I tried to guess how the season is going to end, knowing the Eureka writers’ penchant for cliffhangers, and boy, my guesses are nowhere near the mark and what a hanger this cliff turned out to be.
Or maybe not so much, since within minutes of the episode’s ending, we get a sneak preview of next season that kind of kills off some of the suspense of who will be back or not. (I hate you, SyFy!)
To summarize the season-ender:
Because of an Astraeus-related energy leakage, little blackholes randomly pop up around town, coalescing into one big blackhole that is going to End All Existence As We Know It. Carter eventually fixes the problem with some well-placed anti-matter neutralization scheme, while losing his jeep in the process. Again. I swear, someday I’m going to watch all the episodes of this show and count exactly how many vehicles he has lost so far. (Yes, I was actually muttering that while watching his jeep get sucked up by the blackhole.)
All this happens while the folks in GD prepare to launch Astraeus to Titan.
Zane and Jo say their goodbyes, with Zane telling Jo in his unique way that she is special to him (“You were never a hookup”). Holly and Fargo finally succumb to their hormones soon after Fargo confesses he loves Holly. Grace as mission commander prepares the crew and ship while Henry, who is ground commander, oversees the other aspects of the trip. Senator Wen shows up, seemingly determined to get Astraeus to launch on schedule no matter what (and acting just a tad suspiciously).
Meanwhile, Allison agrees to move in with Jack, and Jo decides that she needs to find herself, going on a figurative “walkabout” around the country in her car.
Everything seems to point to another run of the mill episode until the last few minutes when all hell breaks loose and the ground crew loses control of the launch sequence. Allison, who is not a member of the ship's crew, is trapped inside the ship without a bio-pod that is supposed to preserve the crew during the trip. Despite Carter’s best efforts, the ship disappears, going on FTL (Faster Than Light) travel with the final coordinates unknown to the crew on the ground.
In other words, they just lost their ship. Did I mention cliffhanger?
That really is one heck of a way to end the season. As the screen blacks out, we don’t know whether or not Jo will be back in Eureka at all, or even whether the Astraeus crew survives or not. Then there’s the added heartbreak of watching Carter seemingly lose Allison again. And, finally, there’s Henry, who promises Grace that he will be watching her every second, not knowing exactly where the ship has gone. The specter of loss is palpable as the episode ends.
It is an okay episode that zooms to awesome because of the way the episode ends. Great buildup, great acting, great ending. Although I knew something is going to go wrong as it always does in this show, I did not expect it to go this way at all.
The show is all about goodbyes this time. Henry and Grace has a sweet farewell scene as Henry helps Grace into her bio-pod. They face six months of separation, and these two still have the best relationship among the characters. When Grace is addressing the crew earlier in the show, Henry is shown watching from the control room, beaming with pride instead of the stereotypical jealousy we might have expected from more cartoony characters.
Jo and Zane leave with their relationship in limbo. They are the least well-written subplot at this point because we really don't see why they shouldn't be together. They've fought so hard and gone through so much to be with each other, then we're thrown a silly Runaway Bride-style plot contrivance of "finding yourself first" to keep them apart. And putting the romantic angle aside, I always thought that if I'm going to venture to unknown space, I would prefer to have a weapons expert like Jo covering my back.
Parrish is sufficiently humbled by this time because of his failure to be a part of the team despite all his best efforts. He and Fargo do eventually strike a friendly (for them) goodbye to each other, with Parrish telling Fargo to not "die out there." I'm guessing he will play a role next season in trying to get Astraeus back.
Then there's Allison and Carter who are finally going to move in with each other and settle down. Instead he loses her again. I am kind of used to this idea by now; for four seasons, we watch Carter on the verge of winning Allison and somehow letting her slip away every time. I had been wondering how they're going to write this separation into this episode since all the other romantic entanglements have been cleared, and I think the way it is eventually done has been well-foreshadowed. It doesn't lessen the emotional impact when it finally happens, though, which is really a reflection on how good the actors and writers are.
My favorite scene — besides near the end when Carter is desperately trying to stop the ship from launching while Allison frantically watches him from inside the ship — is when Jo and Carter are saying goodbye. The two share a tender farewell as Jo leaves Eureka to figure out who she really is, not just a person who tries to live up to the expectations of other people, i.e. her father, brothers and boyfriends. This basically explains her ambivalence towards her relationship with Zane and her withdrawal from the Astraeus mission. The chemistry of Jo and Carter, however, has always been great, and this scene is no exception. We clearly see how deep their friendship runs, and we share Carter's unhappiness in watching Jo leave the town.
One other scene that made me pause is when Henry gives a little speech just before they start the launch sequence, quoting President Jack Kennedy on the mission to send man to space. I thought it is a little sad knowing how the current administration has effectively killed our space program. Not that I disagree necessarily. I think that eventually private enterprise will take over and do a better job than a bloated, bureaucratic NASA. But still, we have just unceremoniously junked half a century of space history that is regarded as one of the greatest achievements of this country. Watching the entirely fictional excitement of the GD crew on their pioneering trip to Titan made me a little envious of those who witnessed the real pioneering space missions 50 years ago because I doubt we will see any more in my lifetime.
Oh, and Henry ends his speech with “God bless.” How awesome is that? It is just like the last Christmas special where everyone was saying “Merry Christmas” and singing religious carols. I’ve been accustomed by our cultural gatekeepers to not expect any reverent Christian references in popular media, and it always amazes me when something as simple as “God bless” is uttered on TV. It is one more reason I really like this show, not because I’m a Christian but because they often dare to defy political correctness.
All in all, a great episode. The latter half of season four has been consistently good, with strong writing and great character development, and this episode is not an exception. It has been a thoroughly enjoyable season. I’m not so sure about where the fifth season is headed, given the previews I’ve seen after tonight’s episode, but it will be the last season, and I will be looking forward to it. Hopefully the same writing team is still on board. Meantime, there is a Christmas episode to tide us over until next year.
WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?
Yes, unless you are totally allergic to morally superior hippies (is that an oxymoron?). Dave Foley guest stars in a funny turn as bomb-expert-turned-annoying-pacifist-and-environmentalist Dr. Plotkin. He does get manhandled by Jo and punched by Taggart, so I’d say it all evens out in the end.