Eureka, You Reeka

This post contains spoilers for the season finale of Eureka, which aired in the US last night. Please don’t read if you follow that show but haven’t seen it yet, and don’t want to be spoiled.

On Eureka, they did a space/time continuum episode for the season finale, in which one character went back to change the outcome of an experiment because it killed the woman he loved. In and of itself, the idea was fine. Cliché, but fine. Of course we don’t know this has happened until toward the end.

The very first scene we saw after the accident was the lead male character (Jack) waking up some morning in the future, with his surprise!wife, the lead female character (Allison), with whom he doesn’t have a relationship as far as we all know, even though Jack does kind of dig on her in real time. Allison, meanwhile, still digs on her ex-husband a little bit. It’s all very titillating and shocking and supposed, I assume, to make the audience go hmmmmmm. Another shocking “twist” – Allison threw back the covers and revealed a very pregnant belly.

Yes. In that first scene, we have the surprise!wife literally barefoot and pregnant. Excuse me while I hurl.

The whole episode was riddled with these relationship “gems.” There were other changes to the space/time whatever in this paradox, but the primary ones were definitely based on the heterosexual romantic relationships between various pairings, the most important (though not the truly important one – the only one I found compelling in the least was the one that originally sparked the whole space/time paradox) was, naturally, Jack/Allison. Now we viewers know, you see, that they are destined to be together. Jack flat-out said so, as he was prepping to go back in time and fix the initial change so the world didn’t fall apart. OTP, people. O.T.P. Allison, meanwhile, was all quivery-lipped about losing her existence as his wife and future mother of their baby. After all, how could any other reality be as idyllic?

I couldn’t figure out why it had to be Jack that went back in time to stop the change from happening in the first place – and it was made clear that this was the case. Then I figured it out. He’s the protagonist. He’s the one kinda/sorta liking Allison in that special way in real time. Sending him back means that he’ll get to retain (which he shouldn’t, btw) memory of the alternate time line in which he’s happily married and his little woman is happily pregnant. What bittersweet angst! Now Jack’s going to make that fantasy life into reality any way he can, because he knows it’s fated to end up that way.

How totally uninspired of Eureka‘s PTB. It’s just that with every space/time continuum story, I have this insane hope that someone, sometime won’t pull out one of the oldest clichés in the book. Even if it’s a fluffy show like Eureka. What a shame that of the nearly endless avenues an alternate timeline can take, a sci-fi television show instead chooses to highlight a romantic pairing. I guess Eureka, despite being on the Sci Fi Channel, is actually more of a romantic dramedy than a science fiction dramedy. I’d been holding out hope that it wasn’t true, but last night proved me wrong.

Comments

  1. Revena says

    I think I fixed your bold problem, but now there seems to be a tiny text problem. Oh, HTML! You’re soooo wacky!

    Anyway, I haven’t watched any Eureka at all, but I can sympathise with your irritation, here. Why does it have to be the guy who nets Maximum Angst who is able to remember the alternate future? And why is the time-travelin’ plot so very angsty to begin with? It does sound like romantic dramedy with a little bitty side of sci-fi, at this point.

  2. sbg says

    Yeah, I made the mistake of typing up the post in Word and now editing will muck up the formatting. That gigantic paragraph, for example.

    On top of the Jack/Allison OTP romance issues, they also had one character whinging about never having a date, one couple who don’t normally do couple-y things being OTT with the shmaltzy romance (as much as they could, since they’re very odd characters), and the whole idea behind the episode was this poor guy wanting to save his love from death. Romance definitely trumped science fiction in this one.

    I’m still annoyed that they made Allison barefoot and pregnant. And she kept walking around with a hand on her belly. I’ve never been pregnant, but I can honestly say none of my sister or my mother ever walked around with their hands on their bellies. I kind of think they had Allison do that to emphasize the pregnancy, which was kind of unnecessary because it’s a rather physically-obvious state anyway.

    Bah.

