Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Warehouse 13: Season 4, Episode 11: The Living and the Dead

The hugely long wait for the continuation of Warehouse 13 is finally over! Time to catch up with villainous Arty and his plan to destroy the world

We begin with a nice flashback/dream sequence of Leena and Artie snarking over him eating cookies.

Then reality hits and Artie is unconscious on a gurney with a dagger in his chest, being airlifted by helicopter with the gang around him looking poignant and pensive.  They reach the warehouse with more babbling about Artie being good again before Claudia stabbed him – but Mrs. Frederick is worried about the release of the magnolia plague.

After the credits, there’s a news report about the Sweating sickness – a wave of it across Europe being blamed on the hot, humid weather. Followed by a dramatic 24-style black screen:

16 hours until first mortalities

To the Warehouse where Mrs. Frederic explains that they’re all infected. Jane Latimer, Pete’s mother and chief Regent also turns up to add to the gloomy outlook and tell them they have 16 hours to live (we know, the dramatic signage already said). They ask after Artie and Mrs. Frederic praises Claudia’s stabbing instinct – she guessed that since the dagger separated from something evil (the orchid of death) from something good (the impenetrable box holding it) it would separate good Artie from evil Artie and not just stab him horribly.

Yeah, I’m not running with that one – aside from ascribing morality to objects, this is deciding that a box you can’t break is inherently good. Or that the dagger isn’t just REALLY REALLY good at cutting stuff. But I like Claudia so I’ll let it slide.

Jane takes Jenks and Claudia to Artie to work some Artefact mojo to bring Artie back since his mind is fading and absent.

While Pete and Myka research the illness, its previous outbreaks, how it had killed half the population in the past but also how the disease did vanish each time. The orchid turns to ash to release the plague, but they found the orchid whole so there must be a way to put it back together. There’s some more angst about poor Artie having killed Leena.

Myka drags up a report of the Count of St Germaine, a showman who had many tricks including bringing sickly plants back to life – which he did in public, probably with an Artefact, though what remains unknown. They find someone, Professor Sutton, who seemed to know a lot about the Count and go to speak to him; and Mrs. Frederic gives them an ominous black bag.

Meanwhile Claudia and Jenks are using Sigmund Freud’s clock to interact with Artie’s subconscious. Which is, of course, a blue toned version of the warehouse.  They head to his office and run into Dr. Vanessa, or the version in Artie’s head anyway, telling them to leave as parts of the warehouse are shutting down, Artie’s brain is shutting down.

In the real world – or Columbia university anyway – Myka and Pete enter an office that looks like someone dumped all the world’s paperwork in piles. Apparently it always looks like that, and Professor Sutton asleep among the piles. He tries to make them go away until he realises that Myka is “reasonably hot” and perks up. This man better be slapped by the end of the episode. Then he falls asleep. He’s also drunk. Very very drunk. They ask him about the Count of St. Germaine; apparently a very charming and entertaining scoundrel who wore a garish ring. (In the court of Marie-Antoinette. “Garish”? Wasn’t “garish” the norm?)

In Artie’s subconscious, Vanessa is still telling Jenks and Claudia to get out and backs it up with a bag of snakes. Claudia has an angst moment that causes Jenks to come out with the cheesiest pep talk you ever heard.  Then Artie’s subconscious throws Mrs. Frederics and spider webs at them

Anyway, real world – turns out the counts effects were buried with him and the tomb is locked with an impenetrable lock that flays people alive. How pesky. Of more concern is the confusing and labyrinthine catacombs underneath Paris. They can use Bodin’s map but to understand it they need a legend – and Professor Drunkard knows who has the legend.

Cut to a new bulletin with the real Dr. Vanessa warning that the disease has spread to a massive worldwide pandemic.

7 hours until first mortalities

To Paris, with Prof. Sutton in tow (he still hasn’t sobered up?) to the house of his rival, Charlotte Dupree. And Prof, Sutton spills – he’s a history professor, he knows what Sweating sickness looks like, he knows about the orchid and makes the leap that they need the ring to save the world. That’s less of a leap and more than an enormous plummet. He uses their desperation to stop the plague to excuse breaking into to Charlotte Dupree’s house

In Artie’s subconscious the web is destroyed with a handy and very luckily dropped spear and then they have to dodge Artie’s brain version of Macpherson with a Tesla. Jenks distracts and tackles MacPherson, giving Claudia time to continue alone – but it does mean Jenks leaves the dreamscape.

Claudia reaches the office and scream to be let in. going in leads to Artie at Leena’s similar to the scene we saw at the beginning, with him playing a piano. He says he’s not trapped – and Leena arrives to talk about the cookies again. He’s hiding, not trapped, where reality is better and he can just fade and disappear and not have to remember what he did to Leena. But as Claudia reminds him, Leena’s face falls and she starts crying, he tries to go back to playing but he can’t, he keeps losing the thread.

