TV REVIEW: Warehouse 13 Season 4, Episode 2 – “An Evil Within”

Localised group hallucinations are causing people to commit spontaneous group murder in Philadelphia. Pete and Myka investigate, leaving Arti to track down an AWOL Claudia and dissuade her from her mission to use an artefact.

Claudia is determined to go against Arti’s specific warnings and use the Metronome artefact to resurrect a loved one. Arti’s secret starts to gnaw away at him, causing him to research what the consequences of his own use of an artefact might ultimately be.

If I had to use just one word to sum up this episode, I would have to say that it is very…dense. So much happens, and so much of that has the potential to have such far-reaching consequences for all the characters that it’s difficult to take it all in.

In episode one, Arti saved the Warehouse using an artefact that could reverse time. A side effect of using the artefact is that everyone’s memories are also reset for a specific timeframe. Memory reset doesn’t effect the artefact wielder, so only they remember what was done, how, and why. Now, an unspecified amount of time has passed and Claudia is AWOL. Arti is still having daydream premonitions of Claudia chasing, then stabbing him with an ornate dagger (which may or may not be an artefact.) Pete and Myka visit Philadelphia to investigate an artefact that is causing group hallucinations resulting in murder.

Brother Adrian (from the Brotherhood of the Black Diamond Priests) visits Arti at the B&B. Brother Adrian knows about the Warehouse and needs Arti’s help in tracking down a powerful artefact that was somehow mysteriously stolen from the care of the Brotherhood. Despite years of necessary subterfuge archiving artefacts, Arti seems particularly useless at hiding his own ulterior motives. Brother Adrian is adamant that artefact the thief has to be found, and that the time reversal caused by the Astrolabe must be undone – regardless of the consequences. Brother Adrian informs Arti that whoever used the Astrolabe has created a unique and vast (yet annoyingly vague) evil which will haunt and eventually destroy them. The last recorded use of the Astrolabe happened during the French revolution of 1700, causing something now know as ‘The Reign of Terror.’

Meanwhile, driven by resourcefulness, grief and determination, Claudia has found the Regent H.Q. and breaks in to retrieve poor Steve’s corpse. With Regent Jane’s help (recurring guest star Kate Mulgrew), and despite Arti’s vocal disagreement, Claudia is granted permission to use the Metronome to reanimate Steve. We later find out that Regent Jane went against the wider Council to help Claudia, and the repercussions of that decision remain to be explored. In order to resurrect him, Claudia’s fate becomes tied to Steve in ways yet unknown. Even the Regents don’t know what the repercussions/costs of using the Metronome are.

Last weeks episode was so heavy and tightly written that this week had a hard act to follow. Though not as fast and furious as the season opener, episode 2 manages to juggle being a good stand alone episode as well as progressing the shows longer arc plot-points.

This week’s artefact required heavy use of CGI, and TV budgets can often be let down by the need for extensive computer graphics. Fortunately, as a portrayal of group hallucinations the effects hold up pretty well. Because of its age and horrific surreal-ness, Lovecraft is not for everyone, and it’s refreshing to see a literature-based artefact that Myka is *not* an expert on. H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos is pervasive enough that even the vast majority of people haven’t read the original (or derivative) works, yet still know that Cthulhu=tentacles. Cephalopods are one of the few truly alien non-insect species on earth- all tentacles and bulgy eyes. Myka’s aversion to anything with tentacles feels like a plot driven quirk, but doesn’t seem too contrived. The ‘main’ storyline – Pete and Myka chasing an artefact – is unfortunately not as engaging as the ‘side’ plots involving Claudia and Arti.

Artefacts being used as tools of revenge is a running theme in the world of Warehouse 13. In this instance, the artefact itself seems to have no immediate negative effect on the owner/user. This seems the exception to the rule that artefact use always has negative (and usually long-lasting) effect on those  using it.

So far, this episode has strong themes running through it relating to personal responsibility, personal sacrifice, and the repercussions of individual actions. Steve’s reaction to being reanimated by an artefact is understandable and the reckoning scene between Claudia and Steve is subtle, yet powerful. Whatever her intentions, Claudia seems to have doomed Steve to become a sort of living artefact. It’s interesting how both Claudia’s and the ‘artefact-of-the-week’ plot intersect. Both see the use of artefacts caused directly by the grief of losing a loved one.

Brent Spiner – as recurring guest character Brother Adrian – will be a character worth paying close attention to. The audience, and Arti, know that the Brotherhood will stop at nothing to protect the Astrolabe artefact. If/when Brother Adrian detects that Arti is deceiving him, will the soft-spoken man of the cloth turn nasty? Would the Regents back up Arti’s use of an artefact in extreme circumstances?

All of the major cast have their moment to shine, but for me Arti takes the spotlight. Arti’s secret is weighing heavily on him and the character is slowly becoming a bundle of guilty ticks and half-finished mumblings. Now that Steve – the human lie detector – is back as part of the team, surely it’s only a matter of time before Arti’s secret comes out?

It’s only episode two and this show already can’t be missed.

Artefacts:
A Silver Key belonging to H.P. Lovecraft: After touching it victims are seen by all others as giant hideous Cephalopod / Cthulhu-esque creatures.
Johann Maelzel’s Metronome: Using a specific ritual allows this artefact to bring back to life a single deceased person. That person will stay alive as long at the metronome keeps ticking.

Travelogue: Philadelphia. Regent Châtelet (Regent H.Q.).

Best Lines:
Brother Adrian: “As I said I work with the Vatican. We know an awful lot of things about… An awful lot of things.”
Claudia: “If you could use an artefact, to set something right – to undo a huge stupid tragedy wouldn’t you do it?”
Claudia: “ Y’know a lot of people experience clinical death for a few minutes. [You were dead for ] … 4,320 [minutes].”

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Faintdreams

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