Episode 1: Pilot
Welcome to my first review of Warehouse 13. I’ve never seen this show before, though I remember thinking it looked interesting when it was on, so I’m going in with no preconceptions other than knowing the basic premise of the series (two Secret Service agents investigate weird phenomena and work in a gigantic government warehouse that’s off the grid). I’ll give my overall impressions at the end of the review, so let’s just jump right into the first show. Technically, this could be counted as two episodes, since it was a two-hour premiere, but Wikipedia has it listed as Episode 1, so that’s what I’m going with.
We start out in a museum in Washington, D.C. Where Myka Bering (played by Joanne Kelly) is hanging around. A gaggle of schoolkids goes by and one of them notices Myka has a gun before being pulled away by a teacher. A museum official (Greenfield) shows up and we see that Myka is someone who takes her job seriously and doesn’t take no for an answer. Elsewhere, Pete Latimer (played by Eddie McClintock) is saying goodbye to his one night stand, a caterer named Kacey, who notices Pete has a badge and thinks he’s a fireman. Before she can inquire further, he distracts her with more sex. At the museum, Myka meets Gordon Letanik, a tech who prepares artifacts for the museum. Letanik is working on an Aztec Blood Stone (which looks like one of those grimacing faces from Zuma) and accidentally cuts his finger on one of its quartz-like teeth. Probably not a good idea to give a Blood stone your blood.
At his place, Pete says goodbye to Kacey, who says she’d try to sneak him into the affair she’s catering but it’s protected by Secret Service, who can be jerks at times. Turns out Pete already knew that, since he is Secret Service and has his own invitation. It looks like the new exhibit opening at the museum will be attended by the President, hence Pete’s attendance, and Myka’s hard-ass approach to security. At the opening, Kacey serves drinks to various people, including Letanik, who’s sweating like a pig, and whose finger still hasn’t stopped bleeding. He seems fascinated with the Blood Stone, now part of the display.
When Pete shows up, he and Myka clash immediately. She seems to be very logical and by-the-book, whereas Pete is a bit less structured. Also, she’s not happy he skipped her security briefing to “vet” one of the caterers. Pete says he sometimes gets vibes about certain things, and right now he knows something’s not right. Myka seems to dismiss his intuition, but does order an extra perimeter check. Outside, a strange-looking dude with a doctor’s bag is hanging around, watching people go in. He gets inside and zaps one of the security guys with some kind of electrical gun, knocking him out. The strange-looking dude then gets on an elevator.
Inside, Pete notices something weird about the Blood Stone … it’s bleeding. He grabs it and heads out, running into Kacey on the way. Myka clears the President to enter, but soon rescinds that clearance as she notices Letanik; he does look rather suspicious, what with the bloodshot eyes, profuse sweating, and blood dripping from his hand. He produces an ancient dagger and heads for a kid (the same kid who noticed Myka’s gun earlier, who I think is the daughter of the Mexican Ambassador). Myka pulls her gun and confronts Letanik (after shedding her shoes, because high heels and fighting don’t really go together).
Pete heads for an exit with the Blood Stone, but drops it. The weird guy is there, looking very cyberpunk, and surprises Pete by addressing him by name. Inside, Letanik disarms Myka and holds the dagger to her throat. She quickly turns the tables, disarming him and kicking his ass (her finishing move is sweeping the leg). Outside, the weird guy pours some stuff on the Blood Stone, ignoring Pete’s orders to surrender, and the Stone starts glowing with a blinding light. Letanik screams and the Stone’s mouth closes. When the light fades, Pete finds himself alone … the Stone and the strange cyberpunk dude are gone. Inside, Letanik passes out.
Later, Pete’s supervisor (Dickenson) insists he take a drug test because all the stuff about bleeding idols and disappearing weirdos makes him think Pete must be high … or possibly just a thief, since he took the Stone out of the museum and now it’s missing. The agent who was zapped earlier (by the weird cyberpunk dude with the electrical gun) remembers nothing, and Letanik is comatose. Myka’s getting personal congratulations from the President, which just makes Pete’s day.
