Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Librarians, Season 1, Episode 8: And the Heart of Darkness

A spooky forest in Slovakia and a bloodstained woman running in horror from a house – only to be found by the Librarians. She gasps that there’s something horrible in the house (in American accented English). She tells them her friends are still caught inside

Cassandra is tracing broken ley lines (something Jenkins told them to do and her brilliant brain can manage despite the nose bleeds it causes, much to Eve’s concern). Which also leads them to the house.

Calling Jenkins he adds to the general badness that is broken ley lines and he tells them the house may be a very very nasty haunting. They reach the house and Eve’s concern about Cassandra has her tell Cassandra to stay outside and look after the frightened girl – Cassandra knows what she’s doing and isn’t very pleased by being protected.

Jake tells them that the house is an American frontier house – and very out of place in Slovakia. They go inside and place magical scrolls to fix things – only to have thrown knives and broken crockery drive them out.

Outside they prepare to go back in again but the scared girl, Katie, runs in alone for her friends which interrupts Eve trying to sideline Cassandra again. Inside they catch Katie and, again, Eve tells Cassandra and Katie to stay on the ground floor while she, Jake and Ezekiel go upstairs. Cassandra isn’t pleased – especially since Katie asks her if all she does is read maps.

Upstairs they split up even while Ezekiel tells them how foolish it is. Each finds lots and lots of really well done creepiness (+10 creepy points show) and each finds a picture of two people infront of the house with their faces ripped off (the picture is ripped, not their actual faces, that would be messy and not photogenic). Eve also has a vision of the missing kids.

They take some blood stained clothes they find to Katie who freaks out and storms off – she doesn’t have the best sense of self-preservation. Cassandra goes after her, snarking that she’s the “Katie-wrangler”. They call Jenkins for information and he tells them that lots of horrible slaughter urban legends all took place in this particular house. Nice. One of Six haunted houses. He researches and discovers it’s the Shatter Box which tends to move around, feeding on victims over a century.

To stop the house they need to find its mysterious “Dark Heart” (which could be anything) and destroy it – before midnight when it moves on. Yes the House is the monster

Which is time for a shadowy robed figure with an axe to ghost around.

For extra tension, Katie describes the scary man made of shadow and smoke.

Time for Ezekiel to disappear and some stellar creepiness. Every creepy haunted house trope you can imagine and they’re really well done. Eve tries to convince Cassandra to leave to protect Katie – and because the team has different skills; Cassandra’s doesn’t include combat. Cassandra goes out to the car and thinks that the protectiveness is linked to both her weakness – and her past betrayal. But Katie spins it another way – points out she was the one trusted to protect Katie.

Feeling better Cassandra tries to drive off – but the shadowy smoke thing is outside the house and smashing the car. They run back in the house where Eve really wishes she had something to shoot. She runs to Cassandra and Katie’s screams – and Jake disappears.

Ezekiel and Jones are inside a doll house (which I would have broken first off, personally – heart of the house and a model house? C’mon!). A house with extra wish fulfilment as a bonus. The room also has some very rare ancient art on the walls that enthrals Jake – showing the House is much much older than 100 years.

Outside Eve and Cassandra try to fight the smoke thing – Eve tells them to run but when Cassandra gets Katie out she wants to return to protect her friends. She also realises that Katie thinks she’s in America, not Slovakia. No she hasn’t been moved – just forgetful. She runs through a few names before remembering Cassandra – and her eyes glow white. Yep, Katie is the evil one.

Cassandra runs back to the house and finds Eve’s gun, but no Eve. She follows movement to a room full of transparent ghosts while Katie talks about the people she killed with her family before she found the magic house that helped her escape – the house that spoke to her. Hearing this Cassie talks to the House – and sees the same paintings appear that Jake saw, telling the story of the happy house and family until the bad people came – Katie and her kin.

The haunting spookiness is the house trying to warn people away. Katie arrives and reveals her wish that the house granted – to be death, complete with dark shadow. She fights Cassandra and cuts her. Cassandra wishes for help and then screams at Katie who thinks she’s death, when Cassandra sees her own death in the tumour every day, it’s another dramatic characterful speech. Cassandra slashes Katie – and she is reduced to dust. Cassandra faints.

When she wakes the house is better – and Cassandra gets a thank you note. And she goes to explain this all to the others – the House doesn’t grant wishes, it grants refuge; unfortunately, a serial killer found it.

They all leave, all happy. Jenkins adds the exposition of Katie’s family in history.

Ok not a big meta episode but I appreciate the twist. That was a very good twist and a very nice concept – and a whole lot of very very nice creepiness until then. I do appreciate a good dose of creepy

I also like Cassandra’s development and exposition here – and how that tumour does prey on her even as we see her running around and being a genius and kind of awesome, she is still very torn by fear of it. At the same time we have a nice touch of ableist call out here – yes, part of Eve’s sidelining of Cassandra may be due to her betrayal and it may also be down to her very good point that Cassandra has a different skill set – but part of it has to be linked with the beginning of the episode with Cassandra’s nose bleed. Eve was reminded that Cassandra was dying and decided that she needed to shelter her – it looked like a very classic ableist over-protection, deciding someone with such an ailment had to be protected and couldn’t care for themselves. It’s a trope that always looks caring and positive but is also very infantilising. And Cassandra rather wonderfully challenged it and set it on itself – all delivered with a nice subtlety that didn’t belabour the point.