By John Keegan
I love how this season is becoming an exploration of "The Temptation of Artie". After three seasons of pounding away at the dangers of using artifacts, because there's always that titular downside, Artie finally found an end that justified the means. Using the astrolabe is going to have serious repercussions, and Artie is struggling with what that means.
The fact that he did it for somewhat altruistic reasons is a nice spin on things. He wasn't corrupted by exposure to an artifact like Sykes, or sent into mental instability due to a personal loss like H.G. Wells. He's not even hungry for power like MacPherson. Artie is convinced that he did the wrong thing for the right reasons, since it meant saving the world, and that might just make him the perfect "villain" as a result.
It also changes things up a bit, since we are conditioned to believe that Brother Adrian must be the "Big Bad", given that Artie is the character that we have always sympathized with in the past. But is it so clear cut? Yes, Brother Adrian is tossing out threats, but on a certain level, he's absolutely correct. He doesn't know the full story, and Artie isn't being as forthcoming as he should. In a perfect world, they could work together to manage the problem, but circumstances (and personality flaws) are getting in the way.
Of course, the problem is that resolving the issue could mean using even more artifacts, and thus compounding the side effect. The connection between Claudia and Steve represents another example of how trying to make things better, and knowing about the artifacts, is a dangerous combination. Claudia's decision to bring back Steve is a ticking time bomb in a number of ways, and the temptation to use another artifact, with unknown consequences, to break Claudia's connection to Steve could send everything spiraling out of control.
Tying it all together is Hugo's nephew, and the front-and-center example of how trying to use an artifact tends to go badly. It's nothing new; we see this on the show every episode. It's just interesting to see how the agents are falling into the same kind of trap that they've chastised former agents for not avoiding. It all points to the real "enemy" this season being themselves, which is a great place for the series to go, given the central premise.John Keegan is Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision.