The Syfy series WAREHOUSE 13 likes to play with death, so much so that cheating death has become a central theme of the show. But in a surprise twist before the long hiatus, WAREHOUSE 13 changed the rules and finally delivered a death that was not reversible. Killing off fan-favorite Leena (Genelle Williams), fans were as devastated as the characters left standing on the show. In addition, discovering that Artie was responsible for her was even more shocking. Artie was the one man who we could never conceive of doing such a thing and the result was haunting. In a recent press conference call, executive producer Jack Kenny and stars Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly talked about the ripple-effects of Leena’s death, how she came to draw the short-stick, as well as previewing all the fun guest-stars upcoming over the next 10 episodes of Season 4.5.
Can you share what originally motivated the decision to kill Leena’s character and what the loss of Genelle has meant to the behind the scenes WAREHOUSE 13 family?
JACK: It was very difficult for all of us because Genelle was so sweet and wonderful. There’s a lot of different levels that that played on for me as a showrunner and head writer too. Essentially we needed somebody to die and stay dead because we’d brought back Artie. We brought back Steve and if death doesn’t mean anything then the stories no longer have stakes. If you can bring back anybody from dead then death is no longer a danger and so it becomes impossible to make something dangerous to raise the stakes in the story. So we had to lose someone that stayed lost so that we could deal with real mortality since mortality was such a strong element of our season this year. So that was one thing was very important. Then it became well who can we lose, who in the cast can we lose and yet it would still have a powerful impact on everybody. And Leena was the obvious choice because it was hard to get Leena into stories, into artifacts snag and bag since she’s not an agent and yet it would have meaning for the cast to lose that character for the characters to lose her because she’s such a warm and lovely presence and such a loving presence in their lives. So it was sort of the perfect opportunity to really punch everybody in the gut and have them have to deal with something monumental in their lives. Any other external character wouldn’t have meant the same thing. And also such an innocent, such a pure innocent who was literally turned around to help Artie when she thought he needed it, essentially gave her life. In the second episode one of the things we tried to show was that everybody knows what they’re getting into when they go to work for the Warehouse. It is a dangerous job. It’s like joining the military. You could lose your life and you have to be prepared for that. So that was also very important. But Genelle was so lovely and so sweet and everybody loves her. We do get to see her in a few more episodes because as its sci-fi, once you’re dead it doesn’t mean you’re off the show just because you’re dead.
After what happened to Leena everybody’s upset, but obviously they’re going to forgive Artie. Can you talk about how kind of just the emotions from that is going to continue throughout the rest of the season?
JACK:Artie’s the first person that has to deal with this and I’m sure you’ve seen the premiere episode already and so we do a really cool thing where Claudia who’s our most obvious choice to go after Artie and bring him back to us, we have a really kind of emotional moment. And Artie’s having a very hard time dealing with what he did. He was affected by an artifact but he sees it as his hand is the one that did it and so he’s responsible. So there’s that hurdle that has to be leapt over in terms of Artie making his piece with what an artifact made him do. And then there’s the tension between Claudia and Artie where we spend actually the next three episodes dealing with in terms of what she had to do him. She had to stab him and bring him back when he didn’t want to come back and a lot of other tension-riddled issues that they have to deal with. So those are some big hurdles to get over and then also the rest of the crew has to help Artie with this. I mean there’s a second episode where Myka and Steve are helping Artie and dealing with it and then ultimately there’s a beautiful moment where Pete sort of stands up and gives a speech to the regents on Artie’s behalf. I mean the family is rallying around their essentially patriarch to help him deal with this and to help the Warehouse move on with that it has to do. And then we bring in Kelly Hu who essentially comes to run the B&B and we find out that she actually has a deeper purpose and ultimately an even deeper one that I don’t want to reveal yet, but a deeper purpose in that she is there for our people to talk to because I think the regents come to the conclusion that when you die and come back to life, when you kill someone you love, when you are attacked by an artifact and almost killed that maybe there’s some issues that have to be dealt with so a little PTSD that has to be dealt with. So Kelly’s here for that.
How did you choose the previous/current characters to be in Artie’s mind when Claudia and Steve went to pull him out?
