Friday, January 2, 2015

Jason (Anita Blake Series #22.7) by Laurell K Hamilton

I saw this book described as a “novella” and thought “this is just going to be a sex scene”. Then I opened it and saw that it was 150 pages long so took it back and assumed there was going to be a plot. I was right the first time, it’s just a very very long sex scene with a pointless pre-amble. This just goes to show that even cynical me has some stubborn, foolish hope that refuses to die despite repeatedly being stabbed in the head.

But let’s begin with that pre-amble. First of all, in classic Anita Blake style, every character who appears, no matter how briefly or how irrelevantly, is described in ludicrously unnecessary detail. That includes characters who are referred to but never actually have any role in the book. If the post man had visited while they were talking, I’m sure we’d have three paragraphs describing him as well.

We also have a huge chunk of completely irrelevant and unnecessary recap. It makes me wonder if this is a breakfast ritual at Anita’s house, along with pulling out the relationship flowchart. They discuss Richard’s issues with Nathaniel and Jason because they’re not dominant/powerful/big hulking manly enough for Anita and then a big tour of the whole “who is ruthless and why that is a good thing”. None of this is relevant. The characters they talk about aren’t even in this book – and all of this has been shown before, so why does it need to be told? It’s just a random insert.

That done we have a visit from a weretiger (called Envy. No, really). She’s had sex with Richard and left because he keeps hurting her, hammering away with his super-strength and enormous endowment despite her repeatedly telling him that she’s not having fun and he’s hurting her. There are many ways this could have been handled sensitively and kindly, but since Envy is a blonde woman she is Clearly Evil and instead we have a recounting of how Anita can totally take it with her Vagina Of Steel followed by Envy being envious (ha!) of the wonderful life and wonderful lovers Anita has because she’s just so damn awesome. Because this is Anita and all other women are inferior – even when meeting J.J. a woman Anita actually likes, one of the very first things she does is describe how amazingly, wonderfully curvy Anita is and how much she isn’t.

Then to the endless sex scenes and the pre-amble to it – and the problems here. First of all, this series whole approach to sex and consent is broken. One element that was really strong in this book is the idea that saying no = prudery. If you are not comfortable with a type of sex or a sex act then this isn’t your taste or preference or even sexual orientation – it’s some kind of flaw you need to overcome. If someone comes to you and says you should have sex wearing a wet suite, riding a llama while singing Wagner, then you better get a snorkel, put on your horned helmet and check ebay for an alpaca. This is really pushed in this book – Anita doesn’t get off on voyeurism? Get over it. Anita doesn’t want to share a bed with someone? Get over it. Jade doesn’t want to have sex with men? Get over it. Everyone must want to have sex in all ways at all times with all people or they are evil prudes of prudery who need de-pruding.

The Leftovers, Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

On the 14th of October and a woman is having One of Those Days when her crying baby vanishes she understandably panics. Around her we see other evidence of people disappearing, shopping carts rolling without anyone pushing them, people looking for suddenly missing family, cars suddenly missing drivers crashing, the screen goes black as we hear dozens, hundreds of people all calling emergency services about missing people.

Forward three years and a radio recites the number of people who went missing around the world; one voice pointing out that 2% of the world’s population (those who vanished) isn’t technically that many, while another lists the numbers around the world.

Police chief Kevin Garvey is out running when he runs into a dog with tags, he tries to coax it to him when a man shoots it with a rifle. That seemed rather unnecessary. The man drives off, ignoring Kevin’s attempts to question him.

He goes home where the TV helpfully informs us that not only are world religions unwilling to rule on what caused the vanishing, but a scientific commission has also come up with nothing. He dresses in his uniform and goes to tell a woman about her dog being shot (in the conversation we learn his dad was chief before him – and that he “went crazy”). She doesn’t especially care about her dog.

To next character, a woman waking up in large room on a camp bed, surrounded by many other people. She smokes and, for some reason, we cut to a scene of a schoolyard fight. In the bathroom there’s a large sign saying “We Are Living Reminders” signed off with the Guilty Remnant. The group is made up of a large number of people all dressed in white and all chain smoking.  They communicate by writing to each other on notepads. Another sign declares that they smoke to declare their faith.

