AND THE CITY OF LIGHT
And the City of Light brings us a touch of Somewhere in Time in a storyline, along with an interesting concept: what if Rebecca Romijn's Colonel Eve Baird wasn't there? We get a less magical-centered story and a more science-fiction centered one, but that doesn't take away from having And the City of Light continue The Librarians' strong balance of whimsy and self-awareness.
UFOs are at the center of And the City of Light, as the Librarians begin investigating the disappearance of an alien hunter in upstate New York. Jenkins (John Larroquette), the Library Annex's cranky caretaker, insists there are no such things as aliens, though one of the Librarians in Training, Ezekiel Jones (John Kim) insists there are. It's off to Collins Falls, where Norman (John J. Joseph), said alien hunter, has disappeared. The other L.I.Ts soon notice curious things. Jacob Stone (Christian Kane) notices that the lampposts are rather old-fashioned, as if they were meant to evoke Paris (THE City of Light). He also strikes up a curious romance with Mabel Collins (Haley Webb), town archivist and who, like Stone, yearns to leave her hometown. Cassandra Cillian (Lindy Booth) knows the lampposts and the town itself is somehow off, but it isn't until the Librarian's Guardian, Eve, disappears in front of a stunned Jones that we see that Collins Falls is much more than meets the eye.
Much to Jenkins' chagrin (commenting that only these Librarians could lose their Guardian), we come across the town secrets. First, the town is not really Collins Falls. It is Wardenclyffe Falls, and that the lights people have been mistaken for aliens are really energy bursts that allow the citizens of Wardenclyffe/Collins Falls to inhabit other people's bodies. It may not be aliens from outer space, but it is an Invasion of Body Snatchers. This was done back in 1915 through the work of one Nikola Tesla, who back then had done an experiment that trapped the citizens in something like a parallel universe. Tesla managed to stabilize them, but they are essentially trapped, and the only way to deal with the present-day world is through 'body snatching', though the actual snatching is for a brief period of time. Victor Finch, though, has been held onto by one of the town's citizens, Norman, far longer than usual. Mabel, thanks to Tesla, is the stabilizing force that keeps things in check.
Jones does not want to help the town, finding it horrifying that they could justify taking other people's bodies, even temporarily. However, with Eve still trapped in that world, and with a chance to rescue the people who through no fault of their own are as trapped as Eve, the Librarians decide to help attempt a rescue by finishing up Tesla's work before the mechanisms become totally useless. Doing the calculations, Cassandra realizes that the danger is simply too great and that the experiment has a high percentage of bringing more destruction. Norman/Finch, however, has basically gone mad, determined to escape his prison. He will not be denied and is determined to see the experiment go through. The danger they face makes things difficult for Stone, who has fallen in love with Mabel (a feeling that is reciprocated) and Stone knows that this could mean Mabel could disappear from his life forever.
In the end, though, the danger must be faced, and the Librarians are forced to shut down the experiment. They do rescue Eve and the present-day people but the citizens of Collins/Wardenclyffe Falls are lost forever. The Librarians, and Eve in particular, are devastated that they could not help. Sometimes you just lose, Eve tells them. Jenkins, however, offers a glimmer of hope: reminding Eve that it will take a century to try again, he gives her an 'appointment book', where she details all the information for future Librarians to give it a second try. While Jones and Cassandra go out for drinks, Stone declines, saying he has somewhere to go. He opens the portal to go to Paris, deciding on his own that he will explore the world the way Mabel so desperately wanted to but was not able to.
Again, what is curious about And the City of Light is that it is not based on magic. Tesla has become this embodiment of either a mad scientist or futuristic genius who could do all sorts of impossible things, and the episode builds on Tesla's popular reputation as this brilliant technical visionary to create its tale. It does bring back to mind the idea that technology can be mistaken for magic, and the myth of Tesla (versus the actual scientist himself) is what ground And the City of Light. This is, to my mind, the first Librarians episode not built on magic or having very little to do with magic if at all.
That isn't a negative. It's nice to hear Tesla come up with something pretty outlandish yet plausible (at least coming from his perspective). And the City of Light had a lot going for it. It has a fun adventure story, a villain, and a few new touches. Romijn was not a large part of And the City of Light, and I think this was interesting because it does give us an idea of how the other Librarians can work if not independent of their Guardian, at least without her protecting them. Of course, the important thing to remember is that there was no real external threat to the Librarians save for Finch/Norman, who was disposed of when, though Tesla's work, Eve took over Ezekiel's body.
We had the great bits of comedy as well, and most were brought to us by Larroquette, who has been one of the big standouts of The Librarians. Whether it's his droll and crabby manner with these young'uns (such as when he expresses astonishment/irritation they would lose their protector) or when the joke's on him, Larroquette really excels. To get their attention, Cassandra sends out a 'mosquito tone', a frequency only young people can hear (which is why Jones is the only one who heard it). "Sorry, Jenkins," Cassandra says, and Larroquette's expression is brilliant (though as a side note, does this mean the 40-year-old Kane/Stone is now 'old'? Perish the thought!).
What we also got that we haven't was a bit of romance with Mabel/Stone. Both of them share a common bond in their desire to leave their hometown but with a sense of obligation holding them back (physically and mentally). We see a softer side to Stone thanks to Kane, another breakout from the show. It's nice to see that we can have a touch of a love story that allows characters to have something like lives/interests outside the Library (although it isn't surprising that this particular romance ends suddenly and tragically).
Here, I do wonder whether it was a good idea to eliminate any possibility of Mabel's return. It does kind of take away from giving the characters a chance to have something beyond the Library to be involved with. I also do wonder if things got a bit rushed, but on that point I won't be too harsh given that this episode, like all the others is only an hour long. There is only so much one can fit in.
And the City of Light gives us a somewhat more science-fiction based story, and a bit of a downer with Mabel being lost and gone forever (dreadful sorry...). Stone goes to Paris, and while we are happy that he has decided to live his life, a little part of us is genuinely sad that he will not be able to share it with Mabel (apart from keeping her memory with him).
Lead, Kindly Light...
Next Episode: And the Loom of Fate