Monday, August 16, 2010

Eureka - "Momstrosity"

Kevin (Trevor Jackson) fumes, while Jack (Colin Ferguson) and Dr. Grant (James Callis) clash over their relationships with his mom.
Photo Credit: Syfy
Review by Matthew Rasnake
Season 4 - Episode 6

In this episode, we revisit the classic sci-fi trope of AI gone wrong, while the Carter/Grant rivalry for Allison's affection heats up and draws Kevin in as a pawn, of sorts. We also get to see some serious developments in Henry and Grace's relationship as well.

I have to admit that I am generally a fan of stuff dealing with anthropomorphic robots, especially cute little ones like this episode's Emo. (As an aside, Tony Stark's lab "assistants" were one of the highlights of the first Iron Man movie, for me.) So, the scenes with Emo running around acting cute were fun for me, but I think many might have the opposite reaction.

The AI malfunctions also gave the new Deputy Andy a chance to shine, as I don't think the old Andy would have feltquite... right, playing the hyper-attentive Romeo routine. Maybe the new Andy is growing on me.

The slowly escalating competition between Jack and Dr. Grant goes up another notch, with both characters verbally codifying their intentions. Frankly, while I'm glad to see Carter finally stepping up his game a bit (and admitting to himself how he feels), the chest-thumping guys' guys trying to out-do one another is the kind of storytelling cliché that I find less than interesting. Besides, we've already gone through all this before with Nathan Stark v. Carter, with Stark coming out the winner in earlier seasons (before his atoms were spread to the four winds, anyway). So, re-hashing the male power struggle at this point just seems unnecessary. I'd rather see Carter and Allison developing their relationship in a more adult way. Maybe it's just me.

All that being said, the rivalry does give Jack and Grant a few opportunities for some nice tête-à-têtes, one of which sends Kevin running off into the woods. I think my favorite exchange of the episode was Carter's "It's only a matter of time..." speech, ending with a comment about Grant's "one functioning kidney." Grant's reply: "Both my kidneys function fine, thank you." Jack's response: "Well, the day's not over, is it?" This kind of exchange rarely makes much sense, but it's always fun, and these two actors play it perfectly.

The other major development of this episode is Henry's breaking down and (even sooner than I'd anticipated) telling Grace about the time travel and altered timeline. I have to admit, I thought they'd play it out at least a couple more episodes, but they handled it well. Grace, obviously, was appropriately distressed, but as we've seen, she's a strong character, and seems to handle the news as well as one could expect. The episode ends on a somewhat hopeful note for the two characters, but Grace's ultimate reaction to the revelation remains to be seen. Perhaps all my earlier suspicion of her is completely unfounded, and she'll end up being as strong, resilient, and simple a character as they're trying to make her seem, however, I still think there's a distinct possibility for some major revelation down the road, and that Henry's admission in this episode may be the thing that really sets her story in motion. I don't think I'll be surprised, either way.

A couple other items from this episode worth mentioning are that it seems our boy Fargo is quite a good driver, and surprisingly calm and competent behind the wheel in a crisis. I like seeing him not being the buffoon for once (though he had plenty of other opportunities this episode). Also, the scene between Allison and Larry was pretty humorous... I think there may be a seed planted here for Larry's character that could bear either some funny or dramatic fruit in later episodes.

I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. There were more than a few great elements to this show, and everything tied in nicely to make it a well-rounded ensemble episode. And what can I say, it may be terribly clichéd, but I do love "malfunctioning AI" stories, and they pretty much played with it from every possible angle in this one episode. It's definitely worth watching, though it is perhaps not a first-time-viewer episode.

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