After last week’s less-than-satisfactory melodrama, Warehouse 13 improved this week with a fast-paced episode that’s clearly ramping up to next week’s midseason finale. At times it felt like the writers were trying to cram a whole lot into one hour with Claudia, Pete and Myka having their own separate storylines, but the ending (and oh man, what an ending) more than justified the means of keeping the agents away from the Warehouse.
It all starts with Artie double-checking the Warehouse shelves for Brother Adrian’s possible thievery when—surprise! Brother Adrian himself is lurking among the shelves. The two men struggle and set off a boomerang artifact, tripping the Warehouse alarm in the process. By the time Pete and Myka get to the scene, though, Brother Adrian has stalked off. It was at this moment when I realized something was fishy: nobody but Artie had seen Brother Adrian in person since the day that was erased from time.
Artie finally decides it’s time for no more secrets about Brother Adrian considering the new threat is to punish the agents (though apparently keeping the astrolabe secret is still okay with him). Sure enough, three artifacts have been shipped from Brother Adrian’s fake address, one each to a loved one of the agents: one to Pete’s ex-wife Amanda (returning guest star Jeri Ryan), Myka’s sister (Amy Acker), and Claudia’s brother Joshua.
Over in Rome, Mrs. Frederic and Steve are deep within the Vatican trying to investigate the Brotherhood of the Black Diamond. It’s not explained enough for me why the two of them specifically are there, but I stopped being concerned after the priest does a Diagon Alley with the secret entrance to the Brotherhood’s library. He hasn’t seen anyone there for months, and it looks like they didn’t plan to leave. I like the dynamic between Mrs. F. and Steve. They haven’t been together too much over the course of the show, but they have a mutual respect for each other that would make them a good team.
Meanwhile, Myka is visiting her pregnant sister Tracy, who has a weird green electricity thing going on with her eyes that she doesn’t seem to notice. In between catching up and fawning over her nursery, Myka attempts to neutralize all of the baby shower gifts, to no avail. She does manage to stain a white sweater set, though, while Tracy is busy making some poisonous tea. Amy Acker is really good at alternating between sweet and happy and possessed and murderous, I have to say. Her artifact problem could have easily been ridiculous in the hands of another actor, but Acker makes it just sinister enough to creep viewers (and Myka) out.
Pete is at the Marine base where Amanda is stationed, but she’s already been affected by whatever artifact got sent to her. All she received was an empty leather box, but she’s burning up with a 106 degree fever. The box doesn’t react to the neutralizer, so Pete has to get her to a hospital. I like the dynamic between Pete and Amanda. They got some of their weird ex-status baggage out of the way in the first episode to feature Amanda (last season’s “Queen for a Day”) and now they can just be close friends.
Claudia arrives at Joshua’s secret house to find him fully encased in amber in the middle of his living room. No wonder he didn’t answer his phone. Claudia naturally calls Leena for some home-base research, but Leena’s a little more concerned with the fact that Artie just armed himself with a gun and headed off into the depths of the Warehouse to find Brother Adrian. But she does her duty and researches amber-fying artifacts, sending Trailer after Artie instead. It turns out Joshua was affected by Pliny the Elder’s scroll, which is unfortunately still clenched in his amber-coated fist.
Back at Tracy’s house, Myka is trying to explain away the baby clothes damage while Tracy keeps pushing her to drink the poisoned tea. It spills as Myka struggles away to answer her Farnsworth and the tea melts a hole in the carpet. Myka, though officially on high alert, answers Pete’s call about Amanda’s condition. “She’s super hot,” Pete explains. “Yes, Pete, I’ve met her,” is Myka’s response. Props to the writers for not making it weird to have a woman find another woman attractive regardless of anyone’s sexuality involved. Myka is quickly distracted from Pete’s problem when she notices Tracy took a giant kitchen knife off the wall.
Nothing the doctors are doing is helping Amanda, and she admits to Pete in a small voice that she is actually scared of what’s happening to her. And Amanda is never scared. Jeri Ryan and Eddie McClintock do a great job in this scene; they have good chemistry, and both of them do well with the masked vulnerability each of their characters has. Pete notices Amanda’s shoulder tattoo is glowing, but she doesn’t have a tattoo. When he touches it, it crawls its way under his skin to his shoulder. Amanda is instantly cured, but now it’s Pete’s turn to burn up.
Artie, who is already busy trying to figure out how Brother Adrian hacked the Warehouse system, has to deal with two calls in succession from Myka and Pete. He suggests to Myka that it could be a sibling-specific artifact affecting Tracy, and he knows Pete’s new “Kotik” tattoo belonged to a Russian assassin considered to be history’s first suicide bomber. He has to cut the Farnsworth conferences short, however, with the sudden reappearance of Brother Adrian.
Pete braces himself for non-anesthetic tattoo removal at the hands of Amanda. The tattoo moves around whenever she tries to cut it with the knife, though, and within minutes, Pete is setting off the radiation detectors. He’s going to heat to critical mass and then explode. Not pleasant.
Claudia, armed only with Internet advice and a blowtorch, gets to work on Joshua’s hand holding the scroll. Mrs. Frederic and Steve are making headway in their investigation as well. Father Dominico hasn’t seen any Brotherhood members for months, and in their search for a secret panel, Steve gets sucked into a painting along with the missing Brothers.
