Artie is sending Claudia and Pete on one mission and Jinks and Myka on another. Partly so that he can ask Pete to keep an eye on Claudia, since he keeps having that “Claudia stabbing him” vision thing because of the metronome that’s got him rather concerned.
Claudia and Pete are going to see the old computer expert, Hugo. He has Bobby Fischer’s marbles – each of which can give a person massive ambition and drive but prolonged exposure causes violence, insanity and strokes – typical artefact fodder. When he worked for the Warehouse, these were high priority acquisitions for him and he never found them – but someone anonymously fed-exed them to him. Worse, his nephew, Brady, is in a highly competitive school and used one to write a paper for an inter-school event and now the veins on his arm have gone all dark and throbbing, which is probably problematic.
Which is more problematic is that they can’t just goo the marbles because Brady’s a nice kid who shares his toys – and has leant out 4 of them. And for added problem not only do the marbles cause violence but they’re doing so at a school that emphasises stress, tension and competition.
And yes, the students are well and truly losing it, attacking teachers who give them less than perfect grades, attacking students who have done better than them, attacking people to get on competitive teams. And with the black veins reaching his eyes, Brady collapses. They’re all entering close to the stroke zone
And the last marble is in the hands of the headmaster – who is now pursuing his goal. And his goal is to kill the budget cutting school board who he hates so much.
At this point all the marbled students try to stop Hugo and Claudia and need tesla-ing. Hugo also has a moment of doubt because he showed the marbles to his nephew in an attempt to begin recruiting him as a Warehouse agent and now blames himself for all the problems.
They hurry to the gym and discover the headmaster in the furnace room under it, preparing to unleash a toxic gas on the school board – and the entire student body. Pete gets knocked out, wakes up and knocks him out in return (concussions for everyone!) Faced with the daunting task of turning off the furnace, Pete has to use the marble to focus and figure out how to turn it off (seriously? It’s a furnace. Not a nuclear power station).
Marbles are collected and gooed, problem solved!
Meanwhile, Jinks and Myka are looking for an artefact that miraculously cures people with severe mental illnesses. And yes this seems good but all artefacts have a downside. It is known (except for the dozen or so they use on a regular basis, including instead of guns, tasers and mobile phones and whatever else Artie pulls out of his bag of tricks as needed).
Dr. Goodman, the therapist who is treating all of these patients is worried (which is one good thing, she’s not running around screaming “miracle cure”) since proper healing takes time. Jinks, however, is concerned that they’re trying to stop an Artefact that is doing so much good.
Steve is vaguely disturbed by the not-very-comforting skeleton picture the nice therapist woman has decided to put in her office (are your patients not disturbed enough, doctor?) and decides to offer him advice about being dead and coming back from the grave and all and wants him to know she understands what it’s like to leave the team and come back. Jinks, rightly, points out that quitting and coming back isn’t quite the same as being murdered and raised from the dead. Myka’s attempt at empathy may have, just possibly, missed. Thankfully the desperate attempt at talking out Steve’s feelings is derailed by them noticing an advert to a Jaz bar that they know one of the miraculously cured folk visited, so they decide to check it out (ok…that leap of logic, right there? Is a biit of a stretch but I’ll run with it)
There’s a whole lot of junk at the bar which makes it hard to find what they’re looking for – but they notice a Jaz musician, Ethan (it’s Sam from Being Human) who is there every night and is extremely good. The bar tender describes him as “their prodigy”. Except he’s had a nasty bug for three months that’s making him sick – and it’s more than a bug, he is clearly in agony. Jinks and Myka put 2 and 2 together, his pain with other people being cured of their pain, all happening over 3 months.
They talk to him but he says nothing has changed, no new objects, no gifts, no enemies. Everything has been the same and all he knows is he’s dying. But like any great Jazz musician, he says he’ll use the pain and just try to play through it.
Oh and, coincidence, not only did Ethan start getting sick 3 months ago, but that’s also when he actually became a decent musician. An old Jazz man gave Ethan some advice – a great musician needs life experience to express in his music – pain, fear, loss. And if a great musician needs these experiences to become great then a short cut to become great – would be to inflict that pain on yourself.
They try to stop him, but he grabs Jinks – and starts to absorb his pain, but Jinks’s pain is too overwhelming for him and Jinks protests that it’s hurting Claudia – and at the school Claudia is weak and gasping – until Myka splits them apart and goos the cigarette case Ethan has. Scott Joplin’s cigarette case.
Ethan thinks 27 was a good age to die as a musician as his music would have lived on – and he was helping people. But Jinks, in something of a turnaround, insisted that people have the right tom work through their pain in their own way.
And, of course, Jinks’s side-effect with the metronome is revealed
Back at home base Artie is being visited by the annoying priest who is looking for the metronome thief, again. This time the priest has an artefact (why does he have this and why is it not in the Warehouse where it belongs?), the spurs of a famous bounty hunter that should help them find the astrolabe. Irritatingly, the priest has done a lot of research that prevents Artie from wriggling out of using it.
And it turns out to be a giant con. It isn’t an artefact and Artie playing with it has confirmed Annoying Priest’s suspicions that Artie used the Astrolabe. He tries to call Artie out but Artie will have none of it – he did what he had to do. Annoying priests confronts him but Artie says that the whole world had lost hope and it had to be done. The priest storms out, declaring that he and his order will do whatever they have to to defeat Artie.
All together again. Jinks is taking some time off to process his own issues with coming back from the dead and investigating the metronome’s side effect.
And the Marbles? They were used by the priest and sent as part of their mission to destroy Artie’s life work.
I actually liked how mental illness and recovery was presented here. There was no shaming or suggestion that there was anything wrong with being mentally ill and, if anything, it emphasised just how painful it can be. There was also the complete rejection of the idea of a “mystical cure” and that you can’t just wake up the next day and have all the problems removed, that it’s not that simple.
I do not like the priest. He needs to explain how the evil Artie has unleashed is in any way worse than OPENING PANDORA’S BOX, I mean, quite literally something that has gone through mythology as the worst thing ever. If he can’t explain it, he needs to sit down and shut up. And to compound the terribad side effects that comes from using the Astrolabe, they’re going to unleash random Artefacts into the world to add their own side effects? Yeah, that makes sense – set Mrs. Franklin on them.