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Warehouse 13: Trials

... in which Myka works her first case since returning to the Warehouse, and Claudia gets to tackle her first assignment as “senior agent.”

Hmmm ... I’m having mixed feelings on this episode. Things to really like, and things that didn’t work for me at all. Where to start?

On the positive side, I liked most of the core character elements, and was elated that they continued to address the emotional fallout from Myka’s decision to leave instead of just jumping back into business as usual now that she’s back. It’s only natural that Myka would have fears and doubts about still being able to do the job, and about Pete’s faith in her. Just as it makes perfect sense for Pete to act like everything’s okay, when he really has some subconscious abandonment issues and resentment towards her. I loved how Pete falling victim to the artifact was used to expose these underlying issues, and force him and Myka to deal with said issues. Pete and Myka’s conversations in the hospital were probably my favorite part of the episode. Joanne Kelly nicely played her interactions with Young Pete, especially Myka’s realization that she had basically abandoned Pete, just like everyone else in his life. The subsequent apology scene was a genuinely touching moment between the partners, and a perfect way to start moving beyond the damage caused by her sudden departure.

Myka: “We’re partners, Pete. And I should never have left the Warehouse without talking to you first. All this time, I thought that you had something to say to me, but you don’t have to say anything. I do. And I think we both need me to say it. I’m sorry.”
Pete: “Thanks.”

I also rather liked the character work with Jinks and Claudia this week. It was quite fun to watch Claudia embarrass the heck out of herself with Jinks, and I always love it when the writers explore the real emotions at the core of the Claudia and Artie bond. Of course, Claudia would be excited about her first “solo” case, but nervous about letting Artie down. As she said, he’s done so much for her and she just wants to make him proud of her. I was rather devastated for her when she discovered Artie spying and interpreted it as him not trusting her to do the job well. But it was all worth it to get the reassurance, direct from the horse’s mouth, that he is proud of her and was only spying because he’s a proud papa who wanted to be there to see his girl working her first case as the lead agent. Even better was him leaving before the job was done to truly convey his trust in her abilities. “You’ve got this. I trust you.” I love the snark and teasing between those two, but what I really treasure is the emotionally honest moments between them.

We also got to learn some new things about Jinks this week, while he got a real taste of the difference between ATF agent and Warehouse 13 agent. In addition to being a human lie detector and a Buddhist, we now know that Jinks is a guy who likes action, guns, catching bad guys, and guns (yes, he lamented the absence of guns twice). And, oh yeah, he’s gay. I’m not entirely sure he was being honest when he revealed this personal tidbit to Claudia. His reaction to her grabbing his hand at the end (coupled with Myka’s voiceover commentary about the world having love) could be interpreted as a brewing interest. I wonder if he lied, just to quickly diffuse the awkward direction the conversation was going at that moment. If he was being honest, it’s an unexpected but interesting choice for the character, but I kind of hope he lied. I’m digging the irony of no one being able to lie to him, but him choosing to lie to all of them. Gives him some more interesting shading than they’ve seemingly given him thus far.

On the flip side, a number of things about the episode just didn’t work for me. The artifact-of-the-week cases were fairly bland and, except for Pete, I didn’t find myself engaged by the plights of the artifact wielders or their victims. I also didn’t really care for Myka’s voiceovers, or her introspective monologuing with the Regents.

The first case was the was the more engaging of the two, and actually challenged us to figure out what was going on, who was doing it, and why. Once Pete was affected, I suspected the lawyer, but had no idea how or why he’d be sabotaging his own case. I also considered the Nancy Grace wannabe, but certainly never suspected the best friend’s mom. That one came out of left field, and until they revealed her son as the true killer (which I also never suspected), I couldn’t fathom why she would do such a thing to her son’s friend. So, a fairly unsatisfactory resolution to the basic mystery, but at least we got a nifty artifact in the bifurcated pairing of Walter Winchell’s tie clip and cuff links being able to pull information out of people (and then put it back). Typhoid Mary’s knife being able to transfer the wielder’s disease or injury to another person was pretty clever, too.

Unfortunately, neither case managed to engage me on an emotional level when it came to the artifact users or most of the victims. We were far too removed from the players to be invested in their circumstances or their pain, and I found myself rolling my eyes when we learned why Larsen had stolen the disease-transferring knife. Yes, not even the man who used the artifact to save his dying son was enough to move me (and I’m notorious for crying easily at these things). It was far too schmaltzy, and the sentiment was absolutely unearned. The creative team can do this kind of story so much better. Anyone remember ‘Resonance’ from Season 1? That episode presented a really affecting tale of people using an artifact for a noble purpose, and I remember being quite moved by the resolution. I’d really like to see some cases this season where the writers make me actually care about the artifact wielders or their victims, instead of just using them as a backdrop to the character stories.

