Episode Title: "Second Chance"
Writer: Diego Gutierrez
Director: Constantine Makris
In the warehouse, Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) and Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) attempt to grill Artie Nielsen (Saul Rubinek) about Brother Adrian (Brent Spiner) and why he has been stealing artifacts from the warehouse. Artie refuses to engage with them about the issue and he sends them to a small town in West Virginia to investigate a man named Lenny who is apparently rusting. Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti) and Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore) also try to get answers out of Artie, but he keeps them on their quest to free Steve from the metronome. After finding a clue left by someone who was able to free himself from the metronome, Stave and Claudia head to Steve's home in New Jersey.
However, Artie's brief respite is broken when Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder), H.G. Wells (Jaime Murray) and Leena (Genelle Williams) confront him about his odd behavior and using the astrolabe to alter history. Under duress, Artie concedes that he used the astrolabe to restore the warehouse, save the world and prevent the deaths of Mrs. Frederic and H.G; both of whom appear to be unnerved by the account of their respective demises. Mrs. Frederic says that Artie did the right thing and that she would have done the same… but she wants to know the downside of using the artifact.
In West Virginia, Pete and Myka visit Lenny in the hospital and learn that he was stricken with the rusting effect shortly after coming into conflict with his boss at the local steal mill. When Pete and Myka go to the mill, they find the boss attempting to push his way past his striking workers. And after intervening, Pete and Myka witness one of the workers develop the same symptoms that Lenny displayed in the hospital. In New Jersey, Steve warns Claudia about his mother, Emma Jenks (Laura Innes); but Claudia is taken aback by how warm and friendly that Emma is to both of them.
Over tea, Emma tries to reconnect with her son even as he lies about still working for the ATF and he attempts to shut her out. Steve insists that he and Claudia are only there to accomplish something in the home, but Emma pleads her son to let her be a part of his life. Back in West Virginia, Myka distracts the steal mill boss while Pete searches his office for an artifact. However, they soon learn that a third victim has caught the rusting effect… and she doesn't work at the mill. Back at the warehouse, Artie explains that Brother Adrian is attempting to force him to undo the astrolabe's changes by stealing artifacts from the warehouse.
Artie also shares his fears that Claudia is evil that Brother Adrian warned him about, but Mrs. Frederic vouches for Claudia and insists that Brother Adrian himself is probably the evil that the astrolabe created. In private, Artie scolds H.G. for bringing Mrs. Frederic in on his secret, but H.G. insists that she is well aware of the dangers of time travel and she doesn't want to see Artie lost to them. Back in New Jersey, Steve and Claudia attempt to free Steve from the astrolabe. And to test the effectiveness of their solution, Steve stops the astrolabe… and nearly kills himself and Claudia in the process.
Emma sees her son dying and races to her side as Claudia manages to restart the astrolabe. Steve pushes his mother away and storms out of the room in anger and despair. Back in West Virginia, Pete and Myka track the source of the illness to a local gym, where several steal mill workers stage boxing matches. To get answers out of the crew, Pete actually steps into the ring with several of them for short boxing matches. Pete even seems to bond with Cody Bell (Pooch Hall), a fellow marine who also served in combat. But Cody takes offense to Pete's questions about his union leader friend and so he knocks Pete out.
After reviving Pete, Myka tells him that she was sure that she saw something strange when Cody flattened him. During Cody's exhibition match, he knocks out his opponent and Myka manages to record it. When Cody's union leader friend becomes the next rusting victim, suspicion falls to Cody himself. And the recording reveals a strange shield like effect coming out of Cody's arm as he connected the knock out punch. Back in New Jersey, Emma notes that Claudia is very much like Steve's sister and she relates the story about how her daughter was murdered. Emma explains that she didn't feel the death of the man who murdered her daughter would help anyone, so she fought to save his life. Steve took that as a betrayal of his sister and never forgave her.
Emma's words make Claudia realize that the key to escaping the metronome may lie with reconciling Steve and his mother. But when Claudia tries to broach the subject, Steve explodes with anger towards his mother. Emma tells her son that she never betrayed her daughter and struggles everyday to forgive the man who took her life. Claudia tells Steve to let it go, but he breaks down in tears when he admits that he can't. Back in West Virginia, Pete and Myka get an update from Artie identifying the artifact as a manifestation of Spartan shields from the Battle of Thermopylae. They theorize that Cody was struck with shrapnel at a museum blast in Iraq, which may have left the artifact inside him without even realizing it.
