Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Librarians, Season 4, Episode 3: And the Christmas Thief

Time for a cute Christmas episode

And normally I hate Christmas episodes. I hate any holiday themed episode. They’re all so gimmicky, unnecessarily cutesey and usually jar weirdly with the established canon.

Thankfully Librarians is quirky enough it works - and it helps more that this episode served a bit more of a purpose: the Backstory of Ezekiel Jones

This is needed for any central character and we’ve had it with Jenkins, certainly, we definitely had it with Flynn and we’ve had strong beginnings with Cassandra and Jake so seeing Ezekiel as well definitely fleshes up the main cast

So we begin with that convenient story hook I mentioned last week - a story reason to get Flynn out of the way (and, in this case, Jenkins and Eve. This episode is all about the “kids”). They’ve all been invited by Santa Claus to a holiday party (with Eve playing worried mother concerned about leaving the kids alone. Yes the dynamic is really strong here).

That leaves Jake, Ezekiel and Cassandra with Santa’s sleigh (which they’re under strict orders not to touch) and to celebrate Christmas together. Which Cassandra loves with ugly sweaters and decorations and brimming enthusiasm

Ezekiel, not so much.

He decides to take time out to… go home. Specifically to his mother’s, Lenore Jones, who is celebrating with his three sisters: Hope, Charity and Mercy. Except they’re not celebrating Christmas, but Thankstaking. A holiday in the name of the Patron Saint of Thieves where Lenore’s children give her expensive gifts they’ve stolen and they then anoint the altar with the price tags

It’s corny and weird and Librarians so run with it.

Lenore and the family greet Ezekiel warmly but are not impressed with his gift - because he bought it which is completely against the whole point of the holiday. Also it helps Lenore to know how much the loot is worth if the price tags are on.

It’s evident that the family doesn’t have a lot of respect for Ezekiel’s skills, convinced he cannot steal not that he chooses not to. But it’s also pretty clear that we’re not dealing with thieving masterminds here give them repeatedly mocking Ezekiel for giving Lenore a faberge egg while obviously not having a clue what one is. The mockery - especially asking what Ezekiel is doing with his life, snaps Ezekiel’s temper (ah holidays with family!) and he rants about how he saves all their lives and the lives of everyone in the world as a Librarian

Which causes more mockery

So he storms off - and then shows his mother the Library, showing off all what he’s involved with and all the shinies inside. Yes it’s stupid, but how many of us have wanted to impress our parents? And how many of us have lost our temper and wanted to show them?

He realises, somewhat belatedly, that he’s just introduced a thief to the motherload and hastily hustles her out the door. But not before she manages to steal the Magic Door of teleporting everywhere

Which is when Cassandra and Jake return and notice it missing. With a whole lot of very not-Ezekiel Jones-like begging they agree not to tell Eve, Jenkins and Flynn. But they also refuse to let Ezekiel handle this on their own. Especially since, without the convenient magic door, they need to purloin Santa’s Sleigh so they can get to Australia

So family introductions are made which is awkward but polite - and it’s clear Lenore has been using the door non-stop to steal all the things. Jakes also recognises and informs us all about the Patron Saint of thieves at the shrine in case we needed it clarifying.

Reunions are paused though when a) the globe of magic doors catches fire and b) Jake and Ezekiel discover that Lenore has used the door to steal something from someone who will be super super super pissed and definitely able to find her. Time for a heist to return stolen goods, on Santa’s Sleigh no less. Because Librarians.

They head to the Thieves Bank, hidden in Switzerland, run and used by international thieves everywhere and everything is super impressive and secret. And deadly - thieves play nice or they get squished by lasers.

Lenore also gets a bit more of an education about her son - being warned not to use his name because he is famous. She also hears that faberge eggs are worth several million dollars (“Why didn’t you tell me!” “google it, mum!”). Ezekiel breaks out all his very very very impressive thief skills to get into the vault (much to the shock and awe of his mother).

Which is where they’re caught, of course.

And there they meet the head of the bank - the Mystical Saint of Thieves himself. Santa’s brother. Lenore quickly puts her foot in it calling Ezekiel by names and the Saint of Thieves recognises him as the greatest thief in the world - which is pretty firm affirmation right there

While he calls Lenore a low rent, low class nothing of shoplifter. Which is harsh. Accurate, but harsh. Ezekiel takes offence because no matter what their differences that’s his mum. His woo-woo makes her talk and means that the Saint of Thieves learned they came in Santa’s Sleigh - and it’s his dream to destroy the Sleigh, render Santa unable to do his Christmas thing and then he’ll be the powerful brother

Tag to everyone who has a sibling like this

He leaves the Jones’s to have some family bonding and she’s ragingly pissed at her son for not telling her he was the Greatest Thief Ever because damn it where’s her cut? She even throws the fact she took him off the streets in his face. Ezekiel points out he did tell her - she just never listened (hence faberge egg fiasco)

The Saint demands the sleigh but as a magical fictional creature he has rules. He can only take a gift that is freely given without woo-woo coercion. And he can only accept a gift that is stolen. To which Lenore, thinking fame and fortune, steals the key off Ezekiel and gives it to the Saint.

He then plans to kill them both. We know Lenore isn’t the smartest cookie.. But they are thieves so they are able to free themselves. They still argue about Ezekiel’s millions but he tells her he never kept the money. He stole because stealing is an art form - and then gave it all away. He’s put food in the mouths of the hungry, built libraries and homes and provided education - he’s done an enormous amount of good for a lot of people. “When you have a lot you share.” This is why the library chose him

I’m sure we’ve seen enough avarice out of Ezekiel to make this a little of a retcon - but we’ve also seen him far far more interested in the challenge and winning.

Meanwhile Cassandra and Jake call Jenkins and beg for help and for him not to tell Eve and get them in trouble: Jenkins is awesome and sets about helping them repair the magic door remotely using ghostly mirrors and generally be awesome

He also shows up as the gang are trying to make their escape and being caught with a message from Santa Claus - who hereby gives his sleigh to the Saint of Thieves

Since the sleigh is being given by its rightful owner, the Saint of Thieves cannot accept it - and he cannot accept it from anyone else either because it isn’t being stolen: it’s being freely given by the rightful owner. The Saint of Thieves can now never own Santa’s Sleigh - and Santa’s Sleigh can only be destroyed  by the one who owns it.

There’s always fine print in magical rules - and Jenkins is the supreme king of doing this.

This causes the Saint of Thieves to turn into a bad tempered child (literally) and Jenkins takes him home to Santa Claus. His goons don’t stop Jenkins because, well, Jenkins.

Everyone goes home except Ezekiel and Lenore who go around in the Sleigh giving back all the presents she stole so she can feel the wonderful joy of giving…

...stuff she’d already stole. So it’s less the joy of giving and more the joy of not ruining the good time people had already arranged but CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

She reflects she could have been giving far more in her life and how she loves giving - but Ezekiel reassures her: she took in 4 street kids and raised them as her own; teaching them love and family. She’s already given a lot

She also raised them to be thieves, expects a large cut of their earnings and replaced Christmas with a holiday in which they steal stuff for her…

I did get a real sense of family from Lenore and Ezekiel (and would actually have liked to see him with his sisters more); I think calling her a Fagin style character would be slightly unfair… but not entirely? I don’t think the show entirely dismisses that their relationship is wrong and in many ways Lenore is an exploitative predator- but I think the desire to have an uplifting Christmas message does… fuzz that somewhat