Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Idiot Box: Warehouse 13 4x12 - “Parks And Rehabilitation” Review

Now, I knew that when I started reviewing Warehouse 13, I would run into the problem I have before me today, specifically a difficulty in encapsulating my opinions on an episode from an arc-centric perspective, when so much of this show is devoted to “case of the week” filler having little to nothing to do with the overarching mythology. The latest episode was a necessary evil, getting us back into the swing of things with a typical Artifact hunting romp while lightly addressing some of the core character issues left off from the previous season and the first episode back. I've always wanted this show to focus more on the serial arcs and less on the cases of the week, but I suppose if I'm still on board this train after three and a half seasons, I can't exactly fault it for not being the show I want it to be at this point.

Parks And Rehabilitation follows Pete and Myka on the trail of a mysterious artifact capable of burying people alive, an investigation that places them in the middle of an old feud between retired eco-terrorists. I say mysterious, because this time I actually didn't catch where the artifact came from, and had to Google the episode to find out it was something I didn't even know about in the first place, so it didn't matter. This is of course not the first time this has happened with an episode of this show, and I can't exactly hold my own ignorance against the series whenever it comes up. That being said, I can hold it against the episode when it feels like a little over half of it just seems completely pointless, because the good bits with Artie in the Warehouse weren't enough to fill forty minutes.

I'm sorry, but I just could not care less about the A story this week, and be warned, if you're a fan of this show (and trust me, despite my grumblings I very much am as well), you'll be hearing this complaint a lot. My typical pattern for enjoying an episode of Warehouse 13 starts with the B stories that are almost always the ones involving Artie and Claudia (though in this case the partners were swapped), and almost always the ones that advance the storylines I'm actually interested in. Whether or not I like the A plot usually depends on how interesting the artifact is, and this time not only did I not pick up on the reference even after researching it, but I found the affect (creating sinkholes) to be fairly underwhelming. I can always have fun with these characters even if the stories they're in are boring on any given week, as they all work well together, but a little more effort would be nice sometimes.

As I alluded to before, I enjoyed Artie's adventures in the Warehouse this week quite a bit, even if I think the practical resolution of his status as an agent in the wake of the mid-season finale might have been a bit rushed. His story is the Rehabilitation of the title, and serves mostly as a final and poignant coda to Leena's impact on the series. Her presence is keenly felt in the episode as those she left behind attempt to temporarily take on her duties, in the process getting to know her in a way they each possibly didn't get a chance to when she was alive. That it feels like she's still there despite only appearing in a quick cameo at the end is a testament to the actors' ability to convey their affection and grief over a character that, let's face it, from a narrative perspective had become somewhat less important over the years.

We don't get any new bits of information about James Marsters' immortal huckster or the possibly also immortal woman chasing him, or what if anything that will have to do with the main cast or the Warehouse, but overall there's still enough here to enjoy and keep me going until the next one. The A story is boring, but not offensively bad, and the B story is a bittersweet tribute that shows off the kind of emotional resonance you wouldn't think a show this silly would be capable of if you don't have any experience with it. The twists are mostly predictable and it wraps up maybe even a little too nicely for my tastes, but then that's really the pattern this show has taken since it began, and as always, the good still far outweighs the bad. 

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