From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Eureka: “If You Build It…”

It’s just another Friday in Eureka. The mysterious signal mentioned in previous episodes is considered a harbinger of something from space following said signal. Jo Lupo got an awesome new police car – which allows a moment of product placement before we get back to the real issue at hand: General Mansfield (the one that fired Carter a few episodes back) has ordered Allison Blake to prepare a defense strategy for Eureka. Any Eureka defense strategy will be crazily high tech.

Carter’s first problem? Stuff around town has gone missing. Weather vanes, parking meters. Carter’s desk chair. All of it is found out in the countryside in a couple of strange looking mechanical contraptions inside a crop circle. No aliens yet, though. The assumption to be made here is that this is a weapon and a part of the Planetary Defense. The truth is weirder than that.

“If You Build It…”, if you’ll excuse the repetition, builds the signal story arc of Eureka and is a change from the usual one-off episodic nature of the show. This is an episode the writers have built to with small hints and teases and finally pay off with a full episode based around the signal and what is coming. It’s also an episode that builds for the next one. It’s an episode with purpose. In terms of what Eureka does, this is a very serious episode and a complete tonal change from “It’s Not Easy Being Green”. Viewers looking forward to another silly episode might be disappointed, but “If You Build It…” is a dark and well done episode. Things get bad, and then they get worse. “Ignite as in burn the sky?”

Carter’s second problem? Those strange mechanical thingies might be plasma generators and the townspeople of Eureka are pulling a MacGuyver and building it themselves…except that what was once a plasma generator might be something far more dangerous.

One good question, though, is why are our heroes (Carter, Allison, Tess, and Henry Deacon) not affected, but so many other non-name characters are (Zoe Carter not withstanding). The initial explanation made sense, but when the problem and the zombie-walking gets worse, the initial explanation holds less water. So – why do the characters with names get to stay normal? What’s the mechanism for choosing? That’s one thing that the writers never address.

The ultimate ending of the episode – with that sense of wonder about what that is and how it could be…is fantastic. The preview of the next episode wonders if the payoff will deliver, but this was an outstanding set up.

Got a question for you all: What’s your take on Tess? She’s the new scientist working for Allison Blake, and I think she’s a great addition to the cast. She’s a bit biting and bracing, but I think she’s a great compliment for Carter. I’ve heard some complaints about her, though. Does she work for you?

Joe Sherry lives near Minneapolis. His nonfiction has appeared in Fantasy Magazine and at the Sacramento Book review. He blogs about all sorts of genre goodness at Adventures in Reading.

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