Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Warehouse 13, Season 5, Episode 5: Cangku Shisi

Claudia is understandably upset about Claire’s disappearance and has choice words for the security staff (well actually with Artie in a nice little passive aggressive dig from both of them at the staff)

Wait… the Warehouse has staff? Since when did it have staff? And if it did have staff how are they all not dead several times over given the number of times the main cast has JUST escaped?

Anyway, using Artefacts the find the man responsible – Benedict Valda. Alternate world Benedict Valda. Who I am going to try REALLY hard not to call Crowley.

Valda fits Claire with the Artefacts Paracelsus used to create his mind controlled Borg soldiers, allowing him to control her.

The gang meets and figures all this out, including Alternate Valda, and that he has been hanging around in the Dead Agent Vault. Myka wants to go see but Pete is all confused about the “you love Myka” thing from last week, doesn’t want to be alone with her (remember, Pete has the emotional maturity of a… actually, small children have more emotional maturity than this man) and drags Steve with him (complete with “I’ll take off my shirt” quip because Steve’s sexuality must be a constant source of jokes). Pete continues to desperately try to avoid Myka, babbling and generally needing a good slap upside the head. When he finally makes some sense he worries about Valda replicating Artefacts (his thing with Paracelsus) and creating a telekinetic army – while Myka realises his key to his safety deposit box is missing

In the Regent’s Vault – where Valda kills its Regent keeper. Myka, Peter and Artie arrive to find the body – and a trap that freezes Artie.

Valda, meanwhile, uses the record player that kept Claire asleep to take down a whole park of people – claiming it will cause seizures in 30 minutes (since he’s not using the other Artefact they used on Claire). He describes the destructive capability in a sales pitch to someone about how the Artefacts can be used as tools and weapons to expand their empire, whoever they are. So long as the Warehouse is in their hands. He gives the hidden employer’s driver a Mason Square Artefact to put in a specified location for them to begin.

Pete, Steve and Myka do the Artefact thing to rescue Artie and get an update on Valda’s activities. While Steve looks after Artie, Myka and Pete hurry to save the unconscious people – which is extra complicated because Valda uses multiple Artefacts in crafty, dangerous ways. And more Pete panic over his feelings for Myka.

While that’s happening, Artie figures out Valda’s plan – he’s going to steal the Warehouse using the 3 Artefacts used to move the Warehouse from country to country (hence there being 12 previous Warehouses in different countries, the Regents moving the Warehouse to the dominant nation/power of the day).

So Steve and Artie lock down one of the Artefacts kept in the Warehouse (which transforms the whole Warehouse to energy for transportation)… except it’s missing, Valda has already moved it in position. Which is in the Warehouse. Somewhere.

While Pete, Myka and Claudia go to the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston to find another of the Artefacts (always hidden where the host nation was formed); there they find a dead Regent. Downstairs they find Claire and Valda – and Claire telekinetically holds a giant wall over Claudia, ready to crush her. Claudia tries to reach her and Claire cries – but Valda controls her – and locks them in the vault where he secured the Artefact (he doesn’t kill them because of Plot Armour).

They find their way out through the secret passage in the vault (it was, after all, a place where revolutionaries met so an escape route make sense). Oh Valda, you should have killed them but for the rules of TV

Valda uses the Aretfact and at the Warehouse, the transfer to energy begins. Steve and Artie hurry to the location and begin trying many many different plans to try and stop it, up to and including trying to destroy the Artefact moving the Warehouse.

Pete, Myka and Claudia are on the trail and using CCTV they discover that Valda is driving around in a car with diplomatic plates – a car belonging to the Chinese consulate. Artie confirms that it headed to a private airbase where Chinese diplomats just left for Beijing. Artie imagines that Valda intends to use China’s wealth and power to recreate the Warehouse according to his vision.

Everyone to the Warehouse and Claudia is convinced Valda has a greater role for Claire than we’ve seen – or why is she still alive? Artie dredges up history – the first Caretaker of Warehouse 13 died and her sister took over (Mrs. Frederick) so Valda could make Claire his new Caretaker – controlled by him. They use the portal to take Claudia, Pete and Myka to China, Beijing National Stadium, Valda’s location for Warehouse 14.

