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Eureka: What Goes Around, Comes Around

...in which random electromagnetic pockets begin wreaking havoc all over town. Meanwhile, Zoe learns that she’s been accepted for early admission to an undergrad pre-med program at Harvard.

So Season 3 draws to a close with a focus on relationships and another round of “life is short, seize the moment” talk (which is apparently code for “I think we should have sex”). It turns out that, yes, all the business with Zoe searching for her path in life was a prelude to sending her off to college. Her impending departure unleashes a host of conflicted emotions for Carter, Zoe, and Lucas, and inadvertently kicks off the disaster-of-the-week, when Lucas tries to prove he is worthy of a recommendation for early entry to MIT so that he can leave with Zoe. Plus --- because his day wasn’t crappy enough --- Carter learns that Tess has been offered an incredible job opportunity in Australia and may be leaving town, just when their relationship is starting to get serious.

I’m struggling a bit with what to say about this one. I liked it well enough. For the most part, it didn’t actively irritate me, so it was a definite improvement over ‘Have an Ice Day!’ The conflicts and the disaster-of-the-week were rooted in character, and I liked the thematic unity of Carter’s world being figuratively turned upside down just as Lucas’s device threatened to reverse the Earth’s poles and literally turn the world upside down. I was also happy to see several seemingly random plot elements ultimately tie into the disaster and its solution (Zoe’s departure, Nemesis, Martha, and the neural muscle remote). We even got some very poignant moments at the end with Carter and Zoe. It was a good, solid episode.

But, at the end of the day, it didn’t really feel like a finale. And it certainly didn’t feel like a rousing finish to the season. Instead, ‘What Goes Around, Comes Around’ just felt like a typical, mid-season disaster-of-the-week episode, which happened to coincide with the end of Tess’s and Zoe’s time in Eureka. The real issue, I suppose, is not so much this episode, but the lack of a strong arc for the back half of the season. After a very strong first eight episodes centered around the Eva Thorne story, the remainder of the season has floundered a good bit. It initially seemed like they were going to build an arc around a potential alien encounter, but for the first four episodes “building the arc” amounted to little more than ominous remarks about an extra-terrestrial signal and preparations for the arrival it heralded. There was no there there. Then, surprisingly, we got three very strong episodes centered on the ship’s arrival and the emotional fallout for Henry. ‘If You Build It …,’ ‘Ship Happens,’ and ‘Shower the People’ were engaging and affecting, and suddenly the season had a real sense of momentum. Unfortunately, this momentum was completely squandered in the final three episodes. After Kim’s data was downloaded and she died, the ostensible arc just ended. Instead we got a clip show and a few passing references to the downloaded data. Tess remained a presence, but nothing really came of Kim’s arrival or her sacrifice besides some loose inspiration for a lovelorn Lucas. Seriously? Sigh. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, given that this is the same creative team that mucked up the end of Season 2 with gross mischaracterization, but after such a strong start to the season, I can’t help being disappointed in how directionless it became down the home stretch.

But let’s not end on the negative. The closing scene between Carter and Zoe was a real emotional highlight of the episode, and a wonderful way to send Jordan Hinson off into the world. (I wonder if Zoe’s leaving because Jordan wanted to reduce her workload or branch out into new projects. Perhaps she wanted to go to college herself?) I got quite choked up watching the goodbyes between father and daughter, partly because it felt like a genuine parting between the two actors. There was so much true emotion leaping off the screen as she said she was really going to miss the town and he hugged her and told her she was going to do great, that it was nearly impossible not to be moved.

Carter: “I am gonna miss you, like crazy. But I am sooo proud.”
Zoe: “Well, you know, if I hate it, I can come back.”
Carter: “You can come back, even if you don’t.”

Other Thoughts

So Julia’s still around, huh? And here I thought she was redacted. It’s really weird that we haven’t seen or heard about her in eight episodes, and then she just shows up like she was never gone, with absolutely no mention of her ethics violations.

Larry: “Some things should not be messed with. Like the laws of physics!”
Jo: “For once, Larry makes a fair point.”

Carter: “So, the laws of physics are in peril. My daughter’s moving out. And the world’s coming to an end?”
Jo: “I say, have the muffin.”
Carter: “I’m gonna have the muffin.”

Carter (to Tess): “I love it when you talk nerdy to me.”

The conversation about Larry’s fembot cracked me up! The looks on everyone’s faces were just hysterical. “Maybe she’s just not that into you.”

I was rather peeved with Tess when we found out about her job offer in Australia. She’s right that when she got the offer, it didn’t have anything to do with Carter, but she never should have forged ahead with a possible relationship when she knew she might be leaving town. It was horribly unfair to Carter, and I’m glad he called her on it.

Carter (walking in on Fargo and Julia in flagrante delicto): “And now, my perfect day is complete.”

I was surprised Jo’s cell phone worked both times she got caught in an electromagnetic anomaly. If the interference shut down the car, wouldn’t it hinder cell phone operation, too?

Since her arrival, we’ve gotten several references to Tess being a blond. Zoe is a blond. I always think of Tess as a redhead. I guess you could consider her a strawberry blond, but “blond” is not the first label that pops into my head when I see her on this show. Maybe I just think of Jaime Ray Newman as a redhead.

Colin Ferguson is such an amazing physical comedian! I was so impressed with his work when Tess was controlling Carter’s movements in Lucas’s garage. “Oooh! Oh, I don’t like this at all!”

I’m going to assume Zoe’s departure took place a few weeks after the events of the main plot. Because Zoe was supposed to be leaving for school at the end of the semester, not the next day. And it would have taken time for Lucas to get accepted for early admission into MIT.

Zoe: “Thank you.”
Carter: “For what?”
Zoe: “For never giving up on me.”
Carter: “That was an option?”

Are we to assume that Carter’s phone call with Allison (following his pointed “I think sometimes change is good” comment to Jo) was meant to drag the old Allison-Carter thing back to the fore? I suppose I can live with that. It’s not like he’s going to leave Eureka anyway. And Tess pretty much made her choice when she decided to take the job.

Final Analysis: An enjoyable episode with a poignant send-off for Zoe, but a weak finish to a fairly directionless back half of the season.

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

1 comment:

ChrisB said...

You absolutely nailed this review, Jess. You commented on all the issues I had not only with this episode, but with the third season as well. Not as strong as the earlier seasons, but there was some good character growth that I enjoyed watching.

I'm sorry to see Zoe go. I kind of get it as her role was never very clearly defined, but I like watching Jack in dad mode.

I'm not at all sorry to see Tess go. Her romance with Carter always felt forced to me and the whole job thing was annoying.

Another great season of reviews, Jess. Thanks.