By John Keegan
At the end of the third season, Warehouse 13 was utterly destroyed, killing H.G. Wells and Mrs. Frederic in the process. Artie, Pete, and Myka were left standing the rubble, wondering what might come next. Meanwhile, Claudia was struggling with Jinx's death, and what she may or may not be able to do about it, given her access to various time-bending artifacts. It was one of the darkest moments in the show's history.
At the same time, it also included a number of hints that the damage could be reversed, most notably the stopwatch in Artie's hand. Many fans felt that this was a telegraphed reset button, and anticipated the events of the finale being wiped clean in a single quick stroke of the pen. Instead, the process of turning back time and preventing the destruction of Warehouse 13 (and all but Jinx's death) becomes the launching point for a fresh, even darker direction.
There was little doubt that the Warehouse would be restored; the only real question was the cost. One might have been able to predict that several main characters would be killed or otherwise severely wounded in the process of retrieving the artifacts necessary to facilitate the time loop. What wasn't apparent was the cost: the unleashing of a great evil that is likely to come back on Artie at some point this season.
It makes perfect sense for Claudia to be suggested as the instrument of that evil, because she's in a very bad place. After all, Claudia may have been a spunky, unbearably cute addition to the team, but she was also a former mental patient. Her stability has always been a question lingering in the background, and losing Jinx is likely testing her resilience at this point. She definitely seems to be struggling to keep it all together, and the end of the episode strongly hinted at the possibility she might take matters into her own hands.
The upshot of the situation is the restoration of Mrs. Frederic (fairly expected) and H.G. Wells (not at all expected). Mrs. Frederic may not be a huge part of the series, but she's fairly important within the context of the series' mythology; her loss would have massive implications. H.G. Wells, on the other hand, seemed to be at the end of her character arc; Jaime Murray also seems to be in high demand of late. This seems to indicate that H.G. Wells could continue to be a recurring fixture for "Warehouse 13", which would be much appreciated!
There's also the introduction of Brent Spiner's character to the mix. He's clearly in opposition to Artie and the gang, but beyond that, there's not a lot we know about him. I didn't even catch a name! There's every reason to think, however, that he's going to be the main antagonist for the season, perhaps sharing that role with Claudia. (And who doesn't want to see Claudia go into Dark Willow territory?) It continues the tradition of having great guest stars as primary villains.
It's a dark start to the season, but given where the third season left off, it's hard to imagine that it could have been anything less. Pete still manages to toss a few attempts at breaking the tension, but in keeping with the nature of the episode's tone, it often feels like fighting a losing battle. Something tells me that will be a common impression as the season wears on.John Keegan is Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision.