Monday, December 8, 2014

The Librarians 1.01-1.02: “And The Crown of King Arthur”/”And The Sword in the Stone”

“I’m offering you a life of mystery and misery, of loneliness and adventure. More than that I’m offering you an opportunity to make a difference to save the world every week. Twice before Friday. Are you in?”
- Flynn Carson

Now before we get into the meat and potatoes of this two-hour premiere event, I have to tell you that I have anxiously been awaiting this show since Leverage ended back in 2012. I knew pretty early on that this would be the team’s next project and I was very excited to learn that Christian Kane was aboard as one of the principal cast. Over the summer I watched the films with Noah Wylie and fell in love with the premise. Needless to say, I’m very thrilled that TNT is letting this baby take flight.

We begin in Berlin where Colonel Eve Baird (US Special Forces) is doing a big raid and take down of some arms dealers. She happens upon two guys with a nuclear bomb and they set it off. Then who should come crawling through the air vents but one Flynn Carson. He’s clearly learned a lot since we last saw him hanging out with sexy vampires. He’s on the hunt for an opal that raises demons (but doesn’t control them, that’s very important). So while Baird is busy trying to defuse the bomb and shooting at the German guys, Flynn is extracting the opal from the big stone trap box. Remarkably, he gets them both through it with not a lot of trouble before disappearing, as mysterious librarians do. The next day back in New York, Flynn gets a call from a man who gets murdered as soon as he sets foot in the library. But Flynn doesn’t stick around as people call for help. He’s more interested in what the man was going to tell him.

Baird gets put on a one month leave of absence after her encounter with Flynn in Germany and then the Library sees fit to recruit her as a possible Guardian. I’m pretty sure Sonja Wagner played that role in the first film. But after that he didn’t have a Guardian. It seems also that with age and experience has come cynicism and a dash of crazy. I do love how much it feels like Warehouse 13 too when Eve first sees the library. And good old Excalibur is still around and attacking new people. Sadly, Judson has died but his spirit is stuck in a mirror which is kind of neat. Flynn protests Eve’s presence, insisting he doesn’t need a babysitter bodyguard. But as they soon discover when Eve offers some help on solving the professor’s murder, someone or something is killing off potential Librarians. But there are three in the top ranks who don’t have death notices yet.

Enter Cassandra Cillian. She’s working as a janitor in a New York hospital. She seems a little off in a savant sort of way but that makes sense since all of her senses are linked to memory and she can get a little overwhelmed. Then there’s master thief Ezekiel Jones who Flynn rescues from nearly getting nabbed in a museum in Geneva. And Baird goes to retrieve genius and art historian Jacob Stone (Christian Kane) from Oklahoma…and some ninjas. Seriously, they fought ninjas in a bar fight. It was a little sad to see Christian not getting to use his normal fighting skills but I’m sure as the show progresses, they’ll be honed and he’ll be just as kickass as Eliot Spencer.

The trio gets to the library and are in various states of shock and awe. We learn that Cassie has a brain tumor which affects her abilities and that she was hospitalized when she got her invitation a decade ago. Zeke tossed his out and Jake figured he had a nice job already in the family business. But they start getting into things when Jake ID’s the painting as the Crown of King Arthur. Zeke knows it’s located in Munich and so off they pop, much to Flynn’s displeasure. He still believes in working alone but it’s a good thing the team goes with him. Jake points out that the painting is a fake and Baird is able to alert them that they’ve got snake-like company (the Serpent Brotherhood which I believe was in the first movie) are trying to bring magic back again and need the crown to control it. And while magic used appropriately is all fun and puppies, wild magic is devastating and chaotic. So yeah, don’t let the baddies get the magic.

The longer the team is together, the more Flynn is starting to realize he needs them. Jake ID’s the paint used as being four centuries too late for the painting to be real and Zeke notes that the frame can’t come off the wall. Cassie finds a code on the frame and they figure out that it’s coordinates based on the location of the painting in the museum. So while they race outside to a rock with more clues, Baird kicks some Serpent Brotherhood ass. The next clue leads them to the Black Forest and I have to say this feels a lot like the films with the adventure spirit and racing against the bad guys. Especially when those bad guys have a helicopter. While Zeke and Baird go try to distract the bad guys, Flynn and Cassie figure out the sun’s arc through the henge they’ve found and as Jake helps Cassie focus in on the memory the scent of oranges is linked to, Flynn finds the location of the crown. Oh and Flynn and Baird kind of shared a moment where they realize they are very much alike. It almost felt like they were setting them up to be a couple far far down the road (the new Nate and Sophie perhaps?).

