Magical artifacts don't just let you do cool stuff and play games with the world — they change you, as a person. That's been a bit of a running theme lately on Warehouse 13, and it came to a head last night.
In the two-hour season finale, we saw several characters uncovering their true natures — twice, in the case of H.G. Wells — and revealing who they were deep down. And we learned that even though artifacts may change you, what really matters is the choices you make. Spoilers ahead...
True to form this season, the Warehouse 13 season finale was much more about the characters than about plot devices. If you were expecting a complicated or fancy conclusion to the season-long storyline involving Walter Sykes and his small army of hench-people, then you might have been disappointed.
Those nanites that Sykes put into the Warehouse? Dealt with in five minutes. Sykes' plan? Sheer elegance in its simplicity. Is Steve Jinks really a traitor? No, of course not. How do we get to the bottom of Sykes' scheme? Mostly by keeping an eye out for the Eye of Horus all over the place, plus doing the old "change the rules in the chess game" thing. (I was hoping someone would say "the black and white pawns join forces!") And so on.
But what the episode lacked in plot cleverness, it made up for in characterization. There really does seem to have been a concerted decision this year on Warehouse 13 to focus on the characters and their relationships, instead of trying to make the puzzles and artifacts of the week more and more fiendishly clever.
And the first hour of last night's two-hour finale really set the theme for the evening, of true selves. Walter Sykes' nanites have gotten him a secret Regent file that leads to the location of H.G. Wells — who's had her memory and most of her personality wiped, Dollhouse-style, so that she's now a schoolteacher named Emily Lake. We never really get to see enough of Emily's life to tell if this was a decent trade-off, but at least it's better than being bronzed again. Emily Lake is a bit of a wuss, unlike the real H.G., but she's a nice schoolteacher with a cute cat — is that cat doomed now? Who's going to look after him? Maybe the Warehouse can adopt him, to go with the dog? (Oh shit. I just realized the dog is probably dead.)
Anyway, Sykes wants to put H.G. Wells' real personality back in her body, so she can help them open the Sanctum, which is basically a back door to the Warehouse. And Pete argues that they should destroy the magic coin that keeps H.G. Wells stuck in her new personality, so that she can never be restored to normal — with Claudia and Myka disagreeing. So they ask H.G. Wells herself — and she agrees that yes, the coin should be destroyed, and her true self along with it. By agreeing to become a fake version of herself forever, H.G. is actually showing her true colors — she's not the horrible world-destroyer she became last season, she's actually a noble, self-sacrificing person. Something which comes up again, at the end of the episode.
Meanwhile, that first hour is also the set-up for Steve Jinks to reveal his true nature as well — he's actually been on our side all along, not surprisingly. And he's gone undercover with Walter Sykes, to find out Sykes' "endgame." And it turns out that Steve Jinks is the Regents' entire plan for dealing with Sykes.
I have to say, for all the talk about how ruthless and callous the Regents are, they aren't very ruthless when it counts. Steve has numerous chances to kill Walter Sykes, after which his unkillable henchman Marcus will just be a minor annoyance. But Pete's mom, Jane Lattimer, keeps saying stuff like "We can't kill Sykes until we know what his endgame is." (Actually, you really can. It's true that Sykes might have set in motion some stuff that would carry on after his death, but it's more likely that his plans would fall apart without him there to finish them — as, indeed, turns out to be the case.)
In any case, Steve's big reveal is that he's just what he originally appeared — a good, decent agent who wants to protect others (like Claudia) from the same terrible fate that befell his sister. He's put himself in the line of fire to save the Warehouse, and it ends up costing him his life. (And yes, it's sad that yet another gay character on television had to meet an untimely end. But at least Steve died a hero. Sort of.)
In response to Steve's death, Claudia faces a big test of who she is as well — and we're not sure how well she's going to pass. She reverts to the bitter old Claudia, who lashes out at Jane Lattimer and refuses to talk to Artie or Mrs. Frederic about what's going on. Her grief gets transformed instantly into grief, and we start seeing none of the Claudia who has the bright future that H.G. Wells talks about, right before she thinks her magic coin is about to be destroyed.
And at the end of the episode, Mrs. Frederic needs to take back the metronome from Claudia — presumably to try and get Marcus to help save the Warehouse — and Claudia refuses because she's saving it for Steve Jinks. So the apparent death of Mrs. Frederic, and the destruction of the warehouse — more on that in a moment — is partly on Claudia. (Although it's really unclear what's supposed to be happening in that scene, and what exactly Mrs. Frederic wants the metronome for.)
As for Walter Sykes himself, his use of artifacts is really revealing as well — he's bitter and homicidal because Jane Lattimer and the Warehouse crew took away his Collodi Bracelet, which not only cured his disability but also allowed him to be a superb athlete and maybe have a career in pro baseball. But the Collodi Bracelet doesn't just give you a healthy body, with soul-sucking side-effects — it's actually made from the strings of a marionette, meaning that you're controlling your own body like a puppet-master. And now that Walter is all grown up and still wheelchair-bound, his favorite artifact is Cecil B. DeMille's riding crop, which allows him to control other people's bodies — it's control he craves, not mobility or freedom.
So Walter is lashing out at the Warehouse keepers and the Regents, who are the ultimate control freaks themselves, wanting to keep all these powerful objects under wraps in the middle of nowhere. And he's only really stopped because our crew show who they really are — including Pete finally learning to love and respect his mother, while still sneaking around behind her back investigating stuff. (And how great was the Pete Cave?) And Myka showing her faith in H.G. Wells, helping H.G. to find the resources inside herself to figure out the chess puzzle — while still insisting their partnership will be called Bering and Wells. Not to mention Jane Lattimer herself, decking Walter while referencing the Ali-Frazier fight. All great stuff.
And then there's Artie, who's got the biggest question mark hanging over his head. Exactly how cunning is Artie? Did he figure out what was coming and keep an ace in the hole? Is MacPherson's pocket watch going to roll back time and save the day, or otherwise allow Artie to fix everything? (And will this be the second Warehouse 13 season to end with a big explosion in which it turns out Artie has a magic get-out-of-jail-free card that MacPherson gave him in his pocket?)
We'll find out next summer — for now, the body count is pretty high. H.G. Wells, Mrs. Frederic, Steve Jinks... half our favorite characters are apparently dead, and the Warehouse itself is toast. Which would only mean Artie has to start over, which is half the fun.