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Eureka, “Reprise” (4.12)

Dr. Holly Marten (Felicia Day) looks at the FTL drive.

A review of the episode, written by Amy Berg and directed by Matt Hastings, after the jump…

Felicia Day kicks off her arc in Eureka here, playing a bubbly, socially-awkward doctor in Eureka to, supposedly, offer Fargo a grant to create a new faster-than-light engine, following up from his device last episode. Meanwhile, Allison has a surprising encounter that she can’t remember, and Carter spends the day with a frustrated Kevin.

“Reprise” was a lot of fun. There were quibbles to be had with it, but it’s always been a silly show, and I can accept the occasional flaw in an episode as twisty and fun as this. It was funny, emotional, and following the Eureka formula to a T without ever boring me. This episode managed to fuse both sides, from Fargo dancing to “Eye of the Tiger” in his glass office to Jo walking through her burned-down house, reflecting on just how much she lost in the ‘reboot’.

We also got to touch on the relationship between Carter and Kevin, his would-be stepson. They’ve clashed before, particularly in the otherwise-meh “Monstrosity” (4.06), and Trevor Jackson and Colin Ferguson work together beautifully every time they’re called on to share screentime. Their relationship is so fun to watch, as Kevin gets frustrated at Carter’s uneasiness, not knowing that he has no memories of Kevin’s ‘this timeline’ life before Founder’s Day. Jackson got a bit of a showcase here, and he earned every minute, being charming and likeable even as he steals cars and whines about Carter leaving him behind. I’d happily see him anchor more episodes in the future.

Now, just because those two were prominent doesn’t mean the whole cast didn’t get serviced. In fact, this episode showcases one big reason why the ‘reboot’ has revitalised the show: practically every character has potential meat to their storylines here. Erica Cerra and Niall Matter have had some of their best material in the show’s history with this arc of both coming to terms with what happened, or didn’t, between them. Neil Grayston as Fargo got to have a lot of fun playing over-the-top anger.

And we also have the two remaining players, whose parts of this episode left me less-than-impressed: Salli Richardson-Whitfield, who did her best with a flatlining plotline, and the ever-luminous Felicia Day, whose addition to the cast here is a shade too manic to be enjoyable.

Starting with the first: Allison’s story throughout the episode was flat and unsettling, leaving me spending the entire episode waiting for the other shoe to drop. And, happy as I was when it finally did… Beverley Barlow reappears! Gah! As she didn’t appear in either “O Little Town” (4.10) or “Liftoff” (4.11), I haven’t yet made my position on Dr. Barlowe clear to Signalites… So, in a few words: This character is the body of an albatross, dragging scenes, episodes and seasons into the abyss. She’s meant to be a ‘love to hate her’ antagonist, but merely elicits the rolling of eyes and desperate need to fast forward for this viewer.. I had hoped, in vain, that her vanishing act in “I’ll Be Seeing You” (4.09) was the last of her for a while, but… apparently not. This actually significantly effects my predicted enjoyment of the rest of the season, despite all of the other positive signs.

The other frustrating performance came from one of my favourite actresses of the moment, surprisingly. Felicia Day is wonderful in The Guild, her breakout comedy webseries. Her Dr. Holly Marten character here is far too flighty and mannered, like a hummingbird flitting scene to scene. Her jittery nature and cutesy voice, rather than enhancing the character, made Holly really frustrating to watch. I love Day, and I don’t fear that her arc will be unpleasant. I just hope that she makes the character a little less grating in future weeks.

The episode’s third issue is its arbitrary late-in-the-episode twist: “I Shot the Sherriff”. After specifically establishing that the songs are not mind control and need an emotional base to centre it on, they have Jo be paralysed by her need to shoot Carter. This might have worked if they gave this dynamic some kind of emotional base, even something so small as Jo blaming Carter for something involving Zane. Without that, it felt like a last-minute move to up the stakes and extend a script that came in short, ignoring the internal logic of the story. We can fanwank that she did have an emotional reason, but the writers know better than to not hint at something, so that counts as a plot hole at this point.

However, gripes aside… Another really good episode. This half-season is on a roll. Looking forward to the next episode.

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