For whatever reason, I can’t seem to keep with writing about Warehouse 13 and that’s a shame because this season has been much better than the first, especially the last five episodes. I wrote about episodes 3-5 a few weeks back, and while the headline just mentions last night’s “For the Team,” my discussion will bring in last week’s “Around the Bed” as well.
In my previous post, I mentioned that the series reached new heights by keeping the stories more local and drawing in the quirky community around the Warehouse, and like those efforts, the last two episodes have added another element to the 13 formula that make it a more successful series — heft. Now, I would never say that this is a “serious” series or ever think that Warehouse 13 is a drama, but the last two episodes have been less flighty and intentionally quirky while focusing more on the characters and their issues, leading to surprisingly successful results. Sometimes when series like this try to be serious, it just ends up syrupy, but with Pete’s issues in “Around the Bend” and the softening of both Artie and H.G. Wells in “For the Team,” I feel more invested in the people in this story and not just the artifacts or goofy situations around them.
Again, infecting Pete, making him go crazy and ultimately have to deal with some pent-up problems that result in him being terrified for the lives of his co-workers isn’t a new approach. It’s a fairly simple and straight-forward way to humanize a character, but since Pete is already fairly likable and nice, ramping the drama works very well because now we can actually care about him instead of just laughing. Not that audience didn’t care about Pete before, but I think you get my point. And although the series probably won’t ever go there totally with an intense psych evaluation, Pete’s issues and subsequent temporary leave are another reminder that despite all the jokes, this job sucks. Really sucks. Vets like Artie try to act like the job is just the job and newbies can get swept up in that as well, but at some point, even the best agents like Pete and Myka are going to break down emotionally. The series needs more of that, if only on this lower levels of melodrama.
Meanwhile, “For the Team” featured a fairly pedestrian artifact case, but had a number of satisfying character beats that kept the episode afloat. Myka has become the makeshift caregiver for the whole group and her tough love for Claudia was heartwarming and charming. But the reappearance and maneuvering from H.G. Wells was especially intriguing. I can’t say that I’m totally sold on Wells’ plea that she just wants to come back to the Warehouse as an agent because she has nothing and misses any semblance of family, but for now, I’m willing to go with it because it’s an unexpected approach and might tell us something new about Myka. Right now, I’m thinking that the episode went out of its way to show us the motherly stuff with her and Claudia as a way to set up a too-trusting Myka being burned by Wells. If not, it would be super awesome to have the female H.G. Wells on the team for an extended period of time, right?
I still don’t think that Warehouse 13 has any intention of being much more than a light summertime dramedy, but this season has seen the series take tiny steps toward a more well-rounded tone that serves it well. We knew that the series could do goofy and will continue to rely on that formula, but showing the audience that there’s a few dramatic tricks up the storytelling sleeve is a smart approach. At least now we know the series is capable of more and isn’t afraid to tell heavier stories. Whether it keeps doing so is a totally other situation.