Season Premiere — Warehouse 13, “The New Guy”

Syfy’s Warehouse 13 is not a great program, but it one of television’s most purely enjoyable hours and certainly one of the more underrated programs out there. The Fringe-meets-USA Network premise is not wholly original, but the low-budget production makes it work, leading to some fun procedural stories on a fairly consistent basis. But what made the second season of W13 so great was that it really dug deep into the relationships between the characters and what they meant to one another. Those last few episodes weren’t particularly novel or complicated, but I was legitimately surprised at how well the series paid off some of the emotional beats that had developed throughout season two. This is a series that takes its characters’ feelings really seriously and by the time that Myka decided that she didn’t want to be an agent anymore, the moment was entirely earned. I still don’t quite understand how a fun, frivolous series on Syfy could pull something like that out, but it worked and it left me excited for the prospects of season three.

Unfortunately, the things that made the end of season two so lovely have to be repaired in traditional television fashion in “The New Guy,” resulting in a compelling, but often overstuffed and over-worked premiere. Of course Myka was going to return to the Warehouse, there was never really any question that a series like this would return to its typical equilibrium. But this episode includes too many other things, including the introduction of a brand-new character, to really give her return the respect it deserves.

It feels like the series might have been better off with focusing more on Myka and less on the new character, Steve Jinks (played by the always-awesome Aaron Ashmore). I understand that the Jinks character works as a nice way to reintroduce the series’ world and characters while providing some temporary antagonism for Pete, but “The New Guy” spends too much time on him. I know the episode is named after him, but come on, folks. I would have preferred to see more of Myka on her own at the library and honestly, more of Pete on his own as well.

As I said, the end of last season really earned the moments it produced and “New Guy” mostly wastes them by rushing through the aftermath so it can return to the series’ MO. There’s a lot of telling from Pete and Myka about what they’ve been doing and how they they’ve been doing and certainly not enough showing. The two conversations they have with one another are very good and well-performed by Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly, but it wasn’t really enough to make me believe there was a real reason for Myka to return. Her talk with H.G. Wells helped, but Myka’s decision to come back to the Warehouse felt like a there was a light-switch going on in her head instead of any major thought. Or that’s at least how it was portrayed.

Moreover, though I love Aaron Ashmore and am happy to see him get some work, the Jinks character feels like an odd fit. I don’t think it was mentioned in this episode but I know that the character will be revealed to be gay, preventing him being an obvious foil to the unresolved sexual tension between Pete and Myka. If this episode is any indication, perhaps his “ability” to tell when anyone is lying will allow him to be the one who actually comments on said UST between the two leads, which could be interesting but also grating (depending on execution). Early on, W13 over-accentuated Pete’s ability to feel out “vibes” and it was kind of terrible. I thought the production team realized that it was better off to have these normal(ish) people working in this crazy world and throughout most of season two, Pete’s vibes were downplayed.

Jinks brings those issues back to the forefront. Like Pete’s “vibes,” Steve’s ability to tell if and when people are lying is poorly visualized (read: not all) and therefore kind of pointless. This isn’t a series where the investigators rely so much on interviewing suspects and try to determine if they are telling the truth or not. I’m not positive, but I don’t remember Warehouse 13 ever featuring an interrogation sequence. Again, this further underscores the overall lack of need for characters with abilities, especially ones that are not particularly intriguing or visual.

In general, the addition of this new character feels like something a series would do in a fifth season when it was looking for a bit of a refresher. Having Jinks around will require the leads to re-explain the rules of the Warehouse 13 world, reintroduce certain conceits and items, etc. and that seems completely unnecessary at this juncture in the series’ life. Perhaps Syfy is really trying hard to attract new viewers? Nonetheless, I do like Ashmore’s energy in the role though. I’m so used to him playing the beat down Jimmy-but-not-the-real-Jimmy Olsen on Smallville that watching a more assertive, somewhat bad-ass character come out of him is kind of weird to see.

After a big finale, there’s always a somewhat messy aftermath. Warehouse 13 just happened to make things even more messy when it didn’t quite have to. Hopefully with the equilibrium re-established, the series will find a steadier, better footing in coming episodes.

Other thoughts:

  • Joanne Kelly in nerd glasses is just unfair.
  • Similarly, I had forgotten how much I enjoy Allison Scagliotti’s performance as Claudia. She’s just fun.
  • This week’s “case” was a mess. It wasn’t hard to follow per se, but it followed weird and didn’t especially work visually. Let’s just forget that it ever happened.
  • There appears to be an ominous force out there very interested in the Warehouse. That kind of overarching thread from the outset of the season is somewhat different for the series, so I am intrigued to see where it goes and more importantly, how often the series addresses it.
  • Leena continues to be one of the worst, most pointless characters on any major television production. She’s so awful.
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Comments
2 Responses to “Season Premiere — Warehouse 13, “The New Guy””
  1. Hans says:

    So what episode should I try if I want to see W13 at its best? I don´t mind being thrown into the deep end regarding character arcs and such.

    • Cory Barker says:

      I’m always one to advocate starting from the beginning, but if that’s not possible, I think starting with S2 is just fine. I’d start at the beginning there, though, as the character moments that pay-off in the S2 finale developed nicely throughout the season.

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