The Plan is Always to Improvise

A Random Fandom Update, because I have time. This month’s schedule for me is nuts, so lots of things are getting done today.

So, the reboot of MacGyver has come to a conclusion; it was announced only a few weeks ago, after the season finale had been finished.  I had mixed emotions going into the finale.  I figured it wouldn’t be as heart-wrenching as the finale of Supernatural; it’s not that kind of show.  And honestly, the last couple seasons have been disappointing in my opinion.  [Warning: There Be Spoilers Ahead]  I was sad to see Jack leave the show and even more sad when they officially killed him off this season; more due to the affect it would have on Mac (and Lucas Till played that end scene brilliantly…when you want to give a character a hug…).  I was initially intrigued by bringing on Desi, because she is a kick-butt women and we need more women like her.  But this past season especially, the show began to revolve around a love triangle between Mac, Riley, and Desi.  That is not why I tune in to the show; I want Mac to use his Swiss Army knife to save the day.  I don’t care about whether his relationship with Desi will last.  Because that is a disservice to the female characters, to reduce them to their interaction with male characters and the only way they can be important to the story is to be in love with the lead man.

And these secret societies bad guys; there’s no substance to them.  Admit it, we kind of like Murdoc because you never know what crazy thing he will do next.  But “who is behind the curtain?” gets annoying after a few episodes.  And the ending [Spoiler Alert] that this past season was all the U.S. government’s fault?  Does not sit well.  I don’t know if they’re trying to make a statement, but “the government is out to get you,” is not comforting.  I liked the notion of the Phoenix Foundation splitting and going completely private to be great.  Would have made an interesting season and I’m not opposed if they decide to bring it back; on the other hand, it gives fanfiction authors lots of avenues to explore.  And while I enjoy seeing the lead characters in a little peril, I prefer the “we have to run away from this explosion,” or “let’s not get shot,” kind of suspense.  Not suffocating in a tube.

Will I complete the series on DVD, yes.  And yes, I like DVDs entertainment companies because what if your Internet connection is spotty?  But I will also continue to explore MacGyver fanfiction stories.

Some fanfic author recommendations, all excellent, go check them out!

Ridley C. James

objessions

Gib

The Girl Who Remembers

Sabby Starlight

helloyesimhere

gaelicspirit (excellent author in general)

katitkat

(I also have my own headcannon and storyline written for Mac if anyone is ever interested)

“Maybe we could get back to saving the day”

Season Four

The Library and its Librarians has survived the ultimate battle against Apep.  Now, they’re past the point of prophecy; anything could happen.  Like odd priests (led by John Noble, best known as Denethor) uncovering large stones in Dark Secret.  These turn out to be the original cornerstones of the Library of Alexandria.  Flynn and Eve are practicing a bonding ceremony, led by Jenkins; they will tether the Library to this world and also gain immortality.  An alarm warns them of the cornerstones and Jenkins leads them to a cell beneath the Library, holding Nicole Noone; Flynn’s Guardian from  Quest of the Spear.  Turns out, they she got thrown back in time during that mission at the end of the film and at some point along the way, gained immortality herself.  Jenkins [rightly] does not trust her, but Flynn wants to speak to her alone.  She tries to get Flynn to doubt the Library; it’s keeping him prisoner.

In the meantime, the other Librarians track down the cornerstones before the Heretic Church of Shadows can plunge the world into another Dark Age.  Stone is excited to visit the Paris Opera House and a brief shout out to Phantom of the Opera.  But, they lose the stone and the Shadows try to bring the Library back to this world in order to destroy it.  Nicole ends up helping out and Flynn has to save her.  But she disappears at the end.

In Steal of Fortune, one of Jake’s friends gets a bad string of luck at a horse track.  Actually, a lot of people have been experiencing bad luck.  The Librarians figure out it is the statue of “Lady Luck” come to life.  They manage to rig the casino and she begins to lose her powers and revert back to a statue.  We meet Ezekiel Jones’ family in Christmas Thief.  They had no clue he was a world-class thief.  He accidentally shows his mother the Annex and the Magic Door globe, which she uses to rob the Bank of Thieves.  Ezekiel gets found out and they’re about to be terminated; for it is run by the patron saint of thieves, who happens to be Santa’s brother.  Yes, Santa has entrusted the three Librarians to guard his sleigh, which of course, they take out for a spin. Christmas is almost ruined, but Jenkins saves the day.  And Ezekiel reveals that he would steal things so he could donate the profits; roads, schools, and hospitals got built.  It is far better to give, than to receive.