When he gets home, Pete finds a couple of intruders in his place: Mrs. Frederick (played by CCH Pounder) and her bodyguard. Frederick tells Pete he’s been reassigned to her indefinitely and that working for her represents an “invitation to endless wonder”. She tells him to get to specific GPS coordinates in South Dakota as soon as possible. Pete thinks it’s a joke and says he can’t just leave his life, but Frederick points out that he doesn’t have much of a life. The next day, Pete heads for South Dakota, following the coordinates, which leads him to a rusted warehouse in the middle of nowhere … literally.
Pete’s a bit disappointed … the warehouse is locked, only a cow is there to greet him, and he almost gets beaned by a football that comes out of nowhere. His confusion mounts as Myka shows up, saying she also had a visit from Mrs. Frederick and was ordered to report here. The weird guy from the museum shows up out of nowhere and introduces himself as Artie Nielsen, Secret Service. He’s played by Saul Rubinek, who’s been in tons of stuff, but I recognized him as Daphne’s fiance from Frasier. Artie leads them inside after tossing the football back into the air, saying it takes a while to circle back. Artie deflects all their questions until he shows them the warehouse in all its glory; it does look like the one at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, except way bigger and with more variety. Myka seems freaked out by the vastness of it all, but Pete is fascinated.
Artie says they’re supposed to assist him in finding and containing artifacts that could pose a threat to the world and that they were chosen for their contrasting styles: basically, Myka looks and Pete leaps. Myka’s not happy and goes outside to get some phone reception. She contacts Dickenson, who tells her Frederick’s orders trump his own and that she and Pete will have to go along with their assignment for the moment, but he’ll try to figure out what’s going on and get the orders rescinded. Myka’s not thrilled (less so when she realizes she’s standing on a huge pile of cow shit), but has no choice. Artie mentions A previous assignment in Denver, which raises Myka’s hackles, and she reminds him she got a commendation for what happened there.
Artie takes them on a tour through some of the warehouse, pointing out various weird shit (like a helicopter recovered from the Bermuda Triangle). They ride on an electric carriage invented by Thomas Edison, which runs on the electrical impulses from their bodies. It takes both Pete and Myka to power it, which I assume is a metaphor for the overall series. Artie tells them they have to contain all the weird phenomena they don’t understand yet, likening it to what Thomas Jefferson would’ve done if he’d found a radio. He shelves the Blood Stone, while a wallet on a shelf starts vibrating as soon as Myka sets her bag under it. Artie notices that Pete has an old kettle in his hand (which Pete swears he didn’t grab) and tells him to clear his mind. The kettle grants wishes, so Artie doesn’t want a stray thought to wipe out life on Earth, but Myka grabs the kettle and makes a conscious wish. The kettle produces a ferret, which Artie says happens whenever you wish for something impossible … in Myka’s case, a transfer. Artie says the place was crawling with ferrets his first year there. He dunks the kettle in a vat of purple neutralizer goo. In the confusion, the wallet falls off the shelf into Myka’s bag.
Artie tells Pete and Myka they have rooms at a boarding house a few miles down the road. When they get there, the town (or “unincorporated settlement”) looks like something from an old Twilight Zone episode. The boarding house is run by a woman named Leena, who’s friendly but a little strange; her speech is almost robotic. She shows them to their rooms and tells Pete he’s lucky because he’s “connected”; Artie said certain artifacts (like the wishing kettle) are attracted to certain energies, so I assume this has something to do with the “vibes” Pete mentioned at the museum. Myka (and her new ferret) settle in and she tries to get in touch with Dickenson again. Unnoticed by her, the wallet that fell into her bag at the warehouse falls out. Back at the warehouse, we see Artie shelving the kettle and find out the wallet belonged to Harry Houdini and has the property of “Charonic transfer”. Presumably, that means some sort of communication with the dead, as Charon was the guy who ferried souls across the River Styx to the Underworld. Makes sense, since the real-life Houdini was into spiritualism and believed living people could contact the dead. The card at the warehouse says the wallet was acquired November 3, 1926, which is three days after Houdini died. The wallet seems to be working; as Myka looks at a photo of herself with some dude, he sort of manifests behind her and says “Hey, Bunny”, which freaks her out.