They’re given assignment and the woman we saw (Laurie Garvey, Kevin Garvey’s wife) is upset she isn’t on the list and demands to go. Go means apparently following a woman, Meg and watching her while smoking. She is getting married and seems to be a little stressed/upset/generally troubled while her fiancé begs Laurie and her fellow GR member to back off which they seem to agree to

But when they drive home, him trying really hard to cheer Meg up, Laurie and Gladys are waiting for them, smoking away. Meg loses her temper and slaps Laurie before being dragged away by her fiancé.

Kevin goes to a meeting with the Mayor Lucy and some other folks planning a big parade since it’s the 3rd anniversary of the disappearances. It’s called “heroes’ day” (the name is not uncontroversial but as the mayor, who is wonderfully blunt, puts it “no-one’s going to come to ‘we don’t know what the fuck happened day’) and includes a speech from Nora Durst since she lost her entire family during the vanishing. The day is meant to be part of grieving and moving on – something, Kevin points out, the Guilty Remnant are not interested in doing. He’s worried the Guilty Remnant will protest the celebration as is their apparent habit with any gathering but the mayor considers it both their right and not a threat or problem. Kevin isn’t willing to buy that, regarding the Guilty Remnant and their relatively sudden appearance and lack of any apparent goals to be sinister. He’s worried they will provoke someone to violence. She refuses to cancel the parade and he stomps out in a snit.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014: Year In Review

2014 is now behind us; it’s been a bit up and down with various drama llamas hitting us in the summer, but we’ve still managed to get through almost 230 books this year (bringing our total to over 850 - how much over I don’t know and am not nearly drunk enough to count) - and have now covered over 80 shows along with films, the odd computer game and a whole lot of Friday Discussions. I’m sometimes stunned by how much Fangs has grown - and also vaguely aware we need to find some way to get drop down menus on this site.

Anyway, with the New Year it’s time to digest what passed!


What were you Top 3 series/books you read this year?
In the interest of not being repetitive, I’m going to say that any book series that I praised the last 2 years continued to be awesome this year. None have crashed on me, they’re still my precious. I love these authors and they’d dominate this top-3 list year after year effortlessly

With that said, I am truly horrified with myself for not lavishing embarrassing amounts of gloopy praise over everything Ilona Andrews has ever written; including Magic Breaks this year. Mea Culpa, this series has deserved a mention a lot earlier than this. Second I’ll mention the awesome Witch with No Name by Kim Harrison because it PERFECTLY ended this awesome series (though I am still grieving). I have so many candidates for the third slot but I’m going to go with Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain because it was SO MUCH FUN!

What book(s) pleasantly surprised you?
I’m going to go with Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series here simply because it has completely validated my stubborn refusal not to give up on a series. When we read the first book in this series, The Iron Duke there were problems, terrible, rapey problems. My expectations plummeted… and then I read the rest of the series which are now some of my all time favourite books AND surprisingly social justice aware on several axis.

I’m also going to mention The Others series by Anne Bishop here - because I loved and adored these books (if I had more room above, I’d include them) because I went into this series expecting the worst - I’d heard terrible terrible things about her other series...

What was your favourite Television series this year?
The Stahma show! Aka Defiance. In depth storylines, excellent characters and Stahma just being so amazingly perfect every single episode that I started grinning like a fool every time her perfect self came on screen. Hail Stahma!

Since I think we’ve mentioned Defiance before, I’m also going to go with Penny Dreadful for surprises, utterly gorgeous gothic imagery and the best scenery chewing I’ve ever seen.

What was the worst thing you read this year?
Choices, choices. It’s hard for anything to beat The Last Werewolf since it has the line: “Her asshole, for example. It’s like a stern coquettish spoiled secretary working for Himmler-“

That’s setting records of terrible. But then there’s Faefever’s awful depiction of rape - the only thing more cringeworthy than the depiction is the number of fans drooling over Barrons.