Silver Screen is rather fun; Flynn and Eve go on a date to see one of her favorite black-and-white detective films.  And end up sucked in.  They have to play out the rest of the story in order to leave; and it’s a bit hilarious at times, and they enjoy themselves.  But the film does not end the way Eve remembers.  Jenkins tracks down the solution; the writer’s secretary had written the story in order to reveal her own daughter, but it got covered up (mother and daughter are reunited in the end).  And the other three Librarians travel through other films (Stone gets to sing, and then they end up in space).

A town turns old in Bleeding Crown and a former Librarian jumps through time to help.  Flynn fanboys for a bit over Darrington Dare, which is rather sweet.  But Darrington warns Flynn that the Library can only have one Librarian; more than one and the in-fighting will destroy the Library.  And say hello to Porthos again (Howard Charles); he plays the villainous wizard .  Their relationship apparently inspired Holmes and Moriaty; they are nemesis, and the only people in each others’ lives.  The wizard is attempting to create clones, but they age really quick, so he plans to steal the souls of others to stabilize his creations.  Darrington is willing to let the other Librarians die, but Flynn will not.  They are his friends and just as important as the Library.  And his talk to Darrington actually influenced Darrington’s life; he was fated to die the day he returned to the past, but they discover that he changed his ways and lived a longer, fuller life.  But he still warns Flynn there can only be one Librarian.

Eve meets up with Nicole in Graves of Time; she wants to help a fellow Guardian.  Nicole has been using her graves (she faked her death every twenty years to avoid suspicion) to hide an artifact.  Flynn and Jenkins follow them; Jenkins still does not trust Nicole.  Eve and Jenkins get captured by the old man [if he looks familiar, he’s played by Christopher Heyerdahl {Thor Heyerdahl was his father’s cousin; blame my brother for me recognizing the surname} and he’s appeared in Scorpion, MacGyver, Castle.  He’s Marcus in Twilight and oh yeah, Alastair in Supernatural] following Nicole, who claims that Nicole was a follower of Rasputin and caused the downfall of the Romanov family.  Actually, he was Rasputin and immortal.  He stabs Nicole, but Flynn feeds Rasputin radiation in order to kill him.  Jenkins believes that Nicole was protecting the Library, so he siphons off his immortality to save her.  Sadly, the episode ends with Flynn gone and his tethering ring left behind.  Jenkins feels Flynn has resigned and now the fate of the Library is in question.

The team finds a mystery in Disenchanted Forest; people have been disappearing.  The neighboring team-building camp plans to expand and this forest is connected to all other forests.  It finds its mouthpiece through Jacob.  DOSA even agrees to help protect the land, granting it “Area 51 Status.”  Jacob had also befriended a reporter who got fired for writing about magic and the Library.  So she doesn’t feel like a complete lunatic, Jacob shows her the Library, but she cannot reveal the secret and Jacob cannot be with her.  In Hidden Sanctuary, Cassandra leaves the Library for the safest town in America; she froze during a recent mission and it’s been haunting her.  So now, she wants a safe life without people depending on her.  And she enjoys her life, but she also uncovers a mystery.  The town councilman had once made a wish after saving a fairy that no one would have accidents again.  Cassandra’s arrival through the Magic Door weakened the spell containing the fairy, but she talks the fairy down, with some help, from wreaking vengeance upon the town.  Cassandra luckily returns to the Library.

