Last night's Eureka saw the debut of Felicia Day as hyperactive astrophysicist Dr. Holly Marten, and, in true Eureka fashion, she almost accidentally destroyed the town on her very first day. Yep...she'll fit in quite nicely.
"Reprise" is a pretty typical Eureka episode, excepting of course the introduction of nerd favorite Felicia Day. After last week's mishap with the faster-than-light drive, the government has sent Dr. Marten to evaluate the future of Eureka, which Fargo takes as a sure sign he's about to be fired. He deals with this little problem by zapping Holly with the FTL drive, which he's pretty sure will kill her. Thankfully, it doesn't, but that's just the start of some deeply weird behavior.
When Zane fails in his attempt to find out from Jo the truth about the original timeline, he goes and burns down her house with a flamethrower. (How many times now has Jo's house been destroyed? Without looking it up, I'm going to say...three times.) Jack, who is supposed to be taking the day off to look after Allison's kids, realizes that people are being hypnotized by the music they're listening to, even if it means killing people, engaging in wanton property destruction...or creating an ever-growing bubble that will freeze Eureka in time forever.
I know Eureka is supposed to be a light, fluffy show, but it kind of amazes me how much you have to think through some of these plots for them to make any sense. "Reprise" is particularly guilty of that - the time bubble threat and the music hypnosis threat sync up, but only barely, and the actual logic of where the time bubble is at any given point can be a bit hard to figure out.
Honestly, the stasis field was probably just a contrivance too far, and it might have been a better call for the episode just to stick to people taking their favorite songs far too literally, and how that inevitably causes everyone to rip each other apart. Also, it would have been nice to know whether Kevin himself was affected by a song and that's why he was acting so uncontrollably, or if that's just who he is normally. I guess the fact that he never mentions having listened to a song points to the latter, but still...it's such an obvious alternative interpretation that it would have been good for him to confirm one way or the other if he had listened to a song. Or perhaps Eureka is trying out some understated ambiguity in its old age? [EDIT: As many of you have pointed out, Kevin was listening to cop-related songs, which explains at least part of his behavior. Apologies for the oversight on my part.]
As for Felicia Day as Dr. Holly Marten...well, manic doesn't really begin to describe it. This is one of those characters that's on a constant razor's edge between being an actual person and just a big bag of quirks. To be sure, Day is a fun to watch, and she gets the most out of the character as written, but yeah...if everyone involved doesn't know exactly what they're doing with Holly, she's going to get very irritating very fast. But hey - at least it's a nice change from the season-long guest star being a sharp-tongued, vaguely mysterious jerk with possibly sinister motives, as has been the case for the past couple of iterations of the show.
The one thing I will say for "Reprise" is that it probably works a bit better when watched again, if only because some of the stuff in it won't seem as pointless anymore. The show doesn't generally use a ton of pop music, so in the early going I honestly figured they were just trying to blow through their music licencing budget as quickly and as intrusively as possible. (Personally, I don't like a ton of well-known pop music blasted in a TV show or movie - that's a big problem I have with Forrest Gump, for instance.) At least all that music doesn't seem quite so crowbarred in when viewed in retrospect.
And then there's the Allison subplot, which seemed like the most superfluous thing the show had ever done. (I figured it might just be an excuse to get Salli Richardson-Whitfield out of the way so that she could direct the episode, but this isn't the episode she's directing.) I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and for something interesting to happen, and sure enough, just as I had given up all hope, I get hit with a huge plot twist at the end of the episode.
I'm afraid the big reveal doesn't completely undo how tedious the subplot was, but at least it served some purpose I guess. Even if that purpose was bringing back Beverly Barlowe, the show's would-be villainness if her motivations weren't so incoherent. Honestly, she's really a holdover from the original conception of the show, which was way too mired in convoluted mythology (seriously people, that freaking artifact), and her return during the James Callis plot last year didn't do much for me. And I say that as someone who really wants to like the character - or at least I like Debrah Farentino in the role.
I guess that's my big takeaway from "Reprise" - it teases a bunch of stuff that could be really great, or they could stop the show dead in its tracks. If I had to guess, Dr. Holly Marten is probably more of the former, and the return of Beverly Barlowe is the latter. Of course, I'd be more than happy to be proved only 50% right about that...as long as it's the right 50%, that is.