Last night's fourth season premiere sent our heroes back to the founding of their little town. Though the episode never quite delivered on the promise of 40s-era excitement, their time travel misadventure delivered a season-altering twist of absolutely epic proportions.
First of all, a quick disclaimer. This is my first time recapping Eureka...or watching it, for that matter. But I'm working through the Eureka Essentials Pack the show's writers have put up on iTunes. So please bear with me for a little bit if I'm not fully up to speed.
I know Eureka is a proudly continuity-light show and doesn't really do master-plots and extensive arcs, but man...last night really, really felt like it was primarily concerned with setting up the show's new time-travel-altered status quo. As an isolated episode, I wasn't all that impressed with what was on offer. The conflict felt undercooked - the military guy is an asshole who thinks our heroes are spies, but so what? Having such an obviously powerful figure as Dr. Trevor Grant (more on him in a moment) on their side made it feel as though no one was in any serious danger, and it definitely didn't help that the rules and consequences of their time travel weren't clearly defined.
I struggled to sort out why these five characters had been sent back and why they needed to get back in the given time-frame - when that's the central conflict of the episode, these points could have been sharpened and better communicated.
Also, a lot of this episode felt perfunctory, and if I was asked to judge this episode in isolation I probably wouldn't be particularly interested in coming back to the show. But that's just it - I cannot wait to see what happens next, because the punchline to everything that happened was so good. The five time-travelers return to a world that isn't quite their own: Tess has stayed in Eureka and moved in with Jack, Henry is now married, Jo discovers Zane is unreformed and still rotting in her jail cell, Fargo is...well, I imagine something could be different for Fargo, but we haven't seen it yet. (Unless he's really emotionally invested in whether that Archimedes statue is granite or bronze.) Most intriguingly, Allison's son Kevin is no longer autistic, which is a pretty ballsy move for the show and will hopefully provide some seriously heart-wrenching conflict when it inevitably comes time to undo the changes.
But even all of that takes second place to the real earth-shattering change this episode has wrought. Dr. Trevor Grant accidentally came along for the ride to 2010, and it looks like he's here to stay. Why am I so excited about this? People, he's Gaius Frakking Baltar! (I promise I'll stop introducing him like this. Maybe.) James Callis is rocking an absolutely fascinating American accent in the role, and I'm still not sure what to make of this. It's actually not quite as awful as I thought it was based on some of the preview clips, but it still sounds less like a natural accent and more like a talented actor trying very, very hard to pull off a decent American accent. Worryingly, his natural English accent tended to slip out when he was acting more naturally, so there's some danger that his performance is always going to be a little stilted. That said, he was still a lot of fun to watch, and I can't wait to see what he does in 2010.
I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you about the best part of the episode. Actually, you know what? I'll do better than tell you - I'll show you. Ladies and gentlemen, I leave you with...the Fargonator.