The Librarians Universe includes three movies produced by Dean Devlin, and this ten episode mini-series, which was also produced by Devlin and John Rogers (both of Leverage), and follows Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle, Falling Skies), who was hired by the Metropolitan Public Library (or, The Library) to protect a range of historical and magical items.
With two episodes for a premiere, needless to say, there was a lot going on..
The first character introduced is Colonel Eve Baird (Rebecca Romjin, X-Men Franchise) who is placed on leave after including in her case an encounter with Flynn, “The Librarian”, while she and her counter-terrorism unit were stopping a nuclear bomb in a Berlin warehouse.
The first five minutes introduce Flynn and his abilities of knowing everything so that even people who haven’t seen the movies understand his importance as well as show that Eve is adept at her job, which will help her be Flynn’s Guardian after The Library hires her. A Guardian is someone who usually has some sort of combat, tactics, survival and protects Librarians from harm. They’re the brawn to the brain.
This is a good thing since the Serpent Brotherhood is killing off potential Librarians so that they can return magic to the world. Then they’ll take over the world after destroying all of the technology.
Bad guys are so ridiculous.
(If it were up to me, magic and technology would be used together, and I wouldn’t call my group of baddies the Brotherhood.)
Romjin’s portrayal of Eve’s disgruntled acceptance after seeing Flynn sword fighting with a flying sentient Excalibur (Cal for short) is wonderful. Wyle’s know-it-all deliverance of Every Fact, on the other hand, I could live without.
They argue and, then, go to find the three remaining Potentials who had not interviewed at The Library even after being sent letters:
- >Cassandra Cillian (Lindy Booth) who has synesthesia where auditory and sensory hallucinations aid in her photographic memory retrieval and math skills due to a brain tumor.
- Ezekiel Jones (John Kim, Neighbors) a Master of Technologies and thief.
- Jake Stone (Christian Kane, Leverage) an Art Historian as well as architecture buff who was working on an oil rig in Oklahoma.
Cassandra’s arc is either going to wind up being the “I wanna save the world while I’m still alive.” trope or the “Magic can cure my tumor even if releasing magic is bad.” trope. Or, both. Ezekiel seems to be portrayed as the most immature of the three since he just likes stealing things for thrills; while Jake was working for his family.
Jake’s introduction is my favorite because Christian Kane choreographs the fights for The Librarians in the same way that he did with Leverage so watching him fight alongside Eve— using bar stools and wine bottles against the woman sent to kill Jake—is probably my favorite thing about the pilot besides Cal.
At The Library, Charlene (Jane Curtin, Unforgettable), who interviewed and helped Flynn in the movies, and Judson (Bob Newhart), The Library Head who is dead and lives in a mirror, round out the cast introductions for the first episode of the two-part premiere.
And, it turns out that Lamia, probably a reference to the Greek queen who was sometimes part snake (Lesley-Ann Brandt) and the Brotherhood are after the Crown of King Arthur which allows the possessor to control Cal. If Cal is successfully placed back into its stone, magic will return to the entire world free of any constraints meaning anyone could see or attempt to use it.
I love how the show takes history, myths, and other fantastical things that the audience may know and connects or reinterprets them in ways that make sense, Arthur’s crown is magical so, of course, it can control Cal, which is a key placed into the Stone which would be the lock keeping magic at bay. That almost makes up for Flynn’s “I know everything; listen to me.” moments.
Unfortunately, after finding the crown in a mini-Stonehenge where Cassandra does a ton of math with special effects of formulas and figures on the screen like in Numb3rs Cassandra lets the Brotherhood into The Library because she was promised magic would cure her.
I had assumed Ezekiel would be the more likely culprit if something were to go wrong, but I guess a woman who is dying is more sympathetic to the audience and the other characters.
Well, besides Jake, who is super wtf about it.
Flynn is injured by Cal once Lamia has control of it, and The Library, due to magic performed by Charlene and Judson, throws out everyone. The special effect of the library shelves rolling towards everyone like a tsunami is epic. The good guys end up in Oregon where Jenkins (John Larroquette, Boston Legal), another member of The Library, is waiting to take them to his workplace the Library’s catalogue. Since The Library can only be anchored to one physical point in their dimension, his part of The Library still allows them to search for information. They just can’t get to any of the artifacts.
After an interlude where everyone is sad, the gang sets off to Europe again because the Stone is under Buckingham Palace, but the Brotherhood beats them to the punch, Cassandra unlocks the Stone’s cage and is thrown into a dungeon for her help.
Her entire character so far is cancer induced Face-Heel Turn where her hope to use magic to save herself and others that science failed causes her to let the Brotherhood into the Library but of course they weren’t planning on actually helping her.
Jake and Ezekiel work together to make an electromagnet that retrieves the crown after Lamia sticks Cal into the stone releasing magic into the world. Lamia’s speech that magic will change everything after technology is wiped out is interesting because she (even with taking over the world) wants to help people.
The Leader of the Brotherhood just wants to be in power.
Lamia is knocked out, and Flynn tells Cassandra to use what’s left of Cal to cure her tumor, but she cures his injury instead. Redemption!! But, I’ll miss Cal.
Back at the catalogue in Oregon, Flynn tells everyone they can go home and be safe, but after Judson gives Flynn a pep talk, he decides Jenkins will mentor the Librarians-in-Training (LITs), and Eve will protect them which will allow Flynn to search for The Main Library and handle any apocalyptic events.
Throughout the episode there had also been moments of UST—replete with intense glances and romantic music—when Eve and Flynn interacted, so the episode ends with Eve kissing Flynn followed by Jenkins beginning the LITs education.
I like that The Librarians is lighter fare than TNT has been showing since they’ve been moving towards grittier programming. Since, The Librarians is only ten episodes, the last four of which will also be aired in blocks of two also, the show is a great addition to the winter programming and works better as a miniseries than the more traditional 22-episode season.
While I’m not super-pleased that there are only two people of color in the show—one of which is the secondary villain (as Dulaque, the Brotherhood’s immortal leader is a cranky white dude) —I did appreciate that all the women were badass in their own ways.
Eve and Lamia obviously can hold their own physically, and Eve seems like she’ll be a great mentor for the LITs, but I hope that the show doesn’t shaft Cassandra with being the betrayer who has to redeem herself every episode—especially because she had a connection with Jake during the Stonehenge math as he helped her concentrate when the synesthesia got too intense and was the most visibly angry that she had sold them out.
I also really liked how quickly Jake and Ezekiel took to magic being real, but I am intrigued to find out why they decided not to accept the Library’s interview invitations. Ezekiel does mention that he wouldn’t be able to make any money, but that seemed like a very superficial reason, and Jake refused offers from prestigious universities to enroll for art degrees even though he’s been writing about European and Native American Art History while working on the oil rig.
Still, this show is about saving the world from wild magic—where even Santa exists (as shown in the “coming up” clip at the end of the premiere) —so I’m not expecting too much seriousness from the show.
Overall, the pilot is solid. There’s drama, obviously, romance, lots of silly and humorous moments, setting up for the rest of the show, and a pretty balanced introduction to the characters.