Even with the clock ticking on a looming medical apocalypse, a worldwide pandemic of fatal "English Sweating Sickness" initiated by the unleashing of a magical Black Orchid thingamabob, Syfy's quirky fan fave Warehouse 13 manages to find time to crack wise about the end of the world.
"It's always 'ultimately death,'" Agent Pete (Eddie McClintock) bemoans when clued in about just how nasty the disease is that has infected the entire team and much of the rest of the planet. "Artifacts never release a plague of tickles or an epidemic of kittens." A plague of tickles: not a bad way to describe this tongue-in-cheek supernatural lark which pulls out all the guest-star stops in an eventful episode (Monday, 10/9c) by Drew Z. Greenberg that kicks off the second half of Season 4 with Evil Artie's (Saul Rubinek) life and soul also in jeopardy. Pete and Myka's (Joanne Kelly) quest to neutralize the epidemic introduces them to familiar genre faces, including James Marsters (Buffy) as a nutty professor and Polly Walker (Caprica) as his mysterious nemesis, and you may be reminded of an Indiana Jones caper by the time their adventure is over. Back at Warehouse central, it's up to Claudia (scene stealer Allison Scagliotti) and Steve (Aaron Ashmore, not to be confused with the more annoying hero his twin brother Shawn plays on The Following) to go inside Evil Artie's brain, where all manner of residue of past and present guest stars lurk. It's a great payoff for longtime fans and a fun way to get back with the program in case you've drifted away between split seasons.
On the channel's more classically sci-fi show, Defiance (9/8c), things get freaky when monstrous "hellbugs" go on the attack — but what's driving them? — and one of the series' best-developed and acted characters, the rebel alien Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas), begins experiencing disturbing visions of her turbulent past, with a little touch of Altered States thrown in for good measure.
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YOU'RE KILLING ME: Fox goes into serial-killer overdrive as its Monday crime dramas come to a violent close. Bones (8/7c) brings back the devious and elusive madman Christopher Pelant (Andrew Leeds) to torment the Jeffersonian brain trust, with Booth (David Boreanaz) the apparent target of his latest schemes. ... We're promised a final (for now, until next season) showdown between Svengali serial-killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) and the erstwhile Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) in the first-season finale of The Following (9/8c). I suppose we're meant to be worried about Agent Parker (Annie Parisse), last seen buried alive by Joe's minions. But she's such an aggravating nitwit — the feds didn't even screen the citizens crowding the evacuation center, setting up last week's inane massacre — that it's kind of hard to care. ... More murderous fun on A&E's Bates Motel (10/9c), where the family just put an end to Deputy Shelby's reign of terror, with a wild shootout in the infamous murder house. Now it's time to hang out the open-for-business sign at the motel, and we're told Norma (the sensational Vera Farmiga) is in for a surprise when she checks in their first guest. ... On a much higher plane of drama, Sundance's quietly riveting Rectify (10/9c) features the great Hal Holbrook as Daniel's first lawyer, recalling "the terror of the town back then" during the murder trial that put Daniel on death row nearly two decades ago. As for Daniel (Aden Young): "I might just lay low today," he says, spending much of the episode exploring the family home in a poignant daze, rekindling old memories (and music) as the family walks on eggshells and the town simmers in anger over his release. Not to be missed.
THE MONDAY GUIDE: A bit of TV history is made as canceled ABC soaps All My Children and One Life to Live are resurrected online, through Hulu and iTunes, with 30-minute episodes posted Monday-Thursday and recap shows on Fridays. ... Showtime's The Big C (9/8c) enters its bittersweet end phase with a final season subtitled Hereafter, consisting of four hour-long episodes bringing the story of defiant cancer patient Cathy Jamison (Laura Linney) to a close. ... While NBC's red-hot The Voice (8/7c) moves into its "knockout rounds" phase, narrowing the field to a Top 12 in anticipation of next month's live shows, ABC's Dancing With the Stars (8/7c) counters with a new twist: Immunity from elimination for the top-ranked couple, with the rest of the pairs competing in a dance-off to earn more points from the judges. ... Random guest-star alert: The Wonder Years' Danica McKellar guests as herself in mathlete mode on ABC Family's The Secret Life of the American Teenager (8/7c), inspiring Ethan to take algebra more seriously. ... Random guest-star alert, part two: Ralph Macchio plays himself on CBS' How I Met Your Mother(8/7c) in an episode devoted to Barney's no-doubt-legendary bachelor party. ... This week's episode of ABC's Castle (10:01/9:01c) is rescheduled from last Monday, because its explosive subject matter — Beckett steps on a pressure-sensitive bomb, and Castle distracts her with relationship banter as the team tries to defuse the situation — was deemed inappropriate in the immediate wake of the Boston tragedy.