Review: Eureka 3.17 – “Have an Ice Day”
Original Air Date: September 11, 2009
Screencaps from burgundy_shoes.
Eureka has undergone quite a few changes over these past few weeks, and this episode is no exception. The previews for this show had indicated Matt Frewer would return as Dr. Taggart, the eccentric Australian who made life so interesting in Eureka when he used to be a recurring character. I was excited because Frewer is what I call a shampoo bottle actor. That’s my name for those actors that have such a great stage or screen presence, they could read the instructions on the back of a shampoo bottle and make it sound interesting.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. We start this episode in Carter’s house. Carter is discussing with Zoe whether Carter is going to do the nasty with Tess. Of course, Carter doesn’t want to have that conversation with his daughter, so he heads out, but not before establishing the subplot: will Zoe show some stick-to-it-ive-ness and become a doctor?
Carter heads to that lonely highway surrounded by Pacific Northwestern trees (the one that, after Carter, is the most regular character on the show) to set up a roadblock. It turns out that Zane has been in the Arctic digging for ice for the last few months, and now he is returning with a giant ice core taken from the Arctic ice.
This ice core will help Global Dynamics figure out what was in the atmosphere millions of years ago. Spores, molds, fungus… it’s all in there.
There are two more problems. The first problem is that Zane is not himself. He gives everyone the cold shoulder, and basically walks around like a work-obsessed zombie. The other problem is that the ice core, technically speaking, was extracted from Russian soil. So a Russian security officer is in town to sign off on the drilling of the ice core. This means Carter has to run around making sure that the security protocols are up to snuff.
Back in the main plot, Dr. Taggart emerges from the deep freeze storage area, wearing a ridiculously warm-looking getup made out of various animal skins. He explains that he heard about the Arctic ice core extraction project while he was traveling the world, and signed up for the job (who wouldn’t?).
Zane shows up wearing a turtleneck made out of some super insulating material that Global Dynamics invented. This kept him warm while he was in the Arctic, and it will keep him warm in the ice cooler while he studies the ice core. Of course, he’s a total jerk and doesn’t say more than a few words to anyone.
Taggart, on the other hand, decided not to use synthetic clothing to keep himself warm (smart move). No synthetics for Taggart. Unlike Zane, he is perfectly willing to talk about himself and his clothing and his work. For example, he killed everything he is wearing, right down to his “walrus skin skivvies.”
Carter notices a bit of odd-looking ice that seems to have fallen off the ice core. It’s odd looking because it’s black, so he hands it over to Taggart for testing.
To summarize, we have the main plot: a prehistoric ice core. We have a subplot: will Zoe be a doctor? We have a sub-subplot: Zane is being a cold-hearted jerk. And we have another sub-subplot: Carter has to satisfy a Russian bureaucrat that the ice core will be safe before GD can start experimenting with it.
In the process of checking the security protocols, Carter discovers that Eureka has an emergency pneumatic vacuum tube communication system. It’s basically a super-duper version of those things at the bank drive-thru that you use to send your checks to the teller without having to get out of your car. It’s connected to all buildings within Eureka.
Carter heads back to the ice core and finds — in addition to the fact that the whole lab is covered in ice — that Taggart is frozen inside an ice block. He takes Taggart back to the clinic to thaw. Taggart explains that he was just standing there, doing his tests, and all the sudden it attacked, like some wild ice spirit creature.
Carter is like, “okay, Taggart, but before we start hunting Yetis, let’s check to see if the refrigerating system is malfunctioning.”
It’s time to check in with Zoe over at Café Diem. She found out from her personality test that she is supposed to go into robotics, not medicine. So, her boyfriend Lucas gives her a college level robotics kit. She says something along the lines of “I want to go into medicine, not robotics, you jerk” and I forget Lucas’s exact response, but the subtext was: “you’re blonde, you couldn’t possibly know what you want. Make a robot and you’ll feel better.”
Back at Global Dynamics, Jo and Carter are investigating the iced-over lab, and notice that Zane is still acting like a self-absorbed workaholic zombie. And he’s still wearing that super-insulating turtleneck (he must not like walrus skivvies). Jo is getting pretty annoyed about it, too, because she has been waiting months for Zane to come back from the Arctic, and that is a long time without a cookie.
Jo goes back to the Sheriff’s Office, where she and Taggart have a little conversation. In previous seasons, Jo and Taggart were an item. Taggart apologizes for having left town two seasons ago without saying goodbye to Jo and asks her for forgiveness. Jo is now dating Zane, who is both younger and has more hair than Taggart, so it’s pretty easy for her to forgive him.
