Warehouse 13: The Greatest Gift

... in which the untidy Warehouse strikes again, as Pete inadvertently gets whammied by a falling artifact in the Aisle of Noel, causing him to be erased from history.

It’s tempting to think ‘The Greatest Gift’ is an ode to the importance of Pete. In a world without Pete, Artie’s rotting in prison, Claudia’s plotting revenge in the nuthouse, and Myka is spending her holidays alone and buying gifts for herself, having lost her dad years earlier. Without Pete, the Warehouse is ruled by an iron-fisted and ill-intentioned dictator, and protected by joyless minions who follow orders without question. In short, if Pete was never born, it’s not a wonderful life. All hail Pete!

Yes, it’s tempting to view the episode this way. But for me, this episode isn’t really about the individual; it’s about the importance and strength of the community --- of our Warehouse family. Pete is one element in that family, and, as we see, if you remove him from the equation, the family falls apart. But if you were to remove Artie, Claudia, or Myka, you’d likely get a similar result. “People’s lives are far more intertwined than we realize.” It takes all four of them, working as team, to bring out the best in each other and to accomplish great things. They ask a lot of questions, and they don’t always follow orders very well, but when they team up, they can be a brilliant, unstoppable force. Once Pete got them all working together in the alternate reality, they were able to bust Claudia out of the psych ward (“Shebangy!” “Shebangy two!”), then break into the Warehouse. Every single one of them contributed to the success of the mission --- Artie brought his knowledge of warehouse history; Myka, her vast trove of literary knowledge; Claudia, her hacker skills; and Pete, his vibes --- and they largely seemed to enjoy the thrill of victory (especially Myka).

But, as Pete tells Claudia, it isn’t just about snagging and bagging the artifacts. Saving the world isn’t what really brings happiness and meaning to their lives (although that helps). No, what really brings joy and contentment is the makeshift family they’ve formed. “The three of us, we’re your family, too. I’m like your big brother, and Myka’s like your big sister, and Artie’s so much like your dad it’s kind of annoying.” It’s the love and support they provide for each other, the recognition and appreciation of each other’s skills and accomplishments, the affectionate teasing, and the general pleasure in each other’s company that truly brings them happiness. That’s what Pete so desperately wanted to get back, and that’s what keeps us coming back for more. Because much as I enjoyed Pete’s efforts “to get the band back together,” it was the opening and closing scenes, with the team’s playful banter and their obvious delight in just spending time together, that made me the happiest.

Other Thoughts

For a stand-alone holiday episode, this one still did a pretty nice job of touching on some of the themes from Season 3. MacPherson’s distrust of the Regents was particularly interesting, given that our heroes spent much of Season 3 becoming increasingly at odds with their overlords. “I spent three years looking for a way to appreciate the work that you and the Regents do.” “And?” “I couldn’t find it.” I can’t help thinking that this reminder of the strength of our core team --- especially when flying in the face of authority --- may be setting the stage a little for things to come.

Claudia: “Artie, I am not going to allow you to go to Vegas with Dr. Vanessa wearing your usual symphony in brown.”
Artie: “Brown is slimming! I like brown. And, if I wear that in Vegas, they’ll think I’m a croupier.”

Loved, loved, loved Myka inviting Artie to spend the holidays with her, then casually pointing out that Hugo would have plenty of fun with Dr. Vanessa in Artie’s absence. It’s the squinty-eyed grumbles they exchange that really makes the moment!

I really enjoyed all the references to characters past. Not only did we get the return of MacPherson (and briefly Myka's mom), but we got lots of fun references to Hugo, Dr. Vanessa, Artie’s dad, Claudia’s brother, and H.G. Wells. Jinks even got a quick shout-out at the end, so we can safely assume this took place somewhere in the middle of Season 3, sometime after Myka returned, but before everything went to hell and Jinks got “fired.”

We also got several repeat artifacts and gizmos, including DeMille’s riding crop, the samurai sword of invisibility, the crystals that neutralized the Warehouse-activated poison, and mention of Shakespeare’s Lost Folio, the blood stone, and Poe's pen. And I’m sure some others I missed. “Have you noticed the smell of fudge, when there is no fudge?”

