EPISODE REVIEW: Warehouse 13: “MacPherson” (Episode 12, Season Finale)

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Our season comes to an end that’s no less uneven in it’s finale than it was in the events leading up to it. The episode is definitely better than last week, and again perhaps guardedly above the average for this show, but still far from their peak, and farther still from what they’re capable of.

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Back in 1994, there’s a burning building, and MacPherson’s wife is trapped inside. Artie and MacPherson himself stand outside wearing late-80s clothes, and with their hair dyed so they’ll look younger (but not thinner), and argue whether or not they should go inside and use an artifact to save the woman’s life. MacPherson says he loves his wife, and he knows Arties does too - Artie as much as admits it - and gives a speech about how the artifacts should be used to fix the world, and not just hoarded. Artie disagrees, so MacPherson zaps him with his Johnny Atomic Discombobulator Ray Gun, and takes a medallion from him. This allows him to run through the flames, untouched, and rescue his wife, but it passes on the effects of the fire to other people in the immediate vicinity. To save his wife, 5 firemen die.

In 2009, Mrs. F. is briefing the team about this. She says MacPherson was arrested, tried, sentenced to five life sentences, and banished from the Warehouse by means of some doubletalkium injected in to his body which will react adversely with the hyperboleum in the walls of the warehouse itself. If he comes in, the doubletalkium will cause his blood to turn to acid and kill him. After two years in klink, there was an explosion, many people died, MacF thought to be among them. Oh well.

Meanwhile, MacPherson is talking to yet another German, and a North Korean. He demonstrates a glass goblet that makes super-loud noises if stroked, then sticks the medallion from 15 years ago in the hand of a goon, and pushes the goon in a furnace. The goon emerges unscathed, but several other goons keel over and die in writhing agony. (As opposed to the good kind of writhing, I guess.) This was all a demonstration for his great big auction of preternatural hoo-hahery that he’s going to be having later on. Claudia discovers evidence of this online, but Artie screws things up, resulting in the crash of the main Warehouse computer.

Pete, Myka, and Artie travel to DC to visit MacPherson’s ex-wife, last seen in Episode 7, “Implosion.” She denies having seen her hubbie in 15 years, never went to visit him in jail, wants nothing to do with him. The team make quick work of her, and she admits she’s lying. There’s what cops call an “orgy of evidence” laying around, most of which they snatch up, including an Egyptian necklace she’s wearing.

Claudia sees a picture of MacPherson, and recognizes him as (A) the guy that gave the mystical bric-a-brac to her brother all those years ago and (B) helped her crack the Warehouse 13 mainframe back eight episodes ago. She’s freaked out. Lena is oddly unconcerned. Is that a clue, or is it just that she’s a bad actress and a poorly written character? It’s hard to tell. She sure is pretty, though. Damn! Much hotter than usual tonight.

Pete, Myka, and Artie travel to the factory where MacPherson gave his demonstration earlier, and quickly run afoul of the German dude, who attempts to subdue them with his noisemaker goblet, but Artie knocks it out of his hand, and breaks it. The kraut runs off, and everyone else is semi-deafened until Artie fixes them all with a magic tuning fork. They then discover that the necklace they took from the ex-mrs. MacPherson is in fact a key that opens up a box that contains a cheap knockoff of Timothy Leary’s magic reading glasses. Really. It’s a damn goofy show. Myka points out that this is too easy, and Artie agrees that his nemesis is up to something, but he can’t tell what it is.

Back at the warehouse, Lena tells Mrs. F. that there’s always been something off about Claudia, so the two of them decide to check on whether or not several items MacPherson offered for sale are really still in the warehouse. They’re not. Checking the log of who’s futzed around with them, they find incontrovertible proof that Claudia did it every time. They confront Claudia about this, but she denies it. Mrs. F. reasons that Claudia is likely an unwitting mole, and Claudia gets upset and leaves. No one chases after her to be supportive.
Following the magic glasses, Myka finds a spot in the ground that opens up in to a magical CGI access tunnel. Going down it, they end up in…another damn warehouse. I realize that’s the name of the show and all, I realize they’re on a budget, but seriously, guys…anyway, they split up and Pete and Myka see Artie selling stuff to the German, Korean, and a random assortment of others that literally changes from scene to scene. Freaked out and trying to figure it out, Artie comes up behind them - now there are two Arties - and explains that he’s the real item, the other one is obviously MacPherson, staging an act for the surveillance cameras all the better to get Artie sent up the river.

Myka and Pete capture the fake Artie, but just then MacPherson comes in with the real Artie captured, and with an atomic hand grenade in his mouth. Bite and it goes off. Really of limited practical application, truth be told. The Fake Artie turns out to be MacPherson’s goon wearing Harriet Tubman’s thimble, and now with the tables turned, he gives an impassioned speech to Pete about how Pete suspects the artifacts should be used to make the world a better place, too. Pete blows this off, saying it might hold more water if he hadn’t stuck an A-bomb in the fat dude’s mouth. He then throws down a fragment of the loud glass from before, which allows them to free Artie and subdue MacPherson.