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    Wow, somehow the post had lines and lines of HTML that served no purpose. I’m guessing it was originally typed in Word? That’s a Word specialty. :D

    About the episode: gag. And how often has this trope been recycled? Stargate’s done the same sort of thing to show us that ours is the only reality where Jack and Sam didn’t end up together (interestingly, ours is also the only reality that doesn’t end horribly, which I was happy to interpret as being CAUSED by Jack/Sam). And then there’s the alternate Sam complaining about not having a boyfriend in Moebius.

    You know if this is hitting the same notes as Stargate, they’re hitting at least one other show, since SG is highly derivative at its most original.

    But the real point is not just how uninspired and unoriginal this is, and how it’s not even an interesting twist on a popular idea. The point is that this is a fantasy the PTB wanted to visit. Or thought viewers wanted to visit.

  4. Gategrrl says

    SBG, didn’t you write about an earlier episode this year about one of the characters (not sure if it was a main character) who had a copy of his wife made, and she was pregnant and had a child – against the unknowing wishes of his real wife. And the wife found out at the end, and changed her mind about not wanting a kid.

    This show has as skewed a view of women as Stargate.

  5. sbg says

    Heh, I’ve always thought Jack/Sam getting together in AUs was the reason those AUs invariably ended up being destroyed. I don’t know how anyone who shipped J/S didn’t clue in on that. ;)

    TPTB wanted it visited…and, honestly, it just kind of seemed like it was the Lead Male Character’s wet dream fantasy played out on the screen for us. His daughter in the AU was perfect – well-mannered and brilliant. He ended up with the girl he crushes on, and she ends up in a position that’s not perceived as as powerful as she had in the real time line (not talking about pregnancy here – I’m talking about how from the get-go, all she did in AU time line was follow him around with her hand on her belly and in the real time line, she, I think, outranks him).

    Ugh. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I really do want someone, somewhere to give me an alternate reality/alternate timeline story that doesn’t go to these cliched places that make women the playthings of the men.

  6. sbg says

    I might have. I do remember mentioning that, but I can’t remember if it was here or on my LJ. That one still bothers me, too. Nothing says “women are nurturers” like forcing one to accept a child that’s not hers just because the child’s mother was her clone. It’s just such a violation.

    Not all women are naturally nurturing. It’s something we’re all supposed to believe, but it’s not true.

  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    It just reasserts that, deep down, that’s what men really want, since the Lead Man is the Everyman.

  8. Mecha says

    I was doing something else and so couldn’t watch the Eureka season ender too carefully, but supposedly the male character from the earlier episode in the ’2010′ timeline was actually textually presented in a negative view in the world in the Season Finale. (I tried explaining the complaints to another watcher of the show earlier, and he pointed this out to me when he was watching.) I was only sorta paying attention at that point, and completely missed the end, so I can’t really say. Maybe you can?

    In agreement, the question of why he had to do it stuck in my mind too. There wasn’t a mechanical reason I saw, but it was sort of the default mindset by everyone. Maybe they were trying to have that it’s because they saw it as his general responsibility as the sheriff. I’m not sure. It is weak and protagonist-focused, but I’m not sure why anyone else _would_ have been a better choice, which leaves the ‘officer of security/authority’ in place. Still, it bothered me.

    I agree that the entire series _does/did_ seem to be focused around the relationships, time and again, especially the main characters. Heck, part of the primary tension is Jack versus Stark in a very male ‘claim’ sense because Stark’s her ex-husband and Jack’s the ‘new possible relationship interest’. It ran through every show I managed to watch in some way. The science was just the… monster of the week, really. Their usage of this particular universe does pretty much lock that in place.

    And I do agree with your parenthetical: Jack/Allison wasn’t nearly as interesting (especially because there was no, uh, apparent conflict in the parts I saw, just emotional instability on the part of Allison before Jack comforted her, blah) as the Henry/Technician pairing which created the paradox which they only temporarily touched on. (Also, hearing them use the word ‘paradox’ over and over like that made me wince, because it wasn’t really a paradox in the sense I consider the word. Ahem.)

