This review contains spoilers.
4.11 The Living and the Dead
Here we are, back for the second half of Warehouse 13‘s fourth season. This episode brings a tidy ending to the mid-season finale, gives us some real emotional punches as the team and Artie work through Leena’s death, and sets up a new bad guy and gal for this half, although who will pose the biggest threat remains a mystery. We see many of the common storytelling elements in this episode, it begins with the whole team together, but shortly thereafter, they split off into two teams to solve both conflicts separately. Jinx and Claudia go to save Artie from his self-imposed coma, and Pete, Myka and Mrs. Frederic look for the cure for the plague released by the Chinese Orchid, the English Sweating Sickness.
They did add a new twist to their repertoire that simultaneously gives the viewer urgency surrounding the orchid disaster while also showing us how the rest of the world views and deals with these Warehouse emergencies. This was done by cutting the episode into blocks with a newscast, filmed at the same speed television news is filmed and presented as real-time, breaking updates that gave the viewer a direct countdown to mortality. Sixteen hours until the first mortality, then seven, then one. This allowed the viewer to come out of the main plot and explore the consequences of failure within the Warehouse. It was a good bit, and using MSNBC host, Thomas Roberts, was a nice touch.
So on to the episode! It starts with a warmly lit scene of Artie playing the piano when Leena comes in to scold him about eating cookies. It seems too good to be true, and it is. We’ve glimpsed Artie’s inner thoughts as we see he is being airlifted, unconscious, back to the Warehouse from Germany. The team gets a brief explanation of the dagger (used by a Jesuit priest in the first exorcism, it separates good from evil) and then moves off to tackle their respective duties.
I thought the premise of Claudia and Steve inside Artie’s mind, which is set up as the Warehouse, was a clever idea. However, this story tended to drag a bit until the climax when Claudia finds Artie in his “safe place”, with Lena alive and well. The use of a Freudian artifact to gain access to Artie’s subconscious was a bit cliché, and the bit where everyone holds hands to access the mind has been done more than a few times in this show. Still, the payoff is good, and while Jinx’s speech about the fight being the most important thing was uplifting, it was Claudia’s use of the words when confronting Artie, that packed the most punch. She was on form again here, and her determination in the face of Artie’s attacks and subterfuges was a pleasure to watch.
On the other side of that, Saul Rubinek killed it (intended) as a grieving Artie in denial. Every scene with him dealing with Leena’s death is moving. He is in turns furious and grief-stricken, but always brilliant. I think this may be the best performance we’ve seen from him through the whole of the show. Culminating with a conversation with Mrs. Frederic who weeps with him, this piece of the story ended strongly.
Back in the tangible world, Pete and Myka work to fix the orchid and rid the world of the sweating sickness. Their initial investigation leads them to the Count of St. Germain, an eighteenth century French courtier who claimed to be able to bring plants back to full bloom from death. Digging a little further, they find a Columbia University professor by the name of Bennet Sutton who seems to know a good deal about this Count and decide to go visit him. When they arrive, they discover a drunk played by no other than James Marsters, who is undoubtedly a star in this episode. He is a seductively charming anti-hero who is a pleasure to watch from beginning to end. I like all the little nods to his previous career as well as to modern fiction regarding his character, the Count. Once it is discovered that Sutton is Germain, Pete asks him if he’s some kind of vampire. His response, “Oh please! Vampires are for gothic novels. And apparently pre-adolescent girls,” is just wonderful.
The scene through the labyrinth of Paris’ catacombs would have been dull indeed without Marsters’ story about his affair with Marie Anoinette. And while it was obvious he was not about to die of his flying dagger wound, it is endearing that he saved Myka in the process of lying his way out of the tomb with the diamond. McClintock and Kelly play very well off of Marsters, and we get a few golden lines out of the back and forth. Kelly herself did a fine job conveying her need for Marsters’ information along with her distrust of the man himself. As for McClintock and Kelly together, their chemistry just gets better and better, not the least when Myka shows Germain her right hook.
Now, we as an audience face a question. Who is to be our new bad guy? Will it be this anti-hero, Germain? Sly, charming and secretive? Or this woman we meet, Charlotte, who claims him as her husband in the end? We don’t know much about her motivations, but she’s definitely angry and maybe a bit unhinged.
We’ll have to wait for all to be revealed over the next few months! I know I’m looking forward to it. See you next week!
Read Jenni’s review of the previous episode, We All Fall Down, here.
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