As part of the Sci Fi Channel rebranding to Siffy – I mean “Syfy” – Eureka has been moved to Fridays. If the first episode of this new season was any indication, the switch from Tuesday to Friday bodes well for this show. It will serve as an excellent lead-in to Siffy – I mean Syfy’s – biggest night in Scyence Fyction. I mean, Science Fiction.
Just to review, the semi-cliffhanger from Eureka season 3.0 had ended with General Mansfield firing our hero Sheriff Jack Carter. Town handyman Henry Deacon also got elected mayor. This will be important for the deus ex machina at the end of this episode.
At any rate, we open with a scene in which (former) Sheriff Carter interviews with the Department of Homeland Security, being called upon to talk about his previous job. Of course, he can’t talk about it, but the scene leads into a quick little montage of what the show has been like up until now. It could have veered into pointless nostalgia territory, but it only lasts a few seconds, so it was actually a nice touch. We then get a few minutes of re-introducing the characters and setting up the episode, including the fact that a certain Dr. Fielding is setting up (former) Sheriff Carter’s pregnant sister with a state-of-the-art baby crib. It uses gravitation fields to create a space of zero gravity for the baby to float in.
Then we get into the meat of the story. Instead of replacing (former) Sheriff Carter by promoting Deputy Jo, the powers at the Department of Defense has decided to bring in a robot. According to Fargo this is really exciting because the new robot sheriff is “the biggest advance in robotics since the Furby.”
Being replaced by a robot proves cold comfort for (former) Sheriff Carter. Being passed up for promotion once again is even colder comfort for Jo, who quits on the spot.
Cut to a nice little dialogue between Dr. Blake and General Mansfield, in which Dr. Blake tries to convince General Mansfield that a robot sheriff might not be the best choice for chief law enforcement officer, especially in a town full of cutting edge technology that always seems to go wrong. You can tell by General Mansfield’s response that (1) he’s an idiot, no matter how good he looks in a uniform, and (2) the General is going to be the show’s new source of bureaucratic consternation for our heroes (now that both Thorne and Dr. Stark are gone, somebody’s got to do it!).
Let me take a moment to talk about the robot. The writers could have gone with a creepy pseudo-Cylon CGI. Or, they could have gone with a cheap copy of Data From Star Trek The Next Generation. Instead, they went with a charming, human-looking character, who is not only eminently qualified but also really good with people. In fact, his charming smile and “aw shucks” charm are perfect. In fact, it’s too perfect.
Sheriff Andy is a great character, and the casting director gets a huge pat on the back. Eureka works best when it finds the right balance between drama, camp, and straight-forward comedy. This character serves as the glue in this episode that prevents these competing forces from tearing the episode apart (which has happened in quite a few episodes in the past). In fact, the character is so good that, if Syfy knew what’s good for it, they would make Sheriff Andy a recurring character. Or, even better, they would give him a spin-off show. He is that good.
Okay, now back to the play-by-play. S.A.R.A.H. informs (former) Sheriff Carter there is a traffic accident. Carter, despite not being the Sheriff anymore, rushes to the scene because apparently Dr. Blake was involved. She is okay, but it turns out the traffic accident was caused by trees randomly falling into the road. (Former) Sheriff Carter wants to jump into action, but Sheriff Andy shows up just in time to handle the situation with efficiency, effectiveness, and just the right amount of small town charm to set everyone at ease. Actually, probably too much charm. (former) Sheriff Carter seems as edgy as usual.
In the next scene, Andy comes to collect (former) Sheriff Carter’s uniform. Carter takes the opportunity to give Sheriff Andy some sheriff to sheriff advice. He’s like, “You should investigate why these trees fell,” and Andy’s like, “No, I got it under control,” and Carter is like, “Trees don’t fall on their own! Were the roots rotted? Is there an evil plot to frustrate traffic patterns? In Eureka, this sort of thing needs to be investigated, because this town is full of genius IQ people without a lick of common sense,” and Andy’s like, “But I did an investigation and I got nothing,” and Carter’s like, “I got your investigation right here.”
That’s not really how it goes down, but that pretty much is the subtext. Sheriff Andy reassures (former) Sheriff Carter that his investigation was thorough, gives him a nice “aw shucks” slap on the back, and takes his leave. Carter decides to investigate on his own, but that’s kind of difficult when you need to have a security clearance to scratch your back, much less ask people if they’ve been conducting any experiments that could cause a bunch of trees to fall down for no reason.