Town Called Feud hosts a Civil War reenactment, focused on brothers who served on both sides, then ended up killing each other.  During this year’s event, a ghost appears and says “the brothers are rising.”  Cassandra stays back with Jenkins, to have high tea and some research (it’s rather adorable), so Eve takes Jake and Ezekiel to investigate.  A locket played into the legend, supposedly broken and will now be attached.  Jake and Ezekiel start arguing, like brothers do; there’s also the underlying tension that one of the three remaining Librarians will need to tether to Eve to protect the Library.  The two brothers’ ghosts indeed rise, as do their armies, and take over the town.  Jack and Ezekiel aim guns at each other, but miss.  As do the armies.  Turns out, the brothers had reconciled on the battlefield, to protect their families.  “The world needs brothers being brothers.”

Jenkins faces his own trials with Some Dude Named Jeff.  Jeff bought a grimoire online and used a spell to trade places with Jenkins.  He and his friends play a D&D campaign as the Librarians and Jeff wanted to have a cool life.  So Jenkins must get out of Jeff’s body and back into the Library.  He reluctantly recruits Jeff’s friends to get him in the back door.  The other Librarians eventually figure out that Jeff is not Jenkins, but before they could do anything, the grimoire released Asmodeus [yep, character appeared in Supernatural as well, a prince of Hell].  Jeff and Jenkins battle side-by-side and trap the prince again.  And Jenkins has gained some new friends, who are very interested in his tales of Arthur’s Court.  As long as he gets to be the dungeon master do they do it right.  A fairly light-hearted episode.  Which is good because…

Events begin to come to a head in Trial of the One.  The Library is reverting to protecting only its artifacts, since Eve has not chosen a Librarian to tether with.  It takes over Jenkins and has the three Librarians fight to the death to decide who will tether.  Eve fights back and brings the Librarians together again, but Jenkins is mortally wounded.  The three Librarians all resign over Jenkins’ death.  Stone no longer trusts the Library; for Ezekiel, the Library crossed a line; and Cassandra hates the Library now.  Nicole pops in and circles a grieving Eve.  This was all Nicole’s plan (we knew Jenkins was right not to trust her) to destroy the Library.  She feels the Library betrayed her.  The Library fades around Eve.  She arrives in a black and white world in Echoes of Memory.  She uses the memory palace technique to focus on specific aspects of the Library to keep it in tact; the Spear of Destiny, the Ark of the Covenant, and the lion statues.  Flynn’s tethering ring gives her a clue and she stumbles across a recorded message from Flynn.  He did not leave the Library of his own violation; Nicole kidnapped him.  Flynn loves Eve and was ready to tether.  But now Eve has to find Flynn; and the other Librarians.

This world is run by “the Company” [and reminds me a lot of 1984; I hated that book] and everything is blah.  No one seeks knowledge.  Eve finds Jake selling beige cars, but sparks his memory of the Library.  They find Cassandra next, still working complex math problems.  Ezekiel runs the only show in town, but still likes to pick locks.  Eve is captured by Nicole and put in a mental hospital, where everyone else who questions things is put.  Eve finds Flynn who has held on to his own memories, despite several attempts by Nicole to wipe his mind.  She’s trying to hang on to the man she had fallen in love with and had hoped for centuries would rescue her.  Eve finds Flynn and they share a kiss.  Eve remembers the Library now and Flynn vows to never leave her or the Library ever again.  And she still loves this nice, cute, and completely crazy man.

The other three begin to remember their gifts and mount a rescue for Eve and Flynn.  They’re soon trapped however, but Eve encourages them to manifest the Library where they stand.  It’s full of art, science, and magic and it values each Librarian.  It lives in each of them and Flynn is the heart and soul of the Library.  Nicole can only watch as the Library returns and her plan fails.  While our heroes are back in the Library, Jenkins is still dead.  But Flynn won’t give up; he has a crazy idea to rewrite history just enough.  He jumps through a portal to the moment when Nicole will take the immortality potion and he begs her to help the Library.  He cannot rescue her, but she is still the Library’s Guardian.  She agrees and Flynn wakes up back at the tethering ceremony rehearsal, from the beginning of the season.  He re-wrote everything that happened.  Eve remembers, but the other three don’t.  The couple asks Jenkins (who is alive, huzzah!) to perform the ceremony now, don’t wait for the solstice.

I’m glad things worked out alright, but I’m not fond of the Nicole plot.  I wasn’t terribly fond of her in Spear of Destiny because she was often dismissive of Flynn.  This season was a bit of a letdown after the previous season.  I know there was no big bad to defeat, but there are plenty more stories and artifacts to explore.  This felt a bit like a cop-out.