Warehouse 14 signs are already in place – and they’re all captured by Valda and Claire. Of course, Valda, being a villain orders Claire to kill them slowly and make them see the whole Warehouse arrive before they die. He also decides to leave them alone for Claire to do it, as you do.

Of course, Claire is Claudia’s sister and the power of siblinghood defeats the evil power of Valda! As an extra bonus, the mind control device means they can transfer Claire’s telekinetic rage into Valda

Wait wait wait wait, can we pause the idea of giving the bad guy more super powers?

But they go ahead because Pete has an idea (let us pause a moment to laugh hysterically at this).  While Claudia arranges for the power to be transferred, Pete wrestles with Valda and is pushed away – but not before he grabs the fork from his pocket. The Fork Artefact that allows people outside of their own time line to be present and keep their memories – Pete neutralises it. Valda disappears, back to his own timeline.

Claire is free from the telekinetic rage. Myke deactivates the Artefact – and the Warehouse contents return back to Warehouse 13.

Everything can be back to normal and Claudia can have happy time with her healed sister.

And Steve admits to Steve, the human lie detector, that he’s in love with Myka. Steve’s lie detector powers confirm, even to Pete himself, that he’s telling the truth.

Oh but it doesn’t end there – the compass (the Artefact that moves the Warehouse) is still active – Mrs. Frederick calls worried because “certain events have been set into motion” by Valda’s actions.

The number of times Valda doesn’t kill the protagonists in this episode is ridiculous. “Kill them slowly” why? What reason does Valda have to hate them that much that their suffering would be such a premium to him? Why not go the whole hog and have a laser slowly work its way up to cut them in half while suspended over a piranha pool and have done with it? I’m sure someone can find Valda a white cat.

Ok, I actually quite like the analogy and implication of the horror of this episode – because, ultimately, this is what will happen to the Warehouse. One day, Warehouse 13 will die and Warehouse 14 will rise – and, yes, there’s a decent chance China will be the location of the next Warehouse. The cast’s panic (up to and including Artie being willing to destroy the means of moving the Warehouse entirely) reflects, on some level, the anxiety any super power feels as they fall – and must have been repeated 12 times in the past (we already know some members of Warehouse 12 resorted to highly reckless behaviour to convince the Regents that it wasn’t time to move from Britain).

But then we have Unfortunate Implication Zone. The idea that the Chinese government will do super evil things with the Warehouse. Now, do I think the Chinese government, handed this kind of power, would use it for nefarious purpose? Sure. But then I think the US government would as well. And Britain’s. And Russia’s. And the Mughal empire – in fact every holder of the Warehouse back to Warehouse 1 in Ancient Greece. Of course, the defence here is the Regents control the Warehouse (the whole point of the Regents is to keep control of the Warehouse in the hands of ordinary people, not governments) but there’s never any real indication HOW the Regents (ordinary people) stop the US government being involved – and it’s dubious to argue the government is ignorant because Pete, Steve and Myka are all federal agents (Steve and Myka are secret service) with ongoing recognition as such (and this is an essential part – after all, the Warehouse moves to the most powerful nation for a reason; if it needed no national/government power for defence and Artefact acquisition it could relocate to the Himalayas or Antarctica or bottom of the Pacific and be done). We can only assume the Regents use Artefacts and/or the power of the Caretaker to prevent government interference.

We can extrapolate a defence and it’s certainly not an unreasonable or convoluted defence (especially since past episodes have referred to Napoleon trying to kill the Regents and take over) – by referring to the Regents and the Caretakers, admittedly, two forces Valda was sure to dodge/control in his transfer. In fact, knowing the full range of Warehouse 13 canon and past episodes, the Unfortunate Implications are balanced. But it does rather require a level of encyclopedic knowledge to work through those nuances rather than reach the obvious “China = bad!”. Some overt references this episode would have helped – just a simple “not only is he moving it abroad, but he’s bypassing all the safeguards that prevent government exploitation of the Warehouse”.

Of course there are some dubiousness in canon as well – the move from Warehouse 12 to Warehouse 13 was via historically ridiculous pirate ship – yet Artie talks like these Artefacts have been used before (and they are all old enough to have long predated Warehouse 12 – and probably a fair few before that too)