Hot damn, that was a tearjerking episode of Warehouse 13 — and given the insane cliffhanger we ended on, the thought that we almost didn't get any more episodes after this is hard to fathom. Can you just imagine the show ending with that episode, never to be continued?
The actual plot of last night's episode is pretty simple — Paracelsus goes to San Francisco and "cures" a bunch of terminal patients so he can use their life energy to make himself immortal using a special petrified wood lining inside Coit Tower. Then he's captured — but as usual, this is just part of his plan. Meanwhile, the "Myka's got cancer" storyline comes to a head, and when she goes in to see her doctor, she winds up having surgery, and we learn the cancer has spread already, beyond the surgeon's ability to remove. Pete is finally faced with the question of whether to use the Warehouse's artifacts to cure Myka, and Paracelsus basically tricks Pete into giving Paracelsus absolute control over the Warehouse.
Except that Claudia — who's just found out her long-presumed-dead sister is actually alive and "an incredibly dangerous woman" — takes stewardship of the Warehouse from Mrs. Frederic and stays behind to confront Paracelsus, while everyone else flees.
There's nothing particularly clever about the plotting in this episode — the moment Paracelsus gets himself captured, you know he's probably up to something eeeevil, because the episode is only half over — but what makes it work is that the plot twists are rooted in character.
Pete is terrified of losing Myka because of his abandonment issues (which he references in one scene) but also just because she's the only one whom he can share this life with. We see Pete pestering Myka over and over about going to her doctor's appointment, and the scene where she goes off to get her surgery is incredibly sad and — amazingly enough — understated. A lot of the heavy lifting is done with facial expressions, and the bit where Myka keeps it perky until she turns her back on Pete is really well done. You probably didn't think Eddie McClintock, in particular, could do layers — but he does layers here.
So the episode does a lot of reasonably deft work to set up Pete's incredibly stupid decision to start dancing to Paracelsus' tune — and poor Pete actually thinks he's outsmarting Paracelsus when he decides to take away Paracelsus' immortality, when in fact that's exactly what Paracelsus wants him to try and do.
The question of, "Why shouldn't Pete use the artifacts in the Warehouse to save Myka" seems incredibly relevant. Last week, we saw Artie using an artifact to get inside Roaring Dan's tombstone, purely for convenience. Pete's own mom wound up approving of Claudia using the metronome to resurrect Steve Jinks. The Warehouse uses artifacts all the time, and in fact the "bronzing" process is dependent on an old Babylonian stele. It's gotten to the point where if a Warehouse agent doesn't feel like waiting for the light to change on the freeway, he or she uses an artifact to make the light turn green faster.
So why not use an artifact to save Myka?
Arguably, Pete's only mistake is that he trusts Paracelsus instead of going to Artie and demanding that Artie help him figure out which dozen or so artifacts in the Warehouse can cure cancer. But maybe there's still a line that you're not supposed to cross, involving using artifacts for selfish purposes, like saving your friend. Or maybe Pete's just never going to be smart enough to make it work, without a downside he can't live with. (Honestly, this is when you call H.G. Wells, who probably figures out a way to save Myka on her lunch break.)
The other big bombshell in this episode — which sort of comes out of nowhere — is that Claudia's sister (whose death is the key part of Claudia's origin story and why she couldn't let Steve die) is alive and well and within easy distance of the Warehouse. And Artie has known this since before he met Claudia, but kept the truth from her to protect her. Is Claudia's "dangerous" sister somehow connected to Claudia's destiny to become the Warehouse's caretaker? It's unclear, but this odd reveal casts kind of a shadow on Claudia's big "step up and face her destiny" moment. Which you have to assume is intentional, but I'm left wondering where it's all going.
Oh, and as a counterpoint to Artie telling Claudia the truth and Pete realizing the truth about Myka, we had Sutton trying to atone for not telling his son Nick the truth about Paracelsus — and I'm sort of with Pete, in hoping we've seen the last of those two, especially Nick.
In any case, this was a pretty excellent season finale of Warehouse 13 all around — but it would have been a terrible series finale.
Images and GIF via IloveMykaOpheliaBering on Tumblr.