Review: Eureka 3.11 – “Insane in the P-Brane”
Original Air Date: July 24, 2009
Rating: TV-14 (Recommended for people 14 or older)
Screencaps from VisitEureka.net
This week’s episode is a good, solid, Eureka episode. The writing is tight, and the characters are well utilized.
We start off with Sheriff Carter driving along one of those long roads surrounded by giant trees. This road is becoming a regular feature of Eureka, and why not? It reminds us that Eureka is located in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s probably easy to get permits to film on whatever isolated road the good old Eureka crew has found for establishing shots.
Regardless of the reason, we start off with Sheriff Carter talking on the phone to Jo, who is telling him to head over to Global Dynamics. Apparently, he has to break up a disagreement between two scientists (those scientific disagreements can get pretty nasty, if you’re not careful). So, he’s driving along the road, talking about this disturbance, when suddenly he has to slam on the brakes. There is a car parked in the middle of the road.
It turns out to be genius of the week, Dr. Tess Fontana. She had to take a quick bathroom break. She had parked her car on the side of the road, but this is Eureka, so it ended up in the middle of the road. Whaddaya gonna do?
So the Sheriff gives her a warning and heads off to Global Dynamics. It turns out Dr. Murray Drechmeyer and his partner Mary-Beth are having a little disagreement. Mary-Beth wants to continue their important electromagnetic field experiments. Murray, on the other hand, wants to play with his turd detector.
Actually, make that TIRD – Thermal Imaging Reactive Disturbance. He’s no Egon, but he does have a machine that apparently detects ghosts. His TIRD detector is going crazy. He’s convinced he’s about to make contact with the other side (because of all the TIRDs, of course), and if they continue with the original experiments, it could scare off the ghosts.
Sheriff Carter understandably thinks Murray is nuts, and decides to let Mary-Beth continue with the original experiments, seeing as how that is what Global Dynamics is paying them to do. Murray, of course, is not pleased.
But hold on to that thought. It’s time for the subplot. Sheriff Carter’s sister Lexi is hanging out at the jail with Jo. Jo happens to glance at her computer screen just in time to see an intruder alert.
“Hey, what’s the name of your baby’s father?”
“Duncan,” replies Lexi, which is the name of the intruder. Just as Lexi is explaining that he is a free spirit, and it’s best not to tell him that he’s going to be a daddy (he works for the World Health Organization, after all, and you wouldn’t want to pull him away from all those people he’s going to end up saving), he walks into the room. Turns out he decided to drop in on Eureka and say hello.
Back at the main plot, Sheriff Carter arrives at the Café Diem just in time to learn from Murray that: “my TIRD meter is going wild.” Just at Carter is ready to tell him to stop being such a loser, the place goes wild. Cups start flying, saucers start spinning, espresso machines start not making noise… it’s mass hysteria. Murray decided that the disturbance was a result of his ghosts, and declares that he will hold a séance tonight.
Cut to the subplot — Duncan and Lexi are having some coffee, and Lexi decides to be a lying hose-beast, and tell him there’s another guy in her life instead of telling him he’s going to be a father. Duncan, not realizing he’s being duped, decides he wants to meet the new special guy.
Back to Carter. It’s night, and Carter shows up to the séance just in time for nothing to happen. At least, nothing happens in Café Diem. Back at the jail, however, Jo has been researching Murray Drechmeyer’s background, and finds out that his mother was a mystic who claims to speak with thousands of dead souls “from the other side.” Carter and Murray— who has started referring to himself as the Dreck-Man — rush over to the jail just in time to witness another poltergeist.
Time for the subplot again! Lexi is meeting with her baby daddy, trying to come up with an explanation for why her made-up boyfriend is not joining them as promised, when a hapless Fargo walks by. She states that they are going steady, Fargo plays along, and he ends up getting himself invited to breakfast with Mr. Baby Daddy and the increasingly dishonest Lexi.
