[Review] - Eureka, Season 5 Episode 9, "Smarter Carter"

Courtesy of NBCUniversal

There are only got four episodes left, apparently. We're officially in the home stretch. And I've decided to come to grips with some things.

First, that Holly Martin isn't going anywhere. She, and her story line, are apparently the arc for this season, as by the numbers as it is. In this episode they tried to make her a synthetic body, which I believe I called back when they first discovered her consciousness. She is also, rather suddenly, growing discontent with her ethereal self, which I also called. Her story line is so standard, it's almost embarrassing.

Second, that this season, as a whole, stands to be Eureka's weakest, weaker even then season one. Vastly more inconsistent then even season one, and at least back then they had an excuse. It was early days, they were still finding their footing. Here, now, there is no excuse. Every episode is wildy inconstant with it's predecessors, or even internally. Characters are all over the map, some have been thrown under the bus, some have been put on the bus, and some just aren't the characters we've loved over the past six years anymore. And not because of character growth, which would be acceptable.

And third, that Colin Ferguson was probably lying when he said that he was (and I'm paraphrasing here because I can't find the direct quote) "more proud of things we've done this season then we've ever done." Because really, how could you be, on a week to week basis?

Luckily, Smarter Carter was one of the better episodes this season. Not the best, that title still goes to the body swapping episode. It wasn't great, and was still wildly inconsistent (internally this time), but it was fun, and had some great performances from the supporting characters which made it really enjoyable.

Hit the jump for the spoiler-de-jour review.

This is a great premise for an episode, and one I'm surprised they didn't use sooner. Carter's everyman shtick has always made him the odd man out, but he has never seen that as a negative. Indeed, it is because he's so much dumber then everyone else that the town has survived this long. One wonders how dumb Sheriff Cobb was, considering that Eureka was still around for Carter to discover it. So, the idea of making Carter smarter is one that could have went any number of ways. And I can't help but think they squandered the opportunity.

The intelligence accelerated like a Bugatti Veyron, jumping from zero to sixty instantly. Carter went from usual to reading two books simultaneously and baking synthetic processors in his oven. And then, zip, he's rewiring cars and writing equations on the wall. It all seemed at bit too rushed. A slower discovery of his abilities might have had more comedic potential, and also showcased Carter's apparent lack of empathy that comes from his heightened intelligence.

Which was never actually explained. There is a line about Andy's 'emotional patch' having the energy drained from it, but the human brain doesn't work like that (the entire episode suggests that none of the writing staff actually knows how a brain works). So, there is no explanation as to why Carter turns into the bastard form of Spock. I'm alright with that happening, but a reason would be nice. And a little consistency, because the whole thing is blown out of the water by his admission to Allison that he's always felt out of place and that he doesn't want to be dumb again, which is clearly an emotional moment, except before and after they go to great lengths to point out that Carter's emotions have been turned off.

And that the admission isn't in Carter's character. He likes who he is, even if he doesn't understand everything that is going on. If they had spent more time with Carter and less time with Zane and Henry building the goo-girl in the garage, we might have seen more of the emotional journey Carter went on. As it plays out, his getting smarter isn't a plot, it's a MacGuffin, one that is poorly mirrored by his experiments on Andy. And one that is resolved with a heel-turn, and almost as instantly. Really, a single injection and his cognitive functions decrease instantly? Wouldn't it have been interesting to see a lingering effect, maybe spilling into some other episode while his brain works itself back down. Going from 0 to 120, then slamming on the brakes isn't good for a car, and it sure as hell can't be good for a brain.

Which is clearly the problem the writers have been having this season. They are coming up with ideas that should be explored further, and are cast aside almost as soon as they are introduced. And other ideas which probably never should have made it into scripts are lingering around, shiftless, and without a place to sit comfortably.

The best performances this week came from the supporting cast. Kavan Smith once again is the stand out as Andy, and gets to delve a little deeper into psychopathic version we saw back in the first episode of the season. With nearly all the chemistry drained from the Carter-Allison relationship, and with absolutely none in the Fargo-Holly combo, the fact that the most emotional moment of the episode came from the robot and the disembodied house voice is proof that at least somewhere on this show there is still some quality, and some depth. And the always reliable Wil Wheaton provided some great, awkward comedic moments against Jo.

Wheaton's has proven to be one of the show's best hires. Again though, they rush through ideas. Parrish was genuinely friends with Holly, a relationship that was built up over all of last year (which did a much better job of pacing then this season), and was deeply effected by her lose, giving the season it truest moment in that scene with Fargo at the end of Friendly Fire. So, the reveal that she is still alive should have been handled with more care. It should have derailed him slightly, not played for laughs. Parrish's weakness is his ego, and Holly seemed to cut through that some. Her return should have humbled him, if only briefly, and given Wheaton a chance to stretch the dramatic chops again.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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