But I’m going to go with the Vampire Chronicles series because I’ve read the entire series this year and I suffered. Oh how I suffered. The terrible depiction of LGBT people, the racist happy-dappy slaves, the endless paedophilia and incest all to a background of the most impenetrable, awful prose, complete lack of plot and agonisingly melodramatic characters. There is a circle of hell where people have to read this series and they BEG to be allowed to push the damn boulder up the hill.

What was the worst thing you watched this year?
Da Vinci’s Demons, because I will never ever NOT be pissed about Da Vinci’s Demons. Beauty and the Beast probably takes the prize - when it went on hiatus and then came back (and by some demonic sorcery was actually renewed) I had so little interest in keeping up with the vapid shredded cannon of this show that I just couldn’t bring myself to pick it up again. Not even for the joy of watching Sendhil Ramamurthy.

Stick a fork in ‘em, they’re done: Shows that need to be cancelled:
The Vampire Diaries. Good gods, let it die! The only relevant plot lines on this show revolve around Bonnie and she’s continually sidelined - give her a spin off and let the endlessly dull, repetitive and self-absorbed trainwreck that is Elena’s extended love life just die already please.

What was this year’s guilty pleasure? Which book/series are you embarrassed to admit you liked?
Supernatural and The Dresden Files both hold spots as things I’m embarassed to say I love so much (though Supernatural is rapidly expending my patience). Both of them are epic Friday Discussion fodder but they bring me endless joy.

Biggest Disappointment of the Year:
Constantine and not just because of the straight washing (for the sake of rainbows and pride, can someone please keep Goyer away from established LGBT personages already!) but because I think it had an interesting concept, a decent cast and some nice gritty material and it has only occasionally come close to reaching its potential. Now I fear it’s too little too late - I wanted to love this show, I tried so hard to love this show.

Were your expectations for 2014 met?
Nope, which is kind of sad. I look back at last years post and I’m all enthusiastic about Helix, Bitten, Dominion and The Strain none of which I particularly enjoyed. There’s only really Penny Dreadful that actually turned out to be something decent. The spin off shows never happened

Diversitywise my expectations also weren’t met in many ways. We saw shows with main POC be cancelled: Almost Human and Being Human (US) while Sleepy Hollow greatly de-emphasised it’s POC. In terms of new shows, only Z Nation, From Dusk Till Dawn and, at an extreme push, Helix has POC in anything like similarly dominant roles.

On the LGBT front I’m doubly annoyed because this has been the year of the media tease - behind the camera we’ve had slashbaiting, and comments from show creators about The Walking Dead, Teen Wolf and several films we haven’t followed (Expendables, How to Train your Dragon and, yes, Dumbledore yet again) bigging up minimal inclusion. In front of the camera we’ve had so many teeny tokens that are weirdly praised in the media (Vampire Diaries is being mentioned. Vampire Diaries).

We may be talking about diversity more - but it seems that the discussion has turned into selling the same empty tokens but with more hype and praise.

What are you looking forward to in 2015?
The obvious awesomeness goes without saying - Penny Dreadful, Orphan Black. But I’m also looking forward to the return of Helix since the story has shifted so much it could be a very different show. Ilona Andrews has a new series coming as well which I really can’t wait for

I’d also like to see if any of those spin offs are actually going to happen! New series I’m eager for are Olympus (Greek mythology? SOLD!) and Izombie (which sounds nifty).

Most of all I am not so much looking forward to as demanding - diversity is entering more and more of our discourse in both publishing and media - so it’s time for some substantive change. And that doesn’t mean talking up your tokens to convince everyone that you’re super progressive because recurring minor character #976956 is a minority.


What were you Top 3 series/books you read this year?

Wow, I read so much this year that it’s hard to choose.  I do however think that my favourite series were The Others by Anne Bishop, the Kara Gillian series by Diana Rowland and of course, The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne.  With each new book, these series kept me late at night promising to go to bed after reading just one more chapter.  Of the three, I would have to say that my favorite was Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop.  I simply love the world she created and found myself walking around saying, “the Meg” for days after I finished reading this book.  My only disappointment is that Bishop seems to only release one book in this series a year, which is not nearly enough.

