Paring: Myka/H.G. Wells
Fandom: Warehouse 13
Spoilers: Seasons 1-3 are fair game.
A/N: One of the most obvious, most epic femslash parings of the recent years. They deserve their own ship manifesto. Many thanks to darandkerry for beta, racethewind10 for general commenting, and kayryn for the banner.
Saving the World, One Artifact at a Time
Warehouse 13 is a Syfy network show that follows two United States Secret Service agents, Myka Bering and Pete Lattimer, who find themselves assigned to the government's super secret Warehouse which contains supernatural artifacts. They are joined by their boss, Artie; the proprietor of the B&B they live in, Leena; and later on, a tech guru, Claudia. It is their job to investigate and bag & tag such artifacts as they pop up around the world, so that they can be safely stored in the Warehouse, away from people who would misuse them. Naturally, mayhem occurs every week.
The show has been a fan favourite and a ratings winner from the beginning, and what is rather unusual (in terms of science fiction shows) is that it also has a nearly 50% female viewership. What mostly sets Warehouse 13 apart from many other scifi shows is that, while still maintaining its credibility, it does not seem to take itself too seriously. Although the special effects are, at times, less than stellar, what the show lacks in the CGI department, it makes up in brilliant writing and acting.
I succeeded in resisting the Warehouse 13 bug for quite a while after most of my fandom friends had already succumbed to it, but when I finally gave in, I fell really, really hard. It is simply impossible not to like this show. The main characters are all likeable, and it is precisely the team dynamics that make us tune in week after week. Well, that and the femslash which went through the roof the moment H.G. Wells stepped out of the bronze sector.
Meet Wells and Bering. Uh, Bering and Wells.
The viewers are introduced to Agent Myka Bering right away in the first episode as she is assigned to Univille – pronounced Un-e-ville – South Dakota and Warehouse 13. At first, she views the reassignment as a punishment for a past mission that went all sorts of wrong, leaving her former partner dead, but with time, she comes to realise that it is anything but. In fact, she now sees the Warehouse as her home, the place where she feels the happiest.
We do not actually know very much about Myka's past, or about her personal life for that matter. What we do know is that her father has always been tough on her; instead of playing with barbies, she learned fencing (which is totally hotter). Another thing we know for certain is that she loves books and literature and her family owns a bookstore where she, basically, grew up. Perhaps it is partly due to this that she is smart, organised, and has a scrupulous eye for detail.
As an agent, Myka is very by-the-book and all for solid planning and steadfast execution. It is her sense of honour and respect for rules which also attributes a great deal to her relationship with H.G. Wells.
H.G. Wells. Yes, that H.G. Wells. In the Warehouse 13 universe, H.G. Wells (which stands for Helena G. Wells) is actually a woman and a genius. Back in the day, she simply allowed her brother to take all the credit for her imagination and writing (the societal restrictions of the 19th century and all that jazz). In reality, she is the real author of the H.G. Wells books, and a number of ingenious inventions can also be credited to her.
Back in the 1800s, H.G. was an agent for Warehouse 12 in London (the Warehouse was later moved to the US), but after the tragic death of her daughter Christina, she eventually became a danger rather than an asset to the Warehouse. Knowing that there were no other options, she asked to be bronzed (a way to 'preserve' people, and as H.G. put it, the closest thing to a time machine she could get), which is the reason she suddenly finds herself in the 21st century.
H.G. is canonically bisexual. In a Season 2 episode "Buried" (2x11), she muses that many of her lovers were men, followed by an obvious smirk by Myka. This seems to have been the straw that finally broke the camel's back: the Myka/H.G. relationship was on. ON, people!
Meeting at Gunpoint – The Incriminating, Femslashy Evidence
I have been a femslasher for a very long time. Over the years, there has been many wonderful instances of subtext, I have shipped a whole lot of parings and participated in various fandoms online. Among all of my fandoms, Warehouse 13 (and Myka/H.G. especially) stands out in many ways, and I hope this manifesto will be able to convince those not yet in-the-know of the utter brilliance—and, let's not forget, gayness—of the show.
A Blast from the Past
In terms of femslash, Season 1 is not very exciting, since H.G. Wells does not really make an appearance until the beginning of Season 2. But when H.G. is finally de-bronzed (by a bad guy), things get interesting. Fast.
There is an obvious connection between Myka and H.G. even before they meet face to face (for example, in "Time Will Tell" [2x01], we learn that Myka's father used to read H.G. Wells' books to her when she was little) and when their paths finally collide, the chemistry is instantly there – even if Myka is threatening to shoot H.G at the time. Indeed, H.G. even repeats, unknowingly, a line Myka has just said a few moments earlier.
