Tuesday night's episode of Warehouse 13 was probably the first time many people saw Syfy's agents-and-weird-objects show, thanks to a Eureka crossover. And it was a great introduction, showing how nerd candy can become something truly awesome. Spoilers ahead!
And yes, there was plenty of nerd candy to spare - George Lucas will probably sue over that absolutely marvelous lightsaber-on-robo-spider smackdown, but it will still all have been worthwhile. This episode threw together computer geekery, artificial intelligence, board-game obsession, mental illness, brain transference and a ton of other stuff, and it all actually worked.
The big deal, of course, was the arrival of Eureka's Fargo, incidentally confirming that both shows take place in a shared universe - more nerd candy! - while providing a new love interest for Claudia. I have to say that Fargo would make a way more interesting love interest than whatsisname from the hardware store. But also, getting to see Fargo geek out in the warehouse, and bring some of that Eureka-esque love of discovery to the storehouse of weird objects, was great.
I also loved the error code from the warehouse's antiquated systems, when Fargo's program conflicted with the residual code from Hugo's failsafe. Somebody spent some time on this!
Claudia was also great this episode. Here's a screencap of the face she makes when she's about to say "psychiatric ward" and catches herself just in time so she can say that she was at a psychiatric research institute. Priceless. I still can't quite bring myself to care about Hardware boy, but it was nice getting to watch Claudia be the center of a mini-love triangle for a moment, and she got to be resourceful and figure stuff out, which is always good.
For me, though, the real guest star of the episode wasn't Fargo at all - it was the one I wasn't expecting: Odo! Rene Auberjonois proves once and for all for that he's a brilliantly versatile actor, bringing complete loopiness and sproinginess to the right side of Hugo's brain, still stuck in Hugo's body...
... while bringing the Full Odo to the left side of Hugo's brain, who's been transferred into Hugo's A.I. I really liked the way this episode handled the A.I. thing, by side-stepping the idea that someone developed a fully working A.I. decades ago. Instead, the explanation that the cheating-prone Hugo cheated once again, using an artifact to copy his own brain instead of starting from scratch, was really nifty. Except that it didn't quite work, and instead of copying his brain, he transferred half of it altogether.
The battle of wits between Artie and the A.I. was genuinely clever and really fun to watch, and this might be my favorite Artie episode yet. He actually outthinks the A.I. in a way that seems plausible, and takes advantage of the fact that the A.I. only has half of Hugo's consciousness. First he uses an artifact to turn everyone's speech into gibberish that only they can understand, then he challenges the A.I. to a game and flagrantly cheats, to prove that the A.I. isn't as on top of things as the real Hugo. And then he tricks the A.I. into tying up its processing power, while they hack into its systems and reverse the transfer. Artie's always at his best when he's five steps ahead of everyone else, and this was the best example of that yet.
Pete had many of the best lines of the episode, including one of my all-time favorites: "Well, sitting in a windowless room for ten years, playing Monopoly with Hal? What could go wrong?" And his later line about how he bet the people in the sanitarium got sponge baths all the time, delivered with obvious relish. I know I've been annoyed at Pete in the past, for stuff like the "Can Ophelia boobies" line, among other things. But when he's got good material to work with, he does a good job of being the comic relief.
And then there was the idea, randomly tossed in in a really deft way, that almost every former Warehouse agent Pete and Myka have come across is either dead, evil, crazy or severely messed up in some way. This is the sort of long-term plot thread that seriously enriches the week-to-week storytelling of a show, and it adds to the sense of danger when Pete and Myka routinely escape some dreadful fate in every episode. (And coming on the heels of Myka's premature aging last week, it's worth bringing up.) Pete's answer to Myka's worries isn't exactly comforting, either — even if he's right, and they both get scrambled simultaneously, that's not going to be much consolation.
All in all, this might have been the best Warehouse 13 episode yet, but more importantly it's a sign that the show is continuing to grow, and the nerd candy is beginning to be spiked with something mind-altering.