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Eureka: Founder's Day

...in which Carter, Allison, Henry, Jo, and Fargo suddenly find themselves stranded in Camp Eureka in 1947.

Well, that was an exciting way to kick off the new season! The trip back in time was marvelously entertaining, and the return home to a slightly altered future was even better. Much as I loved the sepia-toned jaunt to the past, my favorite part of the season opener really was the revelation that their present had changed. Eureka typically resolves this kind of story over the course of an episode, and rarely do we get lingering consequences of this magnitude. But here we got a fantastic mix of stunning, devastating, awkward, and wondrous changes that promise to provide great story fodder going forward.

As many of you know, I started watching the series with season four, so the first time I saw ‘Founder’s Day,’ it was more of an entertaining joyride, with very little emotional impact. But watching it again, having now seen the entire series, I found myself very emotionally engaged, especially by the developments for Jo and Allison.

Jo’s story took me from giddy happiness to confused frustration to crushed devastation. I absolutely adored Zane’s proposal! It was so sweet and romantic to go back to where it all began, with the jail cell and the lingerie and calling her “Jo Jo” (we haven’t actually heard him call her that since they first met). I was grinning from ear to ear! Until, of course, she froze. I knew it was coming, but now that I know their backstory, Jo’s lack of response really ticked me off. I get that the writers wanted to twist the dramatic knife at the end, but Jo freezing in that moment strikes me as very out of character. Sure it has some ironic parallels with past events (remember when she flipped out because Zane froze after she hinted that things were getting serious?), but I cannot believe that after two years together (it seems about a year has passed in Eureka since the Season 3 finale), and the degree of intimacy we saw them develop over that first year, that she’d be anything but over-the-moon and gushing “Yes, yes, yes!” in that moment. This is the woman repressing an inner, romantic girlie girl who loves weddings, remember? It just bugged the crap out of me that she hesitated to say yes in any way. Of course, that didn’t stop me from being completely devastated when she did say yes in the end and New Zane laughed in her face. What a gut punch.

The twist in Allison’s reality, on the other hand, was a thing of stunning, amazing wonder. I think we saw Kevin once in season three, but we well know from those first two seasons that one of Allison’s deepest desires is to have a connection with her autistic son. It is a source of tremendous guilt, because she loves her son unconditionally, but she can’t help wishing he was “like any other normal kid.” She briefly forged a stronger connection with him while he was connected to the Artifact, but had to sacrifice that connection to save his life. Knowing the pain it caused her to lose that connection, it just made that moment when Kevin came down the stairs acting like a completely normal teenager all the more powerful. And Salli Richardson-Whitfield played Allison’s stunned confusion beautifully. Great, great stuff. Allison’s certainly not going to want things to go back to the way they were!

But what about Carter? He just broke up with Tess, and he seemed pretty down about it for most of the hour, but he also seemed to accept that it was the right thing for their relationship. Does he really want to get back together with her now? Especially after that “just for luck” kiss with Allison! And is she even the same Tess? She seemed a bit different to me. I’m not sure where I want this story to go. I liked how the Tess and Carter relationship developed last season and was somewhat game to see how the long-distance thing worked for them. But given that we never got to see any of their time apart, I’m feeling fairly apathetic about their breakup. Maybe if the breakup sequence had actually been included in the episode instead of a few snippets getting tacked on to the “previously on” clips, I’d feel a bit more invested in Tess and Carter. As things stand at the moment, I think I might be cool with him throwing Tess over and finally getting together with Allison.

Other Thoughts

Apparently it’s been about year since ‘What Goes Around, Comes Around.’ Allison’s hair is much longer and her daughter, Jenna, looks to be about a year or so.

According to pre-time travel Carter, Zoe is supposed to be coming home after finals. So perhaps we’ll be seeing Jordan Hinson soon.

Kevin’s back! He’s older and being played by a different actor.

Carter: “Same Eureka, different day.”
Kevin: “Day’s not over yet.”

So, for me, one of the biggest lingering questions from this episode is whether Autistic Kevin knew what he was doing when he fiddled with the bridge device. And if he sent everyone back on purpose, then why? Something related to knowledge he retained from his Artifact-bonded time?

Henry is now married to Grace Monroe, one of the volunteers who helped organize Founder’s Day. I imagine being suddenly married to a woman he doesn’t know at all is going to present some unique challenges for Henry.