But there’s still fifteen minutes to go, so you know it won’t be that easy, unless they’re going to stick a big, dumb Ally McBeal walk-around-in-the-snow-while-Vonda-Shepherd-sings montage to pad it out.

Back at the Warehouse, they decide to deal with MacPherson themselves, rather than trust him to the criminal justice system of this fine land of ours, they decide to seal him in bronze for all eternity, which is, of course, the more rational option since it forgoes lawyers. Mrs. F. gives him a magic necklace to counter the effects of the doubletalkium in his blood, then haul him off to “Bronze Sector.” Claudia runs away from home. Everyone goes about their business after that.

Then someone lets him out - it’s Claudia! Oh, snap! No, not Claudia! I didn’t see that coming! And by “Didn’t,” I mean “Totally.” She waves to the surveillance cameras, then the two of them head up to the headquarters area, where Claudia pulls off Harriet Tubman’s thimble and is revealed to be - Lena! Oh, double-snap yet again! I totally didn’t see that coming! And once again, by “Didn’t” I mean “Did.” English is such a confusing language.

Artie tries to stop this, but MacPherson loaded the Warehouse computer with spy ware and stuff when he crashed it earlier, and takes control of the place, putting it on lockdown. He then jogs out the white tunnel that connects the office to the outside, and when Artie tries to follow, MacPherson blows up the tunnel, killing Artie to death.

The End…ish…

OBSERVATIONS

Maybe it’s just because I ended up typing “Artie” like three hundred times in that synopsis, but this story felt a bit like one of the better Wild Wild West episodes, with nebulous foreign powers looking to by ludicrous MacGuffins for the most half-assed of reasons. Those generally weren’t magical on The Wild Wild West, of course, but when it’s just a MacGuffin, does it really matter if we’re pretending it’s scientific or magical or historical? It is just a plot device after all. Anyway, this episode was a bit more twisty and turney at the end, which mostly makes up for the straight-forward blahness of the first half, but since it dispenses with the standard W-13 plot, I’m disposed to like it. I found myself wondering how the show would be different if it starred Ross Martin rather than Saul Rubinek. Probably quite a bit more sedate, since Ross has been dead for a long time now.

Lena’s Gone! Lena’s Gone! Lena’s Gone! Sing it with me! Now do that dance I taught you! Lena’s Gone! Yeah! Seriously: I couldn’t be happier if they had Guinan put a bullet in Counselor Troi’s brain, I am sooooo glad she’s gone. Gone-ish, really. I’m sure she’ll be back. From a purely practical standpoint, this makes sense: Lena was a temp character who’s only purpose was to provide exposition for Artie prior to the introduction of Claudia. Once Claudia was there, Lena served no real purpose, so rather than keeping her on, or simply killing her off, they wrote her out this way. Woo-hoo! Honestly, I’m so very happy. And slightly turned on. She looked better tonight than she ever had on the show before.

Was Ms. F. always wearing that necklace, and I just never noticed it before now? I’m too lazy to go back and look…

For those having difficulty following the plot, MacPherson’s plan was to get captured so they’d have to counteract the doubletalkium in his blood, and then his inside (wo)man could free him so he could get his revenge on Artie and free access to all the crap in the warehouse. It worked swimmingly. The auction, and even the bit last week with Poe’s quill pen, were all just a ruse.

That said, I’m having difficulty getting a feel for the guy. Does MacPherson want to make the world a better place, and all this is a means to an end? Is he just a nut job who says that as a justification for his nut jobbery? Is he a James Bondian super villain bent on world domination? What? He’s kind of all over the place.

It’s confirmed in a second episode: Mrs. F. doesn’t age.

Since they went to all the trouble of framing Claudia, the fact that she ran away from home is going to look real incriminating next season.

Roger Rees aged interestingly, didn’t he? On the one hand, he still looks completely like Roger Rees. On the other hand, he looks a bit like a late-middle-aged version of Napoleon Solo. On the gripping hand, he looks surprisingly like Illya Nikovich Kuryarkin, too. He’s a one-man gene-splice 50-something version of the stars of The Man From Uncle. I mean that in a good way, of course.

The interstitial dialog - the typical Pete/Myka/Artie yammering was much more annoying than useful this time out, and very sub-par. The only good gag buried in there was “My lunch is in there.” The audio mix on one or two scenes was oddly flat.

I’m not even joking, guys: You’ve got a cute little show here, with a tweak and a few whacks on the side it could be great, but enough with the planet of warehouses motif already, ok? Seriously - the man dramatic locus is the titular Warehouse, but did we need four lengthy sequences in two special guest warehouses? That was just cheap. I’ll let it slide this time, as you were obviously over budget, but no more, ok? Please? Sheesh.

Artie obviously isn’t dead. Right before the explosion struck him, he put his right hand in his pocket and got a very calm look. Obviously some mystical hoobijoob protected him.

And that’s it. Any thoughts? I’m looking forward to next season…

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