There have been a few tie-in novels published: The Lost Lamp, The Mother Goose Case, and The Pot of Gold.  I recommend them all!

And of course, there is some rather good fanfiction stories out there.

Check out Hedgehog-O-Brien on AO3 for some trio Librarian fluff.

And icarus_chained weaves in some mythology and introspection on Jenkins.

Up Next: Air Force One

“How many Librarians does it take to get Jenkins out of the box?”

Season Three

The Librarians don’t get to sit back after defeating Prospero.  Rise of Chaos releases the Egyptian god, Apep, who plans to release Pure Evil back into the world.  Cassandra also starts arguing that the Librarians should use the magic housed in the Library; they’ll certainly use it for good.  The episode also brings in the black ops government agency: DOSA (Department of Statistical Anomalies) and they don’t plan on playing well with the Librarians.  While Flynn declares that the Librarians are family, Jenkins warns him that the battle Judson told Flynn was coming, between good and evil; it is here.  So Flynn starts his search for Charlene in Fangs of Death; she’ll know how to defeat Apep.  He and Eve manage to find Charlene, who was using some well-deserved time off.  But before they can fully formulate a plan, Charlene disappears again, leaving behind only her pendant (which Flynn gave to her at the end of Judas Chalice).  Flynn rewires Jenkins’ back door machine to find Charlene again and the Librarians investigate a supercollider accident.  Flynn fears Charlene is dead, but they have to deal with Anubis, who Apep has released to turn everyone into werewolves.  The Librarians manage to send Anubis back through the portal and discover that Charlene is not dead.  But Flynn will undertake the search alone; he won’t risk the others.

Jacob and Cassandra team up to recover a crystal in Reunion of Evil.  Caught in a snowstorm, after Cassandra used magic and the crystal dove inside her, they take refuge in a magical inn, filled with a reunion.  Of Frost Giants, it turns out (and if Olaffson looks familiar to anyone, he’s played by Eric Allan Kramer, who was the father on Good Luck Charlie and appears on other television shows).  Jacob almost gets them out, thanks to his knowledge of history and Norse mythology, but they’re still caught.  He also admits that sometimes magic is helpful, but cautions Cassandra when they’re safe that they need to be careful with it.  Back in the Annex, Eve encourages Ezekiel to become a leader and so tasks him with babysitting Nessie’s egg (it is rather adroable).  Eve and the team struggle through Self Fulfilling Prophecy.  Eve is shown as image of her death and tries to outwit it, only to be trapped in a prophecy cube with the Oracle of Delphi.  They do manage to escape, thanks to Jenkins.  And the Library.  While the Guardian guards the Librarians, the Library guards the Guardian.

Hello to old friends

There are several familiar faces in Tears of a Clown (and I feel like Sam Winchester by the end of it; clowns are creepy).  Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings) is the Amazing Mysterium, running a carnival in order to please Charlotte (played by Felicia Day; Charlie in Supernatural).  Elisha Henig (he was in an episode of MacGyver, two episodes of Lab Rats: Elite Force, and other spot appearances) pops in as kid Vern.  But at Mysterium’s carnival, if you stand in his way, bad things happen to you.  Eve gets turned into the two-headed woman, Ezekiel is a snake charmer, Stone is the strong man, and Cassandra is a mermaid for a bit, until Jenkins rescue them.  They triumph over Mysterium before he can harm anyone else.

I rather like Trial of the Triangle; Flynn is back, searching for the Eye of Ra in order to defeat Apep.  But the other Librarians and Eve stage an intervention; Flynn needs to work as a team with them.  They stand a better chance of defeating evil that way.  A case pops up, leading them all to the Bermuda Triangle, which Jacob has worked out is somehow based on Lewis Carroll’s The Walrus and the Carpenter poem.  Eve and Flynn stage an argument as a distraction to get their team through security and is strays into an actual argument, sounding an awful lot like two parents fighting, but ends with Flynn declaring his love for Eve and dramatically kissing her. 

