“There’s always a downside” has been the Prime Directive of Warehouse 13 from the beginning and especially this season, so it’s only fitting an episode is named after it when things finally hit the fan. Episodes that are willing to shake it up a little bit are good because they don’t end up in a predictable rut, and this one is a prime example. For starters, Artie (Saul Rubinek) pairs Pete (Eddie McClintock) with Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) and Myka (Joanne Kelly) with Steve (Aaron Ashmore).
Both missions seem innocuous at first. Former Agent Hugo Miller (Rene Auberjonois) sends word that he’s come into possession of a bag of marbles with artifact properties, and down in New Orleans there’s a therapist whose patients are all being miraculously cured. As it turns out, Hugo’s artifact isn’t just any bag of marbles, but one he spent most of his career trying to track down. Bobby Fisher’s marbles apparently help one to hyper-focus with a side effect of uncontrollable rage. What should be a simple task hits a snag, though, when Hugo’s nephew Hunter (Justin Kelly) cops to lending out a few of the marbles to four of his prep school buddies.
One by one, Claudia and Pete track down the marbles from the raging schoolboys, faltering only when they discover that the last marble has been confiscated by the headmaster; a headmaster with a grudge against a school board that has been cutting his funds. Claudia is slowed by chest pains and a wallowing Hugo but they both snap out of it in time for Hugo to realize where the headmaster is going.
The final showdown between Pete and the headmaster takes place in the school’s furnace room and after exchanging blows to the head with a handy metal pipe, Pete uses the marble himself shut down the deadly gas bomb. A guilt-ridded Hugo promises never to be reckless with artifacts again.
Meanwhile, down in the Big Easy, Myka and a brooding Steve have to work a little bit to discover that it is former PTSD-sufferer Alex (Sam Huntington) who is responsible for all of his fellow patients’ rapid recoveries. The mystery is drawn out however, when they can’t determine how he is taking on others’ pain.
All that is clear is that Alex is growing progressively weaker from the weight of the pain he is taking on. Steve confronts Alex in an effort to persuade him that death isn’t a good trade for being able to play the blues like a musical prodigy but Alex isn’t convinced and offers to take Steve’s pain instead. The onslaught of emotions is far more than Alex bargained for, but he refuses to let go.
Steve blurts out that Claudia is going to die, prompting Myka to separate them with a football tackle that would make Pete proud. But she seems more shaken by Steve’s admission than anything else and it doesn’t take her long to ferret out the truth: The metronome’s side effect is that Claudia experiences whatever physical pain Steve should be having.
Steve isn’t the only one whose secret is uncovered. Brother Adrian (Brent Spiner) comes to call on Artie while everyone is away, laying a clever trap to get the truth about the astrolabe out of the recalcitrant agent. When Artie realizes he’s been had, his first instinct is to run, but Adrian merely follows, unwilling to relent until the whole story behind why the astrolabe was used is poured out. He’s unsympathetic and vows to reverse what’s been done no matter what it costs Artie.
Again, good shows are ones willing to break the status quo and now we have in Warehouse 13 a man who should be protecting the planet, but who is willing to sacrifice their safety to save his friends. Meanwhile the man who seems as if he should be the villain is serving instead as a guardian; albeit one who is willing to use whatever means he and his secret society brothers deem necessary. It should be interesting to watch this play out over the rest of the season. And to see how many artifacts are swapped for black crystals before things finally come to a head.
Warehouse 13 airs Mondays at 9/8c on Syfy.