JACK: Well we went with our two well I guess most people’s two basic instincts: love and hate. Even with McPherson there’s a love/hate element to it. But we went to the most powerful people in Artie’s mind that our people could also immediately relate to. I mean we could have introduced entirely new characters. We talked briefly about suddenly Artie’s mother shows up and she was the terror of his youth or something. But you spend so much time explaining who the character is that by the time they get to actually talk, you don’t have time to do a story. So we felt like the most visceral things in Artie’s mind were the woman that he’s in love with, the man who he most fears and hates because of what he’s done to him and then the woman who’s also the most powerful presence in his life Mrs. Frederic. We felt like those would be instantly recognizable and easy to deal with and also the most fun because especially when you have McPherson in an episode it’s going to be some good snarling fun.
They seem to be the characters who have shaped Artie and Artie’s character.
JACK:Right absolutely. I mean someday it would be nice to meet Artie’s mom to find out what that was like. I think there’s an episode somewhere in the past where he talks about something horrifying about his mom and he said you’ve never met my mother. There’s some comment like that. So someday we’ll meet his mother and she’ll be a piece of work.
In the midseason premier you have guest stars James Marsters and Polly Walker, can you talk about what it was like working with them and what other guest stars we can look forward to seeing the second half of the season?
EDDIE: One of the great things about being on WAREHOUSE 13 is when you’re on a successful show, successful people want to be a part of it and so I think we’ve been really lucky in regards to our guest cast. Having James Marsters and Anthony Head in the same show in the same season it’s pretty cool. The legions of BUFFY fans are just going to go crazy. Not just the fact that they have fans but that they’re also great actors. I would do well to sit back and take notes a lot of time because the talent that we’ve been able to have come through has been really great and it’s a testament to the show and to the writing and to the network.
JACK: I have to say they both dove in feet first into our family and really fit in nicely. I mean we had a great time. The first episode is more James than Polly [Walker]. Polly has a couple of beats in it and then Polly comes back later in the season and has a very big episode, Episode 18, with Artie and Pete and Myka. And they sort of partner up together in search of an artifact which is kind of fun. So they were just great. It’s nice you get actors and they understand the genre and then as Eddie was saying they’re also tremendous actors so they can really play into the sci-fi fantasy of it and also bring you some real good, just some real good acting. They just fit right into the group. They joined us at our level and that’s always welcome and exciting. And then we’ve got coming up this season we’ve got Joel Grey is coming to join us in Episode 14 with Steve Valentine and Nora Zehetner. In Episode 13 we do an episode where Pete and Myka fall into a world of film noir and we’re joined by Missi Pyle and Enrico Colantoni, sort of a “Galaxy Quest” reunion, two people also who had just – I mean Enrico had such a great time on the show he came back to hang out on the set on another episode just because he liked everybody so much.
EDDIE: He goes, “Man the vibe on this set is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I just want to come and hang out with you guys.” And if I may say so it really comes from the top down. Jack sets a tone on the show.
JACK: And Missi sings in the episode, which is also a lot of fun. Then we have Ricardo Chavira, Charlie Weber comes on to play with us in Episode 16. Cynthia Watros is in Episode 17. And of course Anthony Head is coming to join us for the last three episodes and he turns out to be quite a powerful character. As it’s been released he plays a 16th century alchemist, rogue alchemist names Paracelsus and I like to joke that our show is probably one of the only shows on TV that you can have a great time, laugh, cry and get course credit for watching because we do lots of teaching. And Emily Bergl is coming on as well in Episode 12.
What can you share about the return of Jaime Murray to WAREHOUSE 13?
JACK: Jaime’s coming back in Episode 15 of the next ten. It’s a really great storyline with her and Pete and Myka on a chase and we kind of find out where H. G. ended up and what’s she’s doing and is she happy doing it. It’s a great episode. It was directed by Jennifer Lynch, David Lynch’s daughter. It’s really fun.
JOANNE: There are some really, really nice moments with Myka and H. G. during that episode. I really, really enjoyed it. It’s worth checking out.
How will Myka and H. G.’s relationship will be explored?