What book(s) pleasantly surprised you?

I would have to say that it’s A Witch With no Name by Kim Harrison. The Hollow series has always been excellent but I really didn’t like the portrayal of Rachel in Dead Pool and was greatly concerned that the essence of who she was would be lost due to her budding relationship to Trent.  I was so pleased that not only did Harrison dial this back and give us a Rachel who wasn’t overly obsessed with Trent, she neatly wrapped up the storylines of all of the side characters.  I am truly sad that The Hollows is at an end though, while other less enjoyable series continue on.

What was your favourite television series this year? would think this would be easy because of the amount of sheer drek we have been subjected to this year but it’s not. I suppose I am going to have to go with the old standby of Game of Thrones.  The acting is always superb and the staging is wonderful.  This is not to say that Game of Thrones didn’t have its problems like the unacknowledged rape of Cersei by Jamie.  That aside, it produced the most attention grabbing season finale of all of the shows we watched and left me instantly wanting more. Finally, who doesn’t get excited when they hear the theme song to Game of Thrones?  

What was the worst thing you read this year?

So much drek, so little time.  Zombie Fallout 2: A Plague Upon Your Family (Zombie Fallout #2) by Mark Tufo is certainly high on the list.  In fact, this entire series should come with a do not read label due to sheer offensiveness and puerile humour.  The protagonist is the worst sort of Gary Stu whom everyone follows without explanation.  This is a book that you should never borrow from the library lest your library card stage or a revolt, let alone pay so much as one penny for.  

Last God Standing by Michael Boatman, also deserves an honourable mention.  I still cannot tell you what this book is about.  Yes, yes, I know that Gods have taken human form and are fighting against each other but beyond that this story goes absolutely nowhere.  There isn’t even a single likable character and Boatman seems to love using homophobia as the basis of his jokes.  It’s the kind of book that makes you scratch your head and wonder how many trees died for this drek to be produced.

What was the worst thing you watched all year?

There is only one answer to this question: American Horror Story.  Every week since this show started airing, I wait to either be offended or outright enraged. American Horror Story: Coven was certainly no different. We had Queenie who compulsively ate, ‘cause that’s what fat people do don’t you know.  She was also the only virgin, that is until she had sex with a freaking minotaur.  American Horror Story: Coven even gave us the storyline of the killer vagina. For a show all about strong female characters, American Horror Story Coven sure seemed to embrace misogyny.

Stick a fork in ‘em, they’re done: Shows that need to be cancelled:
Can I only pick one?  There are a few things that really need to be cancelled.  For instance, why oh why is  Continuum still on the air?  This show didn’t make sense in the first season and only got worse as it went on.  It needs a mercy killing already.  Then, there is Dusk till Dawn. I will admit that I hated the movie that this show is based on and so it never really had a chance with me; however, I didn’t expect to hate it as much as I do.  It’s absolutely torture to sit through an episode.  There isn’t a single likeable character and it doesn’t feel like the plot is going anywhere.  Dusk Till Dawn is simply violence for the sake of violence.

What was this year’s guilty pleasure? Which book/series are you embarrassed to admit you liked?

Yes, I am going to say True Blood.  I know this season was a hot mess but I still got excited every Sunday at 9pm and would sing along with the theme song. I know the best days were behind True Blood by the time this final season started but I still loved it and well, who could blame me, with all of the eye candy?  Boo and hiss if you like but I shall simply answer you with, Ryan Kwanten (of course with a gag ‘cause Jason is annoying as all get out) and Alexander Skarsgård.

Biggest disappointment of the year?

