A spin-off of TNT’s three Librarian movies, The Librarians is a fun, mostly light-hearted adventure series. I say mostly, because while there’s no gore or heavy-handed drama here that only serves to make the deep moments stand out. But we’ll start with the fun stuff!
The first couple episodes are spent on the set up, which is nice since there’s a lot to introduce and I hate it when introductions get rushed or flow like molasses. For a series with five main characters, and a sinister cabal as the reoccurring villains, two episodes is perfect. The Serpent Brotherhood start murdering all the people who tried out to the Librarian last time but didn’t make the cut. So our hero, Flynn, along with his new Guardian, goes off to locate and protect the survivors who will later become Librarians-in-training. The succeed in that but fail in preventing the Serpent Brotherhood from returning magic to the world, and loose the Library in the process. So the trainees are working out of the Annex while Flynn tries to bring the Library back from inter-dimensional limbo. Did I mention this is just in the first two episodes?
The new Guardian, NATO Colonel Eve Baird, is no-nonsense and professional, taking all this magic stuff in pretty good—if annoyed—stride. Her charges are Ezekiel Jones, a full of himself thief; Jacob Stone, a good old boy who’s been hiding his genius from everyone in his life; and Cassandra Cillian, a fragile young woman with severe synesthesia caused by a brain tumor that will eventually kill her, which is why she betrayed them all in the first episode. But then she helped them and saved Flynn’s life when she realized magic was going to hurt the world a lot more than help it.
And last but not least, there’s Jenkins. Jenkins runs the Annex and is even less pleased than Colonel Baird with the intrusion of the trainees into his life. And then of course the fact he has a less-than-adversarial past with the leader of the Serpent Brotherhood. And he does experiments on the objects brought into the Library, or at least the ones in the Annex, which is why the Librarians have their own door-to-anywhere…at least, anywhere with a door. It certainly saves on airfare.
Now onto the serious stuff.
3—Surprisingly Touching Moments
The first look we get at Flynn is of a man who’s dearest friend is a sword—a flying, thinking, magical sword, but still—because the sword is the only friend who hasn’t died on him. He keeps a smile on, is dedicated to his extremely dangerous and extremely important profession that he loves—but that is one of the few loves left in his life. And yet perseveres and tries to pretend that what he still has is enough. And then of course, he looses the Library, its other employees (his only remaining family and friends) and Excaliber. I have never grieved for a sword before. Again, all in the first two episodes.
And those first two episodes finish off with a simple, low-key conversation between two people falling in love, who relate because they’ve both sacrificed everything for duty…and realize they’re going to do so again. Did I say this was fun and light-hearted? But the last part of that phrase is the important part—this series has heart, and that’s why I love it.
Not everything gets used up in the first chapter though. One of the most touching moments for me was at the end of And Santa’s Midnight Run (the naming scheme is that “The Librarians” appears on screen followed by “And (something)” which is the episode name). All episode they’ve been trying to get Santa to the North Pole, or the nearest confluence of the aurora borealis and laylines, so he can deliver The Gift, which Jenkins explained was humanity’s goodwill. But Santa explains that it’s not goodwill—it’s hope. And we see the people saved by that hope. It still gives me goosebumps.
Speaking of goosebumps…
4—Surprisingly Frightening Moments
I mentioned before about the Library disappearing? It didn’t go peacefully. And then there’s being trapped in a magical Labyrinth that gets inside your head while an inhuman, unstoppable monster chases after you. And Cassandra without empathy, thanks to the apple of discord, is damned scary—break-the-world scary. And at the beginning of “And the Rule of Three” a student is given a condition that leaves him totally paralyzed—and we get no indication this ever gets reversed.
But the scariest episode is “And the Heart of Darkness”, a haunted house story done right. The tension and atmosphere lays thick on the back of the tongue. There’s little gore—in fact, little of anything is shown—it’s all hints and shadows of terrible things. Which is perfect.
The heroes desperately try to figure out what’s going on before the monster kill them, like the people they see visions of in the house. To outsmart or out-fight an invincible monster that appears and disappears at will, chasing, hunting, all the while searching for survivors. And then we find the real monster, who’s even worse for her humanity.
But the real horror hinges on Cassandra, the weakest and most fragile member of the crew. And she knows it. She lives every day with her death inside her head—the tumor that could at any moment take her life. Her need and desperation underlie the whole episode, coming to a head at the climax and it’s all just perfect.
And we’ll just finish off with a quick rundown of my favorite episodes, because I’m writing this blog and I want to.
5—The Un-Book Reporter’s Favorite Episodes
“And the Horns of a Dilemma”—because watching the heroes try not to strangle each other before they learn to work together is just such fun.
“And Santa’s Midnight Ride”—besides the touching moment above, it has Bruce Campbell as Santa Clause! If you dislike Bruce Campbell, you can leave now. If you don’t know who Bruce Campbell is, go watch Army of Darkness. Like, right now.
“And the Fables of Doom”—I lovelovelove fairytales and especially fairytales gone wrong.
“And the Heart of Darkness”—of course!
At just ten episodes, The Librarians is short for a series but it doesn’t feel that way. Nothing feels rushed either, but nor does it hang in stasis like so many shows do—“status quo is god”. I look forward to the second season (starts November 2).
At just ten episodes, The Librarians is short for a series but it doesn’t feel that way. Noting feels rushed either, but nor does it hang in stasis like so many shows do—“status quo is god”. I look forward to the second season (starts November 2).