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Eureka: Ex Machina

... in which Fargo and the others try to save Holly when the DoD comes to take away the Matrix hard drive.

I wanted to like this one more than I did. Don’t get me wrong, this was certainly more engaging than ‘Worst Case Scenario,’ but it still suffered from “dragging out the mystery too long” syndrome. As soon as the robotic arm started trying to smash in the glass, it was fairly obvious that Holly’s consciousness was trapped in the GD mainframe. Her status was quickly confirmed for the audience by the digital hand reaching out in the PanOp screen. But then we had to wait awhile before the characters finally caught up with us. It made all the breaking and entering and dodging laser beams action feel a bit tedious. I actually groaned out loud when Carter wondered if GD was haunted, then Zane started talking about code acting like a “ghost” in the machine. Seriously? They haven’t figured this out yet? Sigh.

Still, we did get several nice character beats as we waited for everyone to connect the dots. I particularly liked Jo trying to help Fargo through his grief. Her fretting over the memorial service details because she wanted everything to be perfect for Fargo was really touching, and was a lovely callback to Fargo’s own efforts to make the Nathan Stark Memorial Hallway perfect back in ‘Show Me the Mummy.’ (Fussy attention to detail is definitely how Fargo grieves.) Moreover, Jo’s desire to push Fargo to let go of Holly because of her own experiences with her dad was incredibly poignant and wonderfully character-based. I really loved their quiet conversation in the holding cell. It made her later willingness to defy the DoD to save Holly, despite her deeply ingrained reservations, an even more powerful testament to their friendship.

And yet, I can’t help wondering if Jo coming around is really a good thing. As sad as I was when it looked like Holly had nobly sacrificed herself to save Carter and Fargo, and as relieved as I initially was that she survived again, I’m starting to think that Holly lingering on this way is ultimately not good for Fargo. “They recovered Holly’s body. She’s gone. And it’s only hurting Fargo to act like she’s not.” Watching their bittersweet attempt to touch hands made me really sad, not happy that Fargo didn’t lose the love of his life. Long-term, it can’t be healthy for him to maintain a relationship with a holographic projection. Long distance relationships can work, but not indefinitely. Physical separation takes its toll; even the best long-distance relationships benefit from the occasional weekend together. No matter how intellectually and emotionally compatible you are, there is no substitute for being physically close, even if contact is as simple as holding hands, brushing feet under the dinner table, or snuggling together on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and your favorite television programs. Humans need physical contact, especially with their loved ones. Anyone who’s ever held their child against their cheek while stroking her hair, or hugged their partner’s pillow just to breathe in his scent when he’s away, knows this simple truth.

And on that subject, what kind of existence is this for Holly, really? It’s fine for SARAH, because she is and always has been a “robot house.” But Holly was a flesh and blood person, with freedom and independence and all that good stuff. Will life as a unique consciousness be enough for her? Does she really want to live forever as a non-corporeal being on the earthly plane?

I’m starting to wonder if we’re working towards a happy ending for Fargo and Holly after all. Will they find a way to transfer her to a clone body, or are we building up to the two of them realizing this isn’t a healthy relationship and finding a way to let go of each other? Strangely enough, at the moment, I’m kind of hoping for the latter.

Other Thoughts

So wonderful to have everyone back into their normal relationship grooves. Jo and Carter were relaxed and friendly with each other! Allison didn’t act weird and jealous around Jo! Jo and Zane acted like a couple feeling their way through a relatively new relationship! Woo hoo!

Roger Cross! I know he was our antagonist for the week, but I always have to smile when Curtis Manning (24) is in the house. And, hey, Major Shaw was way less of a dick than General Mansfield!

Nice to see Henry reprising his role as a spiritual leader, of sorts. Remember when he conducted the service for Susan Perkins way back in Season 1?

‘Car Wash’ again? Isn’t that like the third time in recent years? I wonder who on the creative staff really loves that song.