This is a tough one to admit, largely because I used to be a huge Anne Rice fan.  I think the issue is that when I read her vampire chronicles years ago, I was a much younger woman and there certainly weren’t many options in the genre.  It was with much eagerness that I picked up Prince Lestat, only to find that I couldn’t wait for the damn book to finish.  I didn’t remember her purple prose and just how damn long winded Rice is.  Prince Lestat simply didn’t go anywhere and it caused me to stop my fond remembrance of this series which first introduced me to this genre.

Were expectations met in 2014?

To that I would have to answer a qualified yes.  After consuming so many books and watching so many television shows and movies I have come to expect either bad representation or outright erasure in this genre.  At this point, I simply have lowered my expectations.  Nothing would please me more than to see more marginalized characters with fully fleshed out storylines but I fear we are a long way from that.

What are you looking forward to in 2015?
I would have to say that I am looking forward to Olympus.  I have always been a huge mythology geek and since the cancellation of The Almighty Johnsons, there has been nothing on television to fill this void.  I only hope that it is worth all of the anticipation.  

Overall my expectations for this genre will remain low; however, I am still hopeful.  If we can read about zombies, vampires, etc., then surely there is room for a multitude of marginalized characters all telling different stories.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Archangel's Shadows (Guildhunter Series #7) by Nalini Singh

Ashwini was badly injured in the recent war that hit New York, and her new assignment seems something of a soft-ball compared to her usual fare. Thankfully, Janvier, the intriguing, sexy and very playful vampire who has often being her foil is there to make things more interesting and tempt her to move closer to him – despite the cruel future that she knows makes it impossible.

Of course, the wake of the war has made even a soft-ball investigation fraught – with the possibility of covert agents, the need for discretion to avert panic and the constant tension that threaten the city. Tension that Elena, trying to navigate the tides of Archangel politics, is all too aware of.

In some ways this book was very distracted – but that worked. After all, while this is a book that focuses on Ashwini and Janvier, there is still a lot going on in the world – the aftermath of the war, Elena and Raphael juggling the city and the other Archangels, ongoing covert warfare. I really like that these things haven’t just stopped because we’re focused on another story. This world is rich and involved and there’s a whole lot going on – and we simply cannot ignore the epic happening completely even if Ashwini and Janvier, unlike the other protagonists, are not on a high enough level to be directly involved. I love the fact that it manages to tell the story of the world, how this manages to continue to be Elena and Raphael’s stories – the core characters – even while the protagonist shifts. This is a wonderful switch from other long running series with shifting protagonists as it sometimes feels like every book completely ignores what has passed before. This isn’t just a story of Ashwini and Janvier – this is the story of New York, of the Archangel Raphael and and his consort Elena and a world wide brewing event.

I like the juxtaposition of both the epic, worldwide war and the more local issue – because just as the world-wide brewing war can’t be ignored for the sake of Ashwini and Janvier’s story, nor can local issues of ruling Raphael’s territory be ignored because of political machinations. Murders need investigating, people need to be saved, vampires have to be kept in line. On top of that there’s the inherent link between the meta story and this book’s plot – and not just covert agents trying to destabilise the territory – but even things like the war dividing the vampires who fought and those who continue to indulge themselves, or the fear of panic among the uneasy population and even the vampire’s growing aggression having recently been in combat.

Then there’s Elena’s continued growth as Consort – not just her personal skills but the way she’s learning the necessary etiquette and hosting, finding her own level with the other Archangels as well as Raphael’s household and even changing the way things are done in the territory with her new insights.

There’s also some really cute moments like all the vampires now buying blood from the business Elena’s invested in because they want her first venture to succeed and Janvier’s kind of cutely embarrassed about it. There’s some other nice world building developments – like the idea that we only see the worst of vampires because those less given to destructive proclivities simply don’t come to the attention of the Hunters and some more development of other Archangels (especially Titus). Lots of little bits that just complete this world in richer colour.

