EPISODE REVIEW: Eureka: “Welcome Back Carter” (Season 3, Episode 9)

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Well the name of the network may have inexplicably and illiterately changed, but the song about bizarrely programming their shows remains the same. Tonight Eureka returns after a TEN MONTH break right in the middle of it’s already ludicrously-short 14-episode season. Seriously, what are we? England? We’re doing half-season-long seasons now? And taking nearly a year off between episode 8 and episode 9 so we can show more episodes of Ghosthunters: Paramus Motel 6 and WWF Roidmonster Rumble? Gah. Oh, also, “Syfy” can run three-minute long station identification spots, but the old Sci-Fi Channel ruling about shows only being allowed to have 15-second main title sequences remains in effect? What the frack? (Well, to be fair, this episode was in the can a good six months before the namesake was even a glimmer in Bonnie Hammer’s unemployed eye, so maybe they just didn’t feel like changing it in this one case, but still…) Ok, ok, ok, it’s no surprise that I’ve got a lot of issues with Syfy/The Sci-Fi Channel, but that’s for another day. For now, let’s get to the review:

PLAY BY PLAY

As you’ll recall from back when George W. Bush was still running for president, and John McCain was still considered a viable candidate, episode 8 ended when Carter screwed the pooch once again and got fired by General Mansfield, Dr. Henry Deacon was elected mayor (Against his will), and, oh yeah, everyone’s pregnant *except* the wayward teen daughter.

Tonight, we pick up with Jack interviewing with the Department of Homeland Security, looking for a new job. Back in Eureka, Lexi is preparing for the birth of her twins in a zero-gravity “Baby Aquarium” that her OB-GYN has developed. Zoe is expecting to be the new sheriff, but Dr. Blake tells her that in fact they’ve hired a new Sheriff. Back at the Sheriff’s office, they find a box. Fargo comes in and opens it up, and inside is the new sheriff - a robot. Zoe quits in disgust. The Robot comes out of the box, and he’s basically an old school Cylon, who instantly morphs in to a conventionally cliched “Android who looks exactly like a human in every way.” He’s called “Sheriff Andy.” (I admit I laughed at that.)

There’s a minor accident outside of town that involves Dr. Blake, so Jack goes to check it out - a tree fell on the road, and another one falls while they’re there. This is odd. Jack mentions this to Sheriff Andy, but Andy sees nothing odd about it, and as usual General Mansfield refuses to listen to anything Jack says. Andy comes by the house to talk to Jack (“Thanks for the assist!”) and Jack’s house computer notices wood chips on his boots that have genetic anomalies. Jack asks Blake who he should talk to about this, but she can’t tell him because he’s a civilian now, and their work is classified. She does anyway, though.

He and Zoe go to talk to a poorly-acted plant geneticist lady, who refuses to talk to them, but is obviously hiding something. Jack goes to inform Andy of this while the android is futzing around (Possibly literally?) with a big dish antenna. The antenna then falls on Andy and kills him.

Jack discusses this with Henry, and concludes that something is causing these things to fall over. Fargo brings Andy back to life, but he’s wonky and can’t remember names. Andy talks to the annoying geneticist woman who admits to doing illegal research in a public forest, but explains that this is all a red herring to pad out the plot until they find the actual culprit who, in typical NCIS Screenwritng Fashion, will be the first person we *don’t* recognize who got a speaking part in this episode. Sure enough: Henry realizes that someone is screwing around with gravity, and Jack realizes it’s the evil OB-GYN that built a zero-gravity Babyquarium for his sister. Oh, yes, and Andy gets squashed flat in a high-gravity event, massively injuring him again.

Blake, Jack, and the evil OB-GYN discuss the situation, and decide to go to the Particle Accelerator to fix the problem, but as it’s only half way through the ep, you know it’s not gonna’ be that simple. Meanwhile, Sheriff Andy can only speak Dutch owing to his injuries. Sure enough, the evil OB-GYN screws the pooch - which is illegal, even for a doctor, and even in Eureka - and just makes matters worse. Now the gravity problems are gonna’ merge in to a black hole. They quickly realize that the evil OB-GYN is a dope who didn’t doesn’t understand his own machine, and he confesses that his online German girlfriend told him how to do it. Jack finds out that there’s in fact no such German, and Blake finds out that the emails came from Jacks’ own house. He confronts his daughter (Who is not pregnant), and the house itself confesses that she/it did it to keep Jack from leaving, so she/it wouldn’t be alone. Also, she’s been manipulating the gravity to try and kill Andy. Alas, she can’t turn it off because of the evil OB-GYN’s pooch-screwing earlier on.

They decide to use the Babyquarium as a gravity bomb to stop the problem, but Officer Andy refuses to go so Jack makes a not-very-harrowing drive to the evil OB-GYN’s barn (I’m a dude, so I’m not the one who’s opinion matters here, and I get that, but do women *really* wanna’ trust an OB-GYN who works out of a barn? Isn’t that more of a Doula thing? Or maybe a pottery instructor?), and tries to shut it off, but fails. Officer Andy shows up and saves the day.

