[Review] - Warehouse 13, Season 4 Episode 12, "Parks and Rehabilitation"

Courtesy of Universal Cable Productions
When Warehouse 13 first premiered four seasons ago, it was an odd duck. That was it's claim to fame. It was quirky and didn't take itself too seriously, but knew how to balance the comedy with the drama, and perhaps most importantly, could be unexpected. It didn't do what you were expecting. It has never been the best show on TV, but it has never tried to be. It only ever tried to be fun.

Somewhere along the lines, they lost that. It's still funny, but is rarely properly dramatic (it borders more on self-referential kitch). It tries too hard to be fun, and is never unexpected anymore. You can see everything coming from a mile off, and it makes each episode less enjoyable to watch when you know what will happen pretty much from the get-go. Case in point, Parks and Rehabilitation, which offers no surprises and can best be described as "dependable." And considering some of the adjectives I've used to described WH13 over the past season, that's a compliment.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers which also installed an emotional Stargate in their home.

As evidence of the erosion Warehouse 13 has undergone over the four seasons it has existed, I present the opening scene. When the Regents were first introduced, they were everymen. They held their top secret meetings in diners and cafes. They were banker tellers, and waitresses and exactly the sort of folk who don't hold traditional power. They were not a massive super-body conspiracy group that operate out of skyscrapers and auditoriums and hold sway over international policy. Here, the tribunal (judged by, I should point out, five Regents) is held in an official and dominating looking place. If this same scene had happened in season one, it would have happened in a high school locker room, or the back room at a butcher's shop. It would have been more grounded, and wouldn't have been presided over by The Ten Rings.

The writers have lost the focus of the series. Every show needs to grow, but every show needs to remain grounded, to have a base line that keeps them from slipping. Warehouse 13 has no baseline, it has been disregarded in favour of attempts at being epic or spectacular, something it arguably hasn't been since they discovered Warehouse 2.

This episode had a lot of qualities I've been championing. The teams were evenly divided, and the writers were able to balance both stories pretty well. It also featured Field Agent Claudia, who is my favourite Claudia, especially when paired with Pete. One thing the show doesn't have, and never has had, is a problem with character chemistry, and now that they've eliminated all the belligerent sexual tension, the characters can interact as the screwed up family unit that they are. Unfortunately, the plots almost never are worthy of the cast's interactions. I doubt though that the show could ever transition into a character based show, leaving behind the artifact of the week stories (which they should have long ago) because when it comes to deep, status changing character moments, the writing falters again.

This week, happily, they didn't brush Artie's emotional turmoil under the rug. He suffers still, and hopefully will for some time yet. Everyone else seems to have moved on and forgiven him, and by episode's end he and Claudia have apparently made up. But Warehouse 13 wants to be Buffy, with every problem the characters face being played out via a metaphor. In this case, an isle of the Warehouse going nuts. The difference is, on Buffy, the metaphors held together. Angel loosing his soul grew from being a teenage metaphor about a guy being a jerk after sleeping with you, into a metaphor about stalkers and obessive boyfriends, into one about the difficulty of breaking up with someone. On Warehouse 13, Artie's emotional issues manifest as an isle going nuts, but gets distracted after that, and becomes about stopping a robot gargoyle, and not about Artie. It lack's focus, or the ability to develop plots that keep the focus on the characters rather then the thing of the week.

As for the A-plot this week, the show attempted to play out Claudia's own sense of guilt via a story of betrayal. Unfortunately, they used terrorism as the method to deliver that sermon, and terrorism is rarely a way to endear a character to an audience. That, and it was as deftly done as dropping a hammer on a baby, which is to say not at all. It didn't help matters that the whole mystery was as transparent as sheet glass, with the baddie being obvious from the first cringe-worthy Yogi Bear reference, and as the story unfolded, each additional element suffered from equal amounts of sore-thumb syndrome.

On a happy note, the episode did feature a vocal cameo from former Regent Mark Sheppard, or at least someone who can do a damned good Mark Sheppard impersonation. Of course, all that did was make me miss the better days back of the first two seasons, which I suspect was not the intended result.
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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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