Put all this together and it should be impossible to balance – but it isn’t, it works and it all works as a whole rather than lots of disparate elements thrown together. The pacing is excellent, the way the elements come together is excellent and it’s just an altogether excellent continuation of the whole story – not just Ashwini and Janvier

The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice

Flynn manages to win the philosopher's stone at an auction and in the process, loses his girlfriend Katie, who has become tired of always playing second fiddle to the Library.  This causes Flynn to have a little breakdown when he realises just how much he has given up for his job.  Fearing the worst, Judson and Charlene suggest that Flynn take a little vacation.  When Flynn decides to follow his dreams to New Orleans, he has no idea that rather than moving away from the mysteries he solves everyday, he is diving into an exciting search for the Judas Chalice.

I think of the movies to date, Cure of the Judas Chalice is easily the best.  The special effects are still very cheap and the movie is completely a camp rip off  of the Indiana Jones series but at least this installment is entertaining.  To have a chance of enjoying Curse of the Judas Chalice, you have to go into it with the right frame of mind and you simply cannot take it seriously.

Once again, Flynn is without an official Guardian but he is however partnered with a very sexy vampire named Simone Renoir.  Simone was turned against her well four hundred years ago and since then has determined to spend her undead life protecting the Judas chalice, sure in the knowledge that her sire would seek it out one day for the power it would provide.  Simone is smart, funny and extremely capable. Flynn and Simone even have pretty good chemistry with each other and this time, I actually believe his awkwardness.  Simone turned out to be an absolutely great foil to Flynn and was strong willed enough to walk away from him at the end.

The problem is that all of the female partners in this series have inevitably become love interests for Flynn.  Sometimes the relationships are subversive, in that they become the brawn to Flynn's brains; however, it's still rather limited for them to fitted neatly into the love interest role. It's a trope and it's far from original but then if you're looking for originality, this is not the series for you. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dragons & Dirigibles (Gaslight Chronicles #7) by Cindy Spencer Pape

Captain Victor Arrignton is forced to return to land, when his brother and sister in-law are killed in an accident.  As the second son, Victor never expected to become the Earl but with a firm sense of duty, Victor attempts to establish a life at Black Heath and raise his niece Emma.  Victor struggles with his new role, particularly trying to raise Emma to be a proper lady. as she seems for more interested in mathematics and science. than learning the traditional womanly skills of stitching, music. and dance.  This task becomes that much more difficult when dirigible pilot Melody McKay. falls from the sky. after being shot down.  Now. Victor finds himself struggling to bust up a smuggling ring and deal with the this difficult woman, who challenges the very idea of what it is to be a lady.

Dragons & Dirigibles is a novella, coming in at a scant 125 pages and is the story of Melody Mckay, sister to Connor of Cards & Caravans.    Like all of the female love interests in this series, Melody is a very strong character.  Melody knows her own mind and will not be told what to do.  When Melody is found in a compromising position with Victor by Tom, Melody is adamant that Tom not interfere.
Melody came around Victor and laid a hand on his wait.  "Thomas Aloysius Devere, never take that tone with me again.  I am an adult and I make my own decisions.  Does it look as if I'm here under duress?"  She gestured at Victor's unbuttoned waistcoat.

Tom flushed. "No, of course not, but -"

"Do I need to tell Wink about this?  Or Caro?" Melody tapped her foot.

Victor knew he should intervene, take control of the situation, but right now, he was too entranced by the fiery creature by his side who seemed to be handling things just fine on her own.

"Look, Mel.  I'm sorry.  But you know this is a bad idea."  Tom looked u at the ceiling, as if requesting divine assistance.  "Let's just all go upstairs and forget all about this."

Forget? Every second of this interlude would be branded into Victor's mind until the day he died.

"Just walk away, Tommy." Melody's voice lower instead of rising.  "You're out of line and you know it.  Leave now, if you place any value on my friendship."
Of course, Melody is another in a long line of gently used protagonists, while her love interest, Victor, is an experienced lover.  This is yet another trope that is all too common in paranormal romance. In some ways, it undermines some of the strength that Melody has been given in this novel.

The Librarians, Season 1, Episode 5: And the Apple of Discord

Opening drama – near Mount Fuji in Japan 2 people hiking through the woods at night are attacked by a mysterious huge scary thing

At the Annex everyone buzzes around because of magical Earthquake-type-thingies all around the world. Everyone rushes around researching (and Ezekiel orders pizza). Their research is interrupted by the return of Flynn, the Librarian, dramatically announcing “it’s the dragons!”

