CORRECTION: My initial post was under the assumption this was the whole of the fourth season; I have since been informed that the season has been split (though to my mind that still makes two seasons) and this was merely the mid-season finale. The article has been kept as-is, as I’m assuming my readers are smart enough to mentally substitute “part 1” and “part 2” where appropriate. Thank you Amanda Barnhart for the correction.
The fourth season of Warehouse 13 came and went pretty quickly. 10 episodes may not seem like a big drop from 13 at first, until you realize that it’s a reduction of about a quarter of the usual season length. The fifth season will be coming some time in 2013 (and, if previous years are any indication, there will be an unrelated Christmas episode in December.)
As I mentioned before, the season premiere hit the reset button on a lot of what happened in the third season finale, rendering many of my points about that season moot. Though, as I noted, if any series can be justified a reset button, it’s Warehouse 13, which can have it take literal form. Still, I’m hoping for at least some consequences for this abbreviated season, even if the big finale moment will obviously be fixed somehow. Spoilers exist beyond this point, read at your own risk.
The season started with Artie (Saul Rubinek) tracking down Magellan’s astrolabe, and using it to wind the Earth back 24 hours so that the Warehouse would not be destroyed, and the world’s hope with it. While this effectively removed most of the consequences of season 3’s finale — Jaime Murray, CCH Pounder, and Aaron Ashmore get to continue their roles as H.G. Wells, Mrs. Frederick, and Steve Jinks — it did at least present some consequences of its own. Before he used it, Brother Adrian, who guarded the astrolabe, warned him it would create a great evil of his own making. Artie soon finds himself beset by Adrian’s machinations to force him to use the astrolabe to put the Earth back to how it was. Brent Spiner gives a command performance as Adrian, playing him with a very Knight Templarish religious fervor. The main weakness of this plot was that it seemed in many ways that Adrian was just causing havoc without heed for the consequences, which did not seem to fit his stated motivations. But this was resolved admirably with the revelation in the last two episodes of what the astrolabe’s evil really was. Rubinek, for his part, does a great job portraying Artie as a man being bedeviled by harassment and undone by his increasing paranoia over it.
I have to say I’m still not really warming up to the character of Steve Jinks (Ashmore). The subplot involving getting him off of the metronome (which was keeping him alive for most of this season) was moderately interesting, but I am still not getting much of a sense of personality off of him — and for Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) I found the ongoing visions of her stabbing Artie to be more intriguing, even if it lacked a certain depth for most of the season. Mrs. Frederic taking the time to explain some of her duties to Claudia also made for a good episode hinting further at Claudia’s future role as caretaker of the Warehouse (a plot point that was averted by the reset button, but is still fertile ground for future seasons.) I wasn’t quite as happy with the episode introducing a new character (Danielle Nicolet as Deb Stanley) to the ranks of the regents, though; it was very transparent in its efforts to show that this character was “important”, which in the grand scheme of the season, she wasn’t.
Lena’s fate at the end of the season is interesting, in that it’s at least possible the writers will make it stick. The astrolabe isn’t going to wind back time again, and the metronome has been destroyed. It’s always possible there’s another “bring someone back to life” artifact hanging around, but that’s not the sense that the finale gave. But I doubt we’ve seen the last of Genelle Williams in the series, what with Lena’s ghost showing up to Pete (Eddie McClintock). She saw auras, he gets premonitory vibes… it’s not out of place for the series for her to be visible to him as a sort of spirit advisor, and it’s possible for her character to continue in that role in season five.
The finale, with the sweating sickness spreading over the globe, obviously will be negated somehow in the season five premiere. Otherwise it’d be an even shorter season, with everybody dying off. I noticed, catching the last few minutes a second time as I tuned in for Alphas later in the evening, that it didn’t show Claudia or Jinks breathing in the vapors. I’m curious as to whether this was just an oversight, or if it has some deliberate significance. We’ll see.
Even despite the use of the reset button, and the short season, the fourth season of Warehouse 13 was mostly fun, and actually succeeded in blending “threats of the week” with an ongoing threat. It had its weak spots, but overall I found it to still be fairly high quality, and I’m looking forward to season 5.