Is Grace still in Switzerland? She couldn’t bother coming home for Holly’s memorial service? Seriously? Given how much she’s supposed to care about her crew, I find that really hard to believe. No matter what her issues with Henry are.

Holly: “So what did you dedicate?”
Fargo: “Only an awesome sodium beacon for the observatory.”
Holly (dismayed): “You named a laser pointer after me?”
Fargo: “It’s for astro-imaging!”
Holly: “It’s lame!”

The weird, tinny audio in the Matrix is a very subtle, creepy touch.

The whole idea of PanOp is unsettling. It definitely had a creepy Big Brother vibe, whether it was about protecting people or not. On the other hand, given GD’s disastrous track record, I’m surprised the DoD didn’t install something like this long ago.

Major Shaw: “You miss it? Special Forces?”
Jo: “Oh, this place is plenty special.”

Holly’s voice whispering like the One Ring in response to Fargo calling out for his “Precious” was an amusing touch.

I loved that Allison, Zane, Carter, and Henry quickly believed Fargo and were willing to help. It made perfect sense after everything they’ve experienced in Eureka.

Jo: “Oh, not you, too!”
Carter: “Jo, I live in a robot house with a robot deputy. I think we should find out what this Holly thing is before we just dismiss it.”

The Power of Physical Contact, Exhibit A: When Zane knows that there’s little he can say to truly console Fargo, he offers the best support he can through a comforting hand on the shoulder. “If you need us, we’re here.” A really lovely moment between the two of them.

It has to be said: Henry’s deus ex machina solution for restoring Holly felt far too easy, no matter how fitting it was, given the title.

Final Analysis: Definitely better than last week, but I’m starting to rethink my position on Holly’s continued survival. And that makes me rather sad.

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

7 comments:

  1. Thank you for identifying who played Major Shaw! It's been bugging me since Monday, so my mind is now at ease. :-)

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  2. Shame on me.

    Because I've only watched bits of the ep yet and I've read your review FIRST. (World first)

    Agreeing with you, even if I had a very traversal (can I say that ?) viewing.

    Maybe, just maybe, we WILL get that softball game on a Sunday afternoon after all...

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  3. Now I've watched....

    Beautiful friendship.

    Hum, not convinced about keeping Holly "alive"...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jo just infuriated me for most of this episode. She was treating Holly like she was the Buffybot. And yeah, they gave Jo a good reason in the end. But for most of the episode, she wasn't acting like she wanted Fargo to have closure and move on; she was acting like all Fargo wanted out of virtual Holly was sex. It was disrespectful of Fargo *and* the memory of Holly.

    Other than that, I liked the episode. As you said, Jess, it was obvious pretty early on what was happening. You'd think the Eureka crew would have been a bit faster on the uptake.

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  5. That's interesting, Billie. Even before Jo revealed her history with her dad, I never once got the impression she thought Fargo just wanted sex from virtual Holly. I can definitely see how her comments to Zane about the "cyber girlfriend" would give that impression, but to me it always seemed clear that her concern was Fargo emotionally holding on to someone who was gone. It didn't strike me as disrespectful at all.

    Jo thought virtual Holly was just a simulation, a shadow of Fargo's lost love. Essentially no different than photos and home movies her dad poured over every night. That's why she kept pushing Zane to define what Holly really was. Because if she's not real, than they aren't doing Fargo any favors by letting him pretend she's still alive. Zane said it only matters if Fargo thinks she's real, but I don't agree. Perhaps in the short term, it's okay to hold on to the shadow, as he comes to grips with what he's lost. But I think, in the long-term, Jo's right that refusing to accept reality and burying himself in a lie is detrimental to his overall well-being. (Why do I suddenly feel like I'm discussing Awake?)

    Thanks for the comments, all!

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  6. call me old fashioned but as this is the last season I just want it to all turn out well for our Eureka crew... I want Fargo to either find a way to have Holly back or let go... its really quite sad..

    ReplyDelete

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