Well, that was melodramatic. In general, this season has been darker than ever for “Warehouse 13,” but tonight the writers finally took a turn for the overly wrought drama. There were moments that stood out to me (which I’ll get to in a second), but overall, this episode was too far from the show’s regular character for me to fully enjoy.
We began with the two pairs of agents each questioning Artie about Brother Adrian and his motives for stealing artifacts, but Artie distracts Pete and Myka with a mission—a steel worker in West Virginia is literally rusting—and Steve and Claudia with more information about the metronome. And with that, the episode diverges into three distinct plotlines.
The first is Pete and Myka on their artifact-of-the-week mission. While we’ve seen more interesting artifacts from the show before, I did enjoy the performance of guest star Pooch Hall, who plays Cody Bell, the Marine turned steel worker and the town’s top boxer. The first two artifact victims were also steel workers over at Siskel Steel Mill, the town’s main plant. The workers are engaged in a picketing effort after accusing the owner (Hank Siskel) of withholding paychecks and endangering lives. The workers are especially upset about the recent accident involving their foreman, Cody’s dad.
Siskel is naturally the main suspect, but when a raid on his office turns up nothing in the artifact department and a new victim surfaces, Pete and Myka have to turn their attention elsewhere. The third victim is a woman, Karen Miller, and she’s never seen the inside of a steel mill before. It’s not really dwelled upon in the episode, but can we take a second to talk about how terrifying it must be to rust on the inside and outside of your body? This may just be an artifact of the week (and, to be honest, a relatively uninteresting one for me), but its effects are seriously disturbing.
Karen ends up sharing a different connection with the two male victims—they all frequent Tully’s Gym. Sam, the union leader for the mill workers, is a trainer there and he becomes Pete and Myka’s next prime suspect. After Pete’s “hands-on” (read: boxing match) interrogations of the other steel workers leads to nothing but a possible concussion on his end, Myka realizes that Cody is the one who’s rusting people. He’s connected to all the victims, and she catches his knockout punch on video—when it’s freeze-framed, there’s a metallic plate sleeve covering his left arm.
It’s not until they visit Cody’s dad in the hospital where he’s recovering from the accident in the plant that Pete and Myka (plus Artie via Farnsworth of course) piece together the whole story. Cody, Marine war hero that he was, survived an explosion at the Baghdad National Museum with shrapnel from their 7th century Spartan exhibit. Saving his dad from the plant accident could have triggered the artifact buried in his chest and now when he touches people while his emotions are all riled up, they start to rust. Naturally, Cody overhears this revelation from Pete and Myka (because that’s convenient for the plot) and runs off angrily to confront Siskel.
While Myka keeps Siskel occupied with threats to reveal his unsavory past, Pete tries desperately to keep Cody from hurting anyone else, only to get his face bashed in for his troubles. With Pete in danger of rusting away, Myka quickly comes up with a plan to neutralize the shrapnel in Cody’s chest: inject the neutralizer goo straight into his chest with the most convenient first aid kit ever, complete with a deus ex machina of a syringe. I thought this was a really easy way out of the tense life-or-death situation Cody and Pete were in, but I guess the writers had other plot priorities tonight.
In any case, Cody is neutralized, the victims are saved, and Pete and Myka head back to South Dakota full of teasing and arm punching and general partner-ish behavior. Their dynamic is what drew me into the show in the first place, and I would like to see more of it as this season goes on. It is possible, I believe, to have dark storylines but still retain some of what made Warehouse 13 so distinctive in the first place, and one of those things is Pete and Myka solving problems while being amusing and fun with each other.
The second main storyline of this episode focuses on Steve and Claudia and their quest to disconnect Steve from the metronome. Artie has done some research (naturally), and found that the composer Schumann did own the metronome in the 1800s, but it drove him crazy. He found a way to disconnect himself in 1839 and left only a cryptic poetic message as instructions for how to do so: “One must find one’s own and make a pure start from whence one came.” For Steve, that means home in New Jersey, so off he and Claudia go.
Steve warns her that he and his mom (Laura Innes) had a falling out a few years ago, but Emma Jinks greets them warmly at the door. Claudia asks Steve if the fight with his mom was about him coming out, but he quickly dismisses that. Though this overall plot turns into the most melodramatic third of the episode, I am glad that the writers did not take the stereotypical way out with Steve and his family problems. It would have been easy and lazy writing to make Steve’s disconnect with his mom about a disagreement over his sexuality, and I appreciate that this was not the case.