Taggart also mentions he tested the chunk of black ice, and discovered that it’s black because it contains malformed ice crystals that grow at an incredibly fast rate. Carter speculates that this would serve as a great plot device in which the entire town gets frozen, forcing Carter to rescue everyone at the end, and asks Taggart to look into it.
This is the part where Eureka starts behaving like Eureka. Taggart is a typical Eureka genius, which is to say he has no horse sense. He therefore, doesn’t see the obvious connection between malformed super growing ice crystals and the fact that Global Dynamics is being frozen by an expanding ice core that they just brought back from the Arctic. Carter does, since he has common sense.
So Carter rushes to Global Dynamics to warn Tess of his suspicions, and she is like, “I’m a Eureka genius with a bunch of PhDs, so there’s no way I’m going to believe something so obvious. It’s just so annoying. Everyone is talking with everyone,” complains Tess, “but we still can’t find an answer.”
Carter gets an epiphany: “Maybe the one guy who’s not talking will have an answer for us.” He heads off to talk to Zane, thus pulling the first sub-subplot into the main plot.
But first we have to check in on the Zoe subplot. Zoe is having trouble figuring out why the power converter on her robot isn’t working. She’s about to shove the robot down Lucas’s throat when she realizes that maybe he is doing this so she will go to MIT instead of Harvard. He’s planning on going to MIT, and MIT doesn’t have a medical school. So, if he convinces her to go into robotics, maybe they can go to college together. It would be so romantic if the darn power converter would just work!
Back at Global Dynamics, Zane continues to act like a self-absorbed jackass. But Carter and Jo walk in on him just as he falls unconscious and starts sprouting ice crystals from his nose.
It turns out there were ice crystals growing inside Zane’s brain, repressing his emotional responses (and making him act cold-hearted). Henry found a way to slow the growth of the crystals, so Zane is back to his normal self for now. But it’s only a matter of time before the ice crystals start growing back and cause permanent brain damage.
Tess and Carter return to the ice lab, where Taggart explains that he found fungus in the ice crystals, which is why the ice is growing at a super fast rate. It’s basically ice-fungus from Earth’s prehistoric past. Taggart figures they could find a solution to this problem if only they could open up the ice core and start doing experiments!
Unfortunately, the Russian bureaucrat still won’t give the go ahead so Taggart can drill in the ice core. Carter notices that the bureaucrat is wearing a lot of really nice clothing. He realizes why the bureaucrat is giving Carter such a hard time, and it’s not because of safety concerns. Instead, he wants to stick around Eureka as long as possible with its good shopping and tasty café lattes.
Once Carter calls him on out, the Rusky gives in, but not before telling Carter why he is so desperate to stay away from the Russian Northeast. “You don’t know what it’s like to be a security officer in a town full of crazy scientists.” Carter is like “I know exactly what it’s like.” Ha! Score one for the Sheriff!
Now that Zane’s ice crystals have been (temporarily) repressed, he jumps into action. Taggart and Zane team up and start their experiments while Carter and Tess sit around speculating.
Why, if Zane and Taggart both were in the Arctic, was only Zane but not Taggart affected by these super growing ice crystals? What is the difference between these two men (aside from the fact that one of them used to be Max Headroom)? What protected Taggart?
Carter figures it out, of course. The difference is that Taggart is wearing walrus skin skivvies. Upon further investigation, we find out that the synthetic insulation that Global Dynamics developed acts as a catalyst to make the ice crystals grow faster. Since Zane’s clothing is made from the stuff, the ice got into his brain. The good news is that they know the cause of the growing ice crystals. The bad news is that the entire town is built from this special synthetic material that behaves like fungus fertilizer.
During the commercial break Zane and Taggart create a fungicide that could stop the ice crystals, but they don’t have a proper delivery system that will disperse the fungicide into every wall in every building in Eureka. Remember the emergency pneumatic vacuum tube communication system Carter discovered in the first act? I told you it would be a great payoff!
Café Diem has been frozen over, and the gang is trapped inside. Zoe acts quickly, and gets everyone into the back room, saving everyone by keeping them insulated. Carter shows up at the last minute, grabs a vial from Café Diem’s emergency pneumatic vacuum tube communication system, and saves the day with the magic fungicide.
So, everything is good in Eureka: (1) Carter saved the day. (2) Zoe realizes that she still wants to be a doctor even if the psychology test said otherwise. (3) Tess made it through her first day on the job without blowing up the place.
They even have a little closing scene where Tess decides to spend the night with Carter. Booyah!