Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Idiot Box: Warehouse 13 4x14 - “The Sky's The Limit” Review

Well, this is the first review for a Warehouse 13 episode I've posted since the news broke that the show has been officially cancelled, or rather, renewed for the last time for an abbreviated six episode fifth season. I suppose its fitting that this is also the episode where we finally got a little bit of development for the main story that I've been clamoring for since this season started. It's not a lot mind you, just one foreboding scene that really doesn't get us that much closer to knowing anything about the main bad guy, but at least its something. And the rest of the episode wasn't too bad either.

The title refers to an artifact that has victims in Las Vegas floating up into the air, succumbing to the lethal rigors of altitude, and then crashing down to Earth again. Apparently it belonged to a saint, which makes it suspiciously similar to an artifact I suggested in my very first Warehouse 13 post on this blog, but weird coincidences not withstanding, it opens the door for a fun exploration into a subject near and dear to my heart, the lives of professional magicians. While it doesn't spend enough time on this as I would have liked, and perhaps too much time on recurring jokes about strip clubs and horse phobias, it came together pretty well in the end.

The heart of the episode is the performance of guest star Joel Grey, perhaps best known for the film Caberet, though to me he will always be the creepy lizard dude from Buffy season five. He plays an aging magician whose finally got a chance to be back on top after unknowingly finding something really magical, unaware of its deadly side effect, and not only does his performance add a level of poignancy to the episode, but the way they wrap up the character using the mythology of the show is the kind of sweet moment this show comes to at its best. We also get a too brief cameo from real life magician Steve Valentine, who would have been a better comic foil if he didn't literally disappear after a few minutes of screen time.

The B plot is really just kind of silly, following Claudia and Jinx on the trail of someone murdering Jockeys riding long shot horses at a track in the UK. It's mostly an excuse for funny accents and hi jinks, and except for the aforementioned villain scene, its pretty forgettable. Apart from that we have more Artie moping, now with a new psychoanalyst whose a little too keen to use the items in the Warehouse for personal gain. I'm getting a little sick of this story line dragging on so long in this way. I was hoping that the ramifications of Artie's freak out last season and his own reaction would be more complicated than this, but now I just want whatever the Regents are planning to do to him to just happen already.

Still, overall I'd say this is easily the best episode since the first one of this block, and enough to remind me just why I love this show and will miss it when its gone. Apparently we got some H.G. Wells action in two weeks when the show comes back, and based on some info I read online, possibly a multi-episode appearance by Anthony Stewart Head, whose always good, so there's enough to be excited about going forward. While I wish it would go on past season five, maybe the six episode structure will be a good thing for the finale in terms of motivating the writers of this show to actually think about what information is important and give us the most bang for our buck on the way out. They've taken their sweet time getting to a point this season, so maybe this will convince them to pick up the pace a bit. 

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