Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Librarians, Season 1, Episode 6: And the Fables of Doom

A giant hand picks up a truck with a very impatient driver inside and dumps him in the water. An artefact that magically curses people with road rage to be attacked by giants? Sounds good, where can I get one?

Time for the gang to arrive at the scene of the crash and fumble to think of some kind of cover story (sure Eve keeps throwing around her counter-terrorism credentials, but there’s a limit to how often and where they can use that). Jake flails badly, Ezekiel insults the sheriff by calling his town boring and all of them fail basic social interaction and should really leave this to Eve.

To the truck that the sheriff lets them examine anyway and they see a giant fingerprint on the truck. Quick communication with Jenkins who is the most awesome thing about this show and they learn about trolls – big, dangerous and not very great in daylight. He vaguely offers more help if they can get a picture of the troll or a sample of it.

Eve and Ezekiel wander off looking for the troll and the snarky Ezekiel is snarky – mainly because that’s his motivation as he clearly tells Eve: he’s a Librarian because it’s fun, and if it stops being fun he’ll stop doing it. They find the troll as a statue and grab some rocks

Cassandra and Jake form their own team but Cassandra is still worried that Jake doesn’t trust her (which he doesn’t). They get CCTV of the truck crossing the bridge and Jake notes there was a small car, a medium car then the big truck. They’re interrupted by the mayor jogging by completely naked and oblivious to the fact, he believes he’s wearing a new jogging suit (if you’re going to blur out his backside then keep the camera above the waist, showing someone completely naked but blurred is just odd). They ask the sheriff if anything else odd has happened but he’s sure their quiet town is quite mundane. Of course, his definition of mundane includes a woman being stuck in a pizza oven, talking animals and a few more oddly fairy-taleish events.

The gang gets back together so Jake can tell Eve that there’s way more than a troll in town – when lots of people scream because a huge wolf the size of an elephant appears walking down the road. Wearing a granny’s nightcap and it menaces a woman wearing red. Jake kills it with a thrown axe (axes aren’t usually that aerodynamic). In case we haven’t been following, Eve tells us that someone has weaponised fairy tales. S

To the Annex where Jenkins draws up a big list of all the Artefacts that can bring fairy tales to life and then crosses off the ones it can’t be (which I kind of love – and not just because Jenkins is awesome). To narrow it down further he wants to autopsy the wolf and doesn’t see why this should be a problem.

Eve and Cassandra distract people (and everyone is oddly staring at Cassandra) while Ezekiel and Jake steal the wolf carcass. They get it back to the Annex, cut it open – and there’s a red clad woman inside. Still alive. Jenkins now knows the artefact – a book, the Libris something or other.

Cut to an old man reading that book to a sick kid in a hospital.

Elsewhere in the hospital, Cassandra has been latched on to by the rescued woman who decides Cassandra is the most amazing, wonderful rescuer - completely forgetting Jake, despite his many attempts to point out he was the one who cut her free.

Jenkins has also joined them and is creepy and awesome about vending machines and to potentiously exposition about how the Librus will grow in power and sweep more people into the stories – eventually covering whole nations. He suggests the Black Death was caused by it originally and adds that to power it the book sucks life force – and if you read a story to someone they become weak and sick and die. So time to check hospital records for people sick without reason.

Some more fairy tale shout outs (a boy eating a piece of house, poisoned apple farm, a woman convinced her step-children wanted to kill her). Jenkins also makes it clear that fairy tales, the original non-Disney versions – are brutal and frightening but also that more people will fit fairy tale archtypes and be drawn in

To which we have Ezekiel getting lots of odd, amazing luck and chasing after a coin her drops that keeps rolling as if supernaturally powered. The coin leads him right to one of the children dying from said life-sucking storybook. He teaches the fine art of lockpicking and hears that the kid just got sick after story hour at the library.