Meanwhile Tracy goes after Myka with the kitchen knife but has to settle for tormenting her emotionally after Myka ties her to the crib with monkey stuffed animals. Possessed, Tracy attacks Myka’s appearance, singlehood, and high school dork status while Myka frantically searches for the artifact. I wish this episode allotted more time for Myka’s inner conflict here; it can’t be easy for her to revert back to her high school role of “the unpopular sister,” but there’s no time for dwelling on internal problems.
Faced with no other option, Amanda takes Pete back to the base to a containment center that will contain the blast when the tattoo finishes its work. She wells up at the thought of him facing his death alone in there, and assures him she never stopped loving him. Pete bravely closes the door and immediately calls Myka on the Farnsworth to say goodbye. Eddie McClintock really nails the almost-tearful goodbye to his partner; I just really hope we never have to see him do it again. Myka helps him figure out that he can transfer the tattoo back to the original leather box sent to Amanda, and Pete is saved. Amanda is a little embarrassed by her confession when he emerges alive and well, but their relationship shifts back to easy, friendly teasing.
Claudia has solved the Joshua problem thanks to the Internet’s suggestions about amber: after softening it with the blowtorch, she pours Joshua’s ice-cold soda on his fist and voila, the amber cracks right off. She neutralizes the scroll and Joshua is cured, though he’s wondering what she’s doing there.
Mrs. Frederic frees Steve from the painting by removing the frame; Rembrandt’s master framer had used wood from the Tree of Life to make it, which resulted in real people being trapped inside. This is tangential, but Mrs. F. implies that this happened a few times with Rembrandt’s paintings—does that mean there are there real people perpetually stuck in paintings on museum walls? Because that sounds like a particularly awful circle of hell. In any case, Steve is out, and they figure Brother Adrian trapped the rest of the Brothers inside before he took off for South Dakota. They decide to question the rest after they emerge from the painting.
Pete helps Myka finish up her artifact hunt; they go through the trash from Tracy’s baby shower and find this weird ribbon hat (Myka says it’s a dumbass baby shower tradition) with an old-timey cord wrapped around it. The cord doesn’t react in the neutralizer bag, but they realize they have to cut the cord (Get it?), which does the trick. Myka comes up with a bunch of odd excuses for the mess and for Tracy being tied to a crib, and she and Pete take off. I hope we get to see Tracy again when she’s not possessed byu an artifact.
Artie is busy stalking Brother Adrian around the Warehouse again, and goes so far as to shoot him in the shoulder. Meanwhile, Claudia and Josh are discussing Artie, who they realize acted very strangely about Joshua’s location. Artie and Claudia were the only ones who knew where Joshua was; Artie even set him up in that house, but acted surprised when Claudia said where it was. Claudia calls Pete about this, and she tells him Artie was lying about the database too—she can track it remotely for problems, and there haven’t been any. Something’s certainly up, so Pete and Myka take off for the Warehouse.
Now this is where things get pretty awesome. Artie has Brother Adrian hooked up in the bronzing machine, which actually gives an interesting visual image of the holy man on a cross (not sure if that was intentional or not, but it’s a cool, extra dimension to the shot). He bronzes him, but when he turns away from the machine, there’s Brother Adrian again, standing free and clear, bronze version nowhere to be seen. Leena, looking for Artie, has Trailer lead her to the bronzing room.
Mrs. Frederic and Steve, meanwhile, confront the Brotherhood about Brother Adrian’s actions, only to find out that he’s been in the painting the entire time. After the bronzing scene, I had my suspicions, but I was still shocked to see him walk out of that painting. He says he’s never been to South Dakota, and Steve, being a human lie detector and all, says he’s telling the truth. Boy, Steve’s power sure comes in handy even though they hardly mention it anymore.
Leena has found Artie, who’s too busy shouting at Brother Adrian to have heard her come in. She tearfully begs him to stop yelling at the air, and that’s when we finally get to know what’s going on: there is no Brother Adrian in the Warehouse. Artie has been running around confronting nobody all this time; we’re even treated to a hazy flashback montage of times he’s talked to Brother Adrian, only this time, it’s just Artie.
Mrs. Frederic calls Leena to warn her, and instructs her to leave the Warehouse immediately. Before she goes, Leena tries one more time to help Artie. He suddenly gets very strange, all stiff body language and vacant stares, and tells her she’s in his way.
Pete has to stop the car because he’s getting a major bad vibe; he hasn’t had one this bad since his dad died. Myka calls the Warehouse to find out what’s going on, and we’re treated to a shot of Leena’s Farnsworth ringing on the ground next to a trail of blood and her lifeless body.
All in all, this episode ramped up the suspense but also brought some of the humor back; Pete, Myka, and Claudia all got lighthearted moments amidst their artifact hunts. Leena apparently being dead is a huge twist; if she really stays dead (though so far none of the main characters have on this show), there are going to be major consequences. I’m starting to think my theory from “Fractures” is right—that vision of Claudia stabbing Artie is because he’s the evil that was created from the astrolabe. Maybe that dagger H.G. tracked down is the only way to restore Artie to himself. I can’t wait to see how this all gets dealt with in next week’s midseason finale.