Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Librarians, Season 4, Episode 5: And the Bleeding Crown

The magical quandary this episode is a town where everyone is old. Worse, The Librarians made the Florida joke before I could!

So the whole town has been artificially aged and it’s time to investigate why with lots of questions and investigations with all five of the main gang going to the town (ok I know many will disagree but I kind of love that Flynn manages to make the “We’re Librarians” line work when Stone and everyone else never can). We also have a nice small moment of Cassandra being almost intrigued by aging since she’s finally considering the possibility for herself now she’s not facing terminal illness any more.

The gang is attacked by some creepy monsters and are saved by a very dramatic man: a very dramatic man called Derrington Dare who calls himself the Librarian

I’m all ready to call imposter but it turns out we have a genuine time travelling Librarian. I then cringed and expected lots of posturing between Flynn and Dare - but it turns out Flynn is a complete and utter fanboy of Dare’s, having read his Library record and clearly stylising a lot of his persona and technique on Dare’s. His fanboiing is both cringeworthy and cute - and Eve is wonderfully clear in tolerating his silliness.The other Librarians are less amused that Dare considers them “assistants” and it’s annoying that that’s pretty much how they’re considered for this whole episode.

The aging is caused by Dare’s nemesis, Ambrose Gethic. It seems Dare and Gethic have been fighting each other for pretty much ever to the extent that it consumes both of their lives. Gethic was the one who created a time travel portal which Dare followed him through. As Dare recounts his story, Flynn also realises that Dare is close to the date of his death - when he goes back he dies tomorrow. Cue angsty “can’t alter the time line” trope.

There’s lots more adorkable fanpoodling from Flynn and when they go to the Library, Dare keeps calling Jenkins “Galahad” which is always cool. But Dare also has a problem: 4 librarians. He reveals some secret history which Jenkins has kept hidden (Jenkins is kind of repentant but not very): the last time there were 2 librarians (many many centuries ago) they went to war and because of that the Library was cut from the world, cutting off human curiosity and learning and wonder: which caused the Dark Ages

Ok let’s poke this. First of all, the “Dark Ages” are a terribad eurocentric term which should never be used unless you’re only talking about Europe. While Dark Ages Europe had relatively little “progress” (little but not none), the Middle East, China and more were quite happily chugging along with lots of this curiosity and learning and wonder stuff. The Library, as a world wide institution, needs to recognise that

I also question why one example is considered a rule forever more: these are intelligent scientists and academics, they should know better than to make a rule from one narrow example. Or not to consider whether four librarians will be better placed to stop one rogue member.

Dare tries to force Flynn to promise to “fix this” and banish everyone else - he absolutely dodges this until they can get back investigating

Back in the field, Eve & co are captured and apparently aged, putting them out of commission. This leaves Flynn and Dare to pursue clues and realise that Ambrose has connected an artefact to the electrical grid and they have to go to the power plant to confront Ambrose

Ambrose, like any decent villain, has come to the future to kill Dare: because Dare is the complete focus of all his activities. Since Dare has used mojo to make himself immune to magic, Ambrose has travelled through time to find the one magic that will kill him: Librarian magic

As opposed to a gun, knife or bomb. I mean he charges a sword with magic and fights Dare - but you’re telling me a normal sword wouldn’t do the job? Especially since Ambrose is clearly the better fencer. You’re going to use time travel rather than paying 10 goons to hit him with sticks? Hey he’s from the Victorian era, he can probably get some bargain goons.

But he’s gone with Librarian magic which means having 3 Librarians + Eve in containers so he can drain all their library magic and power up his sword so it can EXTRA cut Dare unlike a metal non-magical sword which would also cut Dare but probably not look so cool. I guess

Flynn is forced to choose between helping Dare fight Ambrose (and therefore proving Ambrose the better sword fighter) or free his friends. During the necessary fight exposition it becomes ever more clear that Ambrose and Dare hate each other, pretty much to the exclusion of all else (probably including the Library) and that Dare is quite willing to let the Librarians and everyone else die for the sake of defeating Ambrose. They don’t care about good or evil - only defeating each other

Flynn has a master plan - he manages to take a time out from the fight to go back to the Library and grab Jenkins

Now personally i would have given Jenkins a sword and then sat down to wait: because bringing Galahad to a sword fight is almost cheating and Ambrose would quickly be sliced and diced to a million pieces

Instead Flynn throws Jenkins in the machine believing his super super ancient Librariness will overload the machine - which does, killing Ambrose. Personally I would have gone with sword fight since it would have worked without risking super charging Jenkins but that’s just me. Also I would have seen Galahad stab people again which is always awesome.

In the aftermath Dare is taught the importance of friends and teamwork and is returned to his time. Which is nice: especially since his upgraded biography now shows him living much longer. The attack that killed him now fails because he has friends who back him up.

Which is nice he learned - but he still leaves Flynn a note saying he needs to fire them all because multiple librarians are a bad idea.

Ok, I am concerned and have thinky thoughts

The new conflict erased: the Librarian as a near loner (+Guardian, + custodian so… different definition of loner) vs Librarians as a team. In some ways I can see why The Librarians is going this route and may be part and parcel of how they decide to move forwards. I’ve said repeatedly that The Librarians works best when Flynn is somehow separated from the main group -which is what The Librarians has done for the last four seasons. In part this worked out because Noah Wyle was heavily involved in Falling Skies. But now that show has ended and Noah Wyle doesn’t seem to be involved in any other major projects that puts him more centrally on The Librarians show. And I don’t mind that - I like Flynn, I think he makes a great Librarian and he and Eve have an awesome dynamic that manages to turn the already tired manchild vs Motherfigure into something a bit better than what we so often see. In another universe, Librarian with Flynn and Eve and Jenkins would be a great series

But I like the TEAM more, I like, Eve, Ezekiel, Cassandra, Jake and Jenkins much more of a team, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, all bouncing off each other well. I think they’ve done an excellent job, despite a shaky start, in encouraging a more equal participation and value between the three Librarians and they work. When Flynn isn’t there

When he is there it’s nearly impossible for them not to be overwhelmed by Flynn and turned into sidekicks. He’s got a closer connection to Eve, he has more history with Jenkins and, I’m, going to say it, he IS the better Librarian: he is far less specialised, has a far broader range of knowledge, is much quicker thinking, much more able to come up with a plan on the fly, etc. The show knows this. The whole nod to Flynn making the “We’re Librarians” line work underscores it. The others are great at their jobs: and better than him AS A GROUP. He is awesome at it and can work is solo in a way they don’t really match. Which is why him being away except for odd visits WORKED

So either The Librarians needs to keep making equally convoluted reasons for Flynn not to be part of group: or, as seems to where we’re going, a storyline where they confront this and set up a new dynamic. I have a feeling i won’t LIKE this storyline but will probably appreciate where they end up: if it goes well. But it depends where it ends up. Flynn as a more support character (as hinted in the earlier episodes) a la Jenkins or M? Could work. Flynn as leader and them as sidekicks? I’m not a fan of at all. Him as just another member of the group? Would be ideal but how would that work given the above? Is someone - maybe Flynn himself - going to be removed?

They’re addressing a central problem on the show, but I’m concerned that there are no good results here.

This is all also going to cross with the ongoing conflict of The Library is All vs The Library is an Institution with all the potential flaws and problems inherent and can’t be considered to be such an overwhelming priority.