JACK: What we find on our show interestingly enough for relationships we discovered it, what was it, Season 2, we had Paula Garces playing Dr. Kelly as a love interest for Pete and we tried it with Claudia and honestly even with Artie and Dr. Vanessa, because the show is basically an action adventure comedy and our guys are always out in the field or it isn’t really much of story, there aren’t too many stories that happen in Univille at the B&B, it’s really hard to service any kind of relationship even close friends or more than friends relationships. It’s just really hard to service that because it takes them out of the story or we have to manufacturer something else happening. There are just so many artifacts that are going to show up in your boyfriend’s life or you girlfriend’s life. The show just gets weird if it gets too inside baseball? So we discovered that relationships can pop up briefly on the show but then they just have to be in the background. And as far as the way we view Myka and H. G. I just think to me it’s important to show a relationship where two women who obviously care about each other, obviously love each other, obviously have a great deal of respect for each other and what they do, there’s no threat, there’s no competition, they’re just very close and they’re great, great friends and could it be more? Yes sure, in another world where they were doing other things, sure possibly. But frankly neither of them have time for a relationship with anybody. So we become a slave to the show in that regard.
JOANNE: Well obviously when we see H. G. kind of give her life for the Warehouse it was a huge moment. I think there’s a lot of confusion and I think that we see these women trying to connect and try to redefine themselves after the huge events that kind of have befallen them both. And I think that their relationship is kind of a constant journey. And I think H. G. will always kind of have a positive — I think there’s something really nice about having two women as Jack mentioned earlier that aren’t bitchy to each other, that two women actually do like each other and sometimes can love and I don’t think H. G. is ever a negative thing in Myka’s world.
JACK: It’s nice to see that it seems like each character makes the other one ask themselves really good questions about where they are in their life and what’s going on. I know that in Episode 15 some issues come up between H. G. and Myka where Myka asks the way you would of a close friend that you really care about, she asks some tough questions. She raises some really tough issues with her about where she is and what she’s doing and only someone who loves you can ask you those kind of questions without getting thrown out of the room.
JOANNE: Definitely. I think it’s any relationship between two people of the same sex, roughly the same age sometimes it’s like looking in the mirror a little bit especially with your best friends? You ask the questions maybe you can’t ask yourself of the other person? So I think it’s a really interesting dynamic and I’m excited for the fans who are fan of that relationship to see that episode because I think they’ll be very happy.
Is there something that was particularly fun or memorable for you out of this last batch of episodes?
EDDIE: I don’t know if it stands out as a favorite necessarily which I guess that can tell you something about how good I think the following episodes are. They’re just as Jack said we get caught in a noir novel and that was so much fun to play. Again it’s WAREHOUSE 13 so we’re traveling around the world and we’re doing crazy, fun, exciting stuff from episode to episode. I mean I couldn’t tell you that I have a particular favorite storyline in that regard because they’re all so much fun to do.
JACK: Premieres are always so heavily involved with cleaning up the mess we made in the finale of the season before that it’s oftentimes a lot of exposition but it’s really fun. They’re always my favorites because of the amount of work that goes into just cleaning things up and starting an entirely new arc. So I have a great time with premiers. And I know that Saul and Allison both really got to sink their teeth into some major stuff in the premier episode and coming out of last season as well. So I know that they both really, really dug diving in there and we get to see James McPherson again and Lindsay Wagner and we just had a great time with these guys coming back. But like Eddie was saying in this next group of ten the noir episode, the Las Vegas episode where people get levitated up into the sky. We go in search of pirate’s treasure in Episode 18. There’s a really beautiful moment in Episode 17 where we explore Pete’s last really bad ugly drunk when he was drinking years ago and the really awful event that happened because of that and it revisits it in a very painful and emotional way that he and Myka are dealing with and we get to deal with some nice, deep stuff and stuff that you need your family to hang onto while it’s happening. It’s been a really fun ride this Season 4.5. We’re very excited about what’s coming up.
Would you like to see the writers give Pete more of a subdued humor in episodes like that or do you think it’s Pete’s humor that saves him from falling apart at the seams?
EDDIE: I guess I don’t do subdued. I’m not really subdued. It is not really in my wheelhouse generally. I love Pete, I love the way that writers, the way Jack has — I mean Jack and I have known each other since 1998. He was one of the writer producers on my first show ever so he knows me pretty well and I trust him. And actually I’ll even say to Jack I’ll say, “Well, what if I do this?” And he’ll say, “We don’t want Pete to look like a fool? We him to be competent and you want to be careful not to cross that line.” So I’m real happy with the direction of the character and I think that as you said Pete uses his sense of humor to protect himself. It’s a defense mechanism. And I mean I think if he were also not good at his job than you could say he’s an idiot but he’s good at his job and he’s loyal and he’s heroic and ultimately if you notice he ends up solving a lot of the things that maybe Myka didn’t think of because Myka thinks more linearly than he does. So I think you need his type of mentality around.
