Warehouse 13 explores the difference between self-sacrifice and selfishness

If you're willing to risk everything to bring someone back from the dead, does that make you selfish — or utterly selfless? Warehouse 13 delves into that question in last night's episode, "An Evil Within." And to the show's credit, there are no simple answers to be found. At least, not yet.

Case in point: Claudia is willing to give up her life to resurrect Steve Jinks, her former partner. And on the one hand, this is a terribly self-centered act. Steve might be okay with being dead — we can't ask him, what with the being dead — but Claudia isn't prepared to lose someone else, what with all her abandonment issues and stuff. So she's prepared to use the metronome, a fancy artifact from the Warehouse, to restore Steve to life — regardless of what horrible consequences using the artifact could have for the world.

Warehouse 13 explores the difference between self-sacrifice and selfishness

As Artie points out, they've seen plenty of other people who've been corrupted by using artifacts for their own ends — and none of them started out as terrible people, until they were started tapping that power.

But is Claudia selfish, or selfless? More than anything, as Jane tells her, she's risking her own life to bring Steve back. The metronome could easily cost Claudia's life in payment for Steves, or kill Claudia without restoring Steve at all. She's willing to lay down her own life for someone else — but we're not sure if it's only her own life that she's risking.

Warehouse 13 explores the difference between self-sacrifice and selfishness

Allison Scagliotti pretty much carries the episode, from her sassy "charm and trick her way into the regent HQ" routine to her confrontation with Artie, who catches her just when she seems to be escalating the situation, to her emotional scenes with Jane Lattimer where she reveals just how much she's willing to sacrifice for Steve. And finally, there's her intense reunion with Steve himself, where she tries unsuccessfully to conceal that whole "you were dead" thing and then finally confesses that she may have screwed up his chance to be reborn as a butterfly or whatever.

Obviously, Claudia's determination to bring back Steve is contrasted with Artie's drastic actions last week to bring back the Warehouse — a parallel that Claudia herself brought up last week. And in fact, Artie thinks, at one point, that bringing back Steve could be the trigger that releases the great evil that he's warned will be released as a result of his reset button-mashing. (After all, it's Claudia who's stabbing Artie in the heart in his weird dreams.)

On the face of it, Artie's motivations seem a lot purer and more selfless than Claudia's — he was saving the entire Warehouse, plus he was saving the world from the loss of hope that seemed to be plunging it into terrible chaos last week. And, incidentally, Pete, H.G. and Mrs. Frederic would all be dead. On the other hand, the more we learn about the great evil that Artie has released as a result, the less good it sounds. Something on the level of the French Revolution? Except this time, in a globalized world, with a man at its epicenter who has access to every weapon of mass destruction you can imagine? Sounds great.

Warehouse 13 explores the difference between self-sacrifice and selfishnessS

So is it actually selfless of Artie to risk exposing the world to that level of destruction, just so he can keep the warehouse intact and his friends alive? (And what if there's some other, non-reset-button way to undo the "loss of hope" thing?) Artie definitely seems guilty as well as worried, and all of his conversations with Brother Brent Spiner have a sort of haunted quality to them. Even with the hilarious bit about "evil and scones." I'd be surprised if Brother Data doesn't at least suspect something, giving how guilty Artie was acting. (And yes, his name is now Brother Data. Sorry about that.)

Warehouse 13 explores the difference between self-sacrifice and selfishness

In any case, the moment when Artie tells Claudia they're good is a major highlight, partly because he's being uncharacteristically affectionate — and partly because he's acknowledging, without actually admitting it, that both he and Claudia have done things you're not supposed to with artifacts.

The episode's ostensible "A" plot doesn't really need much discussion — Pete and Myka go to Philly to investigate cases where people hallucinate monsters and beat innocent people into a coma, or even to death. The whole thing turns out to be due to H.P. Lovecraft's nightmare key, and a guy who's seeking revenge on the bystanders who helped trample his wife or ignored his calls for help. It's not a bad idea for an episode, but it never quite takes off, and there are a few too many scenes where Pete and Myka repeat the obvious to each other over and over again.

Warehouse 13 explores the difference between self-sacrifice and selfishness

The climax, where Myka overcomes her newly-invented fear of tentacles to save Pete from all the people who see him as a slimy monster, is pretty cute, however. I liked Pete's line to the woman who nearly beat him to death: "You're overworking your lats." You tell 'er, Pete.

Oh, and in the episode's coda, as everyone's celebrating the victory of scones over evil and the resurrection of Steve, Artie gets a ping about an artifact turning up — an eeeeeevil dagger. He tries to keep it to himself, but Pete notices something. Which really raises the question: With Pete and his "vibes" plus Steve the human lie detector, is there any way at all Artie can keep this business a secret? Let's hope he winds up spilling the beans within an episode or two, tops.

GIFs via Blackwatered and DerekHalesPack on Tumblr.