Review: The navigation of Warehouse 13

The artifact hunters are certainly off to a rocky start this season.

It’s just four episodes into the new season of Warehouse 13, and I’ve already got mixed feelings about the direction they’re taking.

First, the season opener was too easy. We ended the last season with the warehouse completely destroyed and several support characters killed by a madman.

It was saddening and left us wondering how the team would rebuild and would move on without their friends. The upcoming season would be one of struggle and hardship as the team attempts to continue hunting artifacts while constructing a new, perhaps more hi-tech warehouse in which to store them.

Instead of that epic story, we get a single-episode arc which literally undoes the events of the season finale. This is the second worst conflict resolution possible – the only worse way they could have written this was to have one of the characters wake in a cold sweat rejoicing that it was all only a nightmare.

It introduces a fantastic element which is far too strong. Any time a serialized science fiction story introduces time-travel, it’s a mistake. The only stories which should involve time-travel are time-travel stories – tales specifically built around the ideas of paradox and altered timelines. It’s incredibly challenging to introduce this element to any other story without messing it up and simply adds too many questions and complications to the plot (not to mention issues with physics).

“Why didn’t Artie think to use Magellan’s Astrolabe to reverse any of the dozen other disasters which have befallen the team?” is just the tip of the iceberg. Now that we know time-travel is possible in this universe, all continuity is subject to suspicion. The writers have sling-shot the team around the black star, and there is no going back.

The plot has a hole that can never be repaired, and it rankles at every episode, but other elements are more well thought out. The new sub-plot between Jinx and Claudia, for example. The ramifications and consequences of resurrection are much more interesting, and less plot-breaking, than time-travel. Exploring how their new connection and relationship will work will be interesting, though I’m not sure what the point is of keeping Claudia in the dark regarding the odd side-effects of the Metronome. Another secret for the pile, I suppose.

The original duo’s adventures have been mostly the same as ever so far, with the same banter, and same interplay of teamwork that they’ve always had. This helps tie the show to the previous seasons, but the most interesting part of the show has always been investigation into the lore of the world, and Pete and Myka aren’t doing that anymore. Instead, this investigation is being done through Claudia. In the most recent episode, Mrs. Fredericks, in a few short scenes, shows Claudia more than we’ve ever known about where artifacts come from, why, and what the Warehouse’s role in their collection is. With this sub-plot of Claudia being groomed as the next Warehouse caretaker, I hope that there is much more of this kind of revelation upcoming.

Overall, while I don’t agree with some of the writers’ decisions, the show is still the same Warehouse 13 we loved last season. Indeed, part of the problem is that the show didn’t change enough after the explosive finale last season. The characters are still engaging, and the artifacts are still fun to encounter. As long as one of the sub-plots doesn’t rise up to overwhelm the primary quest, I think the show still is still worth tuning in for. Just don’t think too hard about the timeline.