Yes, that's right. David Lynch's daughter, who helmed Boxing Helena and Hissss, directed the latest episode of Warehouse 13. And while she brought a certain visual panache to the prehistoric hyena jaw attacks and indoor tornadoes, she was also blessed with one of the show's best ever scripts. Lovely stuff all around.
This was an outstanding episode, largely because this show has invested so much in its characters that it can build on them now. In "Instinct," H.G. Wells is running away from the weirdness of being associated with the magical Warehouse, while Claudia turns out to be embracing her possible future as the next Caretaker, replacing Mrs. Frederic — but both of their choices turn out to be more complicated and emotional than that, and the episode doesn't make either situation simple and clear-cut.
In "Instinct," H.G. calls up Myka and asks for help, because an artifact is apparently making criminals confess to their crimes — and temporarily de-evolving them into prehistoric hominins. And we discover that H.G. is living with a man and his daughter, under the name EmilyLake — the same name she had when she was brainwashed a year or two ago. She's decided she wants a normal life, but is she deliberately adopting a girl who's the same age as her own dead daughter? In other words, is she choosing a new future, or chasing a ghost from her past?
The episode never lays it out there, and to the extent that the "prehistoric jaw bone" artifact symbolizes H.G. struggling with her own history, this link is never made explicit, much less rammed down our throat. Much of the action actually involves Myka feeling hurt that H.G. wants her to stay away, lest she chase away the perfect husband and daughter that H.G. has lucked into. The romance subtext between the two women is barely touched — except when they're forced to pretend to be a lesbian couple to sneak into the police station, of course. But apart from that, hardly mentioned.
In the end, after Myka has torn down H.G.'s choices and introduced the whole "you're chasing your daughter's ghost" idea, she does an about-face and tells H.G. to fight for her new family. And to Joanne Kelly's credit, you can see what it's costing her to do this, without it being laid on particularly thick.
The writer of this episode, Bob Goodman (read his essay for io9 here!) was supposed to be helping to launch H.G.'s spin-off series, before Jaime Murray went off and joined the cast of Defiance. So he's clearly done a lot of thinking about her character, and the fact that she's a woman from another time, who's still haunted by the death of her daughter, but also by guilt and anguish from her past actions. He also neatly ties H.G.'s attempted retirement into the running theme that agents for the Warehouse end up "crazy, evil or dead," as Pete keeps putting it. If H.G. can escape those three fates, then maybe there's hope for Pete and Myka? Maybe?
And meanwhile, the Claudia story packs a bit of misdirection — you think that Claudia is uneasy around Abigail Cho, the latest addition to the team, because Abigail is a psychotherapist and is thus likely to diagnose Claudia as having some mental disorder or other. (Because Claudia spent time in an institution, something that the show almost never mentions but always remembers.) One of the great lines of dialogue in the episode is when Abigail asks if Claudia has had any positive experiences of therapy, and she says when she had electro-shock therapy, one of the alligator clips was marked "positive."
This is an issue in this episode, in particular, because the Warehouse is shaking itself to pieces, and only Steve, Artie, Claudia and Abigail are around to cope with it. And Claudia's getting little shocks from the Warehouse, which she thinks are because the building is mad at her for stabbing Artie with the magic dagger. She's too busy trying to hide her questionable behavior from Abigail to see that it might be a clue, instead.
Of course, as Steve points out, they're in crazytown, so it's all relative — and Pete separately tells H.G.'s new husband that he's not crazy, they are.
But in a nifty use of Steve's lie-detector powers, we learn that Claudia's not actually being honest about what's bothering her. It's not just that she's worried about being found mentally unfit — she's actually decided that she really does want to be the new Caretaker, and she's afraid that Abigail will tell the Regents she's unfit for the job. When Abigail finally convinces Claudia to trust her, and the Warehouse, and herself, and she goes and shoots some goo up in the ceiling, it's a lovely moment.
All in all, then, a really terrific episode of a show that keeps building on some solid characterization. If this show has to end in the next dozen episodes, at least it's going out on a high note.