Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Librarians, Season 4, Episode 2: The Steal of Fortune

This season seems to be aimed, based on these 2 episodes, on what it means to be a Librarian - we had some shaky moral worrying about the nature of the Library last episode and here we have a look at what the commitment to being a Librarian means

For Flynn, now dedicated to tethering himself to the Library, this means studying it and learning a lot of the tricks that Jenkins knows. The motive for this is easily skewered by Jenkins - Flynn is having the iciest of cold feet and is actually afraid of leaving the Library in case he doesn’t come back.

For a practical stand point this means Flynn is a support figure for this episode rather than a main character. And I approve. As the most experienced and the Original Librarian as well as having a larger-than-life personality, Flynn just eats every scene he is part of. Which works as a solo character but not as an ensemble cast. But I will say, Librarians does an excellent job of keeping him both part of the show and making sure he is put in supporting roles for most episodes so he doesn’t take over. If this show has a protagonist rather than 4 co-protagonists, it’s Eve, not Flynn.

The rest of the gang are facing the truth that being a Librarian means you can’t have a normal life - no friends, no relationships. As Flynn points out, you have to be like celibate monks (Ezekiel protests that Flynn and Eve are together which Flynn declares doesn’t count - as she’s Library attached though Eve doesn’t hear “doesn’t count” well, obviously).

Cassandra is especially unhappy about this because she’s just learned she can have a life after living so long with the understanding she would die young and now having a reprieve. Jake is also really not willing to give up the friends he’s already made and to prove it he takes Ezekiel to meet one of his friends who is breeding and racing horses

Even from the beginning it’s clear that things are awkward - there’s just so much about Jake’s life he can’t share with his friends (also Ezekiel not a fan of horses; though not afraid being Australian and used to everything that breathes being terribly lethal). But they all become far more concerned by this friend being struck with a bizarre chain of extreme bad luck that ends up with him being in the hospital from a million-to-one accident

And in the hospital they find dozens of examples of similar people having million to one accidents and naturally suspect woo-woo

So the team, sans Flynn, arrive a the Casino race course to investigate and find a major weirdness: no-one is winning. Entire horse races are run without a single winner over and over. Cassandra bets over and over at Roulette and doesn’t win, Ezekiel can’t get a single slot machine to pay out

Personally I think this is a terrible Casino and wonder why there is anyone there at all? I mean, sure the House wins every time, but if your punters don’t win at least a little then word gets round and no-one visits. Can you imagine the Yelp reviews? And isn’t there some kind of body/commission that regulates gambling that would be all over this?

They do find people who do have strings of good luck are visited by the owner and his wife and suddenly their luck vanishes. Naturally they suspect woo-woo and focus on the pinky ring he prominently wears with an impression of the Roman Goddess Fortuna. Ezekiel steals it - but only after he regains his confidence by tampering with a machine and making it pay out: cheating doesn’t need luck

But when they test the ring they find it’s distinctly unmagical. And Cassandra’s missing

Cassandra, frustrated by her constant and improbably losing uses maths - because she doesn’t have to resort to luck like normal people (return to theme: Cassandra is accepting that she isn’t a normal person leading a normal life and doesn’t want to be) and uses her magic maths powers to predict where the roulette ball will land. She wins and wins and wins and the Casino owners aren’t happy because, again, cheating beats luck. She’s dragged away in another improbably scene (again, how do casinos keep open if winners are openly accosted on the casino floor?)

There there’s a classic menacing scene but Cassandra (who is now a lie detector?) predicts that the tough guy isn’t all that bad. More worryingly his wife is - he isn’t wearing a Fortuna ring because it has woo-woo, but because she is Fortuna, 3,000 year old goddess and Not Happy. She has a paranoid rant about Jupiter sending minions to turn her back into a statue - and half of her hand has apparently turned back into bronze.

Time for a consult with the Library and some quick research. Legend has it that Jupiter had a competition to allow one god to rule Earth and Fortuna won. Since she wanted everything on Earth to be run entirely by luck, random chance overcoming all else, which would lead to chaos and destruction, Jupiter declared “naaah, not having that” took back the bet and turned Fortuna to bronze, Because he’s a god and he can. Fortuna can steal luck through a kiss and it’s helpful that the casino is full of televisions showing Fortuna blowing a kiss at the crowd: everyone has their luck stolen, hence all the accidents

And why, when they try to rescue Cassandra, everything goes a little wrong since they’re all infected with a luck curse. Except Ezekiel and Cassandra herself: their cheating beat luck and is apparently the way to de-luck-curse themselves. Everyone else convolutedly doesn’t fight which breaks the curse - hey it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but woo-woo, run with it. And the race is now on to stop Fortuna’s kiss being broadcast to the entire world in the winner’s circle of the horse race

Thankfully Fortuna’s husband is kind of done with all this, not being a hardened thug and helps them with some escapes and some insider knowledge: Fortuna is turning to bronze and it started when Cassandra broke the curse: she needs the stolen luck to stay human. I also like how Eve & co change tone a lot when they realise he’s a physically abused victim more than a co-operating ally of Fortuna: there’s no doubt or question that he can be an abuse victim.

So it’s time for lots of Librarian shenanigans to cheat the whole casino - fixing the horse race, the slot machines and somehow having Cassandra mind control the roulette players (has her powers exploded all of a sudden) to have everyone cheat and break the spell. In doing, Fortuna becomes a statue. Victory!!!

Well except for the conclusions which has Jake meet his now saved friend again for a basic brief acceptance that yes, he is a Librarian and he is accepting this life even if it may be lonely

But also some, albeit brief, arguments about Fortuna. Even as they lock away her statue they recognise life as a statue is pretty awful. And yes, a world ruled by luck could be pretty awful but she did win that competition from Jupiter and there is an edge of a male god fearing a woman with power (especially in Patriarchal Rome).

It’s not a lot but it seems to be continuing last episode’s exploration of grey when it comes to the Library’s actions and, at very least, that there’s some unfortunate consequences to what they do