Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Warehouse 13, Season 4, episode 20: Truth Hurts

We start with some more bad news – Kasan has told Artie that if they kill Paracelsus the shock of it could kill Mrs. Frederick, since they’re both fighting over caretakership. He needs to be captured and bronzed. In the meantime, Mrs. Frederick is fading.

The Warehouse’s shiny fireworks brain room is being extinguished. Mrs. Frederick is becoming more and more confused but won’t leave her Warehouse – and both she and Arthur insist that Abigail, as Keeper, needs to run and hide because her knowledge is too valuable.

Myka makes an appointment with her oncologist with Pete hovering around being adorably worried and oddly mature. But when they get a ping of Paracelsus exposing hospital patients in San Francisco to golden light, Pete tries to leave Myka behind for her hospital appointment later in the week – she nixes that plan (they’re going to a hospital after all).

In San Francisco they find Parascelsus concentrated on terminal patients and Pete pictures Myka among them. And, surprise twist, these terminal patients Paracelsus is working his mojo on are getting better. Naturally Pete seizes on this but Myka wisely says they don’t know what Paracelsus is planning. One of his cured patients tells them Paracelsus said she was helping people and it’d all become clear once he reached the place where “the air had yielded to stone”. Yay cryptic! Damn those metaphors.

Myka raises the question of why several hospitals in California – why not stay in Istanbul? And Pete is still worried about Myka and is convolutedly avoiding saying the word “cancer”. And they find he’s still in the building – in the creepy unlit morgue. Of course he is. They rush in guns pointed and Paracelsus’s disembodied voice tells them to leave him alone – all he’s doing is healing people. Myka lists the many many many many people he has killed which he puts down as “sacrifice” for progress. And he’s quite willing to sacrifice them if he has to (and he’s using an Artefact to throw his voice).

And Artie has another desperate plan to help Mrs. Frederick – the ribbon that disconnects caretakers from the Warehouse. They can send its power through the Farnsworth and hopefully disconnect Paracelsus. And yes it’s experimental and yes Claudia needs to stop doubting

Sutton and Nick also have an angsty moment over Charlotte’s death, Nick not best pleased that Sutton deciding that Paracelsus being a mass murderer wasn’t information he needed to share. Claudia needs Nick to be helpful and not a sullen teenager, calls him out for being a spoilt brat who is not acting his centuries. Duly corrected he tells her that the lab they were kept in when Paracelsus gave them immortality was lined with petrified wood - oxygen is cut off and the wood becomes stone. Air yielding to stone. But he needs a special kind of petrified wood – which no longer exists in Istanbul but some has been shipped to line a building in San Francisco.

All of this with Claudia, Artie, Pete and Myka being their awesome selves with their awesome interactions; Artie also fills them in on their plan to use several Artefacts to disconnect Paracelsus from the Warehouse remotely.

They track him to the building, prepare to take him down – but Sutton is there, with a gun, determined to kill Paracelsus for Charlotte. And Paracelsus has an Artefact that deflects Tesla shots – which results in Myka, Pete and Sutton all getting tesla-ed. While they recover, Paracelsus uses his immortality recipe on himself – and Mrs. Frederick collapses in the Warehouse. All of the patients Paracelsus healed now die, the deaths needed to fuel his immortality. Pete shoots Paracelsus with a normal gun – which, of course, does nothing to the immortal.

Pete chases Paracelsus and Myka chivvies Sutton into getting up now he has to deal with mortality and pain and no insta-healing (mortality is awful!). Pete catches Paracelsus with an actual idea (I know I was shocked too! So is Artie, but Claudia insists he’s smart when not thinking of cookies or boobies) and cut him off on a footbridge.

To the Warehouse, where Paracelsus talks about how with refinement his immortality will eventually cause fewer deaths. Maybe none! That’s not very persuasive to anyone – though why are they bronzing him before de-warehousing him? I’d have de-warehoused him before letting him in the building, personally. And bronzing doesn’t work – he did develop it after all, he knows the chemicals to eat to resist it.

They can’t just lock him up because it won’t disconnect him from the Warehouse and the ribbon is too weak since Paracelsus is now super-strong (I’ll take clumsily closed plot holes for a hundred, Bob) Pete suggests getting creative with the immortality (burning, mincing, he can’t heal everything!)  

Meanwhile Sutton and Nick have a nice reconciliation moment before setting off to parts unknown. And Myka needs to go in for super quick surgery today because she’s been having pain and her doctor’s worried the cancer may have spread. He’s desperate to go with her and begins to come close to confessing deeper feelings for Myka – and it’s all super emotional and sad and well done and showing a very different side to a usually much lighter character.

Mrs. Frederick continues to fade and the Regents don’t have any answers. And Jinks brings up a new potential problem – when Artie collected Joshua’s DNA to stablise the crumbling Claudia he didn’t see Joshua, her brother. So where did he get the DNA from and what does it mean? Artie says it’s fine, he’s protecting her and won’t talk about it. Mrs Frederick tells Artie he can still protect her and tell her the truth – by knowing she could be prepared for “it” whatever it is. She’ll find out of Mrs. Frederick dies and Claudia becomes Caretaker anyway. Artie stresses about telling Claudia – and is comforted by Leena’s ghost. Ok, that’s odd.

Artie goes to Claudia and reveals the big secret – to save Claudia’s life he got the DNA sample from her sister. The sister Claudia thought died in a car accident with her parents – surprise, she’s alive! And Artie has known since before he even met Claudia – ouch. Claudia berates him for lying to him until Artie blurts out that he was protecting her from her sister because she’s an extremely dangerous woman.