JACK: The other thing about Pete’s humor is its survival technique. I mean he gets into some pretty scary, dangerous type situations and I think it’s the way he kind of relaxes and sees the way out? He makes a joke, it keeps him calm, it keeps him moving rather than focusing on the danger in the moment. That’s the way his mind works. It’s his survival technique as Eddie said.
What can you share about the upcoming WAREHOUSE 13 noir episode?
JACK: I think it’s one of our most fun episodes that we’ve done. Eddie and Jo, do you guys want to talk about this? You guys had so much fun working on it as you said many times.
EDDIE: What stands out for me in regards to the show is we didn’t just put on the era costumes and then take color and turn it into black and white and rely on that. I mean Chris Fisher who directed the episode shot it with the lenses and depth of field that they used to use back in the day. The lighting was the same type of lighting that they used. So it really once you see it on the screen, I mean it really looks like we are in an old film, in an old noir film. And it was great because there were a lot of times that Joanne and I had to work in noir speak I’ll call it that stylized kind of staccato way of speaking and then somebody would leave the room and then we’d have to switch to Pete and Myka speak and then they’d come back in the room and then we’d have to go back. So it was interesting acting exercise for Joanne and I to pull off and so much fun, just so much fun. And Joanne looked stunning and the costumes were amazing and it’s fun and the writing and I’m really excited to see it.
JOANNE: It’s so fun to go into work for us as actors and not only do we get to do Myka and Pete but also do noir versions of them. It was a really, really, really awesome eight days of work.
JACK: And I have to also add that Franco De Cotiis and Joanne Hansen outdid themselves with set design and wardrobe — and makeup too for that matter, hair and makeup — everybody just had such a great time recreating this world of a noir movie. I made Eddie and Jo watch “Double Indemnity” so they could really hit the ground running and they did. I mean it was just – they dove into the noir speak beautifully. It’s really just a fun ride. It’s the kind of thing our show does two or three times a season and we just had a great time doing it.
Would you like to do more of those kinds of episode where it’s just Myka and Claudia, just the girls? The dynamic between those two characters was kind of fun to watch.
JOANNE: I love the mix and match episodes. I think Eddie and I are such old hands at being together all the time and there’s this sort of ease when we do our episodes together. But the mix and match are fun. They’re different, it’s a different stride. I like to see the way that Myka’s and Claudia’s relationship has like kind of grown as their relationship has grown. We see sort of at the beginning in Season One a big sister/little sister kind of a deal and as Allison herself and Claudia the character has gotten older we see them more on equal footing which has been really interesting to explore.
Claudia’s essentially becoming caretaker of the Warehouse. Could you talk a little bit about that?
JACK: Absolutely. Actually that’s a big driver to our season finale. We’ve always teased that Claudia has a destiny at the Warehouse beyond just being an agent. And one of the things we’ll learn into certainly into Season 4.5 and even in Season 5 that we’ve been talking about here in the writer’s room these days is that there are certain people destined to be connected to the Warehouse, to be in the life of the Warehouse no matter what the world does or what the world looks like, they will always be connected. And Claudia is just one of those people that was destined to be here as you’ll hear Artie talk about it in Season 4.5 that she was kind of born to this. So yes we tap on it a couple times. Last year we had Mrs. Frederic take Claudia along with her to see the birth of an artifact so that she could have a little peak behind the curtain into what Mrs. Frederic does and we’re going to keep playing that dynamic of Claudia’s starting to sense her own connection to the Warehouse, starting to sense that she actually is in a way organically connected to WAREHOUSE 13 in a way that’s beyond what anybody else is. And it’s kind of beautiful. Allison plays it very nicely, very subtlety and you’ll see it in Episode 15 as well. There’s a cool story where she and Kelly Hu are on a hunt in the Warehouse. Something’s going wrong with the Warehouse and they’re trying to figure it out. Kelly and Steve and Artie also are in this story and its kind of fun. So we definitely will tap on that.
To see all the fun new characters popping up this season on WAREHOUSE 13, be sure to tune in on Monday, April 29th at 10PM on Syfy – and do not forget to watch to the very end for a special little surprise of the first returning episode.