Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Everyone here at borg.com is a loyal fan of Warehouse 13, and we eagerly waited for Season 3 with excitement and just a *leetle* bit of anxiety (Will She or Won’t She? regarding a return for Joanne Kelly, after Myka quits in a…well, to tell you the truth, we can’t really remember why she quit, but we’re pretty sure it had something to do with H.G. Wells and a pitchfork). Thank goodness, all that uncertainty was put to rest by the season premiere (July 11, 2011, “The New Guy”) and a Comic-Con confession by Eddie McClintock (Agent Pete Lattimer) that the whole Myka quitting drama was just a ratings stunt (whew!).
Ahem. But while that got our hackles up just a little, that maneuvering did make room for potentially interesting additions to the cast, notably “New Guy” Agent Steve Jinks, as well as priming audiences for larger-scale storylines. As we mentioned in our review earlier this year of the Leverage premiere, raising stakes for your characters and creating bigger, more meaningful plotlines is usually a good thing. And bless their hearts, Warehouse 13 gave it their all this season. From turning our beloved Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall, The Dead Zone) into a maniacal supervillain bent on exacting revenge from… Captain Janeway? (Kate Mulgrew, Star Trek Voyager) (Wait a minute–what?) to throwing Claudia at poor Agent Jinx in an over-the-top BFFE crush that only the writers really understood, to a literally explosive finale involving yet another reincarnation of series favorite H.G. Wells (this one presumably the last, as Jaime Murray is now a regular on Ringer… although with H.G. Wells and Warehouse 13, you never can tell).
By now you may be thinking that’s a lot of balls to juggle–even for the W13 gang–and you’re right. It got a little hard to follow, and there were some missteps that took the series away from everything it had always done so, so right: the punchy camaraderie of the core cast, and the zany artifact hijinks that delight demented history buffs everywhere. Something seems to have fizzled in the brilliant, squabbling-siblings chemistry between Myka and Pete, and even the artifacts got a little strained, having me occasionally roll my eyes instead of giggle maniacally. I also found myself a little frustrated with some of the world building, as the addition of Kate Mulgrew as Regent-slash-Mom Jane Lattimer expanded the role and history of the Regents. Case in point: There is already a thriving network of Warehouses, so what’s with this super-secret Regent Vault? You need a better Warehouse for even worse artifacts?
Yeah, yeah, yeah… but because I do love this show and all its wackiness (that’s, by the way, meant to be praise here) I’m going to go on the record as saying I think all of that is just growing pains. It’s Season 3–time to spread wings and see what happens when you leave the nest, and there are bound to be some bruised feathers. And, to be sure, there were some standout moments this year. As Warehouse hacker-turned-techie-turned-trainee-turned-full-fledged-agent Claudia Donovan, Allison Scagliotti proved her mettle again and again this season, as her role was expanded in almost every episode (note to producers: Scagliotti is brilliant, but let’s remember this isn’t The Claudia Show), and although I personally didn’t feel we saw enough of Agent Jinks to share in the pathos of his death (or, um, potential undeath? But we’ll have to wait for Season 4 for that!), Scagliotti managed to single-handedly carry the emotional weight of that entire plot thread, and she did so completely convincingly. I almost thought I knew Jinksy enough to miss him, too.
The finale itself (the Sept. 26, 2011 two-parter “Emily Lake/Stand”), particularly the last act, was splendidly zany in the best W13 tradition–from a deadly chess game-slash-guillotine you have to cheat to beat, to a perversely-timed acting-up of random artifacts, to a startling and unexpected fate for mysterious Warehouse guardian Mrs. Frederick (which opens up marvelous possibilities for Claudia for next season), to the gutsy, glorious decision to destroy the whole warehouse, Search for Spock-style… I’m finding myself all geared up and ready for Season 4! Only now I know all my gang is still right where they should be (well, minus Mrs. F and her iconic beehive–not, of course, to be confused with the other iconic beehive, the one from “Queen for a Day” that nearly destroyed Pete’s ex-wife Amanda Lattimer’s wedding [Jeri Ryan/Seven of Nine from Star Trek Voyager, if you're still keeping track of the crossovers!] wedding). Wait. Gotta catch my breath there.
Anyway, as mildly disappointed as I was with some of this season, it’s still Warehouse 13, which is still more fun than almost anything on TV, and my disappointment is merely a sign of how wonderful the show truly is–anything that can inspire fans to feel invested in the fates of the characters is doing pretty much everything right. And I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how Season 4 can annoy me, too!
P.S. We loved chatting with Saul Rubinek at Comic-Con this year…