“I love you more than anyone I’ve ever known. I love you more than anything I’ve ever learned. I love you more than learning itself.”

Eve urges Flynn to be the hero she knows him to be and find a third option when the plane begins to crash.  They manage to evacuate the passengers and most of the team, but Flynn remains behind to investigate the Triangle.  A former Librarian’s ship had gone down in the Triangle and a test lays before Flynn before he can recover the Eye of Ra.  His friends become characters in a Wonderland-like chess match and Flynn has to honestly admit his faults.  The Librarian, Teddy Chislington (played by William Morgan Sheppard, guest appearances in several TV shows such as Charmed and NCIS, as well as General Isaac Trimble in Gods and Generals and Gettysburg and Dr. Zito in the original MacGyver) praises him for having a pure heart.  But the Eye of Ra comes with a price in order to lock Apep away; it requires a human sacrifice.  The hardest duty of a Librarian, to knowingly take a life.  Flynn figures the only life he is willing to lay down is his own.  Jenkins is aware of his intention.

I believe they call this a “Big Damn Kiss”

Curse of Cindy is relatively light-hearted; a young woman who was humiliated on a reality show is contacted by a witch to make a love potion.  Well, more like an obsession potion, which when overloaded causes people to fight.  Another plot by Apep, but foiled by Ezekiel.  Though it is rather humorous when Jenkins accidentally makes Flynn and Jacob fall in love with each other.  The Eternal Question leads the three younger Librarians to a holistic spa that is actually run by kind vampires.  Moissanite minerals in the soil and water create a fertile area that protects the vampires from the sun.  But the son decided to try to bottle it and turn some of the guests.  A showdown happens with his sister, aided by Cassandra. And Jenkins helps the guys out with the other vampires, proving he is still one of the greatest swordsmen.  Cassandra bonded with Estreya, partly brought on by Cassandra’s impending tumor; Estreya offers to turn Cassandra so she would be immortal.  Jenkins rushes her to the hospital and surgery just in time to save her life.  And there appears to be a budding romance between Cassandra and Jenkins, on Cassandra’s end.  But Jenkins pledged his heart to a woman long ago, who chose another, but a knight never breaks his vow.  Cassandra survives and her gift remains; she had turned down the surgery earlier, fearing it would take her gift and thus she wouldn’t be a Librarian anymore.

Jacob has been training with the Monkey King in Shangri La in Fatal Separation, just in time for it to be attacked by a black market artifact dealer.  Jacob rallies everyone to save Shangri La and he and Flynn even manage to rescue Charlene.  They restore goodness to Shangri La, but when they return to the Library, Charlene has Jenkins perform a severing ceremony as a way to protect her from Apep.  She has parting words to all, though we don’t hear what she whispers to Eve.  It is Charlene that Jenkins love, but Charlene loved her Librarian, Jenkins.  To Flynn (and we cry along with him), Charlene tells him that he is the finest Librarian she has ever known and while she will miss him, she promises to see him again.

Eve meets again with the DOSA director at the beginning of Wrath of Chaos, whom we found out in the last episode was Eve’s mentor, agreeing to hand the Library over to DOSA, though she insists the Librarians be spared.  Flynn and Eve send Cassandra, Jacob, and Ezekiel on a case to Mount Rushmore, that Jacob figures out is a diversion.  They rush back to find Eve letting DOSA into the Library.  Jenkins tries to stand against them, but they turn him to stone with Medusa’s head, and Flynn rushes about, gathering artifacts.  There’s a rather tender moment where he ponders his portrait from Quest for the Spear and sees Charlene again (Judson pops in once Flynn walks away).  His next mission for the three younger Librarians is to rescue Jenkins.  DOSA’s headquarters are a technological version of the Library and after a few tries to unlock Jenkins’ box, they determine they have to answer the questions incorrectly.  The director is possessed by Apep and brings a bomb into the Library, knocking Eve out.  When the other four return, she admits that it was all part of a plan between her and Flynn to defeat Apep.  Except, Flynn never told her about the sacrifice the Eye of Ra requires.  Flynn plans to face Apep alone.  Eve begs Flynn to stop, then begs the other Librarians to figure out a third option.  Jacob bestows the gift of inner soul he received from the Monkey King.  Cassandra transports thought to Apep’s ghost form, and Ezekiel gives him a heart with the love potion.  Apep now has a human form, which means Flynn can use the Eye of Ra on him, sucking evil back out of the world and Flynn survives.  Eve reveals that the three younger Librarians were the fail safe, the backup in case her plan with Flynn failed; she even manages to get the artifacts returned to the Library from DOSA.  This escapade has also taught the younger Librarians to use magic as a last resort.  They’re soon on their way again with another case from the Clippings Book.

