By John Keegan and Gregg Wright
Come to think of it, I'm surprised that it's taken "Eureka" this long to do an episode like this. Carter's role in the show has always been that of the average joe; the guy that the audience can most readily relate to. So considering the show's usual subject matter, it's only natural to imagine a scenario in which Carter's intelligence is artificially boosted. I don't know why I never thought of the idea before, because it's an old staple of the genre, but it makes perfect sense for "Eureka". And the timing couldn't really be better.
I do think that it's a little unfair to call Carter "dumb". He's spent the entire show coming up with clever, outside the box solutions that save the day. Carter specializes in no single area of science, so he's often the best person to take a step back from a problem and see it as a whole. The episode does briefly acknowledge this, near the end, but I think I would have preferred a different approach. There was a good argument to be made for why Carter is better off the way he used to be, but the episode could have made that argument much more effectively by having Carter's brain-boost wear off in time to allow Carter to come up with the life-saving solution anyway.
Still, seeing Carter as a complete genius was just about as fun as I'd hoped it would be. Giving Carter a face to gleefully rub it in was funny enough, but even better was seeing Marcus quickly get over his annoyance and join forces with Carter on some merry escapades. There's a bit of a sloppy tie-in here with Carter's alpha waves. I appreciate the effort, but it seems forced. By the end of the episode, Carter seems to have earned Marcus's respect, somehow. This is where giving Carter a chance to prove his worth without the brain-boost would have really improved the story.
One of Smarter Carter and Marcus's experiments has a very interesting result: the return of "Evil" Andy. Oh, it's fairly brief--and it didn't spiral into a multi-episode arc, as I'd hoped it would--but it was still a joy to see the immensely likable Deputy Andy make his shift to psychopathic monster. I hope that this isn't the last we see of Evil Andy, as his return in an even greater role would be an important catalyst for driving events closer to a fulfillment of the prophecies of the Matrix.
This week's B story is a continuation of Holly's plight. Zane and Henry have a rather bold plan to actually build Holly a new, organic body to inhabit. But there is significant risk involved, meaning that Fargo isn't likely to approve, so it's Jo's job to run interference with the nosy Dr. Parrish. I was glad to see Parrish again, but this is, for the most part, more of Parrish in his smarmy jerk role. The character has shown potential to be much more than a caricature (a somewhat tragic figure, he is), so I'd rather see the season spend more time developing that side of him.
This episode isn't quite what it could have been, but the entertainment value of a somewhat reckless, genius Sheriff Carter, along with the re-appearance of Andy in a villainous (and sadly brief) role, is enough to make the episode something of a stand-out in the season. I just think that the myth-arc progression has been disappointingly sparse. There have been tantalizing hints that something bigger may be on the way, but little actual change occurring outside of Holly's plot. Maybe it's just that this is the final season of "Eureka", and my expectations for a good, closing story arc are a bit too high.John Keegan is Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision. Gregg Wright is Critical Myth's reviewer for Eureka.