Pete’s holiday dance in the Aisle of Noel was classic! (Don’t tell anyone, but I do that, too.)

The leg lamp from A Christmas Story! Yes!

So, John McCain becomes President if Pete doesn’t exist? Now that’s a weird butterfly effect.

Pete: “Because the Myka I know, my Myka, she’s surrounded by people who love her.”
Myka: “People love me!”
Pete: “Who?”
Myka: “People! My secretary gave me this pen for Christmas. It’s Mont Blanc!”
Pete: “You bought that for yourself.”
Myka: “No I didn’t! … So what if I did? How do you know that?!”

Pete: “Okay, look, I know it sounds bad. Living in South Dakota, working at a warehouse with an emotionally stunted partner. But my Myka loves it!”
Myka: “And why is that?”
Pete: “Because she knows the world is full of endless wonder.”

Myka: “Let me be perfectly clear: I know places where people would never find your body.”
Pete: “Deal. I’ll even dig the hole.”

After Pete’s struggles to get Myka to help him, I absolutely loved how Artie immediately believed him and sussed out which artifact had whammied him.

Claudia: “What do you want me to do?”
Pete: “Break into a large depository filled with mystical artifacts located in the South Dakota badlands?”
Claudia: “Warehouse 13? I’ve been trying to hack into that place for years. One condition.”
Pete: “Name it.”
Claudia (indicating Artie): “When we’re done, I get him.”
Pete: “Deal.”
Artie: “Hey!”
Pete: “Relax! She shocks you all the time. It’s your thing.”

The fun of watching the Myka and Claudia discover the Warehouse’s world of endless wonder was really infectious. I found myself getting as giddy as Pete when Myka started to really have fun discovering the Warehouse and a happier place within herself.

Favorite bit of new Warehouse mythology: the reveal that the Warehouse has been using the Earth’s super-heated core to power its furnace since 1943.

One of the major drawbacks of alternate Artie and Claudia was that we didn’t get as much fun banter from them throughout the episode. We got great stuff at the beginning, but the distance in their relationship in Pete-less world kind of put a damper on their usual dynamic. Far too much bite, not enough affection. Although, we did get them clasping hands in the bronzer. Awww!

Leena: “It’s the worst blizzard in South Dakota history.”
Claudia: “Nobody’s getting out. Not even ---“ [Points at Mrs. Frederic.]
Mrs. Frederic: “It’s that bad.”

Oh no, he didn’t! I can’t decide which was the worst offense: MacPherson bronzing Mrs. Frederic or Pete hugging her at the end. Hmmm … “I kinda crossed the line there, didn’t I?” “And we won’t speak of it again.”

Of course, they were settling in to watch It’s a Wonderful Life. They had to be, right?

Final Analysis: Hilarious, a bit dark, and kind of depressing, but ultimately heartwarming. Good stuff, overall, and much more satisfying than last season’s holiday outing.

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

6 comments:

CrazyCris said...

DEFINITELY much better than last year's in my opinion! I had so much fun with this... was great seeing McPherson again! And of course Artie figuring everything out immediately? Of course he would!

It's a nice tide-over until the summer... Me wants some more WH13 soon please!!! :o)

(but it would have been nice to see Jinx...)

Celtic Marc said...

Excellent review Jess !

Ah ! ANOTHER awesome ep of an awesome show that gets better and better all the time.

(FYI, I did love Myka's laugh at the beginning of last year Xmas show after throwing the snowball at Pete)

So ? season 4 ? W13b or 14 ? To be continued...

Billie Doux said...

Terrific review, Jess. A good Christmas episode done well. And I usually don't like take-offs of It's a Wonderful Life.

Jess Lynde said...

Thanks guys! Glad to hear you all enjoyed this year's effort as much as I did. Sorry it took me so long to get the review up!

Mark Greig said...

Great review, Jess. I'm like Billie, I usually don't have much time for It's a Wonderful Life take-offs, but I did enjoy this one.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful episode, and a great review. Nice to see McPherson again, even if he's still a bad guy. He's so good at it.

Anna