EPISODE REVIEW: Eureka: "Liftoff" (Season 4, Episode 11)

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This week saw the return of Eureka from the seemingly eons long departure that was their mid-season break.  I'm beginning to have trouble understanding the logic to these breaks.  It almost seems that it would make more sense to start the season in July and end it in November if you're going to have a seven month break between episodes in a single season.  Maybe someone else can explain it to me.

Apparently the mid-season finale marked the end of Dr. Old Spice's (sorry I forget what character he was on Battlestar Galactica because I never watched it, besides I think the Old Spice moniker has a better ring to it) tenure at Eureka and the beginning of an actual relationship between Jack and Allison. I say apparently because I really can't remember how it happened, thank God for the recap. So let's review really quick, last prior to the break Jack, Allison, Henry, Jo and Fargo were transported back in time and in trying to get back changed history.  They also brought back “Dr. Old Spice” better known as Dr. Trevor Grant who was Einstein's right hand man in setting up Eureka.  The main changes are that Allison’s son Kevin is no longer autistic, Jo and Zane are no longer together, Jo is also the head of GD security which means Andy the robot sheriff is now Andy the robot deputy, Henry is married and Fargo is the head of GD.

PLAY BY PLAY

We open Henry and Jack apparently getting ready for a wedding when they’re notified that there are “bridal issues”.  We are faked out because it’s actually a wedding for Sarah and Andy instead of one of the human cast (mostly likely Jack and Allison) as we were supposed to believe.  Turns out that Sarah has cold feet and the wedding is called off.

Cut to Fargo and Jo being interrupted by Zane in which Zane tries to extract information concerning his past relationship with Jo in a very snarky way.  Fargo steps in to defend Jo and threatens Zane with durance vile (also known as the mucus lab) if he does not finish a past due project involving building an ion pulse damper.  We then see Fargo playing in a decommissioned Mercury era command module.  Zane comes in and informs him that he’s installed the ion pulse damper and proceeds to try to extort information from Fargo inadvertently completing the launch circuit and shoot him and Fargo into space.

Apparently the rocket was supposed to be an unmanned test for the faster than light engine based on the bridge device.  The standard counter-measures for an unauthorized launch is to bring it down with “kinetic counter-measures” or “blasting it with space missiles” for those of us who do not speak geek.  We find Zane and Fargo alive in a capsule that has had most of its instrumentation ripped out, meaning no communication, no navigation, no propulsion.  They act as a classic odd couple with Fargo incredibly being the optimist and working to solve the problems as they crop up and Zane alternating between being sick, morose, or pessimistic.

In Fargo’s apparent absence, Allison assumes the acting directorship of GD for the emergency and launches the missiles at the capsule.  Jack realizes that the only place that Zane and Fargo could be would be on the capsule and runs in and self destructs the missiles without explaining why to Allison or Henry (which leads to some tense relationship moments between Carter and Allison) and we find out that the capsule is on a collision course with the International Space Station.  Meanwhile on the capsule, Fargo manages to get emergency life support online giving him and Zane approximately 6 hours of air.  Fargo vents some of their oxygen to avoid the ISS and manages to squeak by it just scraping it.

Henry realizes that the only way to get the capsule back down is to use the FTL drive but before that will work they need to get the Boson Cloud Exciter from back in the second half of season three and proceed to get to work on it.  Fargo realizes that the same thing that Henry did regarding the use of the FTL drive but is informed by Zane that it won’t work because the ion pulse damper that he “built” was actually borrowed from the Boson Cloud Exciter rendering it inoperable and no one in Eureka knows about it.  They try to communicate the lack of a pulse damper in the BCE to Eureka but it comes in too late because when Henry initiates the BCE it basically shorts out all electronics within Eureka and nothing will work for hours apparently.

As Jack and Allison head out to Henry and Grace with the BCE they’re intercepted by Jo with some horses.  Upon meeting up with Henry and Grace we find out that Grace had a shielded power supply deep underground that might still be operation and able to power the BCE for a very short time which means that they need to get in contact with Fargo and Zane to coordinate the FTL jump.  Jo heads out for the power supply while Jack and Allison try to find a replacement communications panel to communicate with Fargo and Zane.

Jo heads underground where she finds Andy whose power cell has survived the blast due to it being encased in a copper alloy but he is not 100 percent functional.  Fargo and Zane develop an oxygen leak which brings their oxygen down to 55 minutes.  Jack and Allison locate the panel but it’s non-functional.  They also locate a phone and call NASA to see if they have one but apparently Mercury era tech predates anything they have on site.  However, Carter gets them to bounce a phone signal to Fargo’s cell phone and all pertinent information is exchange with the obligatory cutting out and static masking Carter’s final instructions to Fargo.

Fargo and Zane have the FTL drive installed and perform a power test which causes an overload and a second oxygen leak which leaves Fargo to drop into despondency and Zane to take over getting them back home alive.  Carter and Allison return to the BCE and inform Henry of the capsule’s impending lack of oxygen but find out that Jo hasn’t returned with the power supply.  Jack takes off and finds Jo just as she and Andy are exiting the tunnel.  Jo throws Andy over Jack’s horse and they take off.  Zane gets the FTL drive back up and running but before they initiate Fargo tells him something about his other self and Jo.  Henry starts the BCE, Fargo starts the FTL drive and they are brought to Earth safely at the cost of draining Andy’s power supply.

Everyone reunited, there are hugs all around.  Zane calls Jo, Jojo (his nickname for her when they were an item).  Jack and Allison talk about being in a relationship and working together at the same time.  And Andy and Sarah talk about their relationship and try to start fresh.  Jo confronts Fargo regarding whether or not he told Zane anything at which point Fargo is whisked off to Washington for an emergency meeting.  He meets the new head of the Senate’s Technology Appropriations Committee, Senator Mikela Wen (Ming Na of late from Stargate Universe) and we have what appears to be our new ongoing nemesis for the second half of season four.

OBSERVATIONS

I’d like to state first that I really like Eureka as a show.  I remember watching the pilot and going 'this is fun.'  And it is fun, popcorn-like in its lack of substance, but still fun.  The acting tends to be rather good and the writing (given the fact that it’s Science Fantasy) is tight and funny.  But the entire writing team stinks when it comes to developing meta-story arcs for this universe.  They’ve had some brilliant ideas and have failed utterly in their execution of them.  The artifact arc started off so much more interesting than it wound up being, ditto with the Beverly Barlow character and the secret cabal that she worked for.  And don’t get me started on the Eva Thorne arc, which was disappointing from beginning to end.  The only arc that actually seemed to work was the ship one.  It becomes even more irritating when you see them come back to the well for the same idea again and again, this is the third time that they’ve used GD’s and Eureka’s budget as an excuse for some sort of nefarious plot device and honestly it’s getting old.

Sorry, the end kind of irritated me.  Other than that, I thought it was a solid episode, a little silly on the tech side but nothing that I felt the need to melt my brain in order to turn it off.  I really think that the stand out part of this episode was the handling of the various relationships.  Jack and Allison trying to work out the whole work together/sleep together thing felt rather real.  I loved the handling of Fargo in space, including his eventual depression as things just continued to go wrong and also Zane’s guarded respect for him as the episode progressed and we finally got to see Fargo’s true metal.

All in all a solid episode but I’m worried about where they’re taking it.  On the other hand next week’s episode has Felicia Day in it which is reason enough to watch it all by itself.

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Maybe?

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