Eve keeps losing her shoe as she and Jake go to the library where they learn the library recently received some ancient books in a man’s will. The librarian is unwilling to let these complete strangers examine his very very rare, old books.

Cassandra is being beloved by all womanhood as amazingly Charming as the whole gang gathers together. Ezekiel tells them about the sick kid who, unfortunately, is the daughter of the sheriff who already doesn’t like Ezekiel. He tries to cuff Ezekiel – and he just takes them off again; so the sheriff goes all glowing eyed fairy tale, threatening to huff and puff – and blowing out all the glass in the bar. They run – the bar’s only made of wood after all.

Fairy tales start catching up with the main gang – Prince Charming Cassandra, Eve is now humming, laughing fairy tale princess and Jake the huntsman is now carrying around an axe. And an owl. Cassandra thinks that’s fine – heroes are safe but Jenkins objects, heroes have all kinds of difficulty and hardship in fairy tales. Only Jack, the lucky rogue and thief, gets through unscathed. That would be Ezekiel. Who runs off, leaving the other three looking at a town that is becoming more and more consumed by fairy tales - Cassandra leads an evacuation of the civilians using her Prince Charming magnetism while the sheriff and other “wolves” follow.

Ezekiel sneaks his way back into the hospital where the kindly librarian is reading the Death Book to sick kids. Except kindly Librarian is very aware of what he’s doing, killing kids – and the book also super-charges the storyteller so Ezekiel can’t just take the book from the super-strong old man. He’s quite bitter and furious about being neglected and forgotten in his old age. He uses the book to direct the wolves after the other librarians.

Princess Eve calls Ezekiel and tells him that basically everything rests on him because, as the rogue, he’s the only one the story will support. Which is when the wolves break into the library and Charming Cassandra pulls out a heroic dramatic speech much to the adulation of the civilians and the happiness of Princess Eve. They fight – Cassandra and Huntsman Jake being awesome, Eve is frustrated by her suddenly appearing high heels.

Then we get still weirder with a magic lucky coin and Ezekiel taking the book in the hospital and giving the book to Jenny, the sick child to tell her own story; with robots, ninjas and merlin. Because why not – run with it, it’s silly and fun. Evil librarian is sucked into the book because why not.

Happily ever epilogue with some clumsy explanations (I actually kind of like how they use the standard explanations these shows always do and they just don’t work. “Mass hallucinations? We better call FEMA!”)

Back to the Annex, complete with the rare book collection just in case (much to Jake’s glee). Everyone deals with what they’ve learned and Ezekiel smugly points out that when a magic spell turned everyone to heroes of legend, it turned him into… him. So running around relying on luck is something he’s going to keep doing

I can’t say I love Ezekiel as a character but I do quite like the clarity of his motivations. Ezekiel is there because being a Librarian is fun – and that’s an ok motivation for a character. I actually quite like the idea of a character who is involved because it amuses him. It’s such  a realistic motivation and something we rarely see in the genre – protagonists are involved because of noble duty, base self-interest, self-preservation, forced by circumstances – rarely because they are actively amused by what they’re doing and enjoy it. Why shouldn’t fun be a motivation?

It’s nice to see him more involved this episode –but also feel that “rogue” was a bit of a cop out because it didn’t involve anything about him changing

I also really like Jake’s position on Cassandra – he doesn’t trust her. That doesn’t mean he dislikes her or doesn’t like spending time with her or can’t work wither her – but he doesn’t trust her (both because of his own trust issues and because she betrayed his trust). Which is fine. I strongly dislike the idea that anyone is owed our trust or we have a duty to trust people or that deciding not to trust someone is offensive or rude or wrong or some kind of failing. No-one has a duty to trust – and Jake was really good here in making it clear that distrust doesn’t have to come with being an arsehole or mean to someone just because he doesn’t trust them.

Both of these are nice little nuggets in an episode and a show that is just fun fluff. And that’s not a bad thing – this episode is exactly what Libarians should be – fun, light, a little silly, but really fun.