At the warehouse, Artie gets a call from Mrs. Frederick, who asks about the new recruits and whether he’s picked an assignment for them yet. Artie is reticent and Frederick says whatever happens to the agents is on her head, not his. I’m assuming previous agents have wound up dead and Artie blames himself. At the boarding house, Myka is scarfing down cookies (even though earlier she claimed not to eat sugar) and we get the “character-establishing heart-to-heart” scene between her and Pete. Pete talks about camping with his late father and Myka mentions her parents run a bookstore in Colorado Springs. We don’t learn how Pete’s father died, nor what happened with Myka in Denver … I guess they can’t reveal everything right away, they have to tease it out in bits and pieces. At the warehouse, Artie settles on a first assignment while consulting his big board, which looks like every conspiracy nut’s jumble of newspaper clippings, photos, and scribbled notes … like Chloe’s Wall of Weird in Smallville. Artie finds footage of some young dude (Cody) being booked in a police station in Seever City, Iowa (and we see that he has access to all kinds of databases, from the federal level right down to local law enforcement).
The next day, Artie tells Myka and Pete their assignment is to go to Iowa and figure out why a promising student like Cody would suddenly beat the shit out of his girlfriend for no reason. Artie figures there must be some kind of artifact exerting an evil influence on him. He gives the duo some tech stuff: a vat of the purple goo to neutralize whatever artifact they find; a two-way video communicator (invented by Philo Farnsworth); and one of the electrical guns he used to zap the agent at the museum (invented by Tesla, naturally). The two-way radio and gun are basically a Starfleet communicator and phaser, but in Steampunk form … which is pretty cool. Pete thinks so too, but Myka’s just exasperated by the whole thing. Artie tells them to find out what caused Cody to go off the rails and sends them on their way. Leena (who can read auras, apparently) says Myka is tortured by guilt but has a soft spot for the ferret. She gives Artie Houdini’s wallet, which she found in Myka’s room and he bags it in a neutralizing Zip-loc, but worries about what effect it might have had on Myka.
In Seever City, Iowa, Myka and Pete meet Sheriff Travis, who’s not thrilled with a couple of Feds coming in to poach jurisdiction. They assure him they just have a few questions for Cody and they’ll be gone. Myka gets a call from Dickenson, who says he’s homing in on Mrs. Frederick, who worked for the Treasury Department in the 1950s. Myka says it can’t be the same woman, since she’s too young, but Artie showed Pete an old photo in the warehouse with Mrs. Frederick in it and she hadn’t aged at all, so I guess she could’ve been around in the 50s. Dickenson tells Myka he’ll try to have them back on regular assignment within 48 hours and to go along with their current mission in the meantime.
They talk to Cody (and ask some idiotic questions that Artie prepared), trying to figure out why he suddenly started pounding his girlfriend. Cody says he doesn’t know; he was talking to a Professor about a mock trial, then blacked out and woke up in the cop shop, with everyone telling him what he’d done. There’s nothing physically wrong with him and he isn’t a dope fiend, so he has no idea why he would act that way. As they’re talking, Cody goes into some kind of trance and starts speaking Italian. Pete gets one of his vibes and pulls Myka out of the way right before Cody busts loose from his manacles and flips the table … which was bolted to the floor. The cops come in and drag Cody away, leaving Pete and Myka to wonder what the hell just happened. Outside, they see a good-looking blonde talking to Cody; she turns out to be his lawyer—and godmother—Lorna Soliday (played by Sherry Miller, though she doesn’t get a screen credit). Soliday is not too cooperative, saying Cody is a good kid and she doesn’t know why he’s acting out, or why he’d suddenly start speaking Italian.
