Warehouse 13: There's Always a Downside Review (Mania.com)

By:Chuck Francisco
Review Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Source: Mania.com

And just as we're settling nicely into this season of Warehouse 13, we're hit like a cartoon exclamation box (BOOM!) with a double dose of Star Trek alumni (again). This episode exhibits the acting range of Brent Spiner, who always gave us glimpses of the comedic brilliance lying just below the surface, constrained by his having always played an android on Star Trek: The Next Generation. We've already seen him as a menacing and lethal opponent in this season's premier episode. This week, we see him play up enthusiasm and childhood wonderment, as he brings Artie an artifact from his organization. The spur of Jack Duncan (famous bounty hunter of the old west), purported to allow one to track down other artifacts, has the supposed minimal downside of making horses fear the user for a few days. It's a trick, of course, as Brother Adrian has been suspicious of Artie's intentions for some time now. With his suspicions now confirmed, Adrian drops the mask of excited artifact enthusiast for the menacing demeanor the team experienced in the season opener.

Here's where I start to grow a bit concerned. When Adrian confronts Artie, the latter explains to him exactly what led to him using the Astrolabe in the first place. We don't see the entire conversation, but enough of it to know that Artie conveys the severity of the world's state before his unauthorized usage. So we've got to believe one of two things: either the evil unleashed by the Astrolabe is somehow worse than global rioting, financial ruin and the lost of humanity's hope; or brother Adrian actually is the insanely dangerous zealot whom we first met in the opening. Hopefully, the situation isn't so black and white, more of a milkshake mixing the the two. I find the murky areas far more interesting. 

In the realm of artifact hunting this week, Artie chooses to mix up the teams; pairing Jinks with Myka, and Claudia with Pete. Influenced by his vision of Claudia stabbing the hell out of him (fair enough), he tasks Pete with keeping an eye on her for anything unusual behavior. They visit our second Trek alumni, Rene Auberjonios (Odo on Deep Space Nine), who returns as Hugo Miller, former warehouse agent who's a little off kilter and has been sent a bag of marbles belonging to Bobby Fisher (chess master). This part of the adventure is a standard artifact hunt, with one deviation: we find out at the end of the episode that this item had been tracked down and collected by Artie already. It was supposed to be on a shelf in the warehouse. In it's place is a black jewell, the purpose of which we're in the dark on. Perhaps it allows brother Adrian to exchange it for artifacts, or perhaps it's merely a calling card. Regardless, it means that his religious organization has real teeth; they really can undo Artie's life's work.

Curious though, that Bother Adrian's organization knows abut artifacts, they understand them, and they claim to be trying to retrieve the Astrolabe to protect mankind, but to do so they are willing to unleash a bevy of artifacts of varying degrees of deadliness. Isn't this a church organization with vaults under the Vatican? Perhaps they're a rogue group. Still, it's strange that they would, as Adrian threatens Artie, operate under no rules to get the job done.

I found Jinks and Myka's trip far more interesting. They're on the trail of an artifact that is instantly curing people of their emotional trauma. I found it fascinating that this was a case of a New Orleans jazz trumpeter using an item to purposefully take people's pain onto himself (all the best musicians use that pain to play, or so it is said). Obviously this guy bites off more than he can chew, trying to absorb Jinks' pain. Importantly, during that struggle, Myka discovers Jinks' secret: that any injury he incurs causes Claudia proportional amounts of pain. After retrieving Janis Joplin's cigarette case, they share an important character growth moment, and Steve resolves to speak with Claudia about it (and requests that Artie temporarily take him off of active artifact hunting, though he isn't honest about the reason).

This was a cool episode, though after last week's triple team-a-thon, it's tough for this one not to seem to be in it's predecessor's shadow. I'd love for Hugo to become a more frequent recurring character, his half cracked innocent bumbling is both endearing and entertaining. We've got another cliffhanger ending, hooking us for next week. See you then.

Coolest Artifact: Janis Joplin's Cigarette Case

Lamest Artifact: Jack Duncan's Spur - I really wanted this one to be real. 

Mania Grade: B
Episode: 404 - There's Always a Downside
Cast: Eddie McClintock, Joanne Kelly, Saul Rubinek, Allison Scagliotti, Rene Auberjonios
Written By: Constantine Makris
Directed By: Drew Greenberg
Network: SyFy Channel