As I mentioned, the connection is instantaneous, because in "For the Team" (2x07), it is through Myka that H.G. tries to convince the rest of the Warehouse team that she is actually a good guy and on their side. And it is straight to flirty comments, familiar bantering, and invading each other's personal space with these two – even if Myka is threatening to shoot H.G. again.
H.G.: I'm hunting for the same artifact as you. […] If you didn't believe me even a little, you would've shot me by now.
During the course of the episode, not only does H.G. save Myka's life (she uses a grappler, a rope gun she has designed herself, to lift them both away from the trajectory of a car about to run them over), she saves the tech guru Claudia from a certain death as well. Before disappearing in the thin air, however, she leaves the grappler behind for Myka to find along with a post-it note that says, "Keep it. You can owe me."
Myka is clearly beginning to wonder if H.G. is, indeed, on their side after all, because when she is talking to Pete later on, the following dialogue takes place:
Pete: I just think sometimes people can surprise you.
Myka: [to herself] Yeah, I guess sometimes they do.
By "Vendetta" (2x09), Myka seems absolutely convinced of H.G.'s goodness, and she actually defends H.G., twice, to Artie who sees the former agent as nothing but a bad seed. Also, yet again, it is Myka who H.G. approaches with her wish to be reinstated as a Warehouse agent.
Things get nothing short of flirty when H.G. follows Pete and Myka (she slipped a tracking device into Myka's pocket earlier) to Russia in their quest to save Artie.
H.G.: [holding up a device] Receiver. Tells me the exact coordinates of the transmitter I slipped into Myka's pocket at the cemetery.
Myka: [handing the transmitter to H.G.] And for the record, I knew that you slipped this in my pocket at the cemetery.
H.G.: I thought you'd know.
Myka: I knew that you'd think I knew.
Pete: [exasperated] Oh, all right!
It is precisely the delicious banter such as this that remains steadfastly constant throughout Myka and H.G.'s TOTALLY GAY relationship. They seem to be on the exact same wavelength, and their way of communicating with each other is just so wonderfully effortless.
At the end of the episode, we find out that Myka has written a recommendation to the Regents (the Warehouse bosses), telling them that H.G. should be given back her agent status. Her smile lights up the entire room when H.G. steps in, fully reinstated and ready for duty.
It is all downhill from there, as they say. In "Where and When" (2x10), Myka suddenly calls H.G. by her first name, 'Helena', which does not go unnoticed by Artie either. H.G. returns the gayness by actually stroking Myka's hand when the latter is unconscious while time travelling (it is a long, long story). Next, it is Myka's turn to be affectionate in "Buried" (2x11) as H.G. is upset by the memories of her daughter; Myka's hand is on H.G.'s shoulder and somehow ends up cupping the other woman's cheek.
As it turns out, H.G. has had an ulterior motive the entire time after all, and with a simple, "I do hope you can forgive me", she disappears, leaving Pete and Myka fighting for their lives as the ancient Warehouse in which they are trapped starts to cave in. Myka is absolutely devastated that H.G. seems to have played her this entire time, which is why she eventually resigns from the job – but not before she has saved the world and proved, once again, that the whole Myka/H.G. thing is not only in our heads.
H.G.'s plan is simple: she wants to destroy the world with the original weapon of mass destruction, because she thinks man has ruined the planet (so, technically, she is not really evil per se). Eventually, in "Reset" (2x12), it comes down to Myka to stop her.
Myka: You needed us. To stop you. […] Think, Helena! You're so filled with grief and anger, but there is a part of you, I know there is, some small part of your soul that knows this is wrong. [taking a step closer and looking H.G. in the eye] And that part is still alive and it's just pushing to get through. That is the part that refuses to kill the very people who can stop you. […] All right. If I am wrong, then kill me. [putting a gun in Helena's hand and forcing it against her forehead] Do it! Kill me now! I mean, we're all gonna die anyway, right? So what's the difference? So shoot me! Shoot me now. Kill me, but not like that. Not like a coward. I want you to look me in the eyes and take. my. life. C'mon, do it. Do it!
[Helena screams and wrenches the gun away from Myka's head]
H.G. simply cannot take Myka's life, because she means too much to her. And given the fact that the woman has probably planned this for the better part of the last hundred years, it speaks volumes that only Myka standing between H.G. and her goal is enough to stop her.
From Devastation to Absolution – in a Span of about Five Episodes
As we move on to a new season, the femslash only seems to intensify. Indeed, devastated by H.G.'s deceit, Myka decides to resign from Warehouse 13 and, in "The New Guy" (3x01), we find out that she now works at her father's bookshop again. It is not until Myka talks to H.G. (in holographic form; apparently, the Regents are holding her captive somewhere, but are able to transport her consciousness wherever) that she has the courage to return. Indeed.
