The original tag line for Syfy’s Eureka was “Small Town, Big Secret.”
Now that the show is in its fifth (and final) season, the only secret is how they’re going to tie everything together before bowing out. If you ask me it would take a town full of geniuses to figure out how to do that, but … hey, isn’t that what Eureka is about in the first place? A town full of geniuses?
Here is a general recap of the show:
The Global Dynamics research facility sits in a town called Eureka, Oregon. The folks there pop out awesome inventions like Lady Gaga manufactures hit songs. For fifty years every cool tech gadget ever invented (with the possible exception of the suddenly toxic Facebook) was birthed in Eureka by the geniuses who call the town home. Naturally, traction happens when something goes awry, and every episode has at least one thing run amok. It’s up to a few key people to get things patched up by the time credits roll. These people include, but are not limited to: the brawny sheriff, Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson), the amazingly gorgeous Dr. Allison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), the quirky Dr. Douglas Fargo (Neil Grayston), the multifaceted Zane Donovan (Niall Matter), or the also amazingly gorgeous Jo Lupo (Erica Cerra).
Longer story arcs bind groups of episodes together and interpersonal relationships are highly encouraged, as are rampant misunderstandings, catastrophes, jealousies, mistakes, pranks, etc. Nasty villains pop up, and why wouldn’t they since even a can opener made in Eureka could probably be used to destroy (or save) the world in the wrong (or right) hands. The show became famous with its legion of fans for using science, pseudo-science, and fringe pseudo-science all in one fantastic mélange that somehow managed to take place in a relatively normal-looking town in Oregon.
Fresh sets of crazy gyrations continued for four seasons because the show’s creators (Andrew Crosby and Jaime Paglia) and its writers enjoyed delving in alternate timelines. A group of characters moving through time would change the timeline in the present day, gumming up the works when they returned. Characters would change roles (For example, Fargo was originally assistant to one scientist, then to another, and now is actually the head of operations at Global Dynamics in the show’s current iteration. Go figure.).
In the fifth season there must be closure, so a lot of the wild shenanigans are being manipulated so that there can be a satisfying sendoff in the season’s finale. In particular, Fargo and Dr. Holly Marten (Felicia Day), a rocket scientist who was killed in Season 5 because she learned too much, but who still seems to have an identity in the computer matrix, must somehow get back together and there is a great deal of dramatic tension as they attempt to discover a way to make it so.
And now, without further ado, on to a review of Season 5, Episode 5: “Jack of All Trades.”
You’ll chortle, wriggle, and in the end, enjoy yourself watching the Eureka episode “Jack of All Trades.” You could call it “Invasion of the Body Swappers,” if you had a semi-idiotic sense of humor like I tend to have.
Along with three sets of body swaps, there is also a confession, a reunion, some dark material, and a marriage proposal, all in a single hour-long show. That may be a record of some sort. This episode has more ups and downs than a trip to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Six Flags: Magic Mountain all in a standard two-day weekend.
The nicest part is that the episode doesn’t feel as forced as it could, and that really should stand for something, shouldn’t it?
Synopsis in 200 words or less: Jack swaps bodies with Fargo, Zane, and then Allison in fairly rapid succession as a result of latent Matrix effects. Acting like an anthropomorphic WiFi hotspot, Jack’s body hopping makes for broad hilarity until he swaps with Allison as she is operating on his own body to fix the problem. Such corpus crossings lead to (mis)understandings, which help establish new sub-plots, while accelerating others. For example, Zane discloses to Fargo that Dr. Holly Marten is still present within the GD matrix simulation. Is she partially there, wholly there, or something in-between?
The episode works very well and lends itself extremely well to having a legitimate cliff hanger of some sort prior to each commercial break. In the end you really begin to feel sorry for Jack in that he really doesn’t want to swap bodies, doesn’t understand why he’s swapping bodies (he is the 30 watt bulb in a pack of GE Super Brights, after all), and needs a lot of help to stop swapping bodies. The timing is perfect when Jack pops the question to Allison at the end of the show in the diner. Really, Jack, If you can’t understand by that time that you love her and want to be with her forever then you never, ever, ever, ever will.
Sorry, that was a few “evers” more than 200 words.
Since it is the show's last season things simply have to get wrapped up. Wedding plans will pop up from time to time in the buildup to what will be the wonderfully crazy Jack and Allison wedding ceremony, probably in the season’s finale. That's something to look forward to with great anticipation.
But dare we hope that it’s a double wedding? Could there be room at the altar for Fargo and Holly, too? Will she somehow be rescued from where she is, and what will it take for Fargo (and Zane) to make that happen?
If the scientists in Eureka had invented the Magic 8-Ball, at this juncture it would say: "Better not tell you now!"
This show is a fun ride, so you’d better keep tuning in. One final note about Eureka that is not a secret: things are certain to get much more ratcheted up before the wrapping up is done.
Tom Carroll is a writer and artist who has worked in video games, online media, and comic books. Most recently he worked for Interplay Entertainment (Giants: Citizen Kabuto for PS2) and Rockstar San Diego (Midnight Club series and Red Dead Redemption). He wrote P.O.D.: The Nexus (2008, Zondervan Press, a division of Harper-Collins), and has his own comic property, The Gun Nose Chronicles, in development. He currently writes for Game Developer magazine and Comics Bulletin.