Steve has been alone basically the entire time we’ve known him, and that’s partly why he fit so well with the Warehouse crew, so it was interesting to see him interact with his mother. It was sad to see her trying so hard to connect with her living child when he was clearly holding on to so much resentment towards her. To be honest, though, with all the focus shifted on Artie’s actions this season, I had nearly forgotten that Steve had lost his sister. In her pictures, she really does look like Claudia, and Emma even makes a comment about that.
When simply standing in his living room and attempting to disconnect from the metronome doesn’t work, Steve storms off to his room in defeat. Claudia stays in the living room to talk to Emma, who reveals the reason for their fight: she had fought to save Olivia’s prosecuted killer from the death penalty in order to spare his family her pain, and Steve took this as her betraying Olivia’s memory. Emma then serves her other role in the plot when she mentions Schumann’s riddle reminds her of the days her babies were born, the purest moment of love she’d ever experienced. That choking sound, is me gagging on all the sentimentality oozing from this scene, in case you were curious.
Claudia hypothesizes to Steve that maybe from whence he came actually means his mom, not his house, and he needs a pure day with her to make this work. He’s too busy being bitter and slipping in a reminder to viewers that he’s Buddhist to notice his mom show up in the doorway. They finally have it out about their fight, and Emma emphasizes that she lets go of her anger every day and focuses on Olivia instead of on hating her murderer. This scene is the most melodramatic thing I’ve seen to date on Warehouse 13, and the only redeeming factor is Aaron Ashmore’s face acting. His expression crumbling to tears as he admits he doesn’t know how to not be angry made me stop rolling my eyes long enough to almost tear up in response.
Down in the living room, Emma is scrutinizing the metronome (Side question: can you imagine if she just stopped it out of curiosity, not knowing what it did?) when Steve comes down to apologize. Claudia gets in on the group hug action and then because all three of them are touching the metronome it—transfers over to Emma? I don’t get why, but suddenly she’s the one gasping for air when Steve and Claudia are fine. To save her, Steve hurls it at the fireplace and it smashes. Everyone is alive because Steve saved his mom out of a pure act of unselfish love. Look, the logistics of this were not explained sufficiently enough for me to be comfortable with this explanation. They’ve been building towards Steve getting off the metronome to save Claudia (and himself from insanity) that to have it fixed like this feels almost easy. With all that talk of consequence from artifact use, I figured he’d have to rely on another equally potentially dangerous artifact to stay alive, but I guess that’s not the case. I’m disappointed with this episode’s solutions all around, it seems.
Finally, the Artie plotline. For being the most important to the series arc, it takes up the least bit of air time. H.G., Mrs. Frederic, and Leena all confront Artie about his time travel secret. He reveals that he used it to save the Warehouse, to save Mrs. Frederic, and to save H.G. While they sympathize, Mrs. Frederic also chastises Artie for hiding his actions as well as the consequence of the evil haunting him.
To my surprise, he actually confesses the visions he’s been having about Claudia, but Mrs. Frederic assures him that she would have sensed evil in Claudia if that were really true, and asks if perhaps Brother Adrian is the evil? I mean, he’s only the guy who’s been lurking in the shadows releasing dangerous artifacts and cutting Artie off from the people he loves… has Artie seriously never considered him to be the evil before?
Without Artie knowing, Mrs. Frederic, H.G. and Leena remove the astrolabe from its hiding place in the Dark Vault. Mrs. Frederic entrusts it to H.G., whom she instructs to go into hiding without contacting anybody so Artie won’t be tempted to use the astrolabe. I know this is largely an excuse to keep H.G. offscreen while Jaime Murray works on other projects, but I’m still holding out hope that she’ll come back as a major part of the show again. I like her character a lot (so much, in fact, that I forget for a second to refer to H.G. Wells in the real world as a “he”), and there’s plenty of potential for development. We saw her sacrifice her life for her friends and the Warehouse before; I think that side of her is worth exploring again.
The notable thing about the ending is that Mrs. Frederic specifically says “Trust no one,” and then gives an odd quirk of her eyebrows in her episode-ending close-up. Could she be Brother Adrian in thimble disguise? Even if she’s not, it’s still an ominous way to end a below-average episode. I hope that next week will be a return to form for Warehouse 13, or at least a return to engaging and thoughtful episodes that tend toward the darker, dramatic side.