Monday, July 23, 2012

Warehouse 13: Season 3 Review

 Season 3 – well done for redeeming so much of what was wrong with season 2. We had metaplot almost from the very beginning, that kept raising its head on a regular basis. It added a structure to the whole series that the last season missed. We had the regular daily task of artefact hunting, which was really well done because it showed that even when they have extreme things going on, they still had to keep doing the daily grind, they couldn’t just stop artefact hunting.

By bringing in HG Wells again (who is an awesome and nuanced and deep character that I love) they tied in a lot of season 2 and made it a lot more pointful. They also built a lot on the previous season’s character growth – especially with Claudia and, to a lesser extent, Pete. I don’t think there was an episode that fell flat with me – and there were several that were utterly must-watch TV. The plot was maintained, the pacing was good with plenty of menacing foreshadowing, it was excellent, exciting, emotional and tense viewing. And yes, it was menacing – and there was even a sense of “anyone can die” which is really hard to do; you expect some people to be untouchable, this show is challenging that.

And the world building was excellent – we saw so much more of the previous warehouses, how the warehouse system worked and a greater expansion of both the Guardians and the importance of the Regents and what they mean (though I do rather think they’ve deviated a little from what the regents were in the first season). It really expanded the world out and, as ever, the artefacts were pretty well done, drawing on actual people and actual history.

We had some new characters with Steve and Regent Jane. I loved Regent Jane, her relationship to Pete, her work with Myka and her friendship with Mrs. Frederick. I really hope she becomes a regular character (albeit with some reservations). Steve I liked when he appeared, though he was dogged by some unfortunate commentary, he fit in a lot better than I imagined he would with a new character parachuted into the team so late in the day

I am not happy with Myka’s character development, again. In season 1 she was confident, capable, dogged with issued over her partner dying, certainly, but still capable. Since then we seem to have developed her by having her constantly beset with insecurity. Her leaving the warehouse, her doubts and fears about her looks and high school reunion in season 2 and now further doubts of her capacity as an agent (when, unquestionably, she is the most capable of all of them), her capacity to do her old job let alone this one and the constant need to shore her up and reassure her.

Inclusionwise, I have a lot of the same complaints. The regular POC characters, Mrs. Frederick and Lena are still stuck playing extremely minor roles. We have some diversity among the characters they meet, but not many. The one heartening element is the diversity they have among the regents, but even they are promoted to obscurity and rarely make an appearance. And, as much as I love Regent Jane (and am resisting calling her Regent Janeway) I suspect she’s there to replace Mrs. Frederick.

We finally got a gay character – which took them long enough after 22 Episodes. And while I generally liked Steve, like Lena he’s clearly secondary behind the big four, often disappearing and not appearing for much… and when he did appear there always had to be something to make me sigh. Claudia instantly put him in the “gay friend” box (and even used those lines). Pete dropped his ridiculous jokes in, we even had one of the artefact users drop comments about him not being married (why? Pete never has and he’s older). I liked that him being gay wasn’t forgotten – but they could have used a better method to remind us.

The big bad was also a disabled man – which is a fair trope, especially since his evil was directly linked to his disability: he used an artefact to allow him to walk again, but it also filled him with darkness.

I think you can tell that media – any media, books, games, TV series – have been well done when they manage to convey emotional impact. And the season finale of Season 3? Is like a kick in the gut. The scenes were powerful, full of emotion and full of massive tension and really heartfelt, painful goodbyes. It was heart wrenching television, sat-on-the-edge-of-your-seat television, it was get-angry-and-scream-at-the-screen television. In short, it was epic, brilliantly performed and guaranteed to make everyone hunger for season 4. I’m glad that I actually am doing a recap here and didn’t watch it when it first came on, otherwise I’d be cursing the wait.

Artie has a watch Artefact that will certainly be able to reverse some of the damage – but how much will be restored? The Warehouse is a certainty – but HG Wells? Mrs. Frederick? Steve Jinks? (Yes, a spoiler patch) I’m horrendously nervous about the next season just because I do not know how much they will save.