Reunion time (Jenkins happily telling Flynn that he keeps their bags packed if he wants rid of them, Flynn surprised no-one is dead yet and greeting his Guardian, Eve, by title). Eve also would quite like the desk she uses not to keep resetting itself to Flynn’s wishes

Flynn explains that dragons are largely asleep underground unless they’re annoyed then they wake up all cranky and havoc-causey (Very like me. They just need draconic coffee.) He and Jenkins also argue about the difference between western and eastern dragons who have a long standing feud. The extent of the havoc-ness is why Flynn has returned early and he presents a guess that the hoarding nature of dragons means there’s a good chance something has been stolen from them.

Flynn dishes out lots of orders as he prepares for the arrival of Mr. Drake, the Eastern Dragon’s representative but Eve takes him aside to have a quick interjection – she’s not happy with him coming to the Annex after so long away and just taking over and completely undermining her.

Discussion called because the doorbell rings, Mr. Drake shows up and Ezekiel, despite being a genius, assumes the old man in the expensive suit is the pizza delivery man. Also, arcane rules means that whoever speaks first now speaks for the Library forever more – so better make sure you don’t run into a cleaning lady or a receptionist on the way to the Librarians. Ezekiel continues to speak to the dragon as the pizza guy. But he still agrees to a draconic intercession in the name of pizza which is extra bad

Even by The Librarians standard, this is ludicrous.

Which means Ezekiel and his wisecracking is now the diplomat as Drake claims the western dragons stole a pearl from the eastern dragons. Also for REASONS Flynn cannot claim Library spokesman back off Ezekiel and Drake won’t speak to anyone by Ezekiel. If Drake doesn’t get his pearl back the Eastern Dragons will collectively lose their shit. Ezekiel is, slowly and surely as if he isn’t a genius, convinced to make Jenkins the Consigliore of the arbiter. Whatever that means.

So Ezekiel and Jenkins stay to play host while the rest of the group goes pearl hunting. Which means going to steal something from the western dragons in Rome without Ezekiel because Ezekiel now has the intelligence of semolina. Jenkins explains to him that Drake will be drawing up a list of things to complain about since the last meeting (in San Francisco during the 1906 Earthquake – the last time the dragons were not happy). Jenkins suggests that he take the lead and Ezekiel decides that, no, despite knowing nothing about dragons and just displayed a level of incompetence that means he should either never be trusted again or should pursue a career in politics, he will take the lead.

The rest of the gang arrive in the Vatican and Cassandra uses her special brain to solve a puzzle to the entrance (helped by Jake to keep her brain on track while Eve points this out to Flynn). They go down a tunnel, for some reason chased by the police, which seals behind them.

Eve leads as Guardian and takes the chance to check on Flynn’s progress in getting the Library back (slow). More traps and they claim a pearl – which makes Jake’s eyes glow purple which probably isn’t a good sign. He locks them in and goes wandering off to look at art.

The gang he leaves behind finds a western dragon who claims they never stole the pearl – and dragons can’t lie.

They catch up with Jake who is moving paintings around which really upsets the gallery owners – in the scuffle he drops his pearl which shatters to reveal an apple inside. Cassandra picks up the apple and she goes evil – running off after playing with Eve’s gun while Eve has to explain things to the Italian authorities. While she does so Flynn realises the apple is the Apple of Discord which turns people into the worst versions of themselves (so Jake because the extremely arrogant art critic). Eve is terrified of what will happen if Ezekiel touches the apple while Jake thinks Cassandra with the apple isn’t so bad

Back at the Annex a whole conclave is happening, bringing the Djinn and the fae and more – which Ezekiel is supposed to preside over. Jenkins berates Ezekiel as not a librarian and not knowing what he’s going but Ezekiel is happy to continue not knowing what he’s doing