Outside, Myka mentions that the room heated up before Cody’s freak out and asks Pete about his vibes. Pete says they just happen, but he pays attention to them because the one time he didn’t, someone died. Artie calls to tell them he analyzed the recording of Cody’s Italian monologue, but his computer algorithms can’t translate it properly. He says it doesn’t appear in any known work of literature, stage, or song, so they should consult someone at the University (where Cody attends) for a translation. (As an aside, while Artie is analyzing the recording, there’s a sidebar on his computer that says “Related Articles”, but it’s about the myth of Sthenaboea and Bellerophon; maybe I’m being dense, but I can’t figure out what a Greek myth about a woman killing herself after falsely accusing someone of putting the moves on her has to do with this whole thing.)
At the University, Myka and Pete meet Professor Marzotto (played by Michael Boatman of China Beach, Spin City, and Anger Management fame). As they enter his office, a student leaves, looking a bit upset about something. Marzotto translates Cody’s words as, “If people knew the reasons for my fear, they’d be able to understand my pain.” Marzotto says the dialect is centuries old, and upper class. Marzotto says he’s sure of his translation, even though it’s been a couple of years since he’s been to Italy, because he’s a Renaissance scholar. Pete asks about Cody, but Marzotto says he only knows what he read in the papers. (For what it’s worth, I ran the Italian through Google Translate and got, “If men know the causes of my fear, they could understand my pain”, so I don’t know why Artie’s computer couldn’t translate it; maybe Google’s algorithm wasn’t perfected back in 2009.)
Outside, Myka is suspicious of Marzotto. She noticed his neck pulse was beating like a trip-hammer and that he’s meticulous enough to shelve his books alphabetically and keep his pencils and pens in separate cups, but stuck a pen in the pencil cup right before they left. So something’s got him freaked out. In his office, Marzotto takes an old leather-bound book from behind some other books on his shelf; the book’s flyleaf has the exact same words in Italian that Cody was spouting when he freaked out. Marzotto tells someone about the Feds asking questions and warns that “your boyfriend” might be in trouble. Myka calls an old colleague (Minnie Harris), who works at some kind of government database, and asks her to find out everything she can on Marzotto right away. Pete tells Artie about the heat coming from Cody before his freak-out and gives him the translation they got from Marzotto, which worries Artie for some reason.
Just as Harris is about to tell Myka what she found on Marzotto, the line cuts out. All Harris was able to mention was that Marzotto just returned from Italy a couple months ago, contradicting what he told them earlier. But the interference on the line includes the same voice Myka heard at the boarding house (who I’m assuming is her dead boyfriend, who died during whatever happened in Denver) saying “Hey Bunny” again. She’s freaked out (and breaks her “no sugar” rule again, this time with ice cream) and Pete asks what her problem is. She mentions hearing the voice—a voice she can’t possibly be hearing—and Pete mentions Denver again, saying she’s a hero who saved lives. She says lives were lost too, so I guess she’s having some survivor’s guilt; she wonders if Pete will report her for a psych evaluation, but he says she needs to trust him. She remembers the contradiction in Marzotto’s travel schedule and they decide to ask Cody’s girlfriend, Emily, if she knows anything.
At the warehouse, Artie is tearing the place apart trying to connect his hunch about what’s affecting Cody with some tangible artifact in the warehouse. He finally realizes he’ll have to go down into the warehouse and search in person. At the University, Marzotto talks to a blonde woman, telling her he should never have taken an artifact from Italy and definitely should never have given it to her, so now he wants to return it. She’s not having that and holds up a lighter in one hand and the artifact in the other. We can’t see what it is, but it reflects the flame like a prism, which seems to mesmerize Marzotto. At the warehouse, Artie pinpoints his destination by computer and ziplines down to the floor, almost breaking his leg on the dismount.
