Warehouse 13: Runaway Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Full Spoilers in the review below.
Ratings on Warehouse 13 had been in a steady decline throughout the majority of season four. Despite several high peaks near two million viewers (episodes Fractures and No Pain, No Gain), if the trend continued the show would have dipped below one million viewers (a catastrophic milestone). The Sky's the Limit, a wonderful episode from two weeks ago, seems to have been the bottoming out point, amassing only 1.08 million viewers. Last week's Instinct drew 30% more viewers with 1.36 million, and this week's episode, Runaway, pulled in 50% more than that lowest performing episode. So the momentum is moving in a very positive direction, but I'm quite concerned the trend may be stopped dead in its tracks by this very weak episode.
Indeed this week's Warehouse 13 is a mixed bag, bogged down by plodding pacing while lacking the buoyancy of light hearted brevity to elevate it. There are a number of funny moments: the team's amusing support of Jinxy as he's faced with his ex (Myka's line "Do you need us to hate him? Because we can hate him" is the best of these, but I roared it at Pete's "He's hunky. He's me. I knew I was your type!" too); Liam's parting skinny jeans joke in relation to Steve's lie detecting ability; and the running gag about Artie possibly ordering a clown for Claudia's birthday are all enjoyable and fun. The rest of the humor is awkwardly proportioned, making for an uneven hours' worth of television.
It was difficult to place my finger on, but I believe the disconnect is in the subject matter of the main story arc. The "Turks" gangland redemption storyline is quite dark in nature, which could lend itself well to one of the keystone, overarching threat episodes. Here it's a part of a filler tale, which typically consist of more light hearted adventure. However the jokes are written and paced as though this is one of the brighter romps. The net result is more downtrodden then entertaining, and flat where the audience is used to entertainment that pops from this crew.
The use of a fish eye lens to express Artie's worsening Beethoven affliction is clever and effective. It conveys a sense of claustrophobia and stifling suffocation that's visceral. Artie feels a little too "up" here, a little madcap in a sense, for what he's gone through. Perhaps it only feels that way because of how low, depressed, and grumpy he'd grown over the course of season four. I enjoy the return to season one Artie but the change feels significant, as though it should take place over a longer period of time (which they don't have a lot remaining of). Do the show runners plan to return the characters to a happy status quo as the series ends?
I found Steve and Liam's relationship to be well conceived. They both soldier on through the emotional discomfort, yet despite the scars (which still obviously pain them) there is affection present. Their banter does raise a fascination question: how do you manage a relationship where one party is a human lie detector? The word "lie" immediately conjures self righteous indignation from most people, but the truth is that we don't always want the truth. The truth is tricky and it is also blunt. Little white lies are a necessary societal lubricant, without which there would be so much more friction in our day to day. This ability has taken a great toll on Steve's ability to maintain a relationship, though it seems as though he's turned a corner and may try things out again with Liam in the future.
All hail the amazing Toyota Prius. I don't have a hybrid car myself, but I have to assume that they somehow transfer the thermal heat given off by sources such as lava into electricity for propulsion. Have the engineers over at Toyota invented the geothermal car? Its tires must be triple vulcanized (or they are now). Sometimes I wonder if these obvious advertisement attempts actually work on people at all. I'm certain they must or companies wouldn't continue to pay for them, but I have to ask who exactly those gullible fools are.
Cherie Currie of The Runaways is no clown, despite the huge 70's shoes she used to wear. I was leery when Claudia was called up to sing with her, hoping it wouldn't be uncomfortable. It turns out I had nothing to be concerned about. Their duo rendition of Cherry Bomb rocks, with their voices mixing into a resonate chorus of punk glee. Can we seriously just cast Allison Scagliotti as Tank Girl already? She's got the role down pat.
So an uneven affair on Warehouse 13 this week. Bright spots peek through the clouds throughout, but the end result is overcast. It doesn't live up to the high level the show has set for itself. The ratings climb is important and satisfying but it will be interesting to see if Runaways has a negative effect.
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.
Mania Grade: C
Episode: Runaway (Season 4, Episode 16)
Starring: Eddie McClintock, Joanne Kelly, Saul Rubinek, Allison Scagliotti, Aaron Ashmore
Written By: Ian D. Maddox, Marque Franklin
Directed by: Matthew Hastings
Network: SyFy Channel