Eureka [Syfy, Mondays, 8/7C] and Warehouse 13 [Syfy, Mondays, 9/8C] have built up a core of devoted fans because they combine humor and drama with unique, and entertaining, premises. Their return, this evening, is fraught with the kind of unusual perils –and twisted senses of humor – that keep them unpredictable fun.
Eureka’s mid-season [4.5 if you’re counting] premiere, Liftoff, finds Global Dynamics’ CEO Douglas Fargo [Neil Grayston] and Zane Donovan [Niall Matter] caught up in an unexpected rocket launch – from the inside – while S.A.R.A.H. [voiced by Grayston] and Deputy Andy [Kavan Smith] reach a major milestone in their relationship.
Meanwhile, not that Sheriff Jack Carter [Colin Ferguson] and Global Dynamics’ chief medical officer, Dr. Alison Blake [Salli Richardson-Whitfield] are in a committed relationship, they have to try to figure out how to balance their personal and professional relationships – and Global Dynamics’ security chief Jo Lupo [Erica Cerra] and Zane continue to have issues. For some strange reason, the only really peaceful relationship seems to be between Henry [Joe Morton] and Grace Deacon [Tembi Locke], which is good because they may be the only thing that averts disaster.
Liftoff, written by Bruce Miller [from a story by Miller and series co-creator Jaime Paglia] and directed by Mike Rohl, somehow manages to maintain the now standard Eureka balance between drama and comedy even though the peril is more heightened than usual – not only might Fargo and Zane die, there could be six more deaths and an international incident!
Like most eps of Eureka, the script is not only a mix of high drama and comedy [low and high], it is also littered with pop culture references, two of which go above and beyond – Deputy Andy’s Old spice commercial reference and a more subtle, but a very witty visual gag that pays homage [is stolen from] Galaxy Quest.
Eureka’s mid-season four premiere also sets the stage for a multi-episode arc featuring fan favorite, Felicia Day – and the return of a major villain from the show’s early days.
As I said when I reviewed the show’s season four premiere, this could well be Eureka’s best season, so far. I offer Liftoff as continuing evidence of that.
Grade: Eureka: Liftoff – A-
At the end of season two, Warehouse 13 lost one of its field agents when Myka Bering [Joanne Kelly], believing that it was her fault the world almost came to an end, walked away from the job. Season two’s premiere, The New Guy, introduces her replacement, ATF Agent Steve Jinks [Aaron Ashmore], a guy who has a unique ability that can be seen as both a gift and a curse – he can tell when someone is lying!
Jinks’ introduction is a beauty – when a strange electrical storm surrounds the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Warehouse 13 chief, Secret Service Agent Artie Nielsen [Saul Rubinek], Secret Service Agent Pete Lattimer [Eddie McClintock] and Artie’s apprentice, Claudia Donovan [Allison Scagliotti] are trying to shut down Jimi Hendrix’s guitar and when Jinks catches them, he sifts through their lies so easily that they have to tell him the truth before he’ll let them do what they’ve got to do. Which leads to Jinks being recruited by Mrs. Frederic [CCH Pounder] in her patented, mysterious manner – and being given the ‘America’s attic’ speech by Artie when he arrives at the warehouse for his first day [best moment: Claudia’s casual ‘Watch the bombs…’].
Jinks’ first case is a juicy one. A woman in Denver is bitten by a Russell’s Viper after she opens the note accompanying a gift basket. Her last words are from Shakespeare. No snake is found. Meanwhile, in the warehouse, another is brewing – this time, because statues of the king and queen of the Greek gods, Zeus and Hera, are throwing lightning at each other.
In Denver, the FBI agent in charge of the investigation takes exception to Pete and Jinks horning in on her turf, but when a local actor dies of thirteen stabs by thirteen different blades – uttering a sentence in ancient Greek – after opening a ‘flyer,’ the duo, sensing a connection seek expert help. Welcome to Bering Books…
With Myka’s help, and a vague connection to a gathering of international financial leaders at a Denver hotel, Pete and Jinks are able to put together a plan – a plan that is disrupted with potentially fatal consequences. But will that be enough to convince her to return to the fold?
The New Guy isn’t [quite] as fast paced as the usual Warehouse 13 episode, though Jinks’ accelerated introduction to the warehouse [you’ll see what I mean by that, really] doesn’t take up as much time as it might have.
The artifact that propels the Pete/Jinks/Myka arc is clever and nicely thought out, while the threat to the physical warehouse is plenty funny and gives us new insights into Artie’s character and perception of the worlds [‘These plants are making me nervous…].
Despite being an unfinished cut, the effects in The New Guy look pretty good, and the solutions to both the case and the warehouse’s godly storm are cleverly handled. There’s also a terrific closing sequence that, basically, sets up an arc that will be developed over several episodes [possibly even the full season] – and it looks to be as sly as anything we’ve seen on the show, so far.
Grade: Warehouse 13: The New Guy – B+
With an evening that starts out with the light and engaging Eureka and moves to the slightly darker but just as clever Warehouse 13 before segueing into the darker still Alphas [see review above], Syfy has a lock on quality genre weirdness for Monday nights.
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Photos by Eike Schroter and Steve Wilkie/courtesy of Syfy