I’m probably not going to review each and every episode of TV I watch. It’d be too easy for such to wind up dominating the blog too much, and at any rate, many of the TV series I watch don’t really lend themselves to individual episode reviews. For example, USA’s Burn Notice is probably my favorite show right now, but I’d have a hard time singling out an individual episode and saying anything other than “That was awesome!” But once a season is done? Or a whole series? Then I think it’s possible to do a post-mortem report on what’s happened.
So, since Syfy’s original series Warehouse 13 has just concluded its third season, that’s what I’m opening up TV Post-Mortem with. Be warned: this is about the season as a whole, so there will be spoilers. If you still have episodes sitting on your DVR, or if you’re waiting for them to show up on Hulu or Netflix, turn back now. Come back when you’ve seen them; don’t worry about being “late to the discussion”, that’s fine by me. Of course, if you’re not concerned about spoilers, that’s all good too.
The third season of Warehouse 13, as with the previous two seasons, mostly keeps its focus on Agents Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) and Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) retrieving the artifacts of doom that are the reason for the Warehouse’s existence. And like the first two seasons, it also has a bit of a myth arc going on for the season; unlike the first two, it presents a significant part of that early on. This is a good thing; if you’re going to do a myth arc for a season, don’t just throw it in late, or it looks like it’s just coming out of nowhere for the sake of extra last-minute drama. In this season, the Warehouse agents find that they aren’t the only ones out there seeking artifacts; somebody else is taking them, and using them, and appears to be specifically targeting the Warehouse Regents for death.
The man eventually revealed to be behind the attacks is Walter Sykes, who was paralyzed from the waist down as a child. Finding a bracelet owned by Carlo Collodi, the author of Pinocchio, he was able to puppeteer his own body, regaining full motion. Pete’s mother, Jane (Kate Mulgrew), revealed to be a Regent this season, deprived Sykes of the bracelet, knowing that eventually it leads to a lack of empathy in the user. (I would have liked a better explanation for the artifact’s downside here; “it just makes you evil” isn’t that great, especially compared to some of the better-defined artifacts whose side effects are logical extrapolations of their primary effect.) Sykes, who unbeknownst to Jane was already too late to save, spent the rest of his life until now acquiring a fortune and plotting a way to get both the bracelet and revenge. Sykes is played by Anthony Michael Hall, who does a great job with his limited screen time of infusing Sykes with a quiet sense of menace.
This season brought a new character to the team, ATF agent Steve Jinks, played by Aaron Ashmore. Like Pete and his premonitory “vibes”, Jinks has a special ability; he automatically knows when somebody is lying. This is used to great comedic effect in his introduction (with Claudia and Artie coming up with increasingly plausible reasons to be breaking into a museum and him disbelieving them until they tell the outlandish truth that they need to stop Jimi Hendrix’s guitar from destroying the place.) Unfortunately, it’s not used much after that, and that’s largely because Jinks isn’t used much after that either. He has a moment when he confronts Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder), the Warehouse’s current caretaker, over torturing a suspect against Warehouse policy, but that’s about it until the last episode. Otherwise, he’s solidly in the background in the episodes where he’s part of the team, acting as part of the “B team” with Claudia (Allison Scagliotti). We’re told they become best friends, but they’re both in the background so we don’t really see this. After Mrs. Frederic fires him, he has a few minutes of screen time per episode while Sykes’ team recruits him (eventually revealed to be an undercover sting). We never really get a strong sense of Jinks’ personality at any point. He’s crucial to the season arc and the final episode, but it’s hard to care about what happens to him. It’s also hard to be as surprised as Pete and the others when Sykes has Jinks killed after his undercover stint. “How did this happen?” It happened because the Regents’ infiltration planned relied on Sykes thinking he could deceive someone he knew to be a living lie detector, which is to say, it relied on Sykes being stupid. Never rely on your enemy being stupid. A smart enemy would realize that even being careful with statements would make it difficult to keep Jinks in the dark, and would cut him off as soon as he stopped being an asset, and that, rather unsurprisingly, is what happened.
Under-utilizing characters seemed to be a trend with this season. Artie (Saul Rubinek) didn’t seem to be involved as much as in seasons past, and of course Leena, never more than a background character anywhere, was pretty much non-existent until the final episode. It also repeatedly teased us with the possibility of the return of Jaime Murray’s H.G. Wells, but it was only briefly, and in the end she sacrificed herself for the team, another character essentially treated as disposable. It’s a shame, as she was much more interesting than Jinks, who is possibly getting a reprieve thanks to Claudia.
The season ends with a bang, rather literally, as although they manage to prevent Sykes from retrieving the Collodi bracelet and killing Jane, he planted an artifact of mass destruction in Warehouse 13, blowing up the Warehouse and all the artifacts within it. Helena Wells sacrifices herself to protect Pete, Myka, and Artie, and Mrs. Frederic also dies as a result of the destruction of the Warehouse. From the second season conclusion, we can gather that Claudia is likely to be the next Warehouse caretaker (which, among other things, would indicate that she would actually have the authority to use the metronome to restore Jinks to life).
I have some mixed feelings about this season. On the one hand, it felt like not enough time was devoted to letting us know who Jinks is, and making him an interesting character. On the other hand, the show has largely gotten over the jitters it had in the first season, and seems to manage a more consistent tone than it did then. The main Warehouse members (Artie, Myka, Pete, Claudia) are all engaging, familiar characters at this point. It has, perhaps surprisingly to viewers of its first few episodes, become a fairly solid show, and it mostly managed to balance having distinct episodes and an overriding story arc. And the season certainly ended with the potential for some big changes on the horizon (though, of course, it’s not like it’s having its name changed to Warehouse 14, so that says something right there.) On the whole, I enjoyed this season, and I’ll be around for season 4.