Yesterday's Eureka mid-season finale hit all the right notes, sending Grant and Carter back to 1947 in a desperate attempt to save a friend's life and keep time itself from unraveling. And the show looks to just be getting started.
"I'll Be Seeing You" was very definitely the Back to the Future Part II to the season premiere's Back to the Future, as Carter and Grant were forced to retrace their steps on the same night in 1947 they originally met. It's the kind of plot I'm generally inclined to enjoy (there's a reason the second BTTF is my favorite), and this was one of Eureka's strongest finales yet, tying up most of the mysteries around Dr. Grant and the altered timeline while setting up plenty new questions for the second half of this season to explore.
The episode found Dr. Grant preparing to return to 1947 and complete his mission: to stop science from being used as a weapon ever again, with a little help from the consortium he founded and its most visible agent, Beverly Barlowe. Of course, in order to send Grant back to 1947, Barlowe has left a trail of clues that Carter and Allison - who, by the way, just slept together for the first time - are following back to her lab. But while Allison, Henry, and Carter are investigating in the immediate vicinity of Beverly's cloaked working area, an EMP is released that kills Allison.
Consumed with rage, Carter rushes into the lab and tackles Dr. Grant, sending both of them back to 1947. When Carter tells him what's happened, Grant is filled with grief and vows to do whatever it takes to save Allison. But something went wrong with the bridge device - instead of sending Grant back to the moment he originally left 1947, it's sent them back to the moment Carter arrived there, meaning they now have to quietly watch their former selves go about their business.
As you might imagine, things get twisty from there, but the rules of Eureka's time travel does make things a lot easier. Because history can very definitely get changed, the current Carter and Grant can change things in a minor way without undoing what we've already seen, and they're not trapped by potential continuity problems between this episode and the season premiere. Either way, this is the last chance for Grant to prove what kind of person he really is, and for Carter to save the woman he loves - and, perhaps even more importantly, the woman who loves him.
One thing Eureka has made abundantly clear over its run is that it doesn't do big bads. The artifact seemed to be in the crosshairs of a global conspiracy, but the ultimate payoff to that two-season arc was just about getting the artifact out of Kevin's mind. Eva Thorne seemed like the supervillain the show had been waiting for, but she was just a guilty soul searching for a cure for her condition. Even last season's apparent alien threat turned out to just be one of Henry's old NASA projects.
And now, just when it looks as though Trevor Grant was going to make the move into outright villainy some had been expecting all along...he doesn't. He's just another in the show's long, long line of scientists with the best of intentions who let their hubris lead them astray. You could probably assemble a ten minute super-cut of every time a GD scientist has said he or she never meant for any of this to happen. Frankly, it's a wonder they can still put that line in the show with a straight face.
What that means is we're unlikely ever to get a big, climactic showdown between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Instead, Eureka's finale and event episodes are about problem-solving, about giving Jack and company an insanely complicated mess that even they might not be able to clean up. Indeed, those messes are generally so huge that the show's more amoral characters - Eva Thorne last season, and Dr. Grant now - are forced to throw aside their own agendas and help Carter save the day.
The fact that they generally offer the help perfectly willingly is a reminder that this show doesn't really have villains. Although it's worth pointing out that Dr. Grant remained in his moral gray area to the bitter end - his way of saving Allison by sacrificing Adam - and, by extension, Beverly - Barlowe was a grim solution, and one that the web of time apparently wouldn't allow to work. Even when doing the right thing, Grant is still a bit of a bastard.
Of course, there's still Beverly Barlowe as a potential villain, and the end of the episode makes it quite clear we're not yet done with her character. I know some Eureka fans dislike her character, perhaps in part because she's so easily associated with one of the show's most meandering periods - the frustrating artifact arc - but I think her return was handled well here, and Debrah Farentino continues to hit the right mix of manipulation, ambiguity, and twisted idealism. The fact that she's now targeting Carter (or, if the final scene's using a bit of misdirection, Allison) makes me very interested to see what her character does next.
I'd say that this episode neatly wraps up the Dr. Grant arc and gives him a nice departure, but that's ignoring a rather major problem - the episode's opening scene. If Grant's original use for the time bridge was to send Adam Barlowe back to 1939 to stop the Manhattan Project from making atomic bombs...well, what stopped them from doing that in the original timeline? We know why they failed in the new timeline - our friends from 2010 whisked Dr. Grant away before he could go through with it - but it obviously didn't work in the show's original timeline when they didn't show up. Either way, it's a pretty big loose end to throw into Grant's final episode, and I'm hoping Eureka doesn't leave it dangling indefinitely.
Honestly, as great as this episode was - the manner in which different Carters at different points in time work together to save Allison was particularly satisfying - I'm having a hard time focusing on what happened when the show is teasing so many big events ahead. Henry made a couple obvious allusions to his own private time traveling - in particular his mentions that Allison and Jack were meant to be together - which might mean they're finally going to dredge back up that old plot. Indeed, if Beverly were to somehow unlock Jack's memories of that deleted timeline and the unborn child he left behind, that could be the only way to turn him against his friends.
Zane and Jo have reconnected, after a fashion, but Zoe is still in the picture. (And, for those like me hoping for some alternate-Jo/Fargo romance, her offhand mention that she likes how bossy Fargo is getting was a tantalizing hint.) And, of course, Jack and Allison are finally together, and we've barely even begun to explore that relationship. Obviously, I'm doing a lot of my own speculating here, and perhaps none of this will pay off - but I'm pretty confident that, whatever the second half of this Eureka season has in store for us, it's going to be worth the wait.