“Warehouse 13” is one of those shows. Whilst you enjoy it as a fan of TV science fiction because it isn’t afraid to embrace being camp, knowingly silly fun, there is this slight, nagging concern as you view it that the uninitiated will take it at face value and ascribe a value to it which asserts that, you know, ‘all sci-fi is like this’.
Just as there’s room amongst the Normals to have a show like “Burn Notice” tread the fine line between being a spy action series and making a meta-commentary on the in-built conceits and tropes of the genre I’m calling Spy-Fi, you would hope that anybody who came to watch episode 6 of Warehouse 13’s third season, “Don’t Hate The Player” would twig the fact that it was intended to be a chuckle-fest.
SPOILERS herein for the episode if you haven’t watched it yet.
Eureka’s calamity magnet, Douglas Fargo, guested in an episode which was lighter on arc plot – who is that guy in the wheelchair and why does that Southern FBI agent keep showing up? – and heavy on the ‘WTF?’ factor.
The Warehouse agents get summoned to California by an employee of the video games start-up that Fargo has invested in – Fargo’s jacked into their experimental virtual reality video games rig with other games developers and all concerned are playing through a fantasy RPG with the unfortunate side-effect of killing anybody in real life who dies inside the game world.
(All of which, it goes without saying, would kill the trade-in market for second-hand video games overnight – I didn’t see any EA or Ubisoft logos on the games hardware, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t there…).
With blissful inevitability, Pete and Claudia ended up going into the game world to try to get Fargo out safely and go on the kind of RPG adventure dreamt up by folks who haven’t played a video game since “King’s Quest” in the DOS era.
If your Warehouse fan fetish runs to seeing Claudia succumb to the inevitable and sport Elven ears and Pete get all bare-chested and skirted-up as a gladiator, this was the ep for you – and Claud’s elf alter-ego actually served the plot, as this episode’s character arc revolved around the Warehouse’s youngest agent doing something about that nagging confidence problem that she so clearly suffers from, both in the game scenario and out in the real world (well, the real world that Warehouse operates in: the two are quite distinct, I think you’ll agree).
As you can tell from demon-cry.net’s fine screen cap, the game action in the episode was rendered using a curious kind of half-rotoscope technique, which made it look like a first-pass take on the imagery used so effectively in Richard Linklater’s Philip K. Dick adaptation, “A Scanner Darkly”.
I can understand that the director needed to establish the difference between the game world and the real world – did nobody involved think about adding health metres or some kind of elementary UI aspect on-screen to make that distinction. I ask because the rotoscope technique was, for me, rather of a distraction and didn’t really do the job that it was supposed to do.
The B-plot, meanwhile, saw Artie and new boy Steve in New York to try to acquire an artefact Van Gogh painting only to run into that mysterious FBI agent again. She’s still southern, by the way. I had begun to think that this would be an episode light on the arc side of things but for the ending, where hundreds of miniature nano-bugs streamed out of the painting once it was in situ at Warehouse 13 – Does somebody on the writing staff have an issue, perchance?
The artefact causing the shenanigans in the A-plot, meanwhile? ‘Twas only Beatrix Potter’s bloody tea set, which induced anybody who drank tea from it to unfetter their imaginations fully, all the better to embrace the VR world inside Fargo’s game system.
So, quests were had, a song was sung (Alison Scagliotti doing right by the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” with an excellent acoustic rendition, as Claudia worked on her comfort zone problems by rocking out in front of complete strangers) and a fluffy 45 minutes or so of entertainment was had.
Not sure if this was an amazing episode – too many misgivings regarding treatment of teh VideoGamez on my part – but it rattled by well enough and had character moments to distract me from the troubling, nay terrifying sight of Eddie McLintock’s manly chest being on display for much of the episode (seriously – I demand more HG Wells, clad in anachronistic Victorian men’s suiting, solving crimes, by way of recompense).
If I scored episodes out of ten, I’d give this episode a 6.5.