Warehouse 13 is an interesting blend of slapstick comedy masking some intense, dark -- and more often than not -- tragic storylines. Warehouse 13 just knows how to sugarcoat things. It kind of feels like The X-Files on Pop Rocks and, with that kind of sugar-rush, it is impossible to not fall under its irrepressible giddy glee in all things wacky, weird and wild.
As the second season opened, we learned the fate of our intrepid heroes: Myka (Joanne Kelly) and Pete (Eddie McClintock) were not blown up in the warehouse, Artie (Saul Rubinek) escaped from his fiery death with a little help from the phoenix artifact which MacPhearson (Roger Rees) slipped into his pocket. And Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) was on the run after MacPhearson used Leena (Genelle Williams) to impersonate her to get out of the bronze section.
While death was averted, lots of shenanigans ensued. MacPhearson also rescued the notorious H.G. Wells (Jaime Murray) from the bronze section, and with both on the loose, it was a race to see who could be captured first. In the end, it did not matter as H.G. turned the tables on MacPhearson and killed him.
Things were then back to normal at the warehouse: Claudia returned and all was forgiven; Leena was proven innocent in her part of the MacPhearson escape after a nasty Pearl of Wisdom was found in her ear; Pete and Myka were sent in search of a real-life superhero, while Artie was still disturbed that H.G. Wells was still roaming around loose.
So as Pete and Myka continued their missions to track down artifacts such as the superhero underwear, a monstrous movie projector, an age-stealing camera, an overheating ladle, and body-swapping book ends, Claudia had boy trouble and became infatuated with a visitor from "Eureka," Leena underwent therapy to get the residue of MacPhearson out of her brain, and Artie fretted non-stop about what H.G. Wells was up to.
As for H.G., she was on a crusade to find a way back into the warehouses good graces so she could be reinstated to full agent status -- only to prove that she had an ulterior motive all along. Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder) continued to lurk in the back ground, only surfacing when our heroes got over their heads in mischief.
The season also offered some super cool cameos by Firefly alums Sean Maher and Jewel Staite in Mild Mannered, former Bionic Woman star Lindsay Wagner in For the Team and "Buried," both Paula Garces and Tia Carrere appeared as recurring love interests for Pete, Neil Grayston popped over from Eureka to help with a warehouse computer-glitch, and Murrays slippery portrayal of H.G. Wells kept us guessing which team she was really playing for during the entire season.
Plus, Mark Sheppard was in fine form reappearing as Benedict Valda, a warehouse regent who just seems like he should be a villain even though he is proven time and time again to be on the side of the good guys. All these delightful appearances were fun nods to other sci-fi shows and invited the fans to wink with them.
But behind all the amazing gizmos and gadgetry and underneath the warm camaraderie of the warehouse team, there were carefully told stories of horror and tragedy. While the artifacts can be used for good, frequently they are used for devious and diabolical purposes. Mahers desire to be a superhero to protect the woman he loved was noble and inspiring, and the post office worker who inadvertently took the transmutation projector home with her that unleashed real monsters on the unsuspecting town she lived in, were a few benign examples.
However, the intent behind Man Rays camera was to steal youth to sell to the elderly, essentially killing the young and beautiful to the highest bidder. The Robert Louis Stevenson body-swapping bookends were used to rob banks, Godfreds ladle was used to spontaneously combust a team of wrestlers, and Cinderellas glass knife was deadly in the hands of an overly jealous wife. Plus, Petes transformation into a paranoid killer in Around the Bend made him the perfect unwitting victim and example of what happens when someone is exposed to an artifact unknowingly.
Warehouse 13 does a good job at covering the ugliness of humanity with humor and chuckles, but truly, it portrays the darkest desires and fears - - it is a mirror of human frailty. Warehouse 13 is not just a show about the comedic efforts to track down the various artifacts, it offers a glimpse into the dark possibilities of what these artifacts can do when used for nefarious purposes.
It also allows us to see who people really are when given just a taste of special power. Absolute power corrupts and just a little power can turn a normal person into Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It is a rare day that people become empowered with special abilities and do something good -- altruistic and humanitarian. Instead, their basest instincts take over and they kill, destroy and act only out of self-preservation and desire. Indeed, a little power is a dangerous thing.
This makes it all the more remarkable that our heroes can resist the temptation to use all those amazing artifacts to better their own lives. But even they are not completely immune for even Artie used P.T. Barnums Top so that he could receive unnecessary medical treatment from the woman he secretly had a crush on. The temptation to use the artifacts for personal gain is a constant reminder that the artifacts are not safe in anyones hands. That is the purpose of the warehouse, to remove the artifacts from the world where they can be contained and, hopefully, neutralized. However, as MacPhearson and even H.G. Wells have amply demonstrated, the warehouse is not impenetrable.
Which begs the question: who are the gatekeepers? Artie, Myka, Pete and Claudia may have the difficult and dirty task of locating and securing the artifacts, but then who is ultimately responsible for their safekeeping. Is that what the regents are entrusted to do? What exactly are the regents? Who gave them the authority to oversee the warehouse or any other warehouse holding artifacts of incalculable value?
Why store these potentially dangerous artifacts at all? It only invites mischief and, for those with less than honorable intentions, a constant temptation. Would it not be better for everyone if the artifacts were permanently destroyed? Or does that provide a means for the evil energy inhabiting the artifacts to escape and find some other object or artifact to corrupt?
Warehouse 13 is many things. But mostly it is a dark drama covered with a sticky candy coating fooling us into believing that it is not at its core an epic battle of good versus evil. May the hearts of the warriors entrusted with waging war against the artifacts and those who would wield them as weapons be protected and strengthened against temptation. For, as Artie is constantly reminding everyone, evil does not rest and it never dies.
With those words of warning, it will be fascinating to see what fun adventures, amazing artifacts, and other diabolical villains the third season of Warehouse 13 will bring. Until next season ....
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