From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Eureka: “Ship Happens”

It’s just another Friday in Eureka.

So, the conclusion to last week’s episode (“If You Build It…”) featured the arrival of the source of the mysterious signal. It was a ship, which immediately invited all sorts of thoughts about aliens. Moments later Henry Deacon walked up to the ship, wiped away some soot, and revealed an American flag. The ship was ours, except nobody knew it was coming. Where does that leave us now?

In the opening minutes of “Ship Happens” Henry reveals that he built that ship twenty years ago. It was sent out, and then the program shut down. Allison and Henry have a nice moment remembering Nathan Stark (Stark argued against shutting down the program). It’s one of those character moments I keep yammering about being the core of the show, and even as a quiet moment it’s a way to remember a character who died and not pretend that because he left the show that he didn’t exist. The writers handle those moments very well.

Then the door to the ship opens and out pops…no, not Nathan Stark….it’s Kim!

You know, Kim. Henry’s former lover who twice died a couple seasons ago in an accident in Section Five w/ The Artifact. Turns out that she worked with Henry and helped design the computer program the ship used. It’s not really Kim, exactly, because she’s dead. But for the sake of talking about the episode, it’s Kim.

This gives Henry all sorts of opportunity to deal with his emotions regarding Kim’s death and face her again. Getting all of the data the ship gathered out of Kim is one of the two main storylines of the episode. The other is a series of mysterious electrocutions which Carter is trying to stop and solve.

In terms of satisfying the buildup of most of this half season, I don’t know that “Ship Happens” really delivers the goods. Taken out of context of the season’s story arc, the episode is fine, has some tense moments, and great character moments. Taken in context, I don’t think it really lives up to the hype.
With all the inherent interest built by teasing a signal from space and the potential threat (and discovery) that it…well…signifies, the first contact reveal of the ship being Eurekan in nature and having a long dead character as the lone passenger…it’s disappointing. There is so much more that could have been done, even if they didn’t want to go down an alien contact storyline. There’s no coming back from aliens, after all, but then why even tease this?

All I’m saying is that there better be a real payoff for this in the next few episodes. “Ship Happens” was decent enough, and it was certainly better than some of the other episodes this season, but the writers teased this episode for a month. They built up interest in the source of the signal and we get a 20 year old ship built by Henry and launched from Eureka? C’mon now.

Joe Sherry lives near Minneapolis. He blogs at Adventures in Reading.

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