He was more interested in his ghosts than he was me.”

Tess: “Wow. That’s like the Rolling Stones of astrophysics.”
Allison: “You think you can handle them?”
Tess: “Start me up.”

While I mostly didn’t care for the Lexi subplot, I was amused by her roping Fargo into her lies, especially when her plan backfired and Fargo hit it off so well with Duncan. Tee hee!

Carter: “If we’re not ghosts, then could it be the … the, uh … the cashmere effect?”
Tess: “Overpaying for a sweater, are we?”

I find it very hard to believe that “communication” is one of Tess’s fields of expertise. She doesn’t seem to understand social etiquette or the benefits of thinking before you speak at all.

Tess: “You’re smarter than you dress.”
Carter: “Yeah. [Confused] What?”

I’ve watched the episode twice now and I still don’t understand what “the fifth dimension” is in this ‘verse. Is it just an adjacent dimension? Is it the theorized empty space that’s actually “teeming with fleeting particles and electromagnetic fields”? It reminded me of when Ensign Ro and Geordi La Forge were “out of phase” on Star Trek: The Next Generation (‘The Next Phase’). But being “out of phase” in the Eurekaverse just means you can walk through solid objects (see ‘Phased and Confused’). I don’t get why you’d want to travel to the fifth dimension as presented here. To spy?

Strangely, while hammering us over the head with the Tess-Carter romance signs, this episode also continued to play up the connection between Allison and Carter. “I thought I was dead and I couldn’t communicate with anyone ... except you.” Are we headed for another triangle? Ay de mi!

Final Analysis: This was a decent enough introduction to Tess, but her adventures with Carter in the fifth dimension felt a little flat to me. Plus, they are pushing the Tess-Carter thing way too hard.

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


  1. So there is now nothing to keep Carter and Allison apartment (except for a period of grief, of course), so they introduce a new love interest for Carter? I find this sort of thing pretty irritating, too. Tess is okay. I don't hate her. I don't like her all that much, either.

  2. I agree Billie. Any show with romantic tension seems to prolong the inevitable way longer than necessary. Chuck was even worse than Eureka.

    The only show that I've enjoyed that tension in was La Femme Nikita. Michael and Nikita being together was as much an act of defiance for them as it was love. And Operations and Madeline's motivations for keeping them apart were equally plausible. The dynamic wasn't perfect, but it was a helluva lot more interesting than what many current shows throw our way.

    Thanks for another great review, Jess. Season premiere is tomorrow night!


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