    As to the initial impression you got, it spins different for me. 1) We were being introduced to a new setup, ‘waking up from bed’ is a standard metaphor for that. 2) While I realize that ‘barefoot and pregnant’ is an easy stereotype to get mad at… she had just gotten out of bed. 3) The pregnancy was an attempt at surprise (it was just before a cut) and establishment of the stability of the relationship early, because it’s visible. Those elements on their own do not bother me. One uses those sort of tools to make for quick establishment. The rest of the show, however, didn’t make things much better than the stereotypes, even when she was wearing normalish clothes and out in the world, which creates the larger problem. (I guess I consider ‘barefoot and pregnant’ a minor symbol, but the _mindset_ of ‘barefoot and pregnant’ a major symbol, and the mindset wasn’t completely there. Other bad mindsets were, however.)

    They both did get called from work at the same time, for the same reasons (in regards to your complaint about how she didn’t seem to have any position/power.) So she clearly isn’t _without_ her job or position (a better complaint is how her general job position didn’t seem to do much to BEGIN WITH to me. Unless I missed those episodes.) I also don’t remember a whole lot of direct following in body language (their body language in general had always been side-by-side.) If she seemed like she was ‘following him around’, then in my mind it was because of the presentation of the fact that they were both _with eachother at all times_ and the general protagonist power of the main character, tied with the relationship, tied with her emotional instability moments given to her, tied with internal concepts of ‘pregnancy’ all making her seem weaker. (Did she REALLY have her hand on her stomach the entire time? Oya.) On the other hand, she didn’t crack with regards to Stark at all. Private moments versus public moments, in the world, even if we can see them both.

    I wish I’d seen the end so I could judge on that last bit of the metamessage (that Jack gets to construct the perfect world based on his previous memories later.) I’d be even happier if that sort of attempt caused a backlash from Allison, due to the creepiness someone doing that would likely exhibit. Ah, like that’ll ever happen.

    A rambling two cents of sorts, I suppose, based on what I saw.

    -Mecha

  9. Jennifer Kesler says

    It’s been my experience that if I don’t watch a show as closely as someone else, a lot of the more subtle messages will go right past me. This may account for it not hitting you like it hit SBG.

    Or it could be simply two different perceptions, of course. Since we’re so trained to look at the world differently, it’s inevitable that men will see offensive things where women don’t, and vice versa. For example, I don’t understand why men complain about kick in the crotch scenes. They don’t bother me. ;)

  10. Mecha says

    Completely true, and that’s why I’d love a little more explaination from SBG if she can give it, especially in the parts I missed. (I do expect to catch this again at some point where I can better compare things: It’s SCI-FI, what else are they going to fill their time with. There’s apparently a marathon in November. And I think the episode that brought Eureka complaints to our original attention is re-airing on a Tuesday soon, besides.)

    And kick in the crotch scenes don’t bother me either, despite having experienced that particular sharp pain before. ;) There’s other things to experience sympathetically.

    -Mecha

  11. sbg says

    I’m not sure I know what was perceived as textually presented in a negative way. Henry’s (the guy who caused the timeline alteration) actions? I honestly didn’t get that impression, but then I didn’t get the impression that anything was presented in a particularly negative way. If that’s meant to say that the other characters realized the need to fix what was Henry’s noble, if unethical, actions…then that did happen, as it should have. They understood his motives, but they also understood why it had to be prevented.

    The barefoot and pregnant thing that bothered me was the mindset more than than the actual event. It’s just that they started out with the literal and continued on with that theme, from my point of view, through the rest of the episode. Jack and Allison might have been side by side, but the impression it left with me was that she was following along. I don’t know why, but that’s just the feel I got. And, yeah, she spent a majority of the time with a hand on her belly.

  12. Mecha says

    No, no, not Henry. Walter Perkins, who is the one who made the original time machine, while they were talking to him briefly (he was a suspect for the time stuff originally) commented how he was under house arrest and how horrible his life is now, among other things which I didn’t see. I was hoping you had to touch back on the earlier conversation. ^^;

    -Mecha

  13. sbg says

    Ah. Yes, Walter’s fate was unpleasant. I did wonder, though, if he were under house arrest because if he left he’d regress even further into youth moreso than his actual actions. We as the viewers can only assume that his real wife took the child out into the world and is raising him, but they could surprise us and give us a less-traditional outcome for that as well. Or, we’ll probably never hear about it again.

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