So (former) Sheriff Carter suggests that Sheriff Andy follow up on a few things, and just as he’s leaving (because Andy is both charming and super competent), the parabolic satellite he was checking randomly falls on him and squashes the robot like a bug. The shot of his feet sticking out from under it like the wicked witch of the East is hilarious. It’s one of the scenes that will probably make the YouTube rounds.
Fargo eventually repairs the mechanical sheriff, but not without a running joke about Sheriff’s Andy’s name database getting in the way. Carter and Andy have another one of those “I’m telling you, you gotta check things out,” “no, really, I know what I am doing” conversations. Sheriff Andy still doesn’t think there’s anything wrong until, without explanation, his car flattens, with him inside, once again crushing Andy like a bug. This flattening of the sheriff thing is getting good.
Fargo fixes him once again, but this time can’t repair his language programming, so Andy spends the next couple scenes speaking Dutch. Fortunately, Dr. Blake speaks Dutch (I mean, of course she does, right?). Don’t worry, the running gag pretty much works.
Anyway, they figure that perhaps the local gravitation expert who has been creating little gravitational anomalies as a new kind of baby crib has something to do with things randomly getting heavy and crushing the new Sheriff every time he turns around. They rush to talk to Dr. Fielding (kudos, by the way, to the “set up characters in the beginning for a good payoff in the end” department).
They recruit Dr. Fielding to figure out a way to stop these gravitational anomalies, but their attempt only makes it worse. Turns out mister “gravity’s no object” has no idea what he’s doing. In a Eureka version of Match.com, he hooked up on the Internet with some brilliant scientist from Germany, and really SHE is the one who came up with all this manipulation of the gravity thing.
“Hmm..” thinks (former) Sheriff Carter, “these anomalies seem to crush Andy at every turn. It’s almost as someone doesn’t like Andy. Hmm… who would have a beef with the new Sheriff, and also have the knowledge to squash him by manipulating gravitational fields? Hmm…” (He doesn’t actually say that. It’s in the subtext, though.)
He rushes home to accuse his daughter (of course) of posing as a German genius scientist in order to make sure they wouldn’t have to move away. She’s like “What the..?” and when I was watching this, I was like “what the…?” And even my wife who was surfing the internet and not even paying attention to the show said “What the… ?”
Of course, there was a method to Carter’s madness. S.A.R.A.H., the artificial intelligent house, is listening. When she realizes that Carter’s daughter Zoe is going to be pinned for the crimes she had committed, she steps in. S.A.R.A.H. admits that she was behind the mysterious Sheriff-crushing gravitational fields. Turns out S.A.R.A.H. REALLY likes (former) Sheriff Carter. At this point, all those people who initially said “what the… ?” suddenly say, “ahh… I get it. Carter was getting a confession. He is good. Damn good!”
But there is still a major problem. The gravitational fields are out of control. The inept attempt to stop them just made it worse. What are we going to do?
To quote S.A.R.A.H., “A graviton pulse explosion could restore gravity to normal.” Sheriff Andy is the perfect choice. He has to go into the super dangerous gravity area, bring a supercharged power supply, attach it to the gravity chamber, set it to go off like a bomb, and run!
But he chickens out. The robot that was created to be the perfect Eureka Sheriff turns out to be a complete coward! But don’t worry, (former) Sheriff Jack Carter is here. He volunteers. He’s not the best choice because he’s not super strong and made of metal and able to see gravitational anomolies with super robot vision, but at least he’s not a coward!
So he drives into the gravitationally infected area, gets caught in a gravity well, and nearly dies. Luckily, seeing (former) Sheriff Carter in action gives Andy a new backbone. He rushes in, uses his robot skills to help Carter do what he needs to do, and sacrifices himself in the process of saving everyone.
Well, nearly sacrifices himself. He reboots, screaming “ouch,” in the way that (former) Sheriff Carter usually does. But now what? You have a robot that was made to be sheriff but is definitely not sheriff material, and you have a former sheriff that you just fired. What are you going to do?
Remember how I mentioned in the beginning of this review that Henry Deacon was elected Mayor last season? It turns out that Sheriff Andy found a loophole (as a robot, he has the entire 250 page town charter inside his computer brain). The Department of Defense can only fire the Sheriff with the written consent of the Mayor. When Sheriff Andy realized he was too much of a snivelling coward to be a sheriff, he mentioned the loophole to Mayor Deacon. So things are back to normal. Sheriff Carter is back. Welcome back, Carter!
I just hope we get to see Andy again. I love it when he gets squashed like a bug!