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Eureka, “Clash of the Titans” (4.17)

Guest star Wallace Shawn as the relationship auditor.

A review of the episode, written by Eric Tuchman and Paula Yoo and directed by Michael Robison, after the jump…

How do I say this kindly? This episode was a disappointment.

I mean, it was perfectly serviceable in a ‘season one’ kind of way, with a charming-but-clunky standalone plot intermixed with various character arcs. The Fargo/Holly plotline largely worked, with Holly’s rushing to sex and Fargo’s hesitation being wonderfully played by Felicia Day and Neil Grayston. And the plots themselves were great concepts, with the potential to really dig into the characters and their motivations.

That last point being why this episode was so frustrating. Its handling of the emotional throughlines was inelegant, only rarely touching the emotional depth that any fan of the show would expect. We learned practically nothing about these characters and their conflicts, and in an episode where we could have learned so much about how these characters are approaching their relationships, we got so little as to make me grit my teeth. The Henry/Grace plot was meandering and awkward. The Carter/Allison plot squandered a ton of potential analysis of their dynamic in order to pop out an obvious and unsubtle conclusion. And even Jo/Zane, which is so often really emotionally rich, just wasn’t. Yes, you could read that she was overinvesting in Grace’s wedding because she was unconsciously obsessing over her own lost one, but the show never really addresses it, giving Jo and Zane a quick couplet to wrap up their arc. Erica Cerra should be mad, because she nails moments of emotional catharsis and subtlety consistently, and this episode didn’t serve her at all.

And the scenes that should have been touchstones to explore how Carter and Allison were looking at their relationship were filled with so much unnecessary ambiguity, to the point where I had no idea where they stood even at the end of the episode. I expected the assessor to have some real, genuinely keen insight into ways their relationship might effect Eureka, or at least an analysis of some complexity.  Even such a simple reason as, “you caring too much could compromise safety”, if presented logically and with some level of insight, would have worked. But instead, we got a simple, obvious and frankly, disappointing wrap-up to an underserved plotline.

The show’s meat and potatoes aren’t the science crisis of the week. That’s the dressing to allow the show to tell stories with this fantastic cast. Nobody really cares about the Titan danger mist, because we’ve seen 50+ crises before it that followed the exact same formula. This episode gave us a limp story of the week wrapped in underwritten and overly-vague character stories that prevented the cast from doing their best work.

When reviewing the long stretch of excellent episodes after the show returned, I was worried that I was biased in the show’s favour and ignoring its flaws. The one positive of a fumble like “Clash of the Titans” is that it reminds us that, yes, the show is typically that good.

Three episodes left this season. Better luck next week, Eureka. I’m expecting better.

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