Things seem to be going rather well until evil Dulaque of the bad guys shows up eating Ezekiel’s pizza. Evil Cassandra also returns to run into a knife wielding Lamia. Jenkins gets up and leaves the room. Dulaque’s organisation is recognised by the assembled supernatural beings and Dulaque calls a vote of no confidence for the library and wants it shut down

On the plus side, Evil Cassandra’s genius brain picks out all the patterns and formulas necessary to incapacitate Lamia very very quickly. One the downside, she wants to go use this new destructive formulas more dramatically. Mainly to make a Roman power plant blow up and take out most of Europe. They use mental tricks to bring Cassandra out of her evil brain loop (and everyone agrees, again, Ezekiel can’t hold the apple). Of course that leaves Flynn and Eve picking up the apple and doing flirty evil which quickly turns into a power battle over who is boss. In case we missed that subtlety.  Eve gets it, then Lamia (who is getting increasingly confused) jumps in and Flynn ends up with it – getting a huge dose of evil apple arrogance and fury (and more flirting with Eve)

Ezekiel catches up with the leaving Jenkins to curse him out for being a coward – for never choosing a side and never really committing to the Librarian team. Jenkins throws some criticism at Ezekiel being a thief. He also counters he has chosen over and over again over the years and achieved nothing except more blood and loss; which is why he came to the Annex to work alone – because nothing changes. Wow, didn’t expect that much of an epic speech.

Ezekiel goes back in and tries to stop Dulaque and fails terribly – but he seems to have moved Jenkins who uses his masterful knowledge of procedures to bog everything down. But Dulaque manages to get things back on track just as Evil Flynn returns to the Annex followed by the others; he chases out all the less librarians.

Alone with the council Flynn rants rather excessively all over everyone and everything with an added side of how awesome he is and how he could take all of them if he wanted to before musing on world domination. Jenkins charges out to distract Flynn while Ezekiel steals the apple off him. Apple-less, Flynn then changes his speech into why the Library is actually kind of a good thing and the motion to remove the library is cancelled

Oh and Ezekiel doesn’t turn evil because he’s already the worst version of himself, he can’t get eviller (I don’t know if this makes him super evil, or super good – because the worst version of Ezekiel is a thief, not a murderer who blows up power plants to watch them go boom). At least Jenkins likes him now.

And on the pearl theft, Ezekiel does a last minute attempt to justify his existence by… suggesting the dragons stole their own pearl? I don’t know and I don’t think anyone actually cares.

Back to the plot that actually matters – Jenkins confronts Dulaque for being secretly behind everything and how horrendous it was for him to wake the dragons. Dulaque suggests Jenkins join him and when he refuses things get cryptic – Dulaque says “our sides have always been chosen for us”. Jenkins counters “we choose – thousands of years ago when you and I stopped being… whatever we were.” What what what tell me mooore?! Jenkins has a big conflict face.

Flynn meets Eve with her transfer papers that would make her officially part of the Library – It also gives her the chance to back out because he recognises that he recruited her to the Library, dumped a job on her and then ran off – which didn’t give her a choice or treat her as an equal. He also praises the amazing things she’s achieved with the team. He also offers to stay if she does – she does agree to stay but also thinks he needs to go back out and continue his mission to bring the library back.

He kisses her before leaving

I love that Eve is asserting her leadership and making it clear that Flynn can’t just waltz in and take over without any acknowledgement of what has happened or how the group dynamic has developed especially after Eve has made the group work.

The flip side is, I wish she could make this point without demanding a time out in the middle of a clearly time sensitive crisis.

Ezekiel in this episode is appalling – they destroyed this character’s any pretence at intelligence to force him and Jenkins to be the ones in the library.  Especially since this character has been the least developed of the geniuses.

The whole plot line was kind of weak and ended without any real explanation – there was one shiny point:

Jenkins. That’s a lot of epic backstory hinted at right there – and some really powerful despair and sadness and the toll of a clearly ancient being. I want more Jenkins! And… less of everyone else, which is kind of sad. Or at least more silly fun to justify everyone else.