Friday, 19 August 2011
Warehouse 13 - Season 3 Episode 6 - 'Don't Hate The Player' - Review
What’s the Story?
Eureka’s Fargo (Neil Grayston) guest stars in Warehouse 13 for the second time, when his latest ‘Fargames’ concept puts him into a life threatening situation. To help him, Pete and Claudia have to go inside the videogame Fargo has created, ‘Fortress 13’, where things seem very familiar…. Meanwhile Artie and Steve are called out by Agent Sally to investigate an apparent suicide.
What’s the Verdict?
Episodes like these express exactly why I love science fiction and fantasy programming, as more than any other genre it can produce such bold and different episodes from week to week. I imagine this episode itself may be divisive, the concept of ‘living’ a videogame has of course been done before and how much you enjoyed the episode may well hinge on what you thought of the cell shading visual effect used to denote the virtual world. I appreciated what they had tried to do with the visuals but couldn’t help wondering if we really needed it, I occasionally found that the effect obscured my view of the backgrounds and sets which looked as if they were full of little details it would have been nice to see more of.
However, despite this, I found that my eyes became accustomed to the effect quite quickly and from this point on, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. The script sparkled with so many amusing one-liners and fun homage’s to other videogames. I particularly liked the use of first person perspective whenever they were opening doors etc and anyone that has ever played an RPG will have recognised lots of gaming tropes paid tribute to here, plus cute little shout-outs to the likes of The Wizard of Oz and Star Trek. Pete and Claudia’s avatars were great, (how could anyone not love ‘Claudielf’?) and Saul Rubinek’s appearance as General Arthur was hilarious. As someone brought up relatively near to the Lake District, I loved this weeks artefact, Beatrix Potter’s Teaset, or as Pete put things, ‘The League of Evil British Writers strikes again!’.
It did feel a bit of a shame that more was not done with the character of Fargo this episode but that minor complaint was quickly forgotten with such a strong performance from Allison Scagliotti. Her brief appearance as the Princess was hilarious but it was when we saw a glimpse into Claudia’s fears that the episode took a more dramatic turn and was all the better for it. We of course have always known about Claudia’s history in an institution, but seeing her terror at ‘Dr Mitchner’ allowed us a closer glimpse into her psyche. It is a fascinating backstory for her character that I do hope is explored more, it is not something the character will ever forget and thus I think there is plenty of scope to keep exploring what happened to her then and how this has affected her. This moment grounded what had been a fun but frivolous episode with a genuine drama and sense of danger, leading to a very poignant moment between Claudia and Myka that showed how close the two characters have become.
Meanwhile, Artie and Steve were also in the field, which was a fantastic opportunity to see the two characters working together in what turned out to be a very strong ‘B-story’, opening up some interesting questions for the rest of the season. If anything I was surprised that Artie wasn’t more suspicious of Sally from the start, but with Steve apparently unable to tell when she is lying, perhaps something else is afoot here. We were given another glimpse of the mysterious man in the wheelchair, releasing ‘bugs’ into the warehouse and instructing Sally that ‘Now we wait’. If I had to guess, my money at this point is on the mysterious man being James MacPherson, sure, he should be dead, but I’ve seen more implausible resurrections!
It felt right that the episode be rounded off with a performance from Claudia in a local bar (and yes, it is Allison Scagliiotti singing and playing guitar and very good she is too. Here's hoping we hear more from her). The character has grown so much since her introduction and seems such as essential part of the Warehouse 13 family I struggle to think back to what it was like without her.
Overall I applaud the writers for trying something different with this episode, whether or not you enjoyed the effects or virtual world I’m sure we are all happy that people are still prepared to be bold and take the odd creative risk.
All that is left to say is, ‘Crash Bandicoot out’ ….