Wednesday, May 21, 2014

WAREHOUSE 13 Not "Endless"

Article first published as TV Review: 'Warehouse 13' - Series Finale on Blogcritics.

WH13SyFy‘s Warehouse 13 is always a little cheesy, like most USA programs of the last decade, but with a science fiction bent to it. However, it has also always exhibits heart in the bond that holds the agents of the titular facility together. In its series finale, “Endless,” the writers decide to double down on the emotion instead of giving the team any more peril to overcome.

The conceit is that the Warehouse is reaching the end of its days, ready to move on to Warehouse 14, so the agents gather together to offer their defining moments to King Arthur’s round table, a gift to them as much as to the Warehouse. Instead of a clip show, however, the memories offered up are pretty much all new footage, showcasing some of the talents of those involved, without becoming repetitive.

I have to admit, I have a problem with this set up. I like that the series doesn’t just recycle old material in the end, but if the scenes shown are really that key to the characters, shouldn’t they have been fully fleshed out adventures we get to witness along the way? Instead, “Endless” feels like a forced conclusion, adding extra elements that are never mentioned before, in order to give the characters a sense of completeness not built into the established narrative arcs.

That being said, they are really good, if underdeveloped, scenes. We find out Artie (Saul Rubinek) has a son, whom he keeps in contact with, but never mentions to his co-workers. Artie also gets a personal goodbye from Warehouse 13, something definitely earned. Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) gets some fatherly advice from Artie when she has doubts about becoming the next caretaker, but in the end, she decides to fulfill her destiny and be forever tied to the place. And Jinks (Aaron Ashmore) and Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder) become bosom buddies through scenes we only catch the tail end of, except for a moving memorial to departed cast member Leena (Genelle Williams).

None of these things are explored fulled enough. Sure, the 42nd Street number is a fun sequence, and who doesn’t want to see Mrs. Frederic laugh or learn Artie still has another big secret? But all of this deserves to be delved into, not delivered last minute, when it’s too late to mean much. Warehouse 13 could have at least spent its final six episodes serving these plots, but it holds them until the final hour, not giving viewers time to see the ramifications.

Where this feels like the biggest loss is in the finally realized romance between Myka (Joanne Kelly) and Pete (Eddie McClintock). Pete already figures out his feelings in a previous hour, so it’s Myka’s turn to open her eyes while Pete freaks out about losing the life and people he loves. But, of course, it all comes together, far too late for anything but a couple of satisfying kisses. Now we’ll never seen how things work out between them as an actual couple.

What feels even more like a cheat is the last scene, set “several decades later,” in which three new agents who clearly are stands-ins for Artie, Myka, and Pete interact with Claudia, now the caretaker. So Warehouse 13 didn’t move after all? A cheeky line is not an explanation. And what happened to the main cast? When did they leave? There is no mention about what they are doing now, or if they’re even still alive. I understand this is supposed to let fans known the mysteries and missions of the Warehouse are “Endless,” but instead it highlights what the show does wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, “Endless” is a feel-good hour, even carving out a natural bit for everyone’s favorite recurring character, H.G. Wells (Jaime Murray). The emotion it evokes is great. However, like the series itself, it falls far short of its potential, and comes across as shallow. I’d hoped Warehouse 13 would redeem itself with a perfect capper. In a way, this finale is what the show deserves, but on the other hand, there exists an opportunity to raise the game considerably, leaving a better legacy, and it is squandered.

Still, Warehouse 13 is entertaining, right to the end, and we can be grateful for that.

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