Welcome back Warehouse 13 fans,
Pete (Eddie McClintock), Myka (Joanne Kelly), Claudia( Allison Scagliotti), Steve (Aaron Ashmore) and Mrs. Fredrick (CCH Pounder) combine forces to help him while the world is endangered. Just another day in the life of our beloved Warehouse 13!
So, Artie has officially lost it! He is a customer for the enchanted kingdom, he needs a ride in the twinkie mobile, he has asked Scotty to beam him up, his warehouse is missing a few artifacts… and Artie is completely bonkers; all because of Magellan’s Astrolabe!
This was most definitely an Artie-centric episode, a nice change to the Myka/Pete episodes we are used to. Written by Holly Harold, the episode was also very dark in nature, a direction for Warehouse 13 that we may not be used to, but still seems to work when it comes to the subject matter being explored.
As always, the episode opens with a recap of past episodes that forward this week’s story. Leena is dead, killed by Artie because she got in his way. Myka, and Pete return to the Warehouse to discover her body as well as the mess that Artie left in the Dark Vault. Both are naturally very distraught.
Jinx has remained with Mrs. Fredrick in Rome while Claudia has returned to the Warehouse to find out that Artie has turned evil. She also is not handling the news well. Mrs. Fredrick warns everyone that Artie not only knows everything about them, he also knows their strengths and weaknesses and will use those weaknesses against them.
Just when things seem at their weirdest, Pete begins to see the ghost of Leena. Since Pete is the Warehouse agent who has the vibes, it seems appropriate that he is also the one who can see Leena either as a spirit or a vision, or whatever it is she is supposed to be.
Pete dashes after the apparition only to discover that she is nowhere to be found. At first I thought that the writers might be attempting to lead us toward a red herring – that Pete was also beginning to go wacko. But, as the story progresses, we learn that Pete is more sensitive to that which cannot normally be seen, than we thought. Claudia and Myka try to be supportive, but, Pete seems overwhelmed by grief. Personally, I think they all could have benefited from a group hug.
Meanwhile, at the Vatican, Brother Adrian (Brent Spiner) assists with the investigation. He explains that there is not a great deal of information about this particular Astrolabe. All that they have to go on is Robespierre’s Diary.
However, a brief history of Magellan, and the astrolabe, I believe, is in order. Ferdinand Magellan, as some people may know, was a Portuguese explorer. He lived from 1480 to 1521. He very likely used an astrolabe to assist his exploration of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but he did not appear to use the one described in the fiction of Warehouse 13 for the following reason.
Astrolabes were elaborate devices, historically used by astronomers, navigators, and astrologers. Their many uses included locating and predicting the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars, determining local time given local latitude and vice-versa, surveying, triangulation, and to cast horoscopes. It was an awkward instrument for use on the heaving deck of a ship or in wind.
Thus, the mariner’s astrolabe was developed to address these issues. Why have I explained this in such detail? Since Magellan’s Astrolabe has become such a big part of the story arc for this season, it would seem important to understand the significance of the real device and the effect that it had in our understanding of our world. Astrolabes were precursors to our clocks, and, thus a major part of our technological advances as a civilization.
The understanding of the importance of astrolabes to our advancement as a species is significant. The writers have been very clever in using this device. The astrolabe helped us develop into who we are in the twenty first century and it is also of great importance to the story line.
As Myka, Pete and Claudia discuss options back at the Warehouse, Artie appears. At first, he seems reasonable. That, of course, changes when he realizes that the others are not going to accept his version of the truth and give him what he wants, the astrolabe. As Artie gets more irritated, a warning noise goes off. It is the IRS Quartum.
Claudia, needing to comfort herself with touch, reaches out to Artie to discover that he is a hologram. Surprised, Claudia’s response is, “You’re not real!” Artie explains that he is real, alright, “I’m just not here”. Frak Artie where in the world are you for goodness sakes!
Demanding the astrolabe, that Myka continues to insist they cannot give him, Artie is reasonable for the last time, “You can tell me where it is, or I can find it myself. Telling me where it is, is the safer choice. Think what happened to Leena”.
