Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Librarians: And the Echoes of Memory Review

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As we close out Season Four of The Librarians, we see something we haven't seen: a recap of past episodes that make me wonder whether The Librarians has opted for a Dallas-like ending: it was all a dream.

On our last episode, Colonel Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn) is left stranded in a dystopian world where The Library does not exist except in her memories.  This world has virtually no color, no variety, and draws parallels to the nightmare world of George Orwell, where "The Company" has everyone living in what looks like a hellish version of Progressive Insurance ads.

Baird works her best to remember the Library and thanks to a message that Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle) is able to send her, to contact the other Librarians to help them remember.  Baird finds them in the strangest places: Jacob Stone (Christian Kane) is a used car salesman, Cassandra Cillian (Lindy Booth) is a nameless, faceless stapler in a world where she and the other staplers are expected to staple right down the middle, and Ezekiel Jones (John Kim) is the host of I Fall Down, apparently the only television show allowed which consists of literally seeing people fall.

Baird manages to get the three of them to remember elements of who they were and that those 'dreams' they had were really memories.  However, Nicole Noone (Rachel Nichols) so hates the Library that even dreams are outlawed.  She is able to maintain reality in this alternate universe, and manages to capture Baird, whose memories are fading fast.

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Baird is sent to the looney bin, where she meets a familiar face calling himself Flynn.  In echoes of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Flynn undergoes a 'treatment' that will temporarily block out the truth.  Still, the truth will not be denied, and Baird follows him to his padded cell, where she sees the hidden drawings of his own dreams.

A kiss unlocks their memories of the Library and of each other, but Nicole now sees that they are dangerous.  She decides to have Flynn undergo the lobotomy he needs to erase his past permanently.

The other Librarians now appear to have come to their senses and start using their various skills to rescue Flynn and Baird.  As they find their efforts at escape foiled by Nichole and her goons, they find they are trapped.  Here, Baird unites them to restore the Library to reality.

She has them in a circle and encourages them to remember: to Stone, his love of art, architecture and history, to Cassandra, her love of math, science and magic.  For Jones, she tells him he's a thief, which disconcerts him, until she points out that as a thief he knows the value of an artifact, knows how to find it and doesn't let anyone stand in his way.

It looks like while the Library is restored, the Librarians are still doomed to fall under The Wrath of Nicole.  Flynn, however, finds Nicole's biography in the Library shelves and uses The Toaster of Albuquerque to transport himself back to the moment where she first became Immortal.  He begs her forgiveness about not having returned the first time to save her and asks her to be The Library's Guardian rather than a Librarian's Guardian.  Accepting his apology and realizing Flynn and Eve are forever a couple, she agrees.

Flynn returns to the Library at the time of the rehearsal for the Tethering Ceremony, essentially back to the beginning.  As in It's A Wonderful Life, Flynn is delighted to find all the other Librarians alive and well, with no memory of what had happened and all confused as to what he is saying.

Baird, however, appears and remembers it well.  Not only that, but both are delighted to find that Caretaker Jenkins (John Larroquette) is both alive and Immortal.  He too has no memory of what has come before, and certainly not his surrendering of immortality and death.  Both are so happy to see him that they opt not for a rehearsal but for a full Tethering, despite it not being the Equinox.

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After finishing And the Echoes of Memory, I got a particular Dallas vibe.  I just kept wondering, 'is this The Librarians version of Dallas' 'it was all a dream' ending"?

I imagine many Librarian fans are far too young to remember Dallas, but in one of the most infamous moments in television, this primetime soap opera's cliffhanger involved a character essentially 'dreaming' an entire season's storylines. By having the season turn out to be a dream, they could reboot the series without having to worry about pesky story threads.

And the Echoes of Memory, to a point, did the same thing as Dallas' "It Was All A Dream" ending.  By going back to fix the past, Flynn (and The Librarians' production crew) erased those pesky story threads of a dead Jenkins.  Given that the other Librarians have no memory of And the Dark Secret, because now it has never taken place, does that mean that the other episodes too did not take place?

And the Graves of Time could not have happened because Nicole was not an antagonist, and especially since Jenkins did not give up his Immortality.  Jenkins' Immortality also played a role in And the Trial of The One, so that didn't happen either.  Now, did And Some Dude Named Jeff happen?  Given that the other Librarians explained False Jenkins' oddball behavior to him being mortal, how could that work now that time has been rewritten and he never was not Immortal? 

What about And A Town Called Feud?  At least certain things could not have happened, since High Tea would not have elicited Jenkins' human side to love Cassandra's cucumber sandwiches.

Am I overthinking things?  Perhaps.  I know things like The Librarians are not meant to be taken as seriously as the Zapruder film, but something about this resolution struck me as amiss.  It resolves a thorny issue (the dead Jenkins) but does it do it at the expense of logic both internal and external?

If it weren't for the excellent cinematography on And the Echoes of Memory where we see how color creeps into this dystopian universe (shades of Pleasantville?), the strong world-building, and the work of the cast and guest star Nichols, exuding evil through every pore, I imagine I'd be far more likely to dislike it.

Some of the humor worked, and some was unintentional. Given that the 5'11" Romijn towers over the 5'7-8" Kane, hearing him call her 'little lady' is oddly amusing.

There were elements that I think might have been more deeply explored.  There's the mention of 'The Thought Police', the face that everyone in this world wears glasses, and the various Orwellian signs and slogans in this world such as "Thinking is Toxic for Your Brain".

And the Echoes of Memory was not a bad episode.  It was a pretty good one, with good performances and a fascinating world.  It's just that 'it was all a timey-wimey dream' bit that troubles me...


Next: And the Complete Fourth Season


  1. Season 3 has been so strong! It had a lot of good episodes, great character moments and a lot of emotional moments. So when the ending meant that most of that was erased I was totally angry about that. Was it really necessary to undo all those good character arc’s!? And since the show is cancelled it was an ending mostly wrapped up BUT still will always leave me bitter about that ridiculous erasing of time.

    1. Yes, the 'wiping' of many S3 episodes was a poor decision. Perhaps a S4 would have corrected that, but alas, that is not meant to be.


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