In Paris the three break into Charlotte Dupree’s house and, apparently, Prof. Sutton has tried before. Looking in the building they find… Charlotte, with a gun. After much talking in which they find the professor has stolen precious gold coins and Charlotte isn’t a fan of his, Pete distracts Charlotte and Myka teslas her. Myka then punches Professor Sutton into unconsciousness. Ah, I knew it was coming.

News Bulletin time – thousands are now laid up in hospital and the CDC records that they’re witnessing the worst medical catastrophe in recorded history.

1 hour until first mortalities

In Paris, Myka has found a portrait of St. Germaine and confronts Professor Sutton – because the man looks awfully – exactly like him. At which revelation, Myka collapses from the Sweating sickness and they have to help her to a chair. Seems thanks to an alchemist and the philosopher’s stone, he’s over 500 years old. And he’s at Charlotte’s house to steal the antiques that are actually his. And he did pick up the legend.

To the catacombs. With flaming torches – come on! You don’t have electric torches in France?  Sutton reminisces about Marie Antoinette (“she thought I was using her for her money. Probably because I was using her for her money.”)  His difficulties with her forced him to flee, leaving everything he owned behind, including his ring. To the tomb and a quick Artefact opens it up easily.

They take the ring, unfortunately Sutton also helps himself to a very large gemstone setting off Indiana Jones style dart traps. One of which hits Sutton directly in the chest and its poisoned. He insists they leave and take the ring, he can’t have the entire world upstage his death scene. Pete protests they can’t leave him there, but Sutton points out it is actually his tomb.

They use the ring and the flower returns to life – the black ash leaving the infected’s mouths to coalesce on the flower – huge clouds fly from all over the world to the flower.

To Artie’s subconscious and Leena asks Artie what he remembers. They look out at sky that becomes cloudy and stormy and Claudia tries to assure Artie that it wasn’t him who killed Leena. The storm is reality and Leena fades away and disappears. Claudia tells Artie he asked her to save him and she’s going to – and that Artie himself gave himself clues: as witnessed by a door that appears. The way out. She repeats the pep talk that Jenks gave her and pushes him out the door.

They wake up in the Warehouse and Claudia apologises to Artie as he breaks down in tears. Everyone meets up except Artie, who won’t talk to anyone. Jane says ominously “this is going to be harder than we thought”. What? Why? The man doesn’t want to talk about murdering someone he deeply cared about – is it really that odd that he wants to be alone? You’ve saved the world from extinction – the hard part is done.

Artie plays the piano at Leena’s and Mrs. Frederic arrives. She repeats Claudia’s words that it wasn’t him as he cries for Leena. They can’t bring her back, there are some things they can’t fix – but they can fix him. Mrs. Frederic reminds him of the people in his life who love him and want to help.

In Paris in the tomb Charlotte Dupree enters and by her words she knew the fake body who was put in the tomb when he was alive –meaning she’s as long lived as Sutton was. She refers to him as her “lying, shitting husband”. Sutton’s body is missing – though there’s a bloody dart in its place. She comments that he’s out in the world – but she has plans too. Which is ominous because the music says so.

Why why why did they have to call Jane Latimer, Jane? Do you know how hard it is to write a recap and not call her Janeway?

This episode, I have to say, didn’t work for me. Now it worked as a Warehouse 13 episode to track down an Artefact while delving into Artie’s brain, it had the fun, filler style. But not as this episode. Not as an episode with Leena dead on the floor. Not as an episode where the whole world is going to start dying from a major plague in 16 hours.

It tries. We have the big, dramatic black screens with threatening count down. But there’s no epic here, there’s no urgency, there’ no sense of hurry in Pete and Myka’s actions (and that flight from the US to Paris must have taken the best past of 7 hours), there’s no urgency and Jenks and Claudia are on a side quest. There’s no grimness or grief. Made worse by the comic relief of Professor Sutton.  The best we got was Claudia having a melodramatic speech about the Warehouse killing people and Jenks’s cheesy pep talk -  which was a little daft anyway because, really, Claudia the warehouse is about containment of the bad stuff – which means you constantly fight to keep it contained. There’s no “winning” here unless you decided to destroy all the Artefacts

The tension this episode needed wasn’t there. Despite some really good at the beginning with Jane and Mrs. Frederic and the news bulletin, the tension wasn’t maintained. And Warehouse 13 has done this before, and extremely well, even with the anti-climax. It has made you feel that the fate of the world was in the balance. This episode? Not so much.

Leena’s death… the sadness is extremely well acted and well portrayed – but it’s sadness centred around Artie. Artie’s guilt. Can Artie move on? Can Artie forgive himself? Oh the pain Artie must be in! And yes, all of that’s true but where is the grief for Leena the person?

I like Warehouse 13 – but this episode didn’t give me much of a hook for the second half of the season (Artie is sad and an immortal woman is annoyed with an immortal man, both of which we know nothing about. I mean, if it weren’t for the ominous music, Charlotte’s plans could just as easily be to track Sutton down and repeatedly kick him in the balls). Leena’s death is being handled extremely poorly and the super-dramatic tension/fear over the world ending was sadly downplayed. A bit lacklustre to be honest.