Episode Title: "The 40th Floor"
Writers: Benjamin Raab & Deric A. Hughes
Director: Tawnia McKiernan
Previously on "Warehouse 13':
Weeks ago, FBI Agent Sally Stukowski (Ashley Williams) called in Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore) and Artie Nielsen (Saul Rubinek) to investigate what turned out to be an artifact painting. However, Sally switched the painting before Steve and Artie could retrieve it, successfully infesting the Warehouse with a horde of mechanical bugs.
Later, Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti) and Steve were incapacitated while returning home with a cursed doorknob. Using an artifact to probe the mind of a dog that witnessed their attack, the team realized that Sally was working with an organization that was undermining the Warehouse with their own arsenal of artifacts.
As Artie tells Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) and Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) that Sally may be responsible for the deaths of four Warehouse regents, we see Sally interrogate a fifth Warehouse regent with the cursed doorknob before allowing the woman to burn to death. Pete and Steve track down Sally to a bar in Atlanta, but she feigns ignorance when they confront her. Sally makes a break for it but she is put down by Myka. Pete spots Sally's partner, Marcus Diamond (Sasha Roiz); who drives off before Pete can fully realize his connection to Sally. The team quickly uses an artifact on Sally to determine where she's been within the last 24 hours.
Following the location on the map to a large office building, Artie leads the entire Warehouse team to the location and he quickly realizes that something is strange. After knocking out the guards, Pete and Claudia are sent to find Sally's partner while Steve interrogates Sally off-site. Artie and Myka head to the 40th floor and they find three of the remaining Warehouse Regents: Adwin Kosan (Faran Tahir), Philip Petrov and a woman named Jane (Kate Mulgrew). Meanwhile, Steve is surprised by the sudden appearance of Mrs. Frederic (CCH Pounder); when Sally claims that the Regents are the real enemy.
At the secret Regents meeting, Myka and Artie have trouble convincing the head of security, Jackson that the Regents are under an immanent threat. As they attempt to leave via the elevator, the line snaps. Myka and Artie use a 1890s grappling hook to hold the elevator up long enough to get everyone off before it falls. But the lower floors of the building are magically corroding away, effectively trapping the Regents and the Agents. Meanwhile, Mrs. Frederic begins torturing Sally with an artifact to learn how to save her friends and colleagues; which visibly distresses Steve.
Pete and Claudia track down Sally's latest accomplice, James Aquino as he attempts to withdraw a large sum of money from an investment firm. When they corner him, he uses a spray paint can to threaten the manager; whose coat bursts into corrosive flames when touched by the paint. Aquino gets a large lead on the duo, but Claudia hacks into his GPS system and begins slowing him down with bad directions. At the building, Myka and the rest realize that help won't arrive in time and they need to escape immediately. Jackson dies after becoming infected by the corrosive affect and he warns Myka to protect Philip at all costs.
Soon enough, Phillip is pined down and he transfers a gold bracelet to Jane before the corrosive effect catches him. Elsewhere, Sally finally breaks long enough to tell Mrs. Frederic that the paint can is from the Berlin Wall, but Steve pulls a gun on Frederic to stop the torture from continuing. Sally takes the opportunity to break free and escape. Elsewhere, Pete and Claudia trap Aquino, but he chooses death by corrosive effect rather than crossing the man he works for. Pete and Claudia neutralize the spray can, but it doesn't stop the effect. Inside the building, Artie and Adwin escape through a window washing rig, but Myka and Jane remain trapped.
Theorizing that the spray can responds to strong emotions, Pete paints a peace symbol over the Anarchy symbol and the effect starts to reverse itself just before it reaches Myka and Jane. In the aftermath, Steve tells Claudia that Mrs. Frederic fired him for insubordination and he says his goodbyes to her. Elsewhere, Sally says that they may be able to turn Steve, but Marcus kills Sally on orders from their wheelchair bound boss; whose face remains hidden. Back at the devastated building, Myka introduces Pete to Jane… and he immediately recognizes her as his mother.
When "Warehouse 13" goes for a more serious tone, it often produces some of the better episodes of the series. This was a really strong episode that set up the remaining storyline of the season and it was the first time this year that the anti-Warehouse 13 plot was given a proper spotlight.
There was an impressive tension throughout the script as Artie and Myka found themselves in more and more dire situations. By the end there was an actual sense of desperation to their actions and Pete's that really sold the jeopardy of the situation. If there's an all-out war coming with the currently unnamed enemy, then the Warehouse 13 team just barely survived the opening shot. What's going to happen when the Warehouse itself comes under attack? It's been two episodes since the enemy "bugged" the Warehouse and that still hasn't been addressed yet.
I would have been annoyed at Sally's easy death if that role had been cast better. Ashley Williams just wasn't right for the part and this was the first episode where she was almost watchable. Even then, Williams was still wildly overplaying what should have been an intriguing character. At this point, death was the only thing that could salvage Sally.
It's not clear why the face of the evil boss in the wheelchair is being hidden, since he doesn't appear to be anyone that we've met before. But if he turns out to secretly be Pete's dad, I'm going to be rolling my eyes for days. I don't recall every detail of Pete's backstory, so I'm not sure if Jane was ever mentioned before. That revelation may have been meant as a surprise, but without knowing more about her coming into the episode my response was more of a "huh" than anything else.
Kate Mulgrew was tolerable in the role of Jane and I liked the dynamic that she had with Myka. However, Jane seemed like just another disposable Warehouse Regent. Although I'm enjoying the expansion of the Regents mythology, their deaths don't carry much impact if we don't know anything about them. If Mulgrew is sticking around for a few episodes, that could change. It was also hinted that Jane is now in possession of an artifact that is the last line of defense for the Warehouse. If that doesn't put a big target on her back than nothing will.
The strength of this episode is that it found something important to do for all of the core Warehouse team members… Except Leena, who once again wasn't around. Pete's best moments came when his usual overly emotional responses actually came in handy when using the cursed spray paint. Claudia's GPS voice was amusing and the episode was also a good showcase for Artie and Myka as a team.
Which brings us to Steve, the new guy who has been a little under served this season. All of the information we know about Steve's background came out in several forced expository ways. This was the first time that we really saw Steve make a decision based upon his beliefs; even if Sally seemed to be exaggerating the effects of the torture in an obvious bid to gain Steve's sympathy. Now that Steve is off of the team, there's only one way his story can go… straight to the anti-Warehouse team if they can convince him that the Regents are secretly evil.
Although I have to say that even if the Regents are evil, Sally's side lost the moral high ground when they started killing innocent people around the Regents. Real heroes aren't going to let "collateral damage" go so easily.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.