By John Keegan and Gregg Wright
As expected, "Eureka" takes a step back and delivers the first experiment-gone-wrong-of-the-week (EGWOTW?) of the season. And alongside it, the episode mixes in a bit of light drama surrounding the Astraeus crew's difficulties with settling back into the real world, including the beginnings of Fargo's recovery from Holly's death. I can't remember if it's always been this way, but I like that the standard operating procedure for "Eureka" is to explore the characters' current mental states during the downtime from the myth-arc episodes. Even if it doesn't always work as well as it should, the intent behind the idea is greatly appreciated.
This episode's "EGWOTW" is a bit on the average side. I enjoyed it to a certain degree, but it's certainly not as memorable as many past EGWOTWs (yeah, that initialism isn't really working). What's more interesting is everything that's going on with the characters while they deal with this new crisis. Fargo, of course, is in the grieving process, and he doesn't like it one bit. After an amusing scene at the "bereavement lab" (props to whoever thought of "bunny therapy"), Fargo turns to technology to help him get past his grief. It's a clever way to use Fargo as a source of comedy even in the midst of his grief, though I'm undecided as to whether it's a better choice than just dealing with his grief more directly and seriously.
Meanwhile, Carter, Zane, and Grace have their own issues to deal with. Carter's encounters with the virtual Jo have made him supremely uncomfortable around the real Jo, and Zane seems to simply resent the real Carter for what his virtual self did. It sounds preposterous, and it kind of is, but it helps a little to hear Zane reveal that the virtual characters are based pretty directly off of their real counterparts, meaning that Carter and Jo getting together isn't actually all that unbelievable an outcome, given the circumstances. The drama seems a bit forced, but I suppose I can buy it. Carter has always been a big kid in a man's body, and Zane seems to gravitate towards conflict with his peers.
Grace, on the other hand, has tended to be more of the mature type, so I would have expected her to be more proactive about dealing with her psychological state. Instead, she chooses to avoid Henry until he finally approaches her and gets her to open up. I've always liked the Henry/Grace relationship (at least as far as I can remember), probably because they've been such a well-adjusted, healthy, happy couple for nearly the entirety of their time together. They just seem to go so well together. So it seems a bit unusual for Grace to not simply talk to Henry about her problems. Still, she has more of an excuse to be bothered by her experience in the Matrix than Carter and Zane. Virtual Henry was pretty creepy.
I think that my favorite scene was the one that closed the episode. I've mentioned before that I like how the show has handled Isaac Parrish. And in the review for the previous season's finale, I referred to i09's review as being a better-written version of what I was thinking at the time. Parrish is an ass, but I've always found him to be a sympathetic character who deserved more development (and Wil Wheaton certainly seems to be enjoying the role). So I was glad to see a return to Parrish's more serious side when he encounters Fargo and attempts to comfort him, in his own odd way. It's probably the single most effective scene in the entire episode. It makes sense that Parrish and Fargo might find some common ground in the wake of Holly's death, given that they were originally rivals for her affection. I hope this season continues to expand on Parrish's more human side, just as was so successfully done with Deputy Andy.
There is one little development that could be a clue as to where the season is ultimately headed, and it's underplayed to such a degree that I almost forgot to mention it. The Astraeus crew's experience in the Matrix has resulted in their brains continuing to emit "zeta waves", and this is tied in pretty directly with the "fireflies" threat. My speculation as to what this means for future episodes likely won't end up being very close to the truth, but it seems like it's only a matter of time before these zeta waves start affecting something else in the real world.John Keegan is Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision. Gregg Wright is Critical Myth's reviewer for Eureka.