Contributor: Gregg Wright
SyFy’s “Eureka”/”Warehouse 13″ double-bill still packs a punch. While I thought that “Warehouse 13′s” return was just slightly stronger (and that’s coming from a fan who usually prefers “Eureka”), “Liftoff” is still a whole lot of fun. The mid-season break has been unbearably long, with only the wonderful Christmas episode to hold us over since last September. But it was worth the wait. I’ve got plenty of oppressively dark dramas on my slate, so I could really use the humor, heart, and optimism of “Eureka” right now.
That really was a good fake-out at the wedding. I thought it was Jack and Allison’s wedding right up to the reveal. I did like the old Deputy/Sheriff Andy, but Kavan Smith has really made the role his own. This episode, he’s as hilarious as ever, but what I really like is that Andy is becoming more than just a running gag. His relationship with SARAH is allowing him to express a wider array of emotions, without overly detracting from the sunny disposition that makes the character so amusing.
For a while, I was almost certain that the changes to the timeline would eventually be reversed. But by this point, we’ve spent so much time with Eureka 2.0 that just repairing the timeline so the changes had never happened would feel like something of a cop-out. At this point I’d prefer that the Eureka Five just try to make the best of things in the new timeline. One of the biggest tragedies of Eureka 2.0 was Jo’s loss of her relationship with Zane. But now it’s looking like Zane and Jo may end up together again anyway. And meanwhile, Henry and Grace seem to be doing quite well now in their relationship.
The outer space antics with Fargo and Zane are perfectly timed to coincide with the final shuttle mission (which, coincidentally, also received original music by Bear McCreary). I liked that this time it wasn’t so much Fargo’s fault that things went awry. And I liked the pairing of Fargo and Zane in a survival situation, which not only resulted in a lot of laughs, but gave Zane a chance to bond with Fargo and become more enlightened about his situation with Jo. I didn’t expect Zane to be the one to lose it and Fargo to be the one to hold it together, but it feels believable. And, of course, it’s not at all unexpected that Fargo, or any of the geniuses in Eureka, would hold aspirations of becoming an astronaut and going to space. His enthusiasm over the situation is in humorous contrast to Zane’s initial negativity. By the time Fargo starts to lose hope, Zane has been built up enough to serve as reinforcement.
The episode does start to wear a bit thin in the second half, when the pacing starts to slow, and we get a fairly typical resolution. But the execution is good enough that I hardly noticed the weakness. And there are still a lot of great moments, like the EM burst that knocks out power to the whole town, forcing everyone to start riding around on horses. I don’t know where Jo found horses in Eureka, especially so fast, but the logic is forgivable. And Andy’s involvement comes at just the right moment.
It’s probably for the best that we’re not diving headlong into the myth-arc again so soon, as we don’t really get into anything presumably long-term (aside from the character threads) until the very end of the episode, when Fargo is summoned before a government panel led by a Senator Michaela Wen (“Stargate Universe’s” Ming-Na). Ming-Na was never one of my favorite actors from the show, but I feel fondly about just about anyone involved in “SGU”, so it’s good to see her again in another SyFy show so soon. She looks to be playing a potential antagonist here. It makes sense, after all the incredibly dangerous scenarios that Eureka has resulted in, that that government would begin seriously considering shutting it down. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like enough to serve as the source of all the myth-arc material for the rest of the season, so there’s either a lot more to it than meets the eye, or other major threads waiting to be introduced (or perhaps returned to, like the looming threat of the Consortium).
It’s good to see that SyFy still has at least one great science fiction show still on its slate (“Warehouse 13″ has plenty of sci-fi elements, but I consider it to be more fantasy than sci-fi). “Eureka’s” Season 4.5 is off to a great start, bringing back everything I’ve come to love about the show (minus James Callis, unfortunately). One bright side to “Eureka’s” long mid-season absence is that we may not have to wait all that long for season 5.