Full Spoilers in the review below.
As you've probably heard this past week, our favorite artifact bag and tag adventure show has been renewed for a fifth season. While that is amazing news, it is tempered by the knowledge that this new season will definitely be the final one and will only consist of six episodes. I can't say I understand the strategy of sending the strongest shows out to pasture but it's becoming increasingly common as of late. Not counting this week's episode, the news means that there are a total of only eleven new Warehouse 13 adventures coming our way. A sad realization to be sure, especially considering the solid stride the show runners have hit. Season four may be the best one yet.
Hot on the heels of the incredible noir themed episode last week, Warehouse 13 bets all of its chips on a double artifact hunt which sees Pete and Myka headed to Las Vegas, while Claudia and Steve wager on the ponies in England. This isn't a case of an "A" story with a "B" story as back up; we get two full fledged artifact adventures this week. Structuring the episode in this way gives the audience a richer meal with more meat to chew on. It wouldn't work every week because that would staunch deeper character development but functions great every so often.
Both adventures deal with a person trying to use an artifact to do what they perceive to be good. I find this so much more compelling than when they find their way into the hands of a malicious villain. It underscores just how universally dangerous the artifacts are, even when the intentions are benevolent. The warehouse agents can tell us this over and over, but seeing it in action is always so much more convincing.
Steve and Claudia are on the tail of a sympathetic horse trainer who is punishing vicious jockeys that brutalize their horses to win. Their game of dress up to gain access to an exclusive owners' club is the highlight. I can't decide who looked better: Allison in her knock out purple dress or Aaron in his dashing derby hat. I think Aaron may have some period television in his future after Warehouse 13, but it's Claudia's accent which is most memorable from the scene. It's a great decision to have her drop it as soon as it fails and then adapt to the situation in play, very quickly using the horse owner's derision for pushy American agents as a spring board to a subtler approach. Something else that really shined through was the fun which Allison and Aaron were clearly having. It translates through on screen and allows the audience in on the fun (the first horse laugh from Claudia seemed like a take which broke down into real laughter).
Pete and Myka's Vegas Adventure (trademarked) ends up being a heart warming affair- with an aging magician's granddaughter using a saintly artifact to secretly levitate people. This selfless act (on the surface) allows her grandfather (who isn't long for life) to experience real magic in a way that returns the wonder of it to him. It would be cute and nice if it wasn't also killing people as a side effect. I thought the Hangover homage was a bit heavy handed (I was expecting Mike Tyson to show up), and it was fairly obvious early on that Rose was responsible for the levitation, but even still this was a solid, heartwarming adventure all around. Letting Monty in on the real magic of the Warehouse was a very nice touch at the end. It seems only right to share that kind of magic with a man who shared so much of it with so many.
Back at the Warehouse, Mrs. Frederick introduces Artie to Abigail, the new B&B owner. She's positioned as someone oblivious to what's actually housed here, and uses Artie's tour as a subtle way to try and psychoanalyze him. He's too clever for it and she's too wounded by her past to take it slow. I think it was fascinating that Mrs. Frederick would allow the use of an artifact in treating Artie (even if they don't actually go down that route); it speaks volumes about his importance to the Regents that they would consistently try to help him, if even covertly.
The Sky's the Limit is a fun midseason (or mid half season) adventure which brings two solid artifact hunts and still manages to present important personal character development. The show's producers, writers, and actors get it. Let us not lament its short fifth season, let us instead celebrate the eleven episodes we have to look forward to being thrilled by.
Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Wednesday's Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.