Eureka got its 28 Days Later on this week, unleashing rage zombies on our beleaguered heroes. But that was nothing compared to the difficulties of fixing a time machine, settling into strange new jobs, and breaking up all over again.
The was the first time this season that I really felt the malfunctioning-invention-of-the-week - in this case, an anger ray - stood up as a strong plotline in its own right, instead of feeling entirely minor compared to the larger arc. Of course, part of the reason why the rage virus - sorry, sorry, anger ray - worked as well as it did was because it so intelligently commented on the traumatic changes the main characters have suffered through as a result of the altered timeline.
"All the Rage" forces us to consider where the characters' own feelings end and the external forces kick in, and for the two affected main characters, Jo and Fargo, it wasn't easy to find that line. Is Fargo acting like a total dick to his subordinates because of the anger ray, because he's trying to act like the version of himself from this new timeline, or, most worryingly, because that's just how he naturally acts when he's forced into a position of authority? Is Jo angry with Carter because her brain is overheating, or because she really is resentful of his constant, unsolicited advice on how she should do her job?
These are the questions "All the Rage" quite explicitly acknowledges, but it doesn't offer concrete answers. The indications are definitely there that Fargo is naturally a tyrannical leader, and he seems not entirely willing to do what it takes to earn back the trust of his scientists. Jack himself is so unsure how Jo feels that he apologizes at the end of the episode, acknowledging that he doesn't know whether she actually feels that way or not.
One of the less explicit ongoing themes of this season deals with keeping secrets and not being able to say what you mean - after all, if the six time travelers do either of those things, they'll be executed - and so it was what good to see an episode where so many characters just got everything out there. And it wasn't just the rage-afflicted scientists who told as much of the truth as they could - Carter decided he had to break things off with Tess, because he knew they were doomed. As he and Dr. Grant agreed, he might not be the good guy here, but I'd have to say it was the only decent thing to do.
Speaking of Dr. Grant, he found himself in Henry's garage for most of the episode, trying to get his time bridge working again. I noted that he didn't get a lot to do last episode, and I would have liked to see more interaction with the rest of the characters, but he did get some wonderful character moments. His recognition that he is utterly alone in 2010, with nothing but a busted invention to call his own, was some of the best acting James Callis has ever done - and that's saying something - and it really sold me on the genuine possibility that, this time around, he actually is playing a benevolent character. (I reserve the right to reverse that opinion whenever I feel like it, of course. I mean, I do know enough not to trust Gaius Frakking Baltar.)
We also met Dr. Parrish, played by the now great Wil Wheaton. He spent so much of the episode rage-afflicted that it's tough to gauge what he will actually be like on a weekly basis, but he makes a perfect partner for the unreformed Zane, and he should be a great pain in the ass for Fargo (and everyone else). My only slight reservation is whether the show can actually find enough time for all its characters - Zane has barely gotten more than a couple dozen lines all season, and Dr. Grant has been sidelined from the main action in both of his 2010 episodes - so I hope they know what they're doing by adding on so many new characters. That said, if Eureka can keep churning out episodes that work as well on so many different levels as this episode does, then I'm very willing to give the benefit of the doubt.