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Review #2364: Warehouse 13 3.6: “Don’t Hate the Player”

Posted on the 16 August 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

I have the feeling this episode is going to be a “love it or hate it” proposition. That’s usually the case whenever a show does something that radically breaks format, and this certainly fits the bill. I was instantly reminded of the “Farscape” episode “John Quixote”, which featured the main character dealing with a virtual fantasy game of sorts. This was just the artifact-driven version of a very well-worn plot device.

Review #2364: Warehouse 13 3.6: “Don’t Hate the Player”

It also featured the return of Fargo from “Eureka” as a special guest with a crush on Claudia. Now, I don’t have any doubt that a guy would crush on Claudia under most reasonable circumstances. If anything, she’s even more crush-worthy this season. But it does highlight the odd timeline disparity currently taking place between “Eureka” and “Warehouse 13”, thanks to Syfy’s inexplicable scheduling. “Eureka” is a half-season behind in first run, so “Eureka” fans who also watch “Warehouse 13” are seeing what is effectively the Fargo of our future. (Somehow, that sort of confusion makes sense in the Eurekaverse, doesn’t it?)

But I don’t think that the premise or Fargo’s inclusion is going to be the deciding factor for many viewers. It’s going to be the visual style. Think “A Scanner Darkly” on a much smaller budget, and that’s essentially what we see here. Within the virtual game, everyone is rendered in a pseudo-animated style that is clearly just drawn onto the original filmed footage. The backgrounds, however, are all “normal”.

This leads to a bit of a confusing and clashing visual. More than once, I felt like I was seeing everything out of focus, when that was just the effect of the overlaid animation. I actually found it very hard to look at, especially when the story was practically begging you to pay attention to the costumes (particularly anytime a corset or cleavage was involved). The net result was such a distraction that I really couldn’t enjoy what I was watching.

That’s too bad, because this was an important episode for Claudia, because she came face to face with a few of her issues. In particular, she was faced with her time in an institution, and she had to contemplate a few body image aspects as well. If the visual style wasn’t so damaging to the flow of the story, the character development might have worked better.

The other plot thread worked much better, and I liked how Artie and Steve worked together. The fact that they were played by their own expectations and personality conflicts was a nice touch. I have no idea what this particular Trojan Horse attack on the Warehouse will amount to in the end, but the scheme made sense and revealed just how well this season’s adversary understands the Warehouse and its current agents.

Considering that the main plot wasn’t particularly original, that it involved a complicated crossover with “Eureka”, and utilized a visual style that detracted from the overall enjoyment of the episode, I would have to call this one a valiant failure and the first real disappointment of the season.

Writing: 1/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 1/2
Style: 1/4

Final Rating: 5/10

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