Now, I know that sounds a little crazy coming from me, because I’m usually all about the case-of-the-week being used to explore character. I just like to see the two parts of the show better integrated. As opposed to, say, Claudia and Jinks start working a case, then have an unrelated but introspective conversation in the car, then get back to the casework. Nothing about the particulars of the case, other than it being Claudia’s first chance to be the senior agent, led to the introspective conversation. It just sort of happened, then they got back to working the case. This approach makes the plot feel disconnected from the characters, and I’m not terribly keen on it. I want cases-of-the-week that (1) make me care about the particulars of the case and the people involved and (2) strengthen character development and relationships for our core characters.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I want “interior monologue” voiceovers to start popping up every week. I really didn’t care for the way the writers used that device this week. It felt far too clumsy and heavy-handed, as well as wholly unnecessary. Particularly the opening monologues, which I’m assuming were supposed to reflect her actual private thoughts (whereas the stuff at the end was her trying to explain herself to the Regents). Just seeing Myka watching everyone through the glass door, and her subsequent nervous interactions with Pete and everyone else, were enough to give us an understanding of her state of mind and her concerns about getting back into field, particularly her fears about possible lingering issues in her partnership with Pete. The subtext was very evident in Myka’s face and body language, and we didn’t need the interior monologues to spoon feed us her feelings.

Other Thoughts

I liked how the title reflected the goings on in Pete and Myka’s case, as well as Myka’s trial period and Claudia’s “first solo case” trials.

Myka: “The world is such a scary place. The most innocent objects can cause destruction and mayhem. A person sees enough of that, maybe they decide they don’t want that much responsibility anymore. A person might think walking away --- okay, not a person. Me. I left. Life or death all the time, it was too much. But as a wise, and also psychotic woman recently told me, you can’t walk away from your truth. So, I’m back. Am I ready? The life or death thing, it never goes away. The world is a scary place. First day back. I guess we’ll see.”

I guess my wacky theory about Myka coming back to help H.G. was off base, and H.G. telling her not to “walk away from her truth” is all it took to get her to come back. Sigh.

Claudia: “Myka, thank goddess. Leena and I were being outnumbered by Team Sausage-fest here.”
[Grossed out groaning all around.] “That’s disgusting!”
Claudia: “What? You all eat crap for breakfast, it’s nice to finally have a healthy eater back in the mix.”

Kind of loved Claudia’s “senior agent me" dance.

Artie (to Jinks): “Come back with the artifact, then tell me it’s too easy.”

Claudia: “We don’t go after bad guys in our job, we go after artifacts. You want to kill a bad guy, maybe you go after the guy who made this ceramic clown.”

Myka (to Pete): “I just think, even if it’s hard, you can say anything to me.”
I totally thought he was going to tell her he didn’t like her new hairstyle. I’m not used to it yet. It still looks weird and unnatural to me.

Claudia: “No, it’s cool. I’ve actually been waiting for an opportunity to feel this mortified with myself, so … huzzah!”

Even before getting zapped, Pete seemed a lot more subdued this week. Fitting.

Claudia: “Yeah, I wanna make him proud. You don’t know how good to me he’s been. I can’t let him down.”
Jinks: “You think he would have sent you out here if he wasn’t already proud of you?”

Claudia: “You know, I’ve never had a gay friend before. Which is weird, if you think about it, ‘cause I’m sorta fabulous, right? I mean, I guess there was Pequito at the institution, but he was just one of Susan’s personalities, so I don’t think he really counts.”

Artie: “I’m still proud of you.”
Jinks: “I just told her that, too.”
Claudia: “It means more from Artie.”
Jinks: “Fair enough.”

Myka: “The world has joy in it. When you find a place that allows you to experience that joy, when you find people that make you feel safe and loved, like you belong, you don’t walk away from it. You fight for it. […] I just had to prove to myself that I could do it. There’s pressure in any job, I like this one.”

Myka (re: Pete): “He’s an extraordinary partner. Please don’t tell him I said that.”

Final Analysis: A bit of a mixed bag this week. Some great attention to the lingering emotional fallout from Myka’s recent decisions, as well as some solid character work that I really enjoyed. But I wasn’t overly impressed with the cases-of-the-week and I didn’t care for the voiceover narrative device.

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

2 comments:

  1. i second the loving of Claudia's "Sr. Agent Me" dance... so funny.. I also thought it was nice how Myka told pete we was a sweet kid... i like that she got to see a little more of where he was coming from...

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  2. Great review, Jess. I'm in two minds about Jinks. I love Aaron Ashmore, but they way they're introducing us to his character seems a little heavy handed to me. It's too much tell and not enough show. Particularly with regards the Buddhism and him being gay. Both just seemed to come out of nowhere. Other than that, I'm so pleased the show is back on and that you're reviewing it. Good job.

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