Back to the main story. Dr. Blake is talking to genius-of-the-week Tess. We realize she’s an old friend of Dr. Blake’s. She is officially in Eureka for unofficial business (presumably this is a setup for future episodes). But forget that, orders Dr. Blake, because it’s time for Tess to team up with Sheriff Carter to find out what the heck is going on.
They spend a little time investigating, building up some sexual tension, and finally stumble across one of those doohickies that always seem show up in Eureka and provide Carter with plenty of job security.
They don’t really think too much of the doohicky, until they realize that nobody can see them. Tess and Carter can interact with each other, but nobody else. It’s as if they are ghosts. People even walk right through them. This is the part where we viewers role our eyes and sarcastically comment that we didn’t see that coming.
Tess and Carter retrace their steps, maintaining sexual tension the whole time, and find the doohicky (the technical term is MacGuffin). They also stumble across an unconscious H.J. Johnson. Apparently, H.J. Johnson is known as “the traveler,” and the doohicky belongs to him. Tess theorizes that the doohicky is a portable reentry pad.
You see, Carter and Tess have been transported into the 5th dimension. H.J. Johnson, before he was knocked unconscious, figured out how to cross over to the 5th dimension using p-branes (the theoretical membrane that separates the dimensions). Obviously, he built a portable version of his doorway, that is what Carter stumbled on, and that is why they got transported to the 5th dimension. This also explains why the “Dreck-Man” kept on sensing those disturbances. They decide to turn the device on while Murray “the Dreck-Man” Drechmeyer is playing with his TIRDs. Of course, he thinks it’s his dead mother trying to make contact.
So Murray decides to boost his signal with a giant, super powerful electromagnet (obviously the Dreck-Man is the non-genius of the week). H.J. Johnson (who apparently regained consciousness when we weren’t looking) shows up to warn that the electromagnet could end up killing Tess and Carter if they try to use it while the super giant electromagnet is turned on. Of course, Murray, unable to hear this information because he’s not in the 5th dimension, throws the switch, and fries the whole place.
Time to check in with the subplot: Lexi is still too scared to tell her baby daddy that he’s going to be a daddy. What a hose-beast!
Okay, back to the main plot. Henry and Mary-Beth figure out that all this stuff has something to do with p-branes. Henry of course knows that H.J. Johnson was doing something with p-branes, so they rush into his lab just in time to see Tess and H.J. arguing. Well, Henry would see Tess and H.J. Johnson arguing if they weren’t stuck in the 5th dimension. Henry theorizes that if he turns off H.J. Johnson’s equipment, then it will stop all the disturbances. H.J. Johnson realized that, if the equipment is shut off, HE and Carter and Tess will be stuck in the 5th dimension forever. He heroically jumps on the portal-pad doohicky and tries to break through (even though his portable doorway is not yet calibrated).
He dies in the process. But Tess gets an idea. As time gets tight, Tess does her calculations, and they jump on the pad just before Henry shuts down the machine. They make it just in time.
The only thing that’s left is to tie up the subplot. Will Lexi get the nerve to stop being a lying ho-bag? Sort of. She reveals that she’s pregnant, and Duncan reveals that he needs to think about it.
Wait, there is one more thing: Sheriff Carter figures out why Tess was here in the first place. There is an alien signal. Something is coming (cue ominous music).
As I said initially, the writing is pretty tight on this episode. It did get a little crowded, though, because there were three significant geniuses of the week: Murray “the Dreck-Man” Drechmeyer, Tess Fontana, and H.J. Johnson. But this was actually a pleasant deviation from the normal format. It also was a good way to advance the ongoing story arc. There apparently are aliens out there — or something, and we get to wonder for the rest of the week what it could be. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that it’s actually Dr. Nathan Stark. Perhaps, instead of being killed when he saved the world from a time paradox, he was simply transported to the other side of the galaxy. It could happen!