EPISODE REVIEW: Warehouse 13: “Where and When” (Season 2, episode 10)

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Neorandomizer can’t be with you tonight, so I’m pinch hitting for him. Just as a caveat, this is the first episode of Warehouse 13 I’ve watched since the season premier. Doubtless I’m going to miss some details here and there. If I blow anything too egregious, sound off in the comments.

PLAY BY PLAY

H.G. Wells is on the team, but Artie doesn’t trust her. The retired old lady Warehouse agent from “Burnout” (Season 1, episode 6) turns up and tells them that the prime suspect in a murder investigation from 1961 just died of old age. The artifact - which turns women to glass - is still out there. While discussing this, the old lady lets a detail slip that lets HG Wells know her time machine is involved.

While Artie is off grousing, HG, Pete, Mika, Claudia, and The Old Lady decide that Pete and Mika need to go back to 1961 to solve the crime. Physical time travel is impossible, we’re told, despite it happening several times in Eureka and that being in the same universe as W-13. Fortunately, however, since the writers of this show have seen Stargate, Pete and Mika can simply transmigrate their souls into those of The Old Lady (Before she got on) and her now-dead paramour.

This they then do, and they spend most of the rest of this story in an episode of Mad Men: Razor ties, skinny suits, meticulous hair, lots of cigarettes. Also, Armin Shimmerman is running around doing a really great Frank Gorshin impression. (Which is kinda’ funny since Frank was mostly known for doing impressions of other people, y’see…) We get some awkward scenes of Mika being typically ineffectual and having a hard time fitting into the time period, Pete drops has far less difficulty, which is probably a veiled commentary about the ‘60s being a boys’ club decade. Whatever.

The big twist, of course, is that the prime suspect didn’t do it, but who did? It must be one of the other guest characters we’ve met for it to make any kind of sense? But who? Ah hell, I’m not fooling anyone: it’s the guy’s wife. She got an artifact (How is never explained) and is killing women she thinks her husband is sleeping with. In fact, he’s not sleeping with anyone, he’s collaborating with the women to get information that will allow him to take over the magazine he works for.

With everything resolved kinda’ too easily, we need something to pad out the story. Artie throws a hissy fit in the present that effectively means Pete and Mika will die when they come back to the future. He’s forced to trust HG Wells, who fixes the time machine through various Scotty/Geordi means which mercifully take place mostly offscreen.

Meanwhile, we find that the old lady is dying of cancer, and the time machine will kill whomever uses it next. She elects to transmigrate back into herself in 1961 to share one last moment with her long lost beau, and dies.

Artie realizes HG is at least moderately trustworthy

The End

OBSERVATIONS

The first thing that struck me about this episode is how darn fat Artie has gotten. Seriously. I haven’t seen the show in a couple months, and he is conspicuously more rotund than he was in the season opener. We had a little flashback to season 1, and he’s waaaaay skinnier there. Not skinny, mind you, he’s always been a stocky guy, but he’s in full-on Riker mode now. I mean, he’s porking up enough that I have to wonder if he’s got some kind of nasty heath thing going on. Saul Rubinek isn’t exactly a young man, and he’s looking unhealthy.
Actingwise he’s fine, though it annoys me a bit that they continually make him do things that make no particular sense to his character. This time out, he’s fanatically distrustful of HG, which seems forced and fake somehow, and appears to be mostly resolved in the conclusion.

Speaking of HG Wells, by the way, Jaime Murray has something weird going on with her eyes. My wife says it’s plastic surgery. Mika has obviously had some work done, too, which makes little sense to me. Both of ‘em are attractive women (Wells vastly more so, but then I’ve always liked Brunettes) so why all the face work? Alas, this is getting so common that casting directors are using more and more foreign actresses simply because they have more normal eye and mouth movement. This is just a digression, but it bugs me that a show that makes a simmering pretence of female empowerment has two women on the cast who’ve nipped and tucked so much. It’s a quibble, it’s not germane to the story, but it bugs me.

Claudia is really the only one who doesn’t appear to have had any work done, but then the actress is only 18.

Leena isn’t in this episode, which is fine by me as I really can’t stand her character. Genelle Williams is super-pretty, but man, you thought Counselor Troi was bad…

Getting back to the story thing, this was actually the tightest episode of Warehouse 13 I’ve ever seen. It made good use of the time travel plot device, it had a nice hook a nice twist, it was well-resolved. From a storytelling point of view, the only real problem was that this was basically a half-hour story. Padding it out with the “They’re gonna’ die if they wake out” aspect was more tedious than anything else.

It was well-directed, and the 1950s stuff was quite well filmed, far better cinematography than is normal for this show. The debt to Mad Men is pretty obvious, though it clearly doesn’t have the budget of that series. They appear to mostly be using practical locations, no standing sets or anything like that.

I particularly liked that the prime suspect was thought to be killing his mistresses as part of his psychosexual problems, but it turned out that he was actually kind of a proto-feminist, and certainly wasn’t having any affairs.

And that’s pretty much all I’ve got for you this week.

All our prayers and best wishes to Neo and Kim.

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