EPISODE REVIEW: Warehouse 13: “Resonance“ (Episode 2)

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There’s a series of bank robberies in Chicago in which no one is killed or hurt, but no one remembers anything after the fact. Meanwhile, at Warehouse 13, someone is trying to hack their computers. Artie sends Scully and Mulder - excuse me, Mika and Pete - off to check out the robberies while he tracks down the hacker himself. The very pretty psychic girl from the Bed & Breakfast where Mika and Pete are living hangs around for no real purpose other than to briefly make goo-goo eyes at Pete (and his aura), and to give Artie someone to exposit to while the series leads are away.

In Chicago, Pete and Mika meet up with the local FBI investigator, played by Tricia Helfer. She may be an FBI agent here, but I think I speak for all of us when I say she’ll always be Carla from Burn notice. What? She was in some other show too? Jeremiah? No? That’s not it? I dunno, I guess I must not have been paying attention. Anyway, the team doesn’t make a strong first impression with Carla from Burn Notice, so Mika calls her old boss at the Secret Service, who instantly, magically resolves the tension. Pete then goes about making paper dolls from the surveillance photos in order to make sort of foam core models of the crime scenes, while Mika tracks down a cellphone recording of the sound played in the bank heists. One of the witnesses they play goes all goofy and blanks out. When they turn off the tape, she has no memory of it, but says she feels loved.

Pete recognizes the music as similar to his dad’s favorite song, and Artie discovers that the musician who wrote and recorded the song is living in Chicago. They go to check him out. He’s a Brian Wilson type, who started out in sixties bubblegum, moved in to Jazz, then experimental stuff, then mental illness. He’s semi-catatonic, manic depressive, clinically depressed, and has terminal cancer too. A sad case. Mika is able to get him to talk a bit, and Pete plays the song they heard on the piano, which gets a reaction out of him, but he’s in basketcasevill - population: him - and it’s obvious he’s not robbing any banks. The housekeeper seems really nice, and used to be his backup singer back in the day. She tells them that a record company exec screwed the musician out of all his stuff, at which point he just sort of lost it, and has been like this since.

At the label, there’s a receptionist ignoring them and putting on perfume, which is so incongruous that you know it’s gonna’ be a clue later on, right? The exec is nice enough, and takes them to see the musician - I keep forgetting his name, so let’s just call him Brian Wilson - he takes them to see all of Brian Wilson’s stuff in the label archives. It’s all there, nothing is missing, though he lets on that there’s an anonymous bidder looking to buy it all up. He lets it slip that it was Brian Wilson’s engineer who caused his sad decline, encouraging him to do more and more experimental stuff, and not happy songs about happiness in happy times or whatever the hell was marketable in the sixties.

Artie traces the hack to Mika and Pete’s old boss’s office, so he breaks in. Their boss - Dickerson is it? - breaks in, but artie turns him in to a cardboard standie. Really. Mika meanwhile realizes that all the banks have really good acoustics, and Artie figures two such banks that haven’t been robbed yet. Mika goes to one, while Pete goes off to put the moves on Carla from Burn Notice.

Three people are robbing the bank while Mika arrives, two get away but she captures one - it’s Brian Wilson’s old engineer. While taking him in to custody, the other two show up and use their frodus beam* to get everyone to just stand around in the grass and be cool while they rescue their man. Mika manages to slip her cellphone in to one of ‘em’s pocket as they run off, however. Artie traces the phone for her, and turns Dickerson back in to a human. Dickerson points out that he didn’t do it, and proves it, so Artie uses Dickerson’s computer to try and track down the hacker yet again.

Meanwhile, back at Brian Wilson’s house, our three conspirators are there - the receptionist, the housekeeper, and the producer/engineer guy. They’d been robbing banks to get money to buy back all of Brian Wilsons’ stuff, and the guy is considerably less catatonic and more sensible now. They explain that the receptionist is his daughter, who masterminded the whole thing “To get her dad back.” Pete prevails on Mika to show some mercy, and they leave them with their ill-gotten gain. They take the super-duper magical recording and head home.

Meanwhile, Artie tracks the hacker and ends up in a crazy virtual limbo for a few moments, before snapping back to reality.

