Warehouse 13 4.01 “A New Hope” REVIEW
Writer Jack Kenny
Director Chris Fisher
THE ONE WHERE Artie pushes the big ol’ reset button.
VERDICT Over three seasons Warehouse 13 has built a reputation as one of sci-fi TV’s most lovable shows. You wouldn’t know that from this season four premiere, which starts with Pete, Myka and Artie reminiscing in the rubble of the obliterated Warehouse while the WHOLE WORLD loses all hope. Talk about a downer.
Plunging your heroes to the deepest, darkest depths imaginable is a well-established dramatic arc, of course, and sets up a resurgent, triumphant victory against the odds. This would have been fine, but writer (and executive producer) Jack Kenny’s get-out clause is the dreaded reset button, a trope so old we’re surprised the dinosaurs didn’t use it to dodge extinction.
It renders the entire episode a cheap parlour trick, and worse, makes last season’s devastating cliffhanger utterly redundant. If the show isn’t interested in exploring the dramatic potential of the threads it established, why should we be invested in this new, alternate timeline?
It’s a shame because it undercuts some surprisingly affecting work in this episode – the emotive opening montage, for example – and admittedly we’re delighted HG Wells will live to fight another day, but the implication for the future of the show is damaging to say the least – can we ever trust what we see again knowing there’s an artefact that can rewind time? How much more of an impact would Pete’s “death” have had if his survival wasn’t inevitable?
It’s a duff mission of the week as well. So much of it is completely mishandled. The “clues” left by Barbossa’s watch, for example, involve huge leaps of logic and Sykes’ “redemption” is anything but when it's forced on him. The episode aims for epic, globetrotting adventure, but when your Vatican heist involves breaking in through a restaurant on some nondescript street corner it fails to inspire the necessary sense of scale. God bless them for trying, but this isn’t even on a par with a direct-to-DVD National Treasure sequel, let alone Indiana Jones .
The silver lining is that the final scene neatly sets the season up to explore the consequences of Artie’s actions. It might not have had the courage to destroy the Warehouse and bump off Mrs Frederic, but establishing Claudia as a nemesis for Artie is a potentially huge shake up and will hopefully put the season swiftly back on track.
GIVE US A SMILE It’s at least seven minutes before anyone makes a joke this week, and a good 15-minutes before the first proper grin. When Myka and Pete are back at their dysfunctional best in Richerenches it’s like an old friend finally waking up from a coma.
RE-ENTRY PROBLEMS Given quite how little of interest he’s given to do in this episode (endlessly repeating, “Put it back!”), it’s amazing Brent Spiner ( TNG ’s Data) even signed up to play Brother Adrian. Let’s hope his badass ninja templar develops more of a vocabulary in future weeks.
CHARACTER It’s all part of a forgotten timeline now, and they were VERY SAD, but it seemed out of character for Pete, Myka and Artie to abandon Claudia in France. Surely at least one of them could have hung around? And did Myka really need to assault those police officers?
REFERENCE In the wine cellar Claudia says “No, never give up, never surrender” an apt Galaxy Quest reference given Brent Spiner’s first appearance is in this episode.
INDUSTRIAL SHITE AND MAGIC I understand that Warehouse 13 is probably shot for less money than Robert Downey Jr’s beard groomer, but some of the green screen composition work here is early-’90s-videogame-cutscene bad. Exhibit A:
NITPICK Claudia using a search engine other than Google? I don’t buy it
KEY ARTEFACTS Pandora’s Box (makes everyone a bit mopey), Barbosa’s Watch (indicates the amount of time left to use the Astrolabe and its location), the Astrolabe (erases the last 24 hours), Ghandi’s dhoti (creates a sense of peace in whoever, or whatever, is covered by it).
Pete: “ I like beavers, I’ll take Canada.”