Artie goes into a Danger Zone and searches for a specific portrait among all the relics. He finds it—a medieval painting of a woman with a fancy comb in her hair holding a dagger—but realizes he left his communicator back up top. So he can’t photograph the portrait, he has to schlep it all the way back … on foot this time, not by zipline. Myka and Pete find Emily in the bakery where she works and ask her about Cody. Turns out Emily is the student they saw leaving Marzotto’s office earlier; she was talking to him about the play she’s appearing in, The Mandrake, by Machiavelli. Marzotto is an adviser on the play, which makes sense given his knowledge of the Renaissance. Emily says Cody was always nice to her until his freak-out and she doesn’t know what brought it on, though she confirms he spoke Italian right before he pounded her. She mentions his parents died in an accident when he was younger and his lawyer/godmother, Ms. Soliday, got him a big settlement and took care of him. When Pete tells Emily the translation of Cody’s Italian, she says he’s always had a fear of being alone or abandoned, so maybe he was pissed off she was spending so much time on the play.
Across town, Marzotto walks up to a gas pump, reciting the same Italian phrases as Cody did earlier, douses himself with gasoline, and lights himself on fire. Outside the bakery, Myka and Pete wonder if Cody was just jealous that his girlfriend was neglecting him to be in a play; Pete advances a theory that Emily might’ve manipulated Cody into hitting her to try for a monetary settlement, which makes Myka wonder what kind of women Pete must date. An ambulance races by and Pete has another vibe and starts chasing it. He follows it to the scene of Marzotto’s immolation, which seems to bother him even more than you’d expect. Sheriff Travis shows up and asks why they were questioning his daughter; yeah, Emily is his daughter, or stepdaughter more likely, since her last name is different. Pete gets mouthy, but it’s just a cover to snag Marzotto’s keys, which he left on top of the gas pump.
Myka and Pete head for Marzotto’s office and Pete admits the first vibe he had was about his father, a firefighter. When he was eleven, he had an overwhelming feeling his father would die, but didn’t warn him; his father died that night saving two people in a house fire. That explains why Pete doesn’t ignore his vibes anymore … and why he carries around a Firefighter’s badge. They check out Marzotto’s office and Myka notices his books are out of order. She finds the small book behind the others and wonders if it’s the artifact they’re looking for. Pete opens the book very carefully, finding the Italian quotation on the flyleaf, and a cut-out section where something was hidden; whatever it was had an odd shape, with fluted edges. Back in Washington, Dickenson finally manages to get a line on Warehouse 13, but is interrupted by Mrs. Frederick waltzing into his office and telling him that Myka and Pete now work for her.
They’re interrupted by Ms. Soliday coming into the office. She threatens to call the Sheriff, but admits she and Marzotto used to be involved romantically, which is why she has a key. Soliday says Marzotto dumped her for Emily, who then broke his heart by getting involved with Cody. She figures that’s why Marzotto killed himself. Pete asks about the artifact and Soliday says they should talk to Emily; she’s at a party that’s being thrown for the opening of the play, and Cody’s there with her since she dropped the charges against him. Soliday says she wants to come with them, so she can be there for Cody after they confront Emily.
At the warehouse, Artie finally gets the portrait back to the office, then collapses from the strain, vowing to lose some weight. In Seever city, Pete notices the indentation in the book matches a fancy comb that Soliday is wearing in her hair. He didn’t really need that clue to figure out something was wrong with her, since she starts ranting about how Cody can’t be harmed because she’s protecting him, and that he doesn’t need anyone but her in his life. Before Myka can pull over, Soliday grabs the wheel and flips the SUV into the ditch.
Myka wakes up in a hospital with Dickenson standing over her. He says she’s been out for two days (and Pete’s still unconscious), but there’s someone there who can help her. It turns out to be her dead boyfriend, Sam. He tells her it was his own fault he got killed in Denver, since he jumped the gun instead of following the plan. He says there are others who need saving and exhorts her to get up … and she wakes up on the road beside the crashed SUV. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to believe this is actually Sam’s ghost, or just Myka’s subconscious telling her what she already knows. Probably the former, since she did have Houdini’s “contact-the-dead” wallet, but the wallet is back in the warehouse now, so I’m not sure why it’s still affecting her. Maybe the effect lingers, or maybe she was already living with Sam’s ghost (in a manner of speaking), and the wallet just manifested it more clearly.
