Madness is worse than magic when it comes to distorting reality, on Warehouse 13

Last night's Warehouse 13 episode featured something like five different storylines running concurrently, culminating in a single terrible — but not entirely surprising — revelation. And a shocking denouement. For all the artifacts on Warehouse 13 have the power to transform people and reshape the fabric of reality, the worst thing that can happen to you is still going insane.

Spoilers ahead...

So yeah, you guys were right — and I was wrong, since I had my doubts that Brother Data would turn out to be a figment of Artie's imagination. All through this season, whenever Brother Data was doing things to mess with Artie, it was actually Artie himself doing them, and hallucinating the lovely Brent Spiner. And now, Artie has stepped up his campaign against himself, sending artifacts to the loved ones of all his own top agents — forcing Pete, Myka and Claudia to have some somewhat uncomfortable reunions.

Thus, Artie's madness is sort of juxtaposed against the complicated personal lives of these agents, who are all somewhat isolated from their loved ones by their crazy artifact-hunting lifestyles. In Pete's case, he saves his ex Amanda (Jeri Ryan) from a deadly suicide bomber tattoo, but then gets hit with it himself — heroically choosing to explode in a bunker rather than risk hurting anyone else. (Luckily, Myka figures out a solution in time.) Myka, meanwhile, visits her sister (Amy Acker) who gets zapped with a sibling rivalry artifact that makes Tracy try to kill Myka. (Although Myka seems to be in more danger of getting her feelings hurt, than of actually getting killed.) And then Claudia has to rescue her brother, who's been trapped in amber due to some scroll. (And one wonders if they got to use the VFX from Fringe for cheap.)

All in all, none of these artifacts poses a huge challenge, except for the tattoo that nearly kills Pete. The main thing is that each agent is forced to struggle on his or her own, because Artie is trying to isolate everybody as part of his campaign to isolate himself, in the campaign that his imaginary Brother Data is waging.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Frederic and Steve Jinks visit the Vatican to talk to the Brotherhood — only to find that all the members are long since missing. This turns out to be the work of yet another artifact, a painting that has trapped everybody. The business of Steve shooting every monk who emerges from the painting is one of the best scenes of the episode, and cries out to be an animated GIF.

Soon enough, Mrs. Frederic realizes the real Brother Data is in the painting, and Artie's just been imagining the whole thing. This comes just as Artie hallucinates that he's actually managed to bronze Brother Data — only to have the imaginary version escape and taunt him further. Artie finally loses his mind completely, as he confronts the evidence that he's been the one doing all the damage all along. Artie mutters something ominous about the Dark Vault — and when Leena tries to get in his way, he apparently kills her.

Yes, apparently last night was Women in Refrigerators night on Syfy. Bah.

Of course, Leena may not actually be dead, or we get yet another miraculous resurrection. And meanwhile, the reveal of Artie's insanity was pretty well handled — although it wasn't as emotionally powerful as it could have been, considering what a beloved character Artie is. This episode may have been trying to do a bit too much, including three stories of agents saving their loved ones on top of the big "Artie has cracked" reveal. But hopefully next week will give a lot more space to exploring just what's happened to Artie and how it affects everyone. I'll feel sad if, in particular, we don't get a lot of Claudia-Artie interaction.