Yesterday's Eureka explored the perils of giving in to your emotions, as humans and AI alike acknowledged and acted on their feelings, even if they left a path of destruction - some more literal than others - in their wake.
This episode, one of two sandwiched between the Warehouse 13 crossover and the upcoming return of three major characters, ran the risk of feeling a bit throwaway or disposable, a bit like the moon race episode a couple weeks back. And while "Momstrosity", as this episode is so wonderfully, ridiculously named, got off to a bit of a shaky start, it quickly found its way in the manner some of the best Eureka episodes do: by taking a resonant theme that connected all the characters and storylines, then using them to comment on each other.
This episode demonstrated just how much damage an adorable but perverted robot can cause. A mysterious glitch in the computer code gave emotions to the town's various AI machines, with every robot and super-computer reacting differently: Deputy Andy fell in love with Jo, virtual Vince refused to serve unhealthy food, and, most distressingly, the gigantic, laser-wielding Titan rover went on a crazed rampage through the forest, where Jack, Dr. Grant, Fargo, and Allison's son Kevin all happened to be camping.
But it wasn't just the robots that were finally admitting their emotions. Carter and Grant almost came to fisticuffs as to who was a better romantic match for Allison - right in front of her thirteen year old son. Henry came clean to his timeline-created wife, telling her the awful truth that she was now married to a man who didn't know her. And Kevin wasn't just struggling with his would-be father figures' raging hormones, as he was reprogramming robots to spy on Jo in the shower. Honestly, an unstoppable killer robot seemed like the least of the characters' worries.
When Henry asked Jack what he was going to do about Allison, Carter might as well have been speaking for Eureka as a whole when he responded, "I...procrastinate." We've now caught up in real time to the alternate 2010 Eureka showed us at the end of its first season, with Jack and Allison married and expecting their first child together. It took until this season's premiere to finally move the show towards what the original 2010 Jack and Allison were so sure was their destiny to end up together. And it's only now, six episodes into the season, that Carter is finally, maybe, tentatively going to make his move.
At least some of the ongoing stories are moving more quickly. Henry's story is maybe the saddest of all the timeline alterations, because his wormhole adventure robbed a good woman of the husband she loved. His stumbling attempt to make things right with Grace by telling her the truth was a well-intended gesture that utterly backfired. Since we know Henry so well and, by necessity, we don't know Grace at all, it's harder to empathize with her perspective, but "Momstrosity" really brought out her heartbreak and, perhaps in spite of herself, her continuing love for this man who isn't her Henry.
His final proclamation that he doesn't love her yet was a sweet moment to pause on, and good proof that their story still has plenty of forward momentum. For a show that took two whole seasons to barely explain what the hell was going on with that Artifact, I'm impressed how much they've picked up the pacing of their arcs this season.
One of the things that I enjoy so much about Eureka is that, whatever their disagreements and annoyances, all the characters fundamentally like and care about each other. (This is also true, perhaps to an even greater extent, of Warehouse 13.) This basic current of good will might keep the show from ever venturing into truly dark territory, but it helps give the show its easygoing charm that can paper over some of its weaker episodes. So I wasn't a huge fan of the brutally passive aggressive jousting between Carter and Dr. Grant, and I was worried the two being assholes to each other was going to throw the whole episode off course.
I shouldn't have worried. Jack was the hero like he always is, putting himself in harm's way to save the others and finally figuring out what the rampaging rover actually wanted. But Dr. Grant stepped in to help Carter save Kevin's life, so the two reached another moment of mutual understanding and gentlemanly detente. The two are still far, far away from friendship, considering Jack still (rightly) won't let Grant forget that the amoral doctor almost stranded him in 1947, and they're both officially pursuing Allison. (What Allison thinks about all this hasn't really entered the equation yet, but here's hoping that's dealt with in the next episode.)
I'm still trying to figure out where the show is going with Dr. Grant. It seems strange to bring the town's would-be founder forward in time from 1947 (and have him be played by James Callis, no less), only to make him little more than a romantic obstacle for Jack and Allison. Still, in the lack of any clear hints of a larger purpose, I guess I'll just enjoy what I'm getting. And I must admit, a lot of Grant's boasts about being an amazing outdoorsman (in wintry Bavaria, no less) were some of the episode's most amusing bits.
I'll close with a couple thoughts about Neil Grayston's two characters. Eventually, the AI glitch is traced back to Carter's house SARAH (who is, lest we forget, voiced by Fargo in falsetto). This is the third time that SARAH has put people in harm's way for her own selfish reasons, and though this isn't quite as bad as unleashing gravity wells on Eureka or nearly killing off the entire main cast, a maternally enraged giant robot is still pretty damn bad...and yet there were seemingly no repercussions. You'd think someone would eventually ask whether SARAH is worth all the trouble - and, indeed, whether Fargo should keep programming such murderously protective AI. Seriously, between SARAH, his spurned car Tabitha, and now BUFFY the tent, the man is a programming menace.
But hey, who can stay mad at Fargo, particularly when the legend of the Fargonator continues to grow? Beyond his improbably awesome driving skills, Fargo had time during the killer robot chase to get off another choice Terminator reference (not to mention Allison's Aliens allusion). This is one arc that I'm sure is going nowhere in particular, but here's hoping we can eventually reconstruct most of Terminator using Fargo quotes. We're officially on watch for "I'll be back."