4 Jul 2013

[Review] - Warehouse 13, Season 4 Episode 19, "All The Time In The World"

Courtesy of Universal Cable Productions
After last week's rousing and thoroughly enjoyable romp, this penultimate episode was a great let down. It was, in microcosm, an exemplar of everything that was wrong with the first half of season 4. The action was stilted, the character's all acted as if they were someone else, the tone was all over the place, and worst of all, it suffered from sever decompression. In fact, the entire episode felt like a place folder, a necessity to get us from point A, last week, to point B, next week's finale. And like the earlier portion of the season, they didn't have enough material to fill in the distance in between, so they resorted to contrived drama and endless repetition, which is how I'm starting to feel about these reviews.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that hate it when ancient hidden laboratories fall on them after they've been shot.

This is what I was afraid of. Well, one of the things I was afraid of. See, I was so worried that Myka would decide to whammy her cancer away, I neglected to worry about her doing nothing at all about it. Where did that come from? Last week she was looking at brochures and having anxiety hallucinations about how Pete would react, and this week (mere hours after the events of last week) she's all nonchalant about it. Practically apathetic? Last week, Charlotte getting her neck snapped by a smoke monster was enough to send Myka into a grief fuelled panic attack, and this week when Charlotte dies (for real this time), Myka's flip about it. The disconnect between a character's action week to week almost suggest there lacks any conversation between writers about characterisation. Except these are well developed personalities, so I feel it's more a case of 'lets do this, because we need to have conflict, and we can't think of anything better to do."

By the same accord, Claudia's bronzing was a great cliffhanger last week, but amounted to nil here. There was never any dramatic tension (any there might have been was severely undercut by her falling part: since when do statues erode from their thickest parts?). Jokes were cracked, the whole thing was treated not with levity, but with a certain lightness that didn't match the intention of the situation. And, was nothing more then a repository for artifact exposition, and plot repetition. If Artie had mentioned getting Joshua's DNA one more time, I would have thrown something at my screen. And considering that Artie was meant to be apprehensive about how he was going to collect it, we never did learn what he had to do, but everything seemed to turn out fine, so what does it matter?

Exposition was the name of the game here, and it really caused the episode to drag. Anytime a character says "As you know," I cringe, no matter what I'm watching, but this episode was tantamount to a classroom lecture on all subjects Warehouse. We got repeated flashbacks to how Giles... sorry, Paracelsus, made James Marsters and his family immortal. And how he was captured by Warehouse 9. And bronzed, and debronzed, and how he's now got some terrible plan (which, can I say, five hundred years to plot an intricate revenge, and coming up with "shooting the estranged wife" is the best you can do?). We also got back story on artifacts, and some more of the Warehouse's internal workings, and it seemed like every time a character turned around, they were explaining something to someone, in as much padded out detail as possible. The worst example of the padding though came in the form of a twenty second, three scene flashback to Claudia saving people (one of which was stabbing Artie, which only barely qualifies). You think the viewers wouldn't have been able to remember all the times Claudia has saved the day, or you just needed to bolster the act until the commercial break.

Let's discuss the Guardianship of the Warehouse issue for a moment, shall we? Warehouse 13 was established at some point around the turn of the twentieth century (I can't remember if an exact date has ever been given). In any of the flashbacks to the fifties or sixties, Mrs. Fredric has been there, and ageless. It was my assumption that, barring death or otherwise being removed from the position, a Guardian existed for the length of the Warehouse in question. So, why is Claudia being groomed to replace her? Shouldn't they only need a new Guardian when Warehouse 14 is established, and I would assume it would need a Guardian from that local (presumably, China at this point). Did the Warehouse's destruction and Artie's turning back time destabilise Fredric's connection to the Warehouse, is that what's caused it?

And why would a former Guardian supersed the present one? If Paracelsus was the Guardian for Warehouse 9, why would he have any connection to Warehouse 13 at all? Shouldn't his connection be to his long dead and buried Warehouse? And why, if the connection is to the room of float symbols instead of to a physical location, then wasn't that connection severed by the Regents of Warehouse 9? It's well established that the bronzed prisoners at conscious, wouldn't his connection to the Warehouse have persisted during that time? Why leave an active connection open to a poisonous influence? Seems like poor decision making to me.

Poor Kelly Hu. In an effort to include her in this episode, they sacrificed all the great character development they had with her over the past nine episodes, for the sake of a reveal that didn't make much sense, could have been easily avoided, and rang false and pointless. And every time they add a new layer of mystical "and the Warehouse also has one of these," I feel like it was because the writers couldn't come up with a better idea, and throw something never alluded to at us. It's like on Star Trek, when the deflector dish would suddenly be able to do something entirely new, because Spock or Data would make an adjustment. Plot specific abilities never come off as anything other then cheap and easy, and now I'm sad because I liked the premise of Hu's character, the outsider coming into the Warehouse, and taking to it like a duck to water. Now, she's just another character who came to the Warehouse under the guise of a lie (which, how did Jinx not notice something was up, they spent an entire episode together?).

Next week, things finish up, with Paracelsus exerting more control over the Warehouse, Myka begrudgingly going for cancer treatment, and James Marsters mortal.

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