In the thrilling denouement, Andy informs Henry that the general never had the power to fire Jack, and Henry informs Jack of it. Meanwhile, Andy says “I wasn’t made to be sheriff.” “Weren’t you? Really?” Then Henry informs Dr. Blake that their deep space antennae have discovered a sentient non-human signal in deep space coming towards earth.

THE END

OBSERVATIONS

OK, I’m gonna’ level with you here: I like Eureka, but I’ve never sat down and taken in the whole series. It works for me, I have no complaints about it, but for whatever reason the show never grabbed me by the throat and demanded I dance with it the way Kings and Lost and Firefly did. I like it, but I’m not really a fan, and if it came on USA when nothing else was on, I watched it. I never made a whole in my schedule to specifically follow the show, though. So I’m sure there was a lot of nuance and backstory that I totally missed in this episode, and I’m not the optimal person to do it. But as there’s nothing else on at the moment, I thought I’d give it the old college try. Please do forgive me if I blew it, or made any glaring omissions.

Firstly, when the show is on - and I felt like it was really on tonight - I really do enjoy it. It’s like a really good, really funny Lewis Padgett SF short story, funny and thought provoking and kind of exciting at the same time. They could have amped up the excitement factor a bit - the mad dash to the Evil Barn of Obstetrics and Gynecology was a bit of a ’meh’ - but it was funny, it was fast, and to be honest I guessed wrong a couple times about where the mystery was going. At one point I thought “Well, that’s it - Andy is the new Sheriff, and Jack and Zoe will be like P.I.s or something…” then the dish fell on him. Also, early on, I totally didn’t see the gravity thing coming, and assumed it was going to be an invisible Monster of the Id, like in Forbidden Planet. So that was fun. It’s fun to be wrong in an SF show when you’ve watched as much SF as I have.

The running gag with Andy getting repeatedly killed/maimed was pretty funny - I laughed both times - but it felt like it needed a third incident to really sell it. Also liked his increasing wonkyness as the ep progressed. In fact, I really liked Andy. He reminded me a bit of Luther Ironheart from the old American Flagg comics in the 80s. In the end, I sort of expected Jack to ask him to stay on as another deputy (I mean, logically, the job *IS* too big for just him and Zoe), but no….I do think/hope we’ll see him again, though. I liked the performance.

Two Scientific Problems:
1) Andy says he can see Magnetic Fields, so he can see the anomalies. That’s well and good, but gravity *isn’t* part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
2) Henry explains gravity, and Dr. Blake says “Are you talking about Gravity Wells? They’ve never been proven to exist…” Not true: A “Gravity Well” is basically the gravitational field around a body. The Earth, for instance, is at the bottom of the earth’s own “Gravity Well”, and the moon is rolling around up near the rim of it. Mars has it’s own gravity well as well, and of course so does the sun. In fact, all of our little gravity wells are orbiting INSIDE the sun’s gravity well. So there!

I’m assuming the Coming of the Aliens will be the arc for the remainder of this season.

So I know that Sci-Fi used to shamefully bifurcate and distend it’s shows. The final season of BSG stretched over nearly three years, the final season of MST3k was dragged over two, that sort of thing just kills the audience for these things. In fact, Sci-Fi was notorious for treating their own shows terribly (Hey, Stargate SG1, congratulations on being our #2 rated show, and killing off Star Trek: Enterprise, and for running longer than any other American SF show in history! You’re cancelled! Bonnie here will escort you off the lot. We’ve decided to go in a more BSG/Wrestlery kind of direction”) Hopefully Syfy will do better, but frankly I don’t really believe it. But what I’d like to know is how this show is doing in the ratings? Is it cancelled, and they’re burning off the remaining episodes here in the summer graveyard, or is it already picked up for a fourth year? Or is it on the bubble? What’s the deal? Can anyone tell me?

FINALLY, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY:

We’re looking for someone to review this show full-time. I’m happy to do it until someone else steps up, and I think it’s a fine show, but I lack the passion for it to really make my OCD work for me, and I will happily yield this particular throne to the right person. If you make a point of watching every episode of the show already, if you’re a master of Eurekan trivia, and love the show, why not make that work for you? Seriously: write up your reviews (including a synopsis and your observations), and you can have them read by SEVERAL HUNDRED people a day here on Republibot. How cool is that? (Answer: Very cool! And you can brag about it to your spooky friends around the watercooler at work, like I do!) That presupposes that you can write reasonably well, of course, but, hey, that’s not hard at all, right? Writing: It’s like talking, but with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In exchange for that, you’ll get exactly *no* money, but you’ll earn points that can be redeemed for swag in our soon-to-be opened online store, and the ego gratification that can only come from being a blogger on a successful site and knowing that thousands of anonymous geeks around the world will hang on your every word.

If you think this might be something you wanna’ do, please post in the comments section and/or email me at three@republibot.com

Thanks!

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