H.G.: We became friends, because we're alike in many ways. […] I'm not proud of what happened. But that it drove you away from the Warehouse… A hundred years ago I went into the bronzer filled with hate. It grew inside me like a cancer. All I thought about was what I'd lost, what the Warehouse had taken from me, turned me into. Be careful, Myka. Hate so easily turns into fear. Don't walk away from your truth.
When Myka realises that H.G. is not actually there, she hesitantly runs her hand through the hologram, eliciting a rather sharp intake of breath from H.G.. The only word for this is holoporn (© mondoshawan555). Myka and H.G. are staring at each other so intently that Myka actually gasps when the hologram eventually disappears. The message, however, is well received, because Myka is back at the Warehouse by the end of the episode.
What is even more telling is that by the episode "3…2…1" (3x05), Myka seems to have forgiven H.G. of everything. When she suggests they use H.G.'s expertise on a case they are working, we find out that she has actually read all the files relating to H.G. Wells. Obsessed much, darling? As the others—especially Pete—are complaining about H.G.'s presence (I'm using the word 'presence' lightly here) and being downright hostile towards their special guest, Myka can only defend her. H.G. is Myka's soft spot; there is no two ways about it.
The reason why this episode is particularly wonderful is the scene at the end. The dialogue completely translates to an "I'm sorry I was a jerk" conversation between two ex-lovers who were torn apart by the unfortunate circumstances of life.
H.G.: [serious] We did make a good team. Didn't we?
Myka: We did. And then you… [pause] I just wish you would've realized that sooner.
H.G.: So do I.
[cue to: eye shag of EPIC proportions]
In other words, the above scene is basically the same as the following (© thrace_):
H.G. : I'm sorry I ever dumped you.
Myka: You didn't dump me, you tried to destroy the world.
H.G. : I'm sorry about that, too. Maybe one day, we could...
Myka: Maybe. One day. Goodbye, Helena.
There are so many silent feelings flying back and forth during the scene, it is marvellous. But the angst is only beginning, because what remains is the season finale.
Pardon Me, I Cannot See the Subtext, Because All This Maintext Is Getting in the Way
Before the final episode of Season 3, there could still have remained some infinitesimal doubt about the nature of the relationship between Myka and H.G., but the two-part Season 3 finale ("Emily Lake" [3x11] and "Stand" [3x12]) does nothing short of transforming the delicious subtext into more than obvious maintext. During all my years in fandom, this is one of the most femslashy episodes (if not, indeed, the most femslashy) I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing.
During the two-hour finale, Pete and Myka find out what actually happened to H.G. after she tried to destroy the world: the Regents decided to split her in two, if you will, by using a Janus coin which separated H.G.'s memories from her body. It is H.G.'s consciousness which we have seen as a hologram throughout the season. In a flashback scene, the camera focuses on the coin as it is absorbing H.G.'s memories, and something rather fascinating can be detected:
First of all, the picture of Myka pops up in the coin a total of TWELVE TIMES during the segment, while none of the other Warehouse 13 peeps can be seen. Secondly, as the Regent coaxes H.G. to let go of her past ("Think about […] people… Friends, family, lovers…"), it is Myka's face that just happens to appear first after the 'family' segment, starting the 'lovers' part of the memories. Yes, things are already getting pretty maintext-y.
Pete, Myka and Claudia track down the Janus coin, because the season finale baddie, Sykes, wants to get a hold of it, as in, H.G.. As they are racing back to the Warehouse with it, Pete voices his concerns about the whole situation and suggests that they should simply destroy the coin which, in turn, would lead to defeat of the baddie by default. We can all imagine just how happy Myka is about Pete's plan; indeed, she is vehemently against it ("The answer is still no. We cannot-, I WILL not destroy H.G. Wells."), and when Claudia conjures up the hologram of H.G. herself, even H.G. has a hard time convincing Myka. What follows is something extraordinary – and not only because of the staggering amount of eye shagging.
H.G.: Destroy the coin and whatever Sykes wants from me will be lost with it.
Myka: But… You'd be gone, you'd… You'd be dead. [turning away] The price is too high.
H.G.: Myka, we have to think rationally and not emotionally.
This is better than fanfiction. As H.G. says goodbye to them all, things get gayer – if that is even possible anymore at this point.
H.G.: [turning to Myka] How do you say goodbye to the one person who knows you better than anyone else?
Myka: I wish I knew.
H.G.: Be brave. I need to your strength.
I have no words to describe how gay this scene is - and it is not even the real goodbye scene.
As it turns out, the bad guys ambush them before Pete is able to destroy the coin, and it ends up in Sykes' possession. Determinedly, Myka and Pete track them down, and Myka eventually finds a locket that belongs to H.G. and which she always wears (important info for later use), letting them know that they are close.
Sykes is able to control H.G. with an artifact, and, unsurprisingly, things get hairy when he threatens Myka's life in order to get H.G. to cooperate. Or course, H.G. would do anything to save Myka.
