The end of Eureka
After a respectable run of 7 years and 5 seasons, Eureka aired its long-awaited final episode this week.
Occasionally, a particular Eureka sub-plot would really stand out and shine brightly - like the Astraeus Mission selection and training - while others would fall flat, and even feel forced - like the time-line jumping stuff. Overall, however major plot-lines blended well, and created a good framework for the primary drama.
The show is goofy. At its core, it’s a very silly show, with some ridiculous characters. Often the show took real theoretical fringe science hypotheses and applied them in silly ways that actually stripped most of the science out of them. In a way, though, this was actually part of the show’s charm.
In the first few episodes this approach rankled a bit, but once it was clear the writers were doing this deliberately it became part of the humor. A big part of watching the show was knowing that at some point the characters woukd do something that makes no sense, prompting you to turn to the other people in the room and say, "This isn't how it works!" The characters, however, take it all very seriously.
The tone and formula of the show change dramatically over the years. The evolution may be gradual enough not to have noticed if you watched the episodes as they aired, but watching an early episode compared to a later one is a clear difference, mostly in the body-count.
The first episodes established the show as a sort of police procedural, murder-mystery. Each week, the characters would find another scientist dead in mysterious circumstances, and the actual science and goofy toys were background, at least when they weren’t getting in the way of solving the case with good ol’ police-work. The theme was very clearly anti-gadget, as the scientists would always try to solve their dilemmas with fancy tools, and Sherriff Carter would frequently show them up by simply being down-to-earth deductive, understanding very little about the technology, but being, in practicality, smarter than all the geniuses in the town.
Over the first couple seasons this morphed into a disaster-of-the week sort of show, where the cast of scientist characters expanded and became more stable (they stopped getting murdered all the time), and each week, they would mess up some experiment or some ‘perfectly safe’ device would run-amok, and Carter would have to use his down-to-earthness to save the town, running into danger and doing what needs to be done, not because he was the one who deduced the solution (though he usually still did, in his way), but simply because he was the Sheriff, and saving the town from itself was his job. Slowly, his character became less deductive and more emotional.
The one sub-plot, other than the primary romance, which ran through the entire series was the investigation of espionage. In the first episodes, it became clear there was a spy or group of spies in the town, and each time they were ferreted out and defeated, there were more to find. During the great timeline shift of the third season, the nature of the threat changed in such a way that it wasn't fully understood until the final handful of episodes.
This line was handled extremely well, and while it had some holes in it, it was a satisfying resolution, which reminded me of the finality of the Q sub-plot in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Meaning, one might not even realize until the final episodes that a particular sub-plot was one of the most important aspects of the show, with it actually tying the whole show together season for season.
In general, the series ended well. When it came time for the show to end, the network allowed an additional half-season as a way to tie everything up, and the writers made a great ending out of it. Those 13 episodes unhurriedly bring all of the open lines to a satisfactory close, with every major character undergoing some interesting final development. For example, the evolution of Felicia Day’s character in the final episodes was particularly interesting and compelling.
By the end of the finale, every character is in a place that makes sense for them, and you know that the story the show set out to tell is over, even with some surprises which bring the series full circle.
For all its warts, Eureka was a great little show that I looked forward to every week, and I’m sad to see it go, though glad it got the ending it deserved. If you never got into Eureka, or lost track of it at some point, now is the time to watch. Every episode of the series is available over on Amazon Instant Video.