Warehouse 13, “Time Will Tell”

Sorry for the delay of this recap, again I have to blame it on my summer job hours. Meh.

After watching all of Warehouse 13‘s first season in just two days and then writing a sizable piece on said marathon, I was totally psyched for the season two premiere, “Time Will Tell.” Like I mentioned in that post about S1, I was hoping the series would dive deeper into a more complex and meatier mythology. In a way, it totally did not, but it another way, it kind of did. And of course, this episode was oftentimes goofy, silly and still downright fun.As I mentioned, the hope for the series was that it would somehow embrace a deeper mythology that resonated for the characters and expanded the universe. Well, after the super personal MacPherson arc, the series made a smart leap by introducing H.G. Wells, who is, of course, actually a woman. In the aftermath, I realized that it makes total sense for the series to take this turn, because we’ve been beaten over the head with the whole “anything can happen!” lines since the beginning of the series, so why not have the series’ namesake be more of an actual threat.

Throughout most of season one, the plot was about getting stuff in the warehouse, but starting with MacPherson and now especially with H.G., we will hopefully see the consequences of what happens when stuff gets out of the warehouse. Not only is a steampunk, female H.G. Wells a fairly ingenious season-long villain, but the dangers of the warehouse are more verified. Characters have discussed the dangers of things/people leaving, but hopefully this season will actually show that all to us, thus making all those “DANGER!” conversations worthwhile. Moreover, the implications of having this sort of villain opens the series up to a more wider base of storytelling opportunities that links artifacts and the warehouse with actual, breathing people. It’s one thing to see Edgar Allan Poe’s evil quill rage against the teenage machine, it’s a totally different thing to see Poe — or in this case, Wells — in the flesh.

I’m still hoping that the developments with Wells lead to some interesting character reveals, but at least a larger arc for the season now exists. In that sense, “Time Will Tell” is a success. But the episode was far from flawless.

We knew at the end of season one that Claudia didn’t have anything to do with MacPherson’s plot, thus all the globe-trotting to get her back seemed a little frivolous and little more than an excuse to go to CERN, see Joshua and work in something about anti-matter. I guess it once again proves the connection between Claudia and Artie, but the whole thing felt at least partially wasteful. Moreover, while the season finale suggested that Leena was actually not a pointless character and instead evil, “Time” re-negged on that and made her, just like Claudia, a victim of MacPherson’s plotting. Not only is it poor writing to have two lead characters frame for the same crime, but just totally lame that Leena will continue to be the wet blanket that she was in every single episode past the pilot last season. No offense to the actress, but the character flat out sucks and brings nothing to story. Making her a sleeper agent or even a mole plotting in secret all season would have brought some additional tension to the most boring of episodes, but nope. Sigh.

Additionally, for being such an intelligent guy, MacPherson’s plan was pretty shoddy. So he initially didn’t want to kill Artie so he slipped him the Phoenix. And then his plan was to break out H.G. Wells, let her get her steampunk vest powered by anti-matter so she could get into the vault and grab her personal effects. …and that’s it? We’re left wondering what the hell this was all about for MacPherson, and now that he’s dead, it seems like the series just wants to move on to a (certainly more interesting) new villain without worrying about the technicalities of how it actually made it to that spot.

Both the execution of MacPherson’s plan and Leena’s position drive home my biggest concern with Warehouse 13 — its intentions. Like I mentioned in my S1 wrap, the writers, producers and network know what the series is, why it’s popular, etc. Thus, there’s an obvious desire to not rock the boat and mix up the story too much because hey, man, this is a summer series on Syfy. We can’t have a lead character permanently turn bad or have a major villain sticking around for longer than a season. There needs to be just enough development to create the illusion of such, but nothing too dramatic. I’m hoping that while it moves throughout its second season, Warehouse 13 avoids this summer TV formula, but I’m not holding my breath.

But maybe all those people are smarter than me, because even though I’ve been critical of certain decisions found in “Time Will Tell,” any episode that includes Pete and Myka stuck bantering on the ceiling, female H.G. Wells seducing Pete, fake mustaches and CCH Pounder choking someone is a total winning summer formula. Damn you, Warehouse 13.

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