Despite their familiarity with their friend, there is nothing that Myka, Pete or Claudia can do to alter Artie’s focus. He is obsessed with reaching his goal and will not be derailed from achieving it.
This is psychotic behaviour. From the prospective of a psychologist, Artie cannot be reasoned with. Not only is his moral compass nonexistent at this point, his obsession must be satisfied and nothing will stand in his way.
In a controlled environment, such as a prison cell, or institution, a professional has the luxury of confronting someone like Artie with the cold hard facts. He will not have access to the object of his obsession. But in a situation where Artie has the upper hand, having made use of artifacts to his advantage, Myka, Pete and Claudia are in real danger. Having already killed once, he could now take another life in order to get what he wants. We may be left wondering if Artie has planned that far ahead, or if the three agents would be able to stop him?
Moving the story forward yet again, Artie states, “You still don’t understand. I –am-not-Artie. Artie sacrificed his life for this place. He was a slave to Warehouse 13 for 35 years. But, no more. I will use the astrolabe to set Artie free of this Warehouse, and from all of you! No matter what the cost”.
This is the first evidence that Artie has undergone a schism in his personality. In television and film, this is commonly, and wrongly, called schizophrenia.
The actual disorder is Dissociative Identity Disorder, where two or more personalities emerge as a result of an extremely traumatic experience. The first warning that Artie is moving toward such a disorder is his reference to himself in the third person.
Although many personalities in this situation are benign, for dramatic effect the writers have chosen to go with a good Artie – the victim, and a bad Artie – the problem solver.
Within moments, Claudia realizes that Artie is somewhere in the Warehouse. As she does, there is an explosion. As they arrive at the area that is now on fire, Claudia’s first concern is Artie’s well being, “Artie could still be in there!”
Once the fire is put out, Myka Comments that they have lost artifacts from the IRS Quartum, and as we learn, it is the area where everything from the Holy Roman Empire has been stored.
Why did Artie want it destroyed? Was it to distract the trio while he escaped, or did he want something of significance out of the way? Pete theorizes that there was something in one of the crates that Artie did not want them to see.
Back at the Vatican, Steve is frustrated. The research is taking far too long for his liking. Mrs. Fredrick reassures Jinx that time will reveal the truth. Fortunately, Brother Adrian has a possible alternative resource. He paraphrases, “if any man shall live the same day twice, his reason shall fracture and he shall live his life as two until there is only one. As darkness overcomes the light, so shall evil overcome goodness.” As usual, with science fiction, a character is often called upon to explain the techno-babble.
So, Jinx then refers to Robespierre who began his public life believing in equality for French citizens, then resorting to the Guillotine to keep them in line. Brother Adrian adds that his interpretation of all this is that the evil comes from within.
At the Warehouse, Claudia and Myka look for information regarding the latest clue that the astrolabe was, at one time, in the Holy Roman Empire’s possession in Warehouse 8. They leave Pete alone who, again, sees an image of Leena. This time he follows her. She leads him toward a cabinet. Inside, he finds an image of the dagger that Artie had been looking for in previous episodes. He also spends some time talking to himself. No, Pete, you are not crazy…not quite yet.
After a chat with Mrs. Fredrick about the situation, the trio now must head after the dagger. Claudia takes Leenas role as resource for the rest of the team as Pete and Myka head to Budapest. Claudia manages to slow Artie down by sending information to Budapest International Airport that he is a suspected terrorist. As Pete and Myka head toward the airport, they ask what he might have been after. It turns out that the item is a deadly orchid from China. Artie is after the orchid so that he can release a plague on the world.
As they speak, somehow, Artie has managed to use his own Farnsworth to eavesdrop on the conversation. He knows what Myka and Pete are up to. At Berlin International Airport, Jinx picks up Claudia. She tells them they are heading to Warehouse 8 to pick up the Orchid.
Oddly, once Jinx knows about the deadly orchid, he is more concerned that he and Claudia are the B team. Somehow being asked to find the dagger means that Pete and Myka are the A team. Personally, I do not see how an item makes one team the A team and another team the B team, but, there are office politics everywhere.
