EPISODE REVIEW: Warehouse 13: “Magnetism” (Episode 3)

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We’re all familiar with the Sophomore Slump, right? You’ve got your whole life to put together your first album, and only 18 months to come up with the second one, so it follows that it’ll be a bit lackluster. Of course if your first album is rather mediocre - as was the first album from Republibot 3.0 and the Republibot 3.0 Orchestra featuring Republibot 3.0, for instance - then it’s a bit easier to have a solid second showing. That’s the case with Warehouse 13, where the premier episode wasn’t bad, parts of it were quite nice actually, but it felt padded out by half, and the actual plot itself was extraneous in that episode. Last week’s outing was, I felt, far superior and surprised me. It not only overcame the Sophomore Slump, but you’ll recall I said that was really a better introduction to the show than the first episode was.

Unfortunately, if your 2nd album/episode/play/novel/whatever is better than your first, then what happens if your 3rd album/episode/play/novel/shadow puppet recital/whatever is…eh, you know, kind of lame? Is there even a word for that? “Junior Slump?”No, that doesn’t alliterate. “Junior Jerking Around?” Nah, not very good either.

Anyway, whatever you call it, that’s what we’ve got tonight. In spades.

PLAY BY PLAY:

We start off in Paris - in a museum that looks suspiciously like the one Mika saved the president in two weeks back - while Pete is trying to steal the guillotine blade that killed Marie Antoinette while Mika “Distracts” the guards, principally by running around in a black catsuit (Grrowl!) and beating up the guards. They get away, and back in the Warehouse just a jumpcut later, they get in to a pointless, annoying, and not-at-all-funny argument that’s obviously supposed to be funny while various warehouse items start to get all hot and bothered over their negative energy. Artie douses them with gack or slime or whatever they’re calling the purple nickelodeon goop they douse magical items with. Then they’re inexplicably happy and wrasslin’ in the gack.

Roll Credits.

When we come back, there’s strange doin’s a transpiring’ in the generic Midwest town of Unionville, Colorado. A violinist (Catholic) smashed his instrument after an impressive solo, an old lady (Also Catholic) smashed her husband’s urn, and spray-painted “FUC” on a hospital wall. (Spoiler: We don’t see it, but the next letter was probably “K”) A nun (She’s Catholic, too!) tries to fly, despite not having the big habit that Sally Field used to wear when she wasn’t Gidget. Artie notices this and sends them in to investigate.

Pete wants to be in charge, so Artie says ‘sure, you’re in charge, but let Mika think it’s her.’ Pete agrees. Mika wants to be in charge, so Arties says ‘sure, you’re in charge, but let Pete think it’s him.’ She agrees. They borrow Artie’s car because Pete’s is “Still in Lake Michigan.”

One more jump cut and another pointless argument later, we’re in Unionville, when the little old lady with the graffiti - I can’t remember her name so we’ll call her “K” - vandalizes a newspaper machine and cold cocks an annoying EMT. Mika questions her while Pete talks to Mac, the local (Catholic) sheriff, (Cornell Womack, who’s better known to me as a voice actor), takes an immediate dislike to Pete. Then we get a pointless argument between Pete and Mika, followed by more clues, followed by more pointless arguments, followed by more clues, argument, clues, argument, clues, and so on. Rather than go in to tedious detail about that, how about I just trust you to imagine needless and poorly-written bickering after every major plot point, ok?

Anyway, the Violinist is in a coma, and the Nun manages to go flying again while Mika is questioning her, so the madness is recurrent. Pete gets word of some potential related oddness at the local AA meeting, so he crashes that while Mika talks to a (Catholic) EMT who has an attack of crazies and keeps grabbing her breasts. (All sexism aside, this was the funniest bit of the episode. I thought I was going to cringe, because the first two times he makes a play for it is really tedious, but from the third time on, it is actually pretty funny in a Get Smart sense, you know, where you get that feeling of “I can’t believe they’re *still* pushing this one gag!” So it was funny because I couldn’t believe they kept doing it, and Mika’s reactions - she also couldn’t believe he kept doing it - were pretty funny, too) One of the (Catholic) AA guys goes goofy and runs to the bar to have a drink (Must be an Irish Catholic), chased by Pete. The sheriff (Who’s named Mac, so you know he’s Irish Catholic too - this will pay off later in the episode) shows up to threaten people, then Mika goes goofy too - peer pressure - and clocks Pete and the Sheriff.

