Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Librarians, Season 3, Episode 6: And the Trial of the Triangle

This episode is several kinds of awesome – because it takes the whole separate storylines between Flynn and the other Librarians and mushes them together in a way that is finally drawing out the relationship between them and calling out the problems there

Namely Flynn. The Flynn the absent leader who doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of respect for his fellow librarians and has worked alone for so long that he far too often fails to take the others into account

The episode begins with Eve and the Librarians kidnapping Flynn so they can have an intervention. And this is so often clichéd and cheesey – and, yes, it’s Librarians so it’s going to be a bit of cheesey anyway because yes it is – but this is really well done and awesomely pulls out issues that have always been there and we’ve all been expected to just accept.

Ezekiel calls him out on expecting everyone to think and process just like him – to be his kind of Librarian. But an ongoing theme of Ezekiel’s story has been that he is also a Librarian, very different from the more academic Flynn and his fellows – but that doesn’t make Ezekiel a lesser Librarian.

While Cassandra calls him out on how intimidating he is, how much he insists on doing things his way. How he’s so very good at being a Librarian he has forgotten that other people can be good as well – how she’s left feeling she can’t offer a solution and they all have to wait around awkwardly until Flynn has an idea. He’s a gifted leader but he’s not the only gifted person there

And Jake calls him out for being such a poor friend – how he has raised so many barriers between him and the others that he feels like he’s constantly having to build a new relationship with Flynn.

Of course, Eve, who loves Flynn has a very palpable hit – how much Flynn’s self-destructive impulses is hurting them. His moods, his secrecy, his pride is so destructive. This is something they come back to awesomely (and cheesily) later.

Flynn is, naturally, completely unwilling to confront this and instead focuses on the war they’re facing. And he’s not entirely wrong – friendship and even love have to take a back step to literally saving the world from ultimate evil. And he’s not wrong but he’s also throwing away assets as well as relationships.

His current focus is the Eye of Ra, a super magical item that can completely help them against Apep and that’s what he has been looking for. But, again, this emphasises how he hasn’t been helping himself by not telling anyone – not even Eve – about this.

We have one of those excellent moments of collaboration where every member of the team brings out their speciality to help fund out where the Eye is – it’s a typical zany Librarian’s storyline involving the Bermuda Triangle, Venezuelan aircraft and Lewis Carol because Librarians is fun like that. On the way we have a moment of Eve and Flynn in an airport having a loud argument as a destruction which quickly turns into a powerful, emotional fight about their relationship and what they want from each other as well as basically referring to themselves as mum and dad to the child Librarians. There’s a lot of back and forth about responsibilities, entanglements and what Eve wants from Flynn and what he wants from her but underlying is the declaration that they do both very much love each other.

While on the plane we also have a new conflict introduced – related to the whole horror that Apep represents: an ends justifies the means debate. Flynn lays it out with a stark “there are no happy endings” pronouncement. There’s no good answer here, no nice way out – only choices of less bad. And that may include sacrificing innocents along the way

Being Librarians this debate also happens along side the entire plane thinking Eve and Flynn just joined a very noisy mile high club because Librarians is so very good at keeping the zany always present even when delving into hard decisions. But also then dodging the hard decisions because, ultimately, they are Librarians which means they’re brilliant. And if there are only bad choices then it’s the Librarians who find yet another way – because they’re Librarians and that’s what they do.

And I like that. This isn’t a grim and gritty series of terrible choices people have to make for the sake of the greater good. This is a show of brilliance and awesomeness and silliness. We’re not going to spend several episodes all sad and angry because they’ve had to kill a plane full of people in order to save the world – they’re going to save the world and the people. Because this is Librarians not Game of Thrones and not even Doctor Who and that’s fine. So many shows feel that they have to go dark and gritty if they’re going to be a “serious” show – well not everything has to be serious and good and meaningful doesn’t mean dark and grim. So, yes, let’s do this. Let’s save the world without dark epic sacrifices and antiheroes et al.

By a series of classic Librarians events (which is so much fun), Flynn ends up alone in a Lewis Carol world having to confront some serious questions about himself. Including all of those points the Librarians brought up against him: how he keeps expecting people to reflect himself, how he doesn’t respect other people’s opinions – and how his own insecurities leads him to put up this huge façade of overconfidence which is both intimidating and makes him very hard to approach. I like this whole scene even if it is a little contrived and dubiously coincidental because it pokes a lot at Flynn’s character. Would Flynn necessarily accept the views of his fellows that he has flaws? Probably not. Would he accept a magical test that forces him to admit the truth? Probably; it’s something more objectively true, something he can’t just dismiss as lesser minds being less.

It’s also useful because of, ultimately, what the whole test is about: who is worthy to take the Eye of Ra, a vital, powerful artefact that is essential in the last battle. They don’t need to test knowledge or skill, because any Librarian would have that- but self-awareness? Ability to see one’s own flaws and past one’s own ego? Now that I can see as a major issue for Librarians and something that would need to be tested before giving them this artefact.

Flynn ends up with the Eye of Ra and some important life lessons – though part of his running off alone also comes down to him wanting to protect Eve: both because she is the only Guardian and because of his love for her.

There’s another revelation as well – the Eye of Ra requires the sacrifice of a life. Now, despite all of Flynn’s dark-times-need-extreme-measures talk this is a line that he won’t cross. Except in one occasion. It’s not spelled out but I’m pretty certain this one exception will be self-sacrifice

Which leaves us in an interesting place at the end of this episode. From the very beginning of Librarians I’ve always said that the worst episodes generally came when Flynn was with the group. Flynn tended to take over, Flynn tended to make everyone, except maybe Eve, into his sidekicks. And the show seemed to recognise this by repeatedly finding reasons why Flynn would separate from the group.

This episode presents us with 2 alternatives to this for the future. Either a future where Flynn learns more and more how to play well with others, how he learns to become one of a team rather than a leader and sidekicks which would create a whole new dynamic. Or he will sacrifice himself to use the Eye of Ra and remove himself from the equation entirely. Both are definite ways forwards which could lead to very different dynamics from the whole show.

Continuing elements also has DOSA still involved and aware of the Librarians which is definitely going to come to a head soon

We also have the ongoing debate of whether they can use magic or not. Jenkins I still leery of using magic – but Cassandra and Ezekiel both point out that they use magic all the time. But Jenkins draws a difference between magic that has been tried and tested repeatedly and brand new magic – but isn’t that a complete argument against progress and all new things? I like that this debate isn’t just going away and is still underpinning the season as an ongoing theme.

I normally don’t enjoy episodes with Flynn but I liked this- because it directly addressed why I don’t enjoy the episodes that focus on him and are paving the path to him being a Librarian rather than THE Librarian.