H.G.: [crying] I'm sorry, Myka.
Myka: Helena, listen to me. I am not going to die here today, okay? Because you are going to take a breath, and you're going to save my life.
Let's take a moment to appreciate the incredible symmetry between Myka's three last words and the "Take. my. life." line from the Season 2 finale. Remarkable.
Naturally, H.G. figures out the puzzle and saves Myka's life. All this just because Sykes has the audacity to put Myka's life in danger.
After a series of events, H.G. and Myka are left alone to figure out how to get back to the Warehouse where Sykes has teleported himself and Pete (it is also a long, long story). We get another ex/current(?) girlfriends discussion:
H.G.: Myka, I'm sorry. […] You should've destroyed the Janis coin the moment you found it. Then I wouldn't have caused all this.
Myka: I wish that you would stop doing that.
H.G.: Doing what?
Myka: You're not the bad guy, okay? I believed in you and I was right, so get off your cross and help me figure this out.
H.G.: Righty-ho then. [pause] Old times, Wells and Bering, solving puzzles, saving the day.
Myka: [grin] Bering and Wells.
The connection between the two is simply palpable. And if it was not clear before, it is now: the relationship H.G. has with Myka is something entirely different than she has, perhaps, ever had with anyone else.
As femslashy as the episode is, it is the final scene, however, which takes the cake in terms of the HoYay. Sykes has snuck a nuclear weapon into Warehouse 13 and it is threatening to go off. As Pete, Myka and Artie are fervently trying to disarm it (they fail), H.G. succeeds in creating a protective force field around the other three, but is forced to remain outside of it. The look on Myka's face says it all when the situation finally dawns on her, and the camera work could not possibly be gayer.
Myka: Helena, what is this?
H.G.: Sorry, It was the only way I could think to save you.
Myka: What have you done? […] But you're… You're out there.
H.G.: It had to be initiated from outside the barrier.
[cacophony of Pete and Artie babbling over each other as the camera zooms in on Myka who's only staring at H.G., teary eyed]
H.G.: [mouthing] Thank you.
As the bomb goes off, we can see Myka fiddling with something in her right hand, something many of us believe to be H.G.'s locket that she found earlier.
In a nutshell, H.G. is willing to sacrifice her own life in order to save Myka's (and Pete and Artie's in the process). It is hard to imagine she would be as noble and heroic for anyone else, because her relationship with the others has always been volatile at best. What makes the final scene more than obvious is the camera work I mentioned: the camera zooms in on Myka as the two are simply staring at each other, Pete and Artie's objections fading to the background. The scene is all about the two women, and it is a scene only love stories ever have; H.G.'s silent "thank you" is the cherry on top of the femslashy cake of perfection.
The Story of the Agent and the Author – the Conclusion
The Myka/H.G. relationship is very much endorsed by both actresses, as well as the other parties involved in making Warehouse 13. In this year's ComicCon, Joanne Kelly (Myka) admitted that Myka and H.G. "fell in love a bit", and the obvious lesbian subtext is often mentioned when the cast and crew are being interviewed. Indeed, we can definitely say that the femslash is not only in our heads.
The fact, however, remains that the chemistry between Myka and H.G. was already there from the get-go, and the fans saw it long before it was ever addressed in public by those associated with the show. In my mind, that only goes to show that the subtext is, in a way, more genuine; one simply cannot fake chemistry, no matter how much the ratings need a boost.
What is the most striking in the Myka/H.G. dynamic is that Myka is willing to believe in H.G.'s goodness, no matter what. And even when H.G., sort of, proves her wrong by nearly destroying the world (please, that's nothing), Myka does not lose faith in her friend/girlfriend/lover/soulmate. Moreover, given the fact that H.G. was planning on taking the entire human race to extinction, it is remarkable that, a mere year later, she is then willing to sacrifice her own life in order to save Myka's. This completely selfless act would be absolutely impossible without a deep, emotional connection between them.
It remains to be seen how the show will deal with the aftermath of the explosion, whether H.G. will somehow be brought back or if her ultimate sacrifice will leave Myka and femslashers everywhere heartbroken. What we do know, however, is that no matter what happens in the future episodes, what we got these past two seasons was nothing if not a love story between soulmates who simply happened to find each other in all the chaos of the universe. Born in different centuries be damned!
Hunt down the Artifacts Yourself
A Pirate's Life for Me by racethewind10
All Your Faithless Loyalties by muppetmanda
An American Warehouse Agent in Paris (and London) by trancer
By the Pricking of my Thumbs by fewthistle
(sequel: A Kind of Blindness)
Extenuating Circumstances by trancer
Love Is Watching Someone Die by theagonyofblank
Through the Dark by fembuck
Come on Love, Shoot Me to the Ground by devilsova
Losing Your Memory by Dyzly24
Wanted: Love Interest by saltybread