You might recall that Syfy gave the green light to development of a Warehouse 13 spin-off starring H.G. Wells a while back. Back when this was announced, we were pretty excited — but that was before we saw last night's episode, guest-starring Torchwood's Gareth David-Lloyd.
Last night, Warehouse 13 gave us a "backdoor pilot" to an H.G. Wells show. It was written by the spin-off's co-writer, Bob Goodman. (Goodman is also one of the producers of Warehouse 13, and the author of this essay for io9 about the show.)
And on the strength of last night's episode, our anticipation for the Wells spin-off is now increased exponentially. The idea of Jaime Murray resurrecting her morally ambiguous inventor character as a slutty Sherlock Holmes — with Torchwood's Ianto, Gareth David Lloyd, as her Watson! — is just too awesome not to happen. Especially if she goes around building steampunk rockets and solving bizarre mysteries. Make this come to our screens, Syfy, and we'll forgive you for killing Farscape. And Caprica. And SGU. And Eureka.
I loved pretty much everything about the episode's Victorian flashbacks — even the slightly dodgy English accents from one or two of the guest stars, and the soundstagey Victorian London. H.G. Wells sits in a drawing room listening to her pompous brother basking in the adoration of easily impressed young women — until there's a call to action, at which point she changes into more mannish garments and reveals an amazing facility for detection. I love the little asides, like the fact that the only man she hasn't seduced in London is Oscar Wilde. And the notion that she loves to sleep with crazy mad scientists and megalomaniacs, like that Crowley guy. The whole thing stays just this side of the line from "too campy to live," thanks to some fun writing and Gareth David Lloyd's brilliance as a (so to speak) straight man. After John Barrowman, one would imagine that Lloyd can keep a straight face playing opposite anybody.
But really, this was a lovely episode from top to bottom, thanks to some really good characterization and a clever use of structure. A series of nested flashbacks took us to Victorian London and 1962 Ohio, with two teams of Warehouse investigators looking into the same mystery at different times. This not only gave us the chance to see how great an H.G. Wells show would be, it also let us revisit Jack and Rebecca, the Warehouse agents from the early 1960s whose bodies Pete and Myka invaded last season. And the Mad Men-era meat puppets turned out to be that much more interesting, once they could move and talk on their own.
It was nice to get a bit more of a glimpse into the history of the warehouse and the politics surrounding it — I've been wondering just how it got moved from England to America, and now I know. (I wonder if one day Pete and Myka will learn that Warehouse 13 is being replaced with Warehouse 14, in China or India?) And we learned a bit more about how Rebecca and Jack decided to move forward with their relationship, despite knowing of the dreadful life expectancy of Warehouse agents.
But the emotional arc of the episode was actually Pete working through some of his anger at H.G. — which, as Myka intuits, is really at least partly anger at Myka for making a mistake and then quitting over it. H.G. sort of redeems herself, a bit, by facing up to another maniac who wants to become a mass murderer because he's lost someone close to him. And also by admitting her own mistakes, including the fact that her incompetence indirectly led to the death of the maniac's father.
Maybe the framing device of the H.G. spinoff can be H.G. in the present day, going around and apologizing to the descendants of people whom she hurt, while also attending a support group for grief-stricken homicidal maniacs? Or maybe not. Actually, let's hope it's just H.G. and Ianto having the greatest buddy comedy and steampunk adventures of all time!