Time for another foray into the complicated world of time travel. So while time travel is not the focus of the show, Warehouse 13 has used time travel at least twice and has explored the idea of alternate realities / universes. The instances where time travel has been used are very different. In some ways with the availability of artifacts to affect the world around us it makes sense that there are many ways to travel through time. Each artifact works differently in the world and it makes sense that the way the time travel works would be different.
The alternate realities / universes are not time travel, but it is stepping out of your own universe into another one, which can happen sometimes in time travel. Now in Warehouse 13 the alternate realities are not the same as the ones presented in other time travel shows because this is not a time travel show. The artifacts create different spaces that exist because of the nature of the artifact. In some ways Warehouse 13, as a show, is only limited by the research / imagination of the writer’s as to what could exist and what those things would do.
The first occurrence of time travel was in the second season in an episode titled “Where and When”. In this episode Pete and Myka travel back in time using H.G. Wells’ time machine which was created using artifacts. The interesting part of how the time machine works is that your body is not sent back in time – just your consciousness. It is very Quantum Leap-esque, where they enter the body of two people in the time they are trying to go to. They control the person’s body and go around as that person.
In Warehouse 13 they only have a limited amount of time that they can be in the past (1339 minutes exactly). The interesting part is that the person who they inhabit ends up blacking out for that same amount of time. So the people who were taken over do not remember anything about what happened. They hear about events afterward, so Pete and Myka met one of the people that they ended up inhabiting so they had an idea about what was supposed to happen. They thought that by knowing what happened they could change it, but they were meant to know what happened and therefore everything was going to happen the way it did.
The other time that time travel happens in the beginning of season 4 in “A New Hope”. This instance of time travel is completely different from the “Where and When”. This one really does use an artifact called the Astrolabe that essentially resets the last 24 hours. In terms of time travel it sends one person back 24 hours and no one else is aware of what happened. This person is sent back to themselves and where they were 24 hours earlier from when they used it, but now they know everything that is about to happen and are still holding the Astrolabe.
This is very different then the first time where they travelled to the past and kind of knew what was happening. They did not travel to their personal past either. The basis of the Astrolabe is to reset the last 24 hours, the baseline is the ability to change a very recent event, which in the show is what happens. Artie gets and uses the Astrolabe and proceeds to change what had happened. The others are suspicious of how Artie knew what to do, but they do not even know of the existence of the Astrolabe, though some suspect time travel. The other interesting outcome is that the affects of the event that were averted still leave an impression, although subtly. There is still evidence that something happened even if no one else, but Artie, knows what that is.
Alternate Realities / Universes
Now even though this is not time travel it is a concept that is often brought up in discussions of time travel. We discussed Artie changing the timeline earlier, but is there now an alternate timeline where the averted event still exists? They mention that they could undo the reset if they re-use the Astrolabe which implies that the other outcome or reality still exists. There have been other times that Warehouse 13 has explored the ideas of alternate realities / universes.
One of the first times we see the idea of an alternate reality / universe is in the episode where we meet Claudia. Her brother is trapped in a location that is separated from reality. It is almost like a pocket universe that exists separated from the time and space that everyone else is existing in. He can sometimes try and get through, but he keeps getting pulled back in. Obviously this is caused by an artifact that is supposed to be human teleportation. What really happens is that you can enter an alternate universe or dimension that you step through and then can step out at a different location from where you started. This does not go so well in the episode, but the alternate location definitely exists.
So the show obviously goes along with the idea of alternate universes and the alternate reality attached to the real world. The other alternate reality that they often deal with are being trapped in artifacts. They get trapped in Alice’s Looking Glass and in an unfinished story. These locations are alternate realities / universes created by the artifacts. The artifacts themselves embody these new locations. The characters often get trapped in these locations and have to figure out a way out of them.
Now something that is not really discussed, but could be an interesting discussion is whether there is a difference in how time works in these other locations. Often with alternate universe situations time runs differently. What can feel like an hour was actual a minute or vice versa. In the case of Claudia’s brother time did not pass at all in the little pocket dimension he was in. When he came out he was the same age he was when he entered even though it was years and years later. The other occurrences do not take as much time, but it is always an interesting perspective with alternate universes. In a way they, in themselves, are another form of time travel.