Myka pulls Pete (and the book) out of the wreck, but there’s no sign of Soliday. Pete mentions the comb in her hair and how it probably fits the indentation in the book. Myka notices Pete is bleeding—his dad’s badge got jammed into his gut—but he says he’ll be fine. Artie calls to show them the portrait he found, of the woman with the comb in her hair. They say they know who has the comb and he rattles off all of Soliday’s attributes like he’s already met her. He says the comb once belonged to Lucrezia Borgia and acts like a “Renaissance roofie” to affect people’s brain chemistry. The comb will want to recreate Borgia’s bloody reign and is using Soliday’s own fear of being alone and desire for Cody to do it. Pete mentions the party for the opening of the play and Artie says if they don’t stop it, the comb will affect everyone at the party and then spread over the entire country in an orgy of violence.
At the party, the college kids are getting their groove on and Cody and Emily make up, which pisses Soliday off to no end. I’m not sure if her jealousy is just her fear of Cody not depending on her anymore, or if she actually wants to bang him; he’s a good-looking young dude, so maybe it’s both. Soliday is pretty hot, so he could do a hell of a lot worse. Soliday uses her comb to scatter light from the bonfires into a prismatic array, putting the whole crowd into a trance. Pete and Myka show up and Pete’s gut tells him he should make a direct approach, while Myka flanks. The zombie-like crowd parts to let Pete through, then closes in behind him. Soliday has the mesmerized Cody pick Emily up and prepare to toss her in the bonfire.
Pete tries to get through to Cody, but he’s too whacked out to listen; Soliday says Emily’s death scream will trigger the mass freak-out, so Pete pulls his gun. But Cody decks him, leaving Myka to slip in from the side, her own gun pointed at Soliday. Soliday taunts Myka about Sam’s death (though I’m not sure how she’d know about that), then mesmerizes her with the comb. Myka is about to shoot herself, so Pete zaps her with the Tesla-gun, but before it can recharge, Cody picks up Pete’s gun. When Cody tries to shoot Pete, the gun is empty … Pete took out the magazine ahead of time; I assume he was following another vibe. Myka (who recovered pretty quickly) decks Soliday and puts the comb into the purple neutralizer goo, which sends a wave of energy over the crowd, bringing everyone out of their trance. Everyone’s memory seems to be screwed up, including Soliday’s, who doesn’t remember all the crazy shit she pulled … although I assume the feelings that prompted it are still there.
Later, Artie shelves the portrait and the book/comb in the warehouse. At the boardinghouse, Dickenson calls Myka to tell her she can choose to come back to her regular job, or keep working for Warehouse 13. He says Pete will be staying with the warehouse job no mater what she decides, and that she only has five seconds to make up her mind (since Mrs. Frederick is sitting in Dickenson’s office). Myka hangs up without answering, which I guess means she’s sticking with Frederick and Warehouse 13. Outside the warehouse, the football returns and Pete gleefully tosses it back into the air.
This was a pretty good opening episode. Pilots are hard to judge because they have to establish the premise, give us enough to make the characters interesting (but not so much as to kill the mystery), and send them on an adventure that gets wrapped up by the end of the show. I think this episode did a pretty good job of doing all those things … I’m at least sufficiently invested to want to see more episodes. I’ve seen reviews of Warehouse 13 where it was called a low-grade X-Files, but I never actually watched X-Files, so I don’t have to worry about endlessly comparing it to that show; I can take it as it comes and decide whether or not I like it. The show does remind me of The Librarians (which I love) with its ensemble cast, arcane knowledge, and vast secret repository of artifacts. I’ll have to see if the parallels continue. I like the Warehouse is a mix of modern and older technology, especially the Steampunk trappings. I particularly like Artie’s keyboard, which has keys that remind me of an old typewriter my mom had. I haven’t really gotten a feel for the main characters yet, beyond the obvious, so I think I’ll need more time with them before I make up my mind on how much I like them. So, I hope you’ll join me next episode to I continue the journey into the Warehouse … who knows what we’ll find.