After a long break, it’s finally time to head back to the quirky little town of “Eureka” for the second half of the third season. Last time we checked in, Allison was expecting a child with her deceased husband, Nathan Stark and Sheriff Jack Carter had just been terminated by General Mansfield. Oh, and Henry Deacon won the mayoral election, a little nugget that will become crucial by the time the episode is over.
The mid-season return, “Welcome Back, Carter” jumps back into things and quickly sets about resolving some of the cliffhangers introduced in the mid-season finale–namely, getting Carter back into position as the sheriff of the little town of geniuses.
And while I understand that Carter is the lynchpin of the show, I kind of wish they’d kept him off the job for a bit more than one episode. In a lot of ways, it made last year’s mid-season cliffhanger feel like little more than an attempt to keep fans interested than the producers actually deciding to take a chance and shake up the formula a bit. Of course, I knew as soon as Jo quit because she was passed over for sheriff in favor of the mechanical Sheriff Andy that there was a reset button lurking out there.
But even if the end point is one that’s clearly visible from the start, we can at least have some fun on the ride, right? After all, “Eureka” may not always be ground-breaking, but it is, at least, usually fun.
Not so much with “Welcome Back, Carter.” It felt like too much a by-the-numbers type of script for the series. There’s some wacky scientific dilemma facing the town (in this case, gravity wells) and Carter’s the only one who can seem to figure these things out. I found myself wishing that Sheriff Andy might have been a little better at his job in certain stretches of the episode, if only to have some kind of balance to the “Carter is always right” attitude that permeates the show. Don’t get me wrong–it is fun to see Carter use his practical, “street learning” to help solve cases, but here it just felt like it was a bit forced.
As did a lot of the episode. Part of it may be the “case of the week” format the show often falls back on. We meet a new random scientist each week, who may or may not be behind whatever is going on. And in a storyline that had Carter having to face a better brand of sheriff as well as the emotional ramifications of leaving the town that has become his home and his friends, both plots felt like they got shortchanged. I found myself wanting more of the Carter’s dilemma storyline played out other than the contrast between he and Sheriff Andy and I wanted the science dilemma of the week delved into a bit deeper than what we got here.
“Welcome Back Carter” would probably have played better if we’d run through the entire third season without a year long break. However as a mid-season return, it felt a bit flat and disappointing. Hopefully they can get back on their game next week…