At the Czech Museum of Fine Art, Myka and Pete find the dagger in a glass case, but, yet again, Artie is ahead of them. He has another artifact, a noose that he uses to get them out of his way.
This is also the point in the episode where Artie has altered his appearance in a subtle but telling way. His eyebrows have been manipulated to look like small devil’s horns. Whether this was a decision by production, or Saul Rubinek, it is definitely clever. Artie has gone from a slightly creepy, crazy, old loon, to a malevolent and very dangerous psycho.
Artie further uses this opportunity to attack Pete and Myka in a very personal way, by calling them names that reach into their core. Knowing them very well, he attacks their weaknesses. Pete is first, “…just one bad decision away from the bottle. You really think that Artie wants to be your substitute father, playing daddy to a weak willed six year old, trapped in an aging man’s body, still whining about letting his real father die in a fire when you should have saved him”. Then, Myka, “…and you, with your uncompromising prudish rigidity… condescension, your infuriating belief that you are always the smart one in the room. You’re on a direct path to spending the rest of your life alone. Don’t you understand? Artie wants you out of his life forever”.
Fortunately, Pete and Myka not only do not believe Artie’s insults about them, Pete is rather clever with the use of one of the very sharp implements stored in the museum collection. He throws a double headed axe at the rope and frees them, as well as several innocent victims in the room, “today was not a good day to die”. Then it is off to Zittau, Germany. Artie engages the German branch of the Warehouse club. Again with the artifacts, one of the German allies uses a device that creates a sonic wave, incapacitating Pete, Myka, Claudia and Jinx, who have caught up to the group.
After a scuffle between Jinx, Claudia and the Germans in one area of the wheelhouse, and Myka and Pete who briefly stop Artie, all is action packed and quite normal for the team. That is, until Jinx and Myka find the orchid behind a stone wall. As Jinx reaches to get the encased flower, Artie shows up again, with a gun aimed at Pete, “you know I’m capable of it”. Having no choice, Jinx gives Artie the flower.
Artie also wants the dagger, of course. Myka, making the ultimate decision, tosses it into a pit where the wheelhouse grinding stone will, “grind it into dust”. As Artie prepares to shoot Pete as punishment, Myka still attempts to reason with Artie. Artie, distracted, then begins aiming the gun, in turn, at everybody. He has just lost the advantage. This is a rookie mistake. Artie has been so consistently ahead of everyone that this mistake, while possible, is highly unlikely. I was a bit disappointed at this turn of events.
However, Artie uses the artifact he had used at the airport to escape the authorities, to stop time for a few moments and retrieve the orchid from jinx and the dagger from the grinding stone. This time it is Claudia’s turn to catch up to him and attempt to reason with him. The writers are also taking the opportunity to show that the real Artie is still there, inside the malevolent Artie. They are foreshadowing that Artie will be saved in the end. The question is how. Artie verbally attacks Claudia, causing her to cry.
Artie uses the opportunity to break the glass encasing the orchid with the dagger, yelling, “I cast you out!” As he breaks the glass, Claudia has an epiphany. She repeats Artie’s declaration, and determines that she is supposed to cast bad Artie out. As the glass breaks, Artie has lost the dagger, but he is not paying attention to Claudia. He is focused on the orchid. Picking the lone flower off of the plant, he tosses it up in the air. His attention is drawn to Claudia. A voice-over in Artie’s voice tells Claudia, “do it; save me”. Claudia aims the dagger and shouts, “I cast you out!” stabbing Artie.
The small orchid blossom, meanwhile, falls toward the floor. Pete pulls a great baseball move, sliding for the bases, reaching out to catch the bloom. He catches it, but as it touches his skin, it turns into the plague it is to become. It wafts silently and deadly toward the major cities, but it doesn’t forget to infect everyone in the Warehouse 13 team.
We will find out how this plot thickens and resolves itself next season. It is obvious, since Artie also received a dose of the plague, that he will survive and be forced to fight the terrible thing that he let loose. There will also probably be an artifact to be found that will repair the plague. We will certainly watch the show to discover the important question – how?
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