Pete goes to question Paracelsus to see if he knows anything that can save Mrs. Frederick and he tells Pete that Myka’s cancer is a lot more severe than they know - she is dying. He can see it in her eyes (just as he could with the terminal cancer patients he killed). Pete scoffs at the idea that Paracelsus can help and he just points to the Warehouse, there are Artefacts that can help. He asks Pete if he would leave the Artefacts alone if Paracelsus told him which would save Myka?

He gives Pete information on 2 Artefacts and assure shim there’s no downside or minimal downside – and in return he wants his mind to be wiped. He cannot face being bronzed forever with his brilliant mind constantly working with no way to express itself. Ok, yeah that sounds like pretty much the worst kind of torture ever imaginable. Pete has seen an Artefact that does that – the Janus coin that transfer’s people’s consciousness.

He gets the two Artefacts and Paracelsus gives him detailed instructions on how to use them – which are extremely complex with a high chance of going wrong and killing Myka. So he decides he’ll use Paracelsus to do it – but before releasing him he will make him mortal again; then he won’t have to worry about the eternal Regent punishment either. Paracelsus isn’t a fan of the edited plan

Couldn’t they just use Mary Mallon’s Butcher Knife to transfer Myka’s cancer into the immortal Paracelsus? Seems easier

So Pete follows Paracelsus’s instructions, there’s an explosion – and Paracelsus is freed. And able to throw lightening from his hands. Apparently using the stone near the Eldenari increases the Caretaker’s link to the Warehouse exponentially. This isn’t good. He now has complete control over the Warehouse, complete with nifty voice effects. In desperation to save Mrs. Frederick’s life, Claudia uses the ribbon to disconnect her from the Warehouse; she thanks Claudia for saving her life.

Paracelsus kicks all his enemies out of the Warehouse – chasing them to the exit with lightning and falling debris. But as they reach the exit, Claudia feels she has to stay, she knows she has to. Claudia says she has to stay and fight him, it’s her decision and the Warehouse will protect her. Mrs. Frederick agrees. Rapid goodbyes and everyone leaves.

Once they are out of the Warehouse, a dome seals it, locking them out. Inside, Claudia and Paracelsus face off.

Well that was an incredibly epic ending. And not just the acting, the storylines and setting but everything from music to pacing really made it epic. A perfect season finale

(though I do think the actor who played Nick went to the Dick Van Dyke school of Authentic British Accents (special Dickensian advanced course). I’m not even sure why they went there since, as Paracelsus’s relatives I’m assuming they’re Dutch).

A perfect season finale to a rather lacklustre season – of half-season. Before the midway, we had a coherent theme, an enemy, an activity that was really well maintained and interesting. I can’t say it was my favourite season of Warehouse 13, but it was good. Then Warehouse 13 came back off hiatus and kind of… waffled. We didn’t really deal with the fallout of the first half of the season (rather insultingly brushed over it in fact) and no coherent plot arose to match it. We had plotlettes, mini-hints, minor happenings. The Immortals weren’t maintained as a sufficiently present threat – in fact, when Charlotte returned the opinion was more “who is this?” than anything. There was no coherence, no meta, no real development and not a lot of fun.

It’s only in the last 2-3 episodes that it has really picked up but that was clearly setting us up for a new season with Paracelsus as the enemy. I’m really glad it ended on such an epic finale, because without it I would be going into season 5 (the last season of Warehouse 13) feeling less than hopeful. Now I’m eager for its return.

But there have been some other problems, especially with inclusion. To start with a semi-positive

I do like Jinks. Yes he’s the most minor of the 5 Warehouse agents (Pete, Myka, Artie, Claudia are definitely higher profile than him) and entire episodes can pass with him just being background noise or not even there at all. And yes, there are an inordinate number of gay jokes that constantly dog him. But he is a real character, not a collection of stereotypes, he has a realised background, actual development, an actual past and actually contributes to the team with equal respect even if not equal presence. Maybe it’s the glory of really low expectations in the genre, but it’s probably the best portrayal of a gay man in any of the shows we follow (In the Flesh being a good portrayal but also heartrendingly depressingly agonising to watch). Which is kind of depressing really.

But the death of Leena needs revisiting again. There was not nearly enough grief around her loss – nor nearly enough development of her character before she died to make it poignant. Leena has spent 4 seasons being background noise, wallpaper, and now finally killed off so Artie can have a few episodes of Artie angst – which was the focus of the grief, oh poor Artie. I’m hoping they do something with ghost Leena but I think having her around as a ghost is just going to be an excuse to make her less visible than before. Other POC in this show are classic examples of being promoted to obscurity: Kasan and Mrs. Frederick. By being high ranking superiors, we rarely see them, then only briefly and they rarely get involved in the plot. And with this last episode, Mrs. Frederick has been deprived of the Caretaker position so I have no idea how she will continue to be a force in the Warehouse 13 world. Abigail being introduced added a new POC, but she has only had a minor role and with her revelation as the Keeper, that is unlikely to change – in fact, her most likely role is going to be one of asset to be acquired.

We have had some strong female characters along the way – Myka and Claudia are fiercely competent, very realised characters who have both grown a lot – especially Claudia. I think Myka has had a lot of chance to grow with her cancer diagnosis as well as chance to redefine her relationship with Pete away from the very standard scolding parent and overgrown manchild. But just as her cancer makes her able to develop in different ways, it’s also likely to take her out of the action – and with Claudia stepping into the Caretaker shoes and sealed in the Warehouse, she is also likely to be separated. This season has continued to see them both be powerful (though I was unhappy with the shelving of HG Wells and the death of Charlotte) but I’m not sure if it will continue.

I hope the next season – the last season of Warehouse 13 – will resolve some of these issues, but it doesn’t have much time in which to do so.