Saturday, July 17, 2010

Eureka - "Founder's Day"

Review by Matthew Rasnake

Season 4 - Episode 1
"Founder's Day"

No question about it, 'Eureka' is back in a big way. Never afraid of seriously shaking things up--Henry is from several years in an alternate future, after all--the season four opener takes our 'Eureka' and tweaks it.

The episode opens with a “Previously, on Eureka” recap that includes a scene that never aired in a previous episode--throwing many 'Eureka' fans for a minor loop. In this scene, we see Jack and Tess (his new gal from last season) breaking up, presumably because she’s moved to Australia and their relationship can’t survive the distance. As confusing as this addition was, Jack’stongue-in-cheek reaction (“What? That JUST happened!”) after discovering that Allison already knows about the breakup is probably, as some fans have suggested, a sly little nod from the writers.

In true 'Eureka' fashion, there’s a big event taking place, and everything is going smoothly... for the moment. We get a nice little season opener with Jack running through town, meeting up with allthe various main characters in turn, effectively re-introducing us to their little quirks and relationships. Strangely, this intro to me felt like the most un-'Eureka' sequence of the entire episode... I can’t really put a finger on it, but it felt almost... forced, perhaps? 'Eureka' is usually afairly loose and organic feeling show, with characters naturally taking their places, and events naturally unfolding. There was certainly a bit of this, but it was just somehow off.

However, once the episode reached the first turning point, the 'Eureka' vibe kicks back in, as Jack finds himself transported back in time, along with Allison, Henry, Lupo, and Fargo. Allison and Henry manage to integrate themselves into their surroundings almost immediately, while Fargo and Jo land in jail, and Jack gets knocked unconscious. They soon find and rescue each other,and work out--in typical Eureka fashion--how they ended up here and how to hopefully get back.

When the time-shift is resolved Jack meets everyone in the center of town, where they find that things are slightly different... their time travel has changed things. As Miles O’Brien, in the ‘DeepSpace Nine’ episode “Visionary” quipped: “I hate temporal mechanics.”

Ultimately, this was a fun episode, and a neat season opener, especially considering the changes to the status quo. We’ll have to see how it shakes out, and how long they’re going to let it go on. Previous time travel stuff only lasted an episode or two, with reverberations throughout the series. While I'm ok with a bit of a shakeup, I have to admit I'm somewhat disappointed with a few of the character relationship developments. I did enjoy Jack and Allison’s little beat at the climax of the episode, as they are the couple I keep rooting for...

Aside from the possible rekindling of romantic tension between Jack and Allison, and the obvious character changes, there wasn’t a great deal of character growth. Jo and Zane had a great scene that was a really nice character moment for both, but I’m not going to spoil that for you.Unfortunately some of these moments were, in a way, wasted.

An interesting side-effect of the altered timeline is the chance it opens up to revisit previous characters and narrative threads. There’s a very real possibility that any of our long-lost friends could return... Stark, Kim, the weird little guy from “Invincible”... at this point, anything’s possible.

I haven’t yet mentioned the episode’s most intriguing new character--Dr. Blake--played by James Callis (Gaius Baltar on 'BSG') with a gorgeous, deep, and lilting American accent. Dr. Blake is a smooth, well-mannered guy, and obviously an important player in Eureka’s history. Callis plays him well--you can see the wheels turning as Blake is trying to figure Jack out, you can feel his shock at realizing that his machine actually brought people back in time, and you get swept up in his conviction to help these strangers get back home.

As much as I always appreciated Callis’ performance on 'BSG', his performance here is completely distinct--I never felt I was watching Baltar doing a bit in one of his fantasies. Callis really brings it home with his performance. I love that Blake will be a recurring character on the show this season, and I can’t wait to see how the character develops.

So as I said, 'Eureka' is back in a big way, with a plot driven reason to freshen things up. I’m surethey’ll not stray far from the proven Eureka formula, but we’ll get to meet some new characters and figure out how some familiar characters have changed. If this episode is any indication, it should be an interesting season, and if the rumors are true, we likely won’t see the timeline repaired before the season finale. As long as they continue to deliver the engaging, funny storiesthey’ve built their reputation on, I’ll be happy to go along for the ride.


  1. James Callis plays Dr. Grant.

    Dr. Blake is played, as always, by Salli Richardson.

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