THE END

*Gratuitous Monkees reference, but I do think it’s apt

OBSERVATIONS:

Not a bad sophomore episode, really. I like that there was some old-school 1970s-TV show styled sleuthing going on. The mystery wasn’t particularly mysterious, and the mystical record is really more-or-less a Magoffin (It could have just as easily been Madame Borgia’s comb from last week, or mystic runes carved in the living rock by Caer Bannaugh, which make plain the last resting place of the most holy grail), but they tied …. No, you know what? I take that back. It wasn’t particularly generic. It actually tied nicely in to Brian Wilson’s dilemma. It kind of had to be a record. Excuse me. I was being snarky for no good reason.

I do really like that the crime wave was for more-or-less unselfish purposes. I didn’t see that coming. However, the perfume clue was completely redundant since we had Mika’s cellphone to lead us to the bad guys. That’s redundant storytelling, or mildly sloppy. Take your pick.

I do not understand, however, why the robbers had to use an actual mechanical record player and an actual physical record. What? They couldn’t have burned it to MP3? Why not? His daughter is willing to rob banks, but she won’t violate copyright laws regarding the unlawful duplication of licensed sound recordings? Unlikely. (Here my snark is appropriate. In the preceding paragraph it wasn’t. Again, I’m sorry about that.)

Tricia Helfer is pretty much completely wasted in this episode. She could be anyone who’s reasonably attractive. On the other hand, I was very surprised to see Dickerson again. I figured he was a pilot-only character. He and Artie seem to have set up a grudging admiration for each other, though, so I expect we’ll be seeing more of him.

For some reason, the housekeeper/backup singer/bank robber lady reminded me a bit of Catherine O’Hara, but not in a funny, or pretty way. I can’t explain it. Something in the voice, I guess.

I presume that the virtual dealie we saw Artie fall in to will be this season’s arc plot, which will resolve itself in the season finale a couple months from now. It was ok, but it felt a bit padded. Artie wasn’t as good in this episode as in the first one. He wasn’t bad, mind you, but he didn’t jump off the page at me like he did in the pilot.

I’m still not entirely sold on our dynamic duo. They’re serviceable, but neither of them really work well for me. Pete is a bit more doofus than he should be, and Mika…well, I simply don’t believe she’s a government agent. She reminds me more of a really young, really focused office manager. I just don’t buy it. We do discover that she had an emotionally abusive father in this ep, and that her boyfriend/partner who died prior to her transfer to Washington was married. Carla from Burn Notice seems somewhat put off by that notion, and I have to admit I found her reaction rather charming. Such things are so passe these days, it’s nice that someone takes umbrage at it.

Playing “Oh Yeah” by Yello when we first seen Tricia/Carla in the episode made me cringe. That was just embarrassing. Also embarrassing was the whole “Standie” gag. They’re going to need to figure out if they want to play these artifacts for laughs or seriously, because I was going along with the story, but that gag totally, completely took me out of it.

One thing that I noticed was they’re playing up the “Partners” aspect of Pete and Mika a lot in this episode, as opposed to last week when they really couldn’t stand each other. Last week they were a new, grudging team, and this week they behave like old buddies who could have been working together for ever. This seems a bit…abrupt? Out of nowhere? I call this the “Space: 1999” plan, where you’ve got one episode that sets up their dilemma, and then a second episode which acts as if they’ve already been doing this for a zillion years, indistinguishable from any other episode. In the case of $’99, it was so they didn’t need to worry about syndicating episodes in the proper order. In the case of Warehouse 13, however, since they introduced an arc, this just won’t work, they *have* to be shown in something like a specific order. It’s not disastrous, it’s just an odd choice, really. That said, I do like that they’re not overloading everyone with dysfunction, which was the Sci-Fi Channel way.

Oh, speaking of which: I take back what I said last week about Syfy continuing Sci-Fi’s odd decision not to let shows have an opening title sequence. Warehouse 13 has one. It’s not very good, but it does have one. So thanks, guys!

On the whole, it was a pretty good episode. If it suffers - aside from my minor quibbles above - it’s only because it’s so early in the show’s run that the cast and crew aren’t fully comfortable enough to pull it of as tightly as later episodes will no doubt be. Frankly, if I were trying to convince people to watch this show - and I’m not - I’d be more likely to show them this episode than the pilot. It’s shorter, tighter, works better, and has something other than a pro forma plot to it.

It wasn’t bad. I’m still not a massive fan or anything, but I didn’t mind watching it, and I’ll give it another shot or two. Frankly, the 2nd episode was much better than I thought it would be.

That said, if any of *You* out there reading this review would like to take over the reviewing duties for this show, I’m still perfectly willing to hand it over to you. The offer stands.

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