Friday, May 3, 2013

Warehouse 13 Tries to Save "The Living and the Dead"

Article first published as Warehouse 13 Tries to Save "The Living and the Dead" on TheTVKing.

SyFy's popular series, Warehouse 13, returns from a nearly-seven-month hiatus this week with "The Living and the Dead" to begin the second half of its fourth season. "The Living and the Dead" picks up where the previous episode left off, with a deadly virus swiftly infecting everyone on the planet, and Artie (Saul Rubinek), the releaser of the disease, in a coma.

Because there are two urgent matters, saving the world and saving Artie, who may soon be lost forever, the four agents of the Warehouse split into the two teams. I love that there are two work-couples now, which allows for plots like this one, encapsulating both the large scale and the personal dangers that the agents must face at the same time.

In the Warehouse, Jane Lattimer (Kate Mulgrew) sends Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) and Jinks (Aaron Ashmore, now a series regular) into Artie's mind. It's a tad predictable that the inside of Artie's head looks like the Warehouse, which also saves on set cost. I love that opportunity for recurring cast members, like James MacPherson (Roger Rees) and Vanessa (Lindsay Wagner), to pop up and try to stop Claudia and Jinks. However, the fact that the artifacts still work the same way in Artie's mind as they do in reality pushes the believability, and the fact that Jinks is able to stop permanently whatever part of subconsciousness is fighting them doesn't really add up.

That being said, the scene where Claudia does find Artie, living in denial with the recently deceased-by-his-hand Leena (Genelle Williams), is very moving. We get to see what Artie means to Claudia, and the depths of Artie's shame and frustration. What happens is not really Artie's fault, but he remembers it, so he feels guilty. The sequence is perfectly in keeping with the characters, and it works that Claudia has to force Artie out, a technique she would use before getting too mushy.

Now what will Mrs. Fredericks (CCH Pounder) do with Artie? He doesn't deserve to be punished, so much, but he does need help. She's the wise overseer, so presumably his rehab will be up to her.

I don't think I will miss Leena much. No offense to Williams, but I rarely saw the point of her character. She only occasionally mattered to a plot, and never seemed to contribute anything to the missions. I hope she is replaced, with someone else coming in to run the house, but by a person developed more, or who is, at least, funny.

While the stuff with Artie goes down, Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly) search for an artifact that can put the orchid back together, thus staving off the plague threatening to kill many, as Vanessa reports on television. As usual, they run into trouble, bicker a bit, but end up saving the day. It's a predictable formula, but one that seems to work for Warehouse 13, as long as the journey to get to the predictable end stays interesting.

"The Living and the Dead" concocts a somewhat interesting story for Pete and Myka to investigate involving Marie Antoinette, but the more intriguing part of their tale is the two new characters we are introduced to. Seemingly hundreds of years old, and once romantically involved, Professor Sutton (James Marsters, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville) comes across as the charming and noble scallywag, and Charlotte Dupres (Polly Walker, Caprica, John Carter) is his suffering target. However, the end of the episode hints at something more between them than we currently know.

The apparent death of Sutton isn't much of a fake out. Marsters crafts too-perfect a character in his first hour, and it's clear that he needs to return at least a few more times. Walker is less memorable, until the end, where we glimpse a peek at a larger life than first glances tell. I look forward to seeing more of these two amazing actors, already well known in the genre, and wonder what they will bring to the dynamic of the cast going forward. I will even be so bold as to say Sutton could prove as popular, and hopefully appear as often, as the fan-favorite H.G. Wells, given the excellent first impression that he makes.

At the end of the day, Warehouse 13 returns things back to "normal," for the most part. It's a series that pretends to take big chances, but usually allows the status quo to return. It remains entertaining, though I wish the stakes were a bit higher, and the drama a bit darker.

Warehouse 13 airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on SyFy.

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