Ok, so now Mika’s obviously infected, and the connecting person in all these cases appears to be the town shrink who’s also the leader of the local AA. Pete takes an antique pocket watch once owned by a mentalist, but this is a red herring, and we’re back at square one. Then they suddenly realize what’s been painfully, painfully obvious since 15 minutes in to the episode: all of them go to the same church, or, in the case of Mika, they’ve been in the church a lot. They quickly realize the Priest (Who, curiously, isn’t catholic*) has been counseling people while they sit in his great, great, great, great grandfather’s chair that he just got a week ago. Turns out Grandpa was an early hypnotherapist, and Artie points out that the springs in the chair could have become…[sigh]…emotional magnets which could have become activated because…[sigh]…the priest has the same DNA as the hypnotherapist did a century before.

In bursts Mac, covered in explosives and threatening to blow up the church if the lawfully instituted government’s lawfully deputized agents don’t get out immediately. (See! Told you he was an Irish Catholic! And certainly not an Ulsterman at that!) Pete destroys the chair and Mika takes out Mac, but not before he detonates probably the only suicide bomb in human history to have a timer on it. Pete runs out with the bomb, and it blows up.

Meanwhile, back at Warehouse 13, Artie notices goofy electrical shenanegins going on, which confuse him until the pretty girl who’s name I can never remember from the B&B shows up, thereby allowing him to exposit a bit about how they’re being hacked by someone trying to access the Warehouse through the power grid. He blows this off as useless. At the end of the episode, Mika and Pete punk him in to thinking his car blew up. Then the lights go wonky again, and his main circuit board just keeps saying “Knock Knock” over and over again, and he realizes the Hacker is in.

THE END

*- I’m joking. He really is.

OBSERVATIONS:

I liked the pointless James Bond teaser intro, and Mika’s fight coordinator is much better in this ep than in the first one. It didn’t really look real, but it looked neat just the same. They also mention the mission that put Pete’s car in the great lakes (Mika: “That was cold”) so evidently they’ve been working together for some time and have been on a peck o’ missions already.

That said, Pete and Mika don’t really have much/any chemistry thus far in the show. I’m gradually gravitating towards liking Mika better than Pete, simply because her line readings are a bit more consistent. Pete feels all over the place to me. I don’t like either of their voices, by the way. And while I could almost believe Pete was a Secret Service agent, I stand by my original assessment that Mika seems more like an unusually focused office manager. I’m not buying the ‘tough girl’ stuff when it shows up.

Artie had little to do in this episode, and the Secret Service Chief and Amanda Waller don’t show up at all. The pretty girl from the B&B who’s name I can’t remember shows up for the third time in this episode and just hangs around. She uses the pronoun “Us” several times in conjunction to the Warehouse, so she’s not just someone who’s allowed to know about it, she’s evidently inside the loop and a part of its functioning in some way.

The mystery was completely non-mysterious, and man-oh-man was the writing sloppy in this one. In addition to the tedious arguments and random mood swings of the characters (Some of which I’ll allow because they were being manipulated by an evil…[sigh]….chair), there’s just stuff that makes no sense. Pete lying to the sheriff for absolutely no reason whatsoever, aside from the script needed them to get off to a bad start. This feels fake and forced. Yeah, yeah, I know the whole show is fake and forced, but this episode had bits that felt moreso than usual

I had a strange feeling that this was - at one point or another - intended to be the second episode in the series, but then at some point they swapped it out. Mika and Pete are all chummy in last week’s episode, and in this one they’re at each other’s throats, though they end up chummy. Also, frankly, this is pretty much the level of crapitude I was expecting from the show when we got done with the premier - you know, the usual ‘interesting premise that we refuse to take seriously, and will piss away’ kind of thing. Then I noticed that the “hacker” stuff is built on what we saw last week, so obviously this isn’t a normal case of Sci-Fi/SyFy’s “Randomly Screw Around With Episode Order” policy, but I wouldn’t have been surprised at all if this *was* intended to be the 2nd episode a rewrite or three back.

And that’s about it. Just a very weak episode all around, though clearly I’m hoping they’ll re-find their footing again next week.

Anyone got any opinions? Sound off in the Comments section, I’d love to hear ‘em.

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