[Review] - Warehouse 13, Season 4 Episode 16, "Runaway"

Courtesy of Universal Cable Productions
With four episodes left in the season, now would be a good time to point out that there has been next to no development on the season arc thus far. The mid-season premier introduced James Marsters and his ex-wife played by Polly Walker. She popped up again, seemingly without purpose, in the horse racing episode, where she showed a keen interest in Claudia (might this have something to do with Claudia's eventual guardianship over the Warehouse, which we were reminded of last week). Beyond these two brief appearances, there have been no further developments. In fact, there has been no establishment of an arc this season at all. No looming big bad, no on-going mystery. Just stand alone stories, and lots of character development.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that never car-lava surf without a helmet. Safety first, after all.

This is a good thing. I've seen this as a complaint elsewhere, but I'm all in favour of it. The show, right from the start, has always been heavy on the arc-based story telling. And while the mystery of the week format needed to be shrugged off long ago, that doesn't mean the only alternative are arcs. Others are worried that the lack of arcing means that the final two episodes will be a pile-up of plots and developments, but I don't think it has to mean anything other then a two parter, established and developed within itself. By the lack of seeding clues throughout, it means they don't have to live up to any big reveal, or connect any dots. All Marsters has to do is pop up again, say he didn't die when they thought, and they're off.

More then that, it suggests that the writers learned their lesson from the first half of the season, which so wanted to be a season long arc, but faltered when they didn't have enough material to cover the whole ten episodes. Artie's adventures into madness had two episodes worth of material stretched out over ten, and it made for a horrible half season of TV. More then that, because all twenty episodes were written and filmed at approximately the same time last year, it means the writers learned their lesson while they were writing it. This batch of episodes has been a significant improvement over the last, largely in part because they haven't tried to replicate what worked in previous seasons. This half season feels the most like season 2, where the closest thing to an arc was the development of the HG character, which was bookended by confrontations.

This season has been about moving the characters forward. Artie, obviously, had some stuff to get over when the show returned. Claudia's scenes have been about growing up (quite literally in this episodes, with her birthday and all). Myka got to have a break up episode with HG. Pete... flew? And this week was Jinx turn, in an episode that did not back down from the fact that the character is gay. At the same time, they didn't make that fact that he was gay special at all. The episode came at it straight (sorry), not trying to say something deep and political or have a lasting impact on society. They approached the plot - Jinx encounters an ex, with whom he had a bad break up - the same as this plot has been written for heterosexual characters for decades. They refused (with the exception of Pete, who to be fair, reacted the same as he would have if it had been Myka or Claudia, which is to say childishly) to treat these two men's relationship as anything other then a relationship between two people.

The show has long been like this.Like the implied relationship between Myka and HG, the introduction of Jinx, and the reveal that he was gay, was treated so incidentally and matter of factly, so as not to suggest it was preternatural in the least. The show has taken the tact that equality means not making a big deal of stuff that is a part of life. In that respect, it's a very post-modern show. Accepting, inclusive, and apathetic; presenting a world where none of his coworkers judge, or really even care, that Jinx is gay. It's just who he is. They've made a bigger deal, and made more jokes against him, for being Buddhist. It also occurs to me that this is two episodes in a row where characters got a sense of closure from former relationships, and both were homosexual pairings. The reason why none of the rest of the characters on the show get break-up episodes: the straight characters aren't getting any.

Plot wise, the episode was pretty by-the-books. It was nice to see some legitimate twists in the case of the week, with the hardened criminal seeking out revenge actually just a concerned father protecting his son. The lava effects were passable, until they decided to fill a car park with it, at which point no suspension of disbelief could make that scene any less terrible. Any weaknesses in the artifact chase were made up for in the character interactions, and the episode was saved entirely by Artie and Claudia, the show's power couple, bickering and snarking at one another. And while their chase was far more streamlined and straight forward, the final confrontation was better written and funnier then the lava flow. The show has a regular habit of taking itself too seriously at the oddest times, so it's comforting when they have a temporarily deaf, bearded curmudgeon punch a guy over a banister into a piano. That's just funny. And, Allison Scagliotti got to sing a punk rock anthem, which I'm sure made a significant portion of the viewing audience pleased.

With only a hand full of episodes left this year, and less then a dozen in total before Warehouse 13 leaves us forever, I find myself asking over and over: are we just never going to meet Pete's deaf sister?
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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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