Well, Zeke manages to blow up the helicopter which gives Jake enough time to use a blowtorch made out of a picnic and an oxygen tank and retrieve the crown of King Arthur. They get it back to the library just in time for the proximity alarm to go off and Cassie to betray the group (the baddies promised they could cure her tumor). The female leader of the group (the male leader is played by the actor who played Dr. Leekie on Orphan Black) takes the crown and control of Excalibur and uses it to stab Flynn in the gut. Well, that would certainly give the trio a reason to take over as the new librarians.

Baird rushes in and takes out the goons left to finish off Flynn and the boys are right behind her. Unfortunately (depending on your point of view), Judson and Charlene have activated an old bit of magic and severed the library from the physical point in this world. So it’s literally closing up. So the Serpent Brotherhood doesn’t get nearly the amount of toys they’d hoped for. It also reminded me of a Warehouse 13 special. Which just makes me smile. Flynn manages to chug some magical healing nectar which dulls the pain of his magical wound and slows the bleeding. Then it’s off to a magic door that plops them in Portland, Oregon where they meet Jenkins, the caretaker of the Annex. I have to say it was a clever way to do it and cut down on the budget of the show. You use the sets from the films to establish stuff and then you set up the smaller location to film in. And we get Christian Kane making reference to the Home Office (he’s ribbing Jenkins about being stuck in the Annex) and I had to laugh at the Wolfram and Hart reference, even if it wasn’t intended. But as jovial as things are, they take a serious turn when we learn that Flynn has a day at most before he dies from blood loss.

Cassie is with the Serpent Brotherhood at their headquarters and the female leader (Lamia apparently is her name…missed that in the first half of the premiere) is about to kill her when the real leader nixes the idea and promises Cassie will be cured and that she’s there to ensure they help all the needy people. Speaking of needy people, Jenkins gives Baird a bit of a pep talk to get Flynn to buck up. He’s acting very much like he was before the library (very buried in books, thinking about doing stuff instead of actually doing it). She convinces him that the library and Charlene and Judson made him who he is and that perks him up. They figure out that Excalibur is the key and it has to go back in the stone which is in London. And given that they’re facing crazy magic and evil and he’s bleeding out, yeah, the rest of the gang came tag along, too.

The gang heads to the Tower of London where Flynn explains they can use a magical object as a compass to find the stone which is pure magic. So they do a little conning and let Zeke snag a jewel next to the crown jewels which then leads them to Buckingham Palace. The Serpent Brotherhood has already gone underground (literally) to search for the stone. Zeke forges them some invites to a charity gala but it’s Baird and her actual government ID that gets them into the event. Jake and Zeke head off to look for anything that could be a secret passage while Flynn and Baird do a little recon while dancing (well she’s mainly keeping him upright and not bleeding all over the floors). They find the secret door about the same time Lamia’s men bust through and into the room with the stone. She gets Cassie to unlock the mechanism surrounding the stone and then sends her off to be locked away before reuniting Excalibur with the stone. The head of the Brotherhood’s eyes glow purple as magic is released back into our world. The team has to really race for it before Flynn dies and it’s just too late.

The gang finds the tunnel the bad guys dug and then find Cassie who comes up with a plan. But it’s going to take everyone’s skill sot make it work. I’m so glad they’re gelling so quickly. The plan works, too. They get the crown back and stop the magic from seeping out into the world and Cassie even uses the dying magic within Excalibur to save Flynn’s life instead of heal her tumor. I have to say, I know it’s just a sword and not even a real sword but I was sad to see Excalibur melt into the stone. Now there’s still quite a bit of magic in the world thanks to the stunt and so someone is going to need to keep an eye on it. Flynn tries to usher off the trio but after Judson appears and tells him that the Library and Charlene are lost and that Flynn is the new head Librarian, Flynn decides to change the rules. The team (and Baird) can hunt things down on a weekly basis while he focuses on the bigger picture of finding the Library. Before he heads off, he and Baird share a kiss and an awkward sexual tension moment. Yeah they are totally this group’s Nate and Sophie. And even Jenkins is going to warm up to them as he introduces them to the clippings book which updates daily with new weird incidents for them to investigate.

This is going to be one hell of a ride and I can’t wait to see where we go next. It had the fun teamwork vibe of Leverage and the quirkiness of Warehouse 13. It was a beautiful thing and I will stick around for as long as the network sees fit to fill our screens with these awesome characters.

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