I found James Callis’s “American man of the ‘40s “ accent incredibly jarring at first. Not only was it quite the change from Gaius Baltar (Battlestar Galactica), it just wasn’t a very good American accent. But it improved a bit over the course of the hour. Although, I could do with a few less “sweethearts,” “dolls,” and “sports.”

Bear McCreary is now listed as the show composer in the opening credits. Huzzah! I really enjoyed his score for this episode. Just a lot of fun and flair, mixing up some great Big Band elements with some “film noir” panache. I particularly liked the ‘40s version of the theme music over the title block.

Jo sure knows how to make an entrance. “So much for keeping a low profile.”

Allison: “OK, this is really bad!”
Carter: “Yeah, for them. [As Jo kicks and punches the living daylights out of a bunch of soldiers.] She’s small, but she’s really scrappy.”

Allison has certainly developed into a much more believable leader since Stark’s death. She was practically oozing competent leadership when trying to save the injured soldier.

The part where Fargo told Jo he arrived from the future like a Terminator made me laugh out loud. “Give me all your clothes.” I loved that they went with “show, don’t tell” in this instance. Hilarious!

Henry’s excitement regarding their predicament was thoroughly delightful. “Man. Amazing, isn’t it?”

So, apparently we can now transfer physical matter “on a closed timeline curve.” All you need is a tremendous amount of negative energy, a Lorenzian wormhole, and a bridge device. OK, then. So how long until the alternate timeline changes result in the destruction of the universe? Per the Season 1 finale, that could take years to happen. Or is that not a danger here, since the time travel creating the changes was different? Should I really be expecting consistency?

Loved the shot of Carter right after he punched out Ryan in front of Grant and Allison. Wearing Grant’s hat and jacket, he looked very much like a dashing man of the ‘40s.

Allison (to Carter): “Look, I would rather us be stuck here together than leave either one of us alone.”

Final Analysis: A great way to kick of a new season! Tremendous fun, with lots of great story potential going forward. Plus, James Callis!

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

5 comments:

  1. I, too, would like the show to address a number of open questions before it ends: What was Kevin thinking when he activated the Einstein Bridge? What role, if any, did the Artifact play in the trip back to 1947? Will Carter ever recover his memories of the first trip (S1) through time? If Kevin was not exposed to the Artifact (S1) why does Jenna still exist? Allison's overarching concern for Kevin led to a number choices which made her re-connection with Nathan possible (a fact which I still dislike even though it's now moot)

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  2. That said, Founder's Day completely renewed my interest in this series. From the last third of season two through all of season three (three point 'oh' and three point five) Eureka lost most of what made it fun for me. In fact, I stopped watching at the end of S2. Tediously formulaic plots; unrecognizable characterizations(of Allison especially, but to a lesser degree Carter and even Jo) and any connection to the fun and mystery of the first season was all but lost. Carter's emotional paralysis was necessary to delay his pairing with Allison and her (inexplicable) choices. . .well, don't get me started. The backstory and potential of the Artifact, dropped; the need to (holographically) cloak GD and its operations and purpose from the outside world, dropped; Kevin, MIA; I could go on. With its combination of heart, humor and drama 'Once in a Lifetime' was for me the best episode of the series. Founder's Day went a long way toward restoring the best Eureka has to offer.

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  3. I like good time travel stories, and this is probably my favorite episode of Eureka. At the very least, it's in my top five.

    Anonymous, I agree that Eureka is often inconsistent, and I wish they hadn't dropped some plot threads. But I always find it fun to watch.

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  4. Jess, you have reminded me that I need to get back to my own Eureka catching up - I too started with Season 4 and went back to the first 3 seasons when you started writing about them. I can't remember where I left off, however...
    It will be interesting to re-watch this one after having completed 1-3.

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  5. While I agree that this episode was a fun romp, I am a bit frustrated at the time reset. It felt to me as though the writers were desperate for where to take the story and chose this plot device to stir up drama.

    Henry married? Zane and Jo broken up? Tess back just when Carter and Allison are coming together? All seem a bit convenient.

    Not to mention, I am a bit upset about Kevin's change. I know several autistic children and I would imagine a show in which a child with this challenge is suddenly able to connect to his mother would be difficult for those families to watch. This particular change felt lazy to me.

    I'm willing to go along for the ride, mostly because I have been waiting for Allison and Carter to come together for some time. But, a disappointing opener for me.

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