Time to save the Librarian

I love the family notion of this season; it’s heartwarming because all of the Librarians were misfits and didn’t have people who understood them, but now they have colleagues and pseudo siblings who annoy and love them.  Flynn and Eve are totally the parents in this scenario and Jenkins…just tries to keep everyone sane. And it was great to see Charlene again and she did more than worry about receipts.

Next Time: The fourth and final season.

Time Travel Gives You a Headache

Season Two

Drowned Book starts with a flashback to the beginning of season one, when magic surges back through the ley lines.  An older man summons a character from Sherlock Holmes; “I have need of your genius, sir.”  Fast forward to present day, everyone ends up invited to the same New York museum, but on different cases.  Eve suggests working together, but they’ve all gotten used to doing their own thing.  A strange storm blows in and Eve and Flynn meet James Worth (played by the dashing David S. Lee; he’s been in episodes of Castle, NCIS and NCIS:LA), head of antiquities from Oxford.  James charms Eve and can match Flynn for deducting.  The three younger Librarians end up teaming up again to solve their problems and Flynn realizes that Worth is a fictional.  His first guess is Sherlock Holmes (and he’s ever so excited), but Worth is actually Moriarty.  But he’s not the true mastermind connecting all the artifacts.  That would be Prospero, Shakespeare’s wizard from The Tempest.  Prospero is a Fictional so powerful, he rose from his own tale.  But he wants to control his own story, not be bound by what Shakespeare wrote.  He and Moriarty manage to disappear, but the Librarians have to deal with the storm that is spiraling out of control.  They end up using a sun from the Library to burn off the cold air and save New York.  Flynn sulks that he liked being able to do things his way, but Eve points out that pooling information works just as well.

In Broken Staff, Flynn and Eve follow up clues to keep Prospero from regaining more of his power, while Prospero and Moriarty manage to make it into the Library.  They hold Jenkins hostage for a bit, asking about the Heart of the Library, the Tree of Knowledge.  Again, it takes all of the Librarians, including Flynn and Eve to defeat the traps Prospero has laid.  Flynn burns a Tree to thwart Prospero (not actually the Tree of Knowledge, he hopes it wasn’t important).  But the Library has also been re-arranging itself and sixteen artifacts are missing.  Eve again suggests that Flynn carry on searching for the artifacts alone while she helps the other three Librarians settle the Library.

The three younger Librarians head to Jacob’s home state to solve a rift in the Earth in What Lies Beneath the Stone.  Jacob’s not thrilled about returning home; he kept his academic life very secret at home and he’s been saying “family ain’t easy” for a while.  He has strong disagreements with his father, but the Librarian job is more important.  They pass Ezekiel off as the expert since Stone’s father is dismissive of him and eventually work out that it’s a Native American trickster who has been set free and causing chaos; feeding off lies.  It looks like Jacob reconciles with his father for a moment, but it was the shapeshifter.  Jacob fights him off and locks him away again.  He still does not tell his father the truth, because he has realized that he doesn’t need his father’s approval.  So he signs his own name to the academic paper he is writing.  The team heads to Wexler University in Cost of Education, where people are strangely disappearing.  Cassandra meets another girl who is tracking magic and linking it with science.  A tentacle monster from another dimension is stealing people who are full of ego.  Cassandra follows her new friend into the wormhole to rescue her, but is stopped for a brief moment by the ladies of the Lake Foundation, interested in combining science and math.  Cassandra is content with being a Librarian, but the invitation stands.  She disagrees with Jenkins on whether magic should be studied or not.  Ezekiel sadly loses his new gargoyle friend, Stumpy.

