Last night's Eureka episode had a mild case of the grey goo, as Carter and company had to stop a bunch of runaway mini-bots before they devoured all metal in sight. It also revealed the hidden dangers of wearing neckties.
"Of Mites and Men" finds Allison still recovering from last week's brain-jacking. Much to her own consternation, she's still on enforced medical leave, and she's fed up both with Carter doting over her and Senator Wen (SGU's Ming-Na) refusing to trust her. The Astraeus selection process is still in full swing, which lands Fargo, Jo, Holly (Felicia Day), and Dr. Parrish (Wil Wheaton) in a tiny subterranean chamber - one that only gets tinier when Zane shows up as an interloper.
Since Jo is busy with the test, Carter gets reassigned to head of GD security, and he's immediately faced with the case of the disappearing tungsten. (Between this and the osmium-centric "Up in the Air" a few weeks ago, Eureka is really teaching us the value of the transition metals.) Despite how much he clearly hates wearing a suit and tie - a feeling that is more than vindicated by the end of the episode - Carter is particularly on his game this week, almost immediately realizing that Zane's tiny, bug-like construction mites have gone haywire, taking their original orders to build the Astraeus spaceship and extending that indefinitely, which means they'll just keep consuming tungsten and building spaceship parts until... well, there's isn't really an "until" to speak of.
Eureka didn't quite go full grey goo with this episode, and I kind of wish they had. I can't quite put my finger on it, but this felt a little insubstantial. Part of that, I think, is the show has experimented with its form quite a bit this season - the opening "Lift-Off" played like an Apollo 13 homage, "Up in the Air" was an hour of straight-up goofy comedy, "Omega Girls" was the conspiracy thriller, and "Glimpse" was...well, "Glimpse" was just all sorts of awesome.
"Of Mites and Men", like "Glimpse" before it, feels like a more straightforward example of the Eureka formula. There's nothing wrong with that, but I've got to admit they don't grab my attention as much as the other episodes do. There's also no way to avoid some frustration when, after a big game-changing episode like "Omega Girls", we're pretty much right back where we started, and the game hasn't really changed.
Obviously, Eureka isn't the sort of show that's going to follow up "Omega Girls" with, say, an hour of Carter and company hunting down Beverly Barlowe - that isn't a fair expectation, and I'm not even sure I would want Eureka to be that sort of show - but it is a little weird that she isn't even mentioned in this episode. There's also no followup on Zoe's story or Carter's decision to tell her about the altered timeline. I can understand the logic of those decisions and admit they're in keeping with what Eureka is, and I imagine they'll pick these stories up later on, but still...it all leaves me wanting more.
That said, it's not as though "Of Mites and Men" is pretending last week's episode didn't happen, and we see two main pieces of fallout here: Allison is trying to regain the trust of those around her, and Senator Wen is now running the show. The former is a very Eureka way to handle the fallout of "Omega Girls", because it's all about low-key character moments. I've said this before, but I'm continually impressed by how maturely the Allison/Carter relationship is written (the distinct lack of a cutesy portmanteau is also nice). This episode could have featured their first big blow-up fight, but that sort of melodrama would have rang false. I think I just like seeing a TV couple disagree without being disagreeable, or randomly acting like a couple of lovesick teenagers.
Ming-Na is interesting as Senator Wen - in previous iterations of the show, I'd say she's the token mysterious newcomer who doesn't entirely buy into Eureka's charms and may have ulterior motives. And while she definitely isn't an overly nice person, she also seems fairly straightforward about what she wants. It's hard to argue that she's really asked for anything unreasonable — Carter probably should wear a suit, and she's probably right to be cautious about reinstating Allison — other than the fact that she's opposing our heroes in doing so. Right now, we don't have too much of a sense of her as a character, but I'm optimistic we'll get to see a bit more of her in the next few episodes.
As for the episode's other big plotline...well, there's no way to throw Fargo, Jo, Zane, Holly, and Parrish into a crowded room and not have some fun with that. Fargo's lackey/one-time nemesis Larry makes for a most amusing torturer, and all the characters get some good moments in. As always, I'm delighted by the assholery of Dr. Parrish, including his insistence on calling Jo "Number One" (which I keep wanting to think of as a TNG reference, but maybe I'm just being hypnotized by Wil Wheaton's lush Riker beard). Parrish wants to restrain Zane as they would any stowaway (something Zane says he'd like to see them try), and his insistence on keeping on folding origami cranes while the chamber collapses around him borders on the psychotic.
We also get to learn plenty more about Holly, including her incredibly flexible joints - which Fargo is very interested in - and her bladder the size of a water buffalo's - it's, uh, less clear what Fargo thinks about this. Fargo continues to prove himself a capable leader, and Zane proves himself to be the well-muscled trickster we always knew him to be. I can't really say I gleaned anything too deep about the characters from all this, but it was a lot of fun. Indeed, I'd say that sums up this episode fairly well - I had fun, and there isn't too much more to say. That really isn't such a bad thing, particularly because Eureka no longer seems to be making a habit of these episodes.