Cody overhears their discussion and runs away from them once he realizes what is happening. Cody returns to the steel mill and goes on a rampage, but Pete puts himself on the line as a way to force Cody to stand down. Unfortunately, this exposes Pete to the rusting effect and the repeated blows accelerate the illness in his body. Meanwhile, Myka confronts the steel mill owner and reveals that she knows that he faked his current identity and set up the accident that injured Cody's father and precipitated the clash with the union. By the time that Myka catches up with Pete, he is fading quickly. Cody volunteers to help Myka save Pete even if it costs him his own life by removing the shrapnel.
Myka's solution is to inject Cody's body with the neutralizing goo; which reverses the rusting effect in Pete and the other victims. Also, the steel mill owner ends his conflict with the workers in their favor after Myka blackmailed him with exposure for his crimes. Pete and Cody also part on good terms. Back in New Jersey, Steve and his mother finally have their reconciliation. But when Claudia attempts to take the metronome out of Emma's hand, it begins transferring to her and causes her to choke. In desperation, Steve destroys the metronome and finds himself freed from its effects.
Back at the warehouse, H.G. and Mrs. Frederic secretly take the astrolabe from Artie's hiding place. Mrs. Frederic tells H.G. to take the astrolabe and disappear, so that Brother Adrian will never be able to force Artie to undo their respective resurrections.
It's amazing to see the lengths that the writers of "Warehouse 13" will go to in order to avoid major consequences for the characters. Last season saw Mrs. Frederic, H.G. and Steve all die in the war with Walter Sykes… and all of them have been resurrected in a largely repercussion-free way. Only Steve had the limitation of being linked to the metronome and to Claudia herself. But the end of that plotline in this episode is so unsatisfying and sudden that it makes me wonder why it was even there at all.
It was simply too easy and contrived for Steve to be freed by basically hugging his mother and forgiving her. Or by simply showing his willingness to die for her. Claudia grabbing the metronome in that scene was also hokey and artificial, which demonstrated that the writer had to force that moment to make it happen. It didn't need to play out that way. Steve had a strong moment in his previous scene when he realized that he couldn't move on from his sister's death even if it meant his survival. The reconciliation between Steve and his mother happened so quickly that it didn't feel like an earned moment. It was more like the writer hit fast forward to simply end the metronome story here.
Laura Innes is never one of my favorite actresses, but she was adequate enough for her scenes with Steve and Claudia. The backstory of Steve's sister and the continuous reminders about Claudia's resemblance to her were pretty clumsily delivered. Even so, Aaron Ashmore and Allison Scagliotti still managed to make some of it work. Steve and Claudia are two of only three characters who routinely register on this show. But they deserved a better scripted resolution than this.
The other gem of "Warehouse 13" is Saul Rubinek's Artie. The beginning of this episode started off very promisingly, with H.G., Leena and Mrs. Frederic confronting him. And then nothing exciting happened. We got a lot of exposition about things we already knew instead of a good story featuring these characters attempting to find their own solution. The one thing that came out of it seemed like an excuse to write Jaime Murray off of the show for an extended period so she can be free to have a larger role in the upcoming "Defiance" series on Syfy. At least H.G. wasn't killed off this time. But riddle me this, "Warehouse 13" fans: given H.G.'s long established desire to go back in time and save her child, is it really a good idea to send her off with the astrolabe? That seems like a recipe for disaster, even if H.G. has the best of intentions.
Which brings us back to Pete and Myka, the "stars" of the show. The main plotline of this episode was incredibly boring. "Warehouse 13" was originally intended as a showcase for Pete and Myka's misadventures, but they've been overshadowed by better characters in the supporting cast and given a string of forgettable episodes. Both Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly can turn in strong performances when the script is up to par. Their roles in this episode were a waste of their talents and a waste of our time. Pete and Myka feel more and more like bit players because neither of them has a personal stake in the ongoing storylines. It could be argued that Pete and Myka are no longer characters in their own show. They are simply used as a device to explore the artifact of the week.
As much as I enjoy Claudia, Artie and Steve, Pete and Myka need to come back to the forefront of this series. "Warehouse 13" feels increasingly unbalanced. And it's hard to worry about any of the characters when no one stays dead or suffers for too long.