In Hollow Men, Flynn pops back in to find the Eye of Zarathustra, which “is the key to the door of Lost Knowledge, the Staff summoned by Sun and Rue.”  But he’s quickly separated from the rest of the Librarians, held by a strange man who somehow knows Flynn, but not really.  Prospero is also after the staff and Moriarty still flirts with Eve.  She ends up having to team up with the antagonist in order to find Flynn.  And it turns out, Flynn is traveling with the intelligence of the Library.  Meanwhile, the other three work with Jenkins to keep the Library from completely dying.  Ray regains his memories, though Moriarty has to take the staff to save him. The Library is wholly restored.  Baird visits an old friend in Infernal Contract; Sam Denning (Michael Trucco, he’s appeared in several TV shows, including Castle as a similarly named Detective Tom Demming that was interested in Kate) is running for mayor in a small town.  But turns out that his opponent’s family has had a long running deal with a devil (played by John de Lancie, a few episodes of Charmed and Stargate SG-1, and Q in Star Trek); a bit like crossroad demons in Supernatural.  Eve, Jenkins, and the Librarians manage to trick the devil and rescue Sam and the town.  Jenkins sweetly takes care of the three ill Librarians at the end and points out that Eve’s job as Guardian is to save the Librarians’ souls.

The team gets to go clubbing in London in Image of Image, trying to figure out how people are mysteriously dying from something they weren’t doing.  They’re all connected to Club Effigy, where pictures mark them as the next victim.  There’s a charming Englishman who turns out to be Dorian Gray.  Any of his vices are passed onto his victims, keeping him young and beautiful.  Until Ezekiel and Cassandra turn the tables on him.  Jenkins once again counsels Eve on the upcoming battle between good and evil.  Jenkins goes to a Fae for information on Prospero at the beginning of Point of Salvation.  The rest of the team gets stuck in a video game scenario at a DARPA lab.  Ezekiel is the only one who remembers each pass and gets tired of seeing his friends die.  He forces them to believe him and follow him, even sacrificing himself at the end.  Jacob and Cassandra figure out a way to bring him back and now he doesn’t remember his heroic deeds [or does he?].  Prospero attacks in the final moments.  He created a spell that wiped the memory of Eve, Cassandra, Ezekiel, and Jacob from Jenkins’ mind in Happily Ever After.  Flynn heads off to find them and discovers they’re leading new, but similar lives together on a small island.  Eve is the sheriff, dating Moriarty.  Cassandra has been to the moon, Jacob teaches eleven different classes at the university, and Ezekiel is an FBI agent, but their home base seems to resemble a library.  Flynn teams up with the sprite, Ariel [she is adorable] to bring his family’s memories back.  Eve has to do the same for Flynn at the end because his perfect life is one puzzle after another that he solves by himself.  But they’ve been under the spell for three weeks, Jenkins reports.  The ley lines have been supercharged by Prospero; it means the end of the world.

A giant forest begins to cover the earth in Final Curtain.  Due to a wet hand, Flynn and Eve finally realize the strange note they found in John Dee’s estate in Drowned Book was written by Flynn in his left hand.  They use time travel to go back to when Shakespeare wrote The Tempest, but it breaks upon their departure.  Now Jenkins and the other three Librarians have to follow the rest of the clues to stop Prospero in the present.  Prospero has one final task for Moriarty and sends him back in time as well.  But Moriarty wants vengeance on his taskmaster for holding him prisoner and decides the best way to do that is to try to kill Shakespeare.  Obviously, that does not work out, but Flynn and Eve discover that Prospero is Shakespeare transformed.  His quill is magical, part of the Tree of Knowledge gifted to him by John Dee.  With it, Shakespeare transforms into the wizard so he can escape a failure in his career.  Moriarty is swiftly dealt with by Prospero, and he almost drowns Eve.  She rises out of the water, like the Lady of the Lake (aided by the ladies of the Lake), throwing Excalibur to Flynn to defeat Prospero.  So it follows that old adage of King Arthur, that he who wields Excalibur will do so once more and save England.  The other three turn Prospero back into Shakespeare in the present, using some of Shakespeare’s’ work to define themselves.  A portal opens that can send Shakespeare back to his time, but Flynn and Eve cannot come forward.  However, they figure out how to do time travel the long way round, leaving the notes they need for themselves and asking Shakespeare to use his magic quill one last time to make them into a statue that is delivered to the Library for safekeeping.  The other three free them from their very long kiss and heck, even Cal is back.

It’s adorable how much this team continues to become a family.  Since I am not fully versed in Shakespeare, I probably miss some of the nuisances of Prospero being the villain, but Moriarty is excellent; almost sympathetic at times.  I’m glad that Flynn takes Eve with him to defeat Prospero, rather than leaving her behind and handling the mission on his own; and I’m even happier that they don’t stay stuck in Elizabethan England forever.

Next Time: Season Three

Offering You the Chance to Save the World, Twice Before Friday

Season One

Flynn Carson is back, still protecting the world from dangerous magical artifacts (Noah Wyle is billed as “special guest star” since he couldn’t star in two television shows at the same time).  He’s been doing the job, alone, for eleven years.  Though it turns out that the Library wants to add to the team.  It recruits Colonel Eve Baird (played by Rebecca Romijn, who was Mystique/Raven in the 2000’s X-Men trilogy), head of a NATO terrorist task force, to become Flynn’s Guardian.  As Charlene points out, Flynn hasn’t had a proper Guardian since Nicole (in the first movie).  We also find out that Judson passed away five years previous, though his spirit still speaks to Flynn in a mirror (and Flynn’s mother apparently had passed as well).

In The Crown of King Arthur, Eve helps Flynn solve the mystery of why experts are being killed; one professor had been trying to reach Flynn regarding a painting.  The connection?  He had been invited to interview at the Library the same day Flynn was hired; the professor was only a few people behind Flynn.  There are a few top candidates left alive.  Cassandra Cillian (played by Lindy Booth who has starred in a few Hallmark movies, including playing a librarian falling in back in love with a football star) is startlingly brilliant with math and science, but they sometimes get cross-wired with her other senses and a brain tumor pushes her death sooner rather than later.  Ezekiel Jones (John Harlan Kim, he has appeared in a few episodes of NCIS: LA and Hawaii Five-0) is a master thief, and Jacob Stone (Christian Kane, previously starred in Leverage, and I absolutely loved his appearance as an old friend of Dean’s in Supernatural; complete with singing Good Ol’ Boys [one of my favorite scenes of the entire show]) is a genius art historian who hides out in his hometown.  Yes, apparently ninjas do pop up in Oklahoma, sent by the Serpent Brotherhood. 

Eve and Flynn bring the other three to the Library to keep them safe.  One of them excitedly asks if vampires are real.  Flynn answers yes to vampires, no to Dracula, because he killed him (call back to the third movie).  Cassandra is glad to have lived long enough to find out magic is real, but Jacob wants to know why no one sees is.  Response: it’s buried in ley lines.  Long ago, the world was filled with magic, but it was drained off and stored in artifacts; which is why the Librarian travels the world to collect the artifacts and house them safely in the Library.  As technology has risen, magic has faded away.  Stone helps solve the mystery of the painting; it’s The Crown of King Arthur.  The actual crown was apparently created by Merlin to allow Arthur to control the magic of Camelot in order to rule.  Hence why the Serpent Brotherhood wants it; they want to release wild magic back into the world and create chaos; that they will rule.

Flynn catches up to Eve and the trio in Munich.  The painting supports the Roman hypothesis of Arthur [we’ve seen that in a few of the prior Arthurian legend movies], but the painting is actually a fake, Stone points out.  They quickly discover that the museum was built around the painting; it’s a clue (after arguing for a bit, it’s like the inside of Flynn’s mind has spilled out, but louder).  It leads outside to a sundial, which leads to a henge in the German forest.  All the while, trying to keep ahead of the Brotherhood, led by Lamia, a skilled female fighter.  The good guys recover the crown with a bit of shenanigans. 

Flynn intends to send the three newcomers home, but an alarm is set off.  The Serpent Brotherhood has gotten inside the Library.  But with the security upgrade, someone would have had to let them in.  Sadