It’s taken two season on sci-fi before I finally checked this show out properly. Actually, I checked out the pilot when it first aired but I didn’t watch for long enough (which is to say I only watched the first hour of the two hour pilot) to get a proper feel for it. Or maybe I’m just really in the mood for science fiction involving a team that researches/stops strange things (Primeval, Torchwood, Doctor Who, Sanctuary, Fringe, etc). I didn’t originally like it because the first hour felt derivative, but it turned out that the first hour was meant as more of a set up to show how main characters Myka and Pete of the secret service end up working in the middle of nowhere for Warehouse 13.
The plot: By-the-book Myka and child-at-heart Pete get sent to Warehouse 13, a secret government project responsible for detecting, subduing, and acquiring dangerous artifacts somehow imbued with a strong emotion/ability from its previous owner (a piece of driftwood from the Titanic freezes people, a personal makeup compact that made Lizzie Borden kill her parents, Lewis Caroll’s Looking Glass…). Pete is suited to this job because he has a sort of sixth sense for danger and Myka has a photographic memory. They work with Artie who is in charge of the day to day running of the warehouse, Leena who gets vibes of people’s auras (yeah, that one’s a head scratcher but okay, if Pete has a sense for danger I’ll go with this one too), and Claudia the teenage wiz kid who gets added to the group a few episodes into the series. They also have the occasional visits from Mrs. Frederic, a woman who seems to never age, can seemingly appear and disappear suddenly, and is the caretaker of the warehouse (giving her a special connection the building and providing her with a mental inventory of all the artifacts in the warehouse).
The show started a little weak, but quickly gets better as they build on the characters’ pasts and the mythology surrounding the warehouse:
- The Characters– In truth, I find Myka and Pete’s back stories to be the weakest on the show, perhaps because their issues are resolved so early on that it doesn’t really play a role for that long in who they are. (Myka, for example, has a poor relationship with her father but finally forges a better relationship with him during the show.) It is only when they bring Claudia into the picture and establish her as a part of the team that the show really finds its voice. The reason for this, I think, is that Claudia changed the dynamic. They went from being co-workers to something closer to a family. Artie is the dad, Pete and Myka are the older siblings, Claudia is the kid sister everyone looks out for. Some people would put Leena as the mom, but I don’t particularly care for her, she isn’t much of a character at this point. This family dynamic is what makes the characters and by extension the show more loveable. We also delve into Artie’s mysterious, different-named past, which is always exciting. He’s sort of the guy working towards redemption because of past mistakes.
- The Mythology– here is where things get a little strange but interesting. There have been twelve previous incarnations of the warehouse that have been built in a new location for one reason or another. We have learned in the last two seasons that the warehouse is alive to some degree or another and forms some sort of neural link with its caretaker (in this case Mrs. Frederic). We also learn that they consider Claudia “destined” to become the next caretaker. What exactly the caretaker does is a little non-specific, besides mysterious appearances and having a lot of authority. How or why is unclear and though she seems uncertain, that’s a step I would love to see the show take. It would give her a more definite and necessary role on the team (right now she and Artie sort of do the same thing). Another question is whether being the caretaker makes you vampire like in that you never age and you theoretically live forever unless you are specifically killed by something.
Overall, I think the show has gotten a lot stronger and I’m finding myself really enjoying it. Can’t wait for it to come back though the show, having been renewed for a third season, has yet to have been given an actual return date. Can I be the only one who kind of hopes for some residual effects from the abandoned transference of caretaker power?