April 29, 2013 2:30pm PT by Philiana Ng
'Warehouse 13' Boss on Season 4.5: 'We Have a Lot of Stuff to Clean Up' (Q&A)
Warehouse 13 is finally back after a lengthy break.
Seven months after the midseason finale, Syfy's veteran drama returns for the final 10 episodes of the season, which features a rich slate of guest stars including James Marsters, Anthony Head (THR broke the news earlier this month that he was playing a villain), Polly Walker, Kelly Hu, Joel Grey and returnees Jaime Murray and Kate Mulgrew.
The return episode, titled "The Living and the Dead," picks up immediately after the events of the shocking cliffhanger, in which Artie (Saul Rubinek) released the deadly Black Orchid Artifact’s infectious "sweating sickness."
"We have a lot of stuff to clean up but I can promise you that the season 4.5 finale leaves more things untied," Warehouse 13 creator/executive producer Jack Kenny tells The Hollywood Reporter of the opening episodes. "We’ll tie things up, we’ll fix it, but then Artie is going to have to deal with what he did.”
Kenny hinted that the season ends on a cliffhanger, "one of the scarier" ones for the series. “Everyone’s fate is up in the air, including Mrs. Fredric (CCH Pounder)," he teased.
Head, who will join in on the dysfunction for the final three episodes of the season, will go head-to-head with Marsters' Bennett Sutton/Count St. Germain and a warehouse team member, which will fuel a fifth season. (Syfy has not yet officially renewed Warehouse 13 and Head is co-starring in The CW drama pilot The Selection, which is contending for a series order.)
Kenny talks to THR about what to expect in the final 10 episodes of the season, the aftermath of Leena's death and what he's planning for season five.
The Hollywood Reporter: What did you want to focus on in season 4.5?
Jack Kenny: Season four, including season 4.5, is dealing with mortality. We’ve established that they're a family, they care about each other, they’re connected. The next logical step for us was how does a family deal with variations of mortality. Artie’s in trouble now. How does the family pull together and deal with that? That’s what we really wanted to [explore] throughout the 20 episodes, and of course, include our usual sense of humor. The show is never going to lose its ability to find humor in the darkest of situations because I think that’s kind of where humor lives best. After we get through the whole world being poisoned by the Orchid, [Warehouse 13] deals with the sense of personal loss and how you feel, how do you move forward and continue to do your job and heal as family members? Artie has the most healing to do but everybody has been cut raw by this. Artie and Claudia’s (Alison Scagliotti) relationship is in a difficult place right now. So it’s going to take some healing, there’s a lot of that.
We're also going to drop some bombs. Myka (Joanne Kelly) is going to have to deal with a major life-changing, and she and Pete (Eddie McClintock) are going to have to find a way to deal with it but it’s also going to be informed by the fact that they love each other. It’s fun when characters get to a place like this because you don’t have to write as much. They say so much just looking at each other with a shared moment.
THR: Because viewers are already so familiar with how they tick?
Kenny: That’s why it’s so satisfying for us and the audience to sail through this. It’s also allows us to have fun with the jokes when we need to.
THR: How does Artie infecting the team and the world change things for the core group moving forward?
Kenny: They all recognize that it wasn’t Artie who did it. They all recognize that he was under the enthrall of an artifact so the job becomes not how do we kill Artie -- who killed Leena (Genelle Williams) -- the job becomes how do we help Artie through this. How does Artie find his way through this? That’s why we introduce in the fourth episode Kelly Hu, who plays Abigail, someone who is there to continue running the B&B but actually she’s a psychotherapist; Artie’s her first patient who’s not going to be a willing one.
THR: How does Artie deal with his "betrayal," for lack of a better term?
Kenny: There’s major conflict at the very beginning because Artie doesn’t want to talk about it, Artie won’t deal with it. He’s retreated to the center reachings of his own mind and is essentially comatose. He won’t even physically come out and deal with what has happened he’s hiding. Claudia and Steve (Aaron Ashmore) have to go in and find him. They use an artifact to enter Artie’s subconscious to find out where he is and what he’s doing. When he comes out of it, he won't be easy to deal with and for the next few episodes [after the April 29 return] we don’t know what’s going on with Artie. Is he a danger to himself? Is he a danger to others? Is he going to lose it? By the fourth episode, he's settling in.
THR: So he does get back to normal at some point?
Kenny: Yes, he returns to form because you have to move on. It was very important that [Lena's] death be a real issue because we’ve brought people back to life, so if you remove death as a danger then there are no stakes anymore. It was important that we all live with that with that notion, but then another problem rears its head. We have problems on every episode that we have to deal with on a daily snag and bag basis. But another big bag rears its head early on in the season. That takes us out of season 4.5 in a very, very big way. We move a lot toward Claudia’s destiny with the warehouse and what it means for her and the rest of us, and how difficult that’s going to be.
THR: How does Polly Walker play into the rest of the season, and who else will we be seeing?
Kenny: Polly plays someone who turns out to be an immortal, who's actually James Marsters' wife. We're under the assumption that they are the big bads for the season and they’re going to cause a lot of trouble. Whether they’re the big bads or not, that’s the question. [Veronica Mars alum] Enrico Colantoni is appearing in one of my favorite episodes. It takes place in a film noir world; it’s all black and white playing with all the strokes of a noir murder mystery.
THR: What other sorts of mysteries will the team be going on?
Kenny: As usual we go all over the place. We follow an artifact to an old mining lantern that causes people to be swallowed up by the earth. There’s an artifact that allows a car to drive through a wall that Artie’s on the chase for. Joel Grey plays a magician where he finds an artifact that helps him levitate people, and after they shoot up in the sky and disappear. H.G Wells (Murray) is chasing an artifact that's making people turn into primitive caveman. We also meet Steve's ex boyfriend further down the line. There’s another artifact that creates lava flows out of nowhere. They find a pirates lair, where they're on the hunt for an old pirate named Roaring Dan Seavey.
THR: What was the most challenging thing to do this season?
Kenny: The hardest thing was doing 20 episodes. On this show, we have an eight-day shoot and at least six days of them are on location so we’re always in a different city, different part of the world. The sheer tonnage of work that we have to accomplish to get 20 episodes done is really exhausting. It was a lot of boulders to push up the hill.
THR: Do you prefer previous seasons then, which had 13-episode runs?
Kenny: Thirteen [episodes] would be just fine.
THR: You mentioned you're already tackling season five. What are you looking to explore?
Kenny: Our marching order form Syfy is "Think big." Do all those episodes that you thought were too big to do before: bigger scenes, bigger excitement, take bigger chances. We would always like to do a musical episode, but that’s always difficult. It's incredibly expensive, we just have to figure out a way to do it on our cable budget.
THR: What other types of themed episodes are you hoping to do?
Kenny: I don’t know if we’re going to do any of these but we’d love to do a fantastic voyage episode where they actually have to go into the human body.
Watch the midseason premiere, available early, below:
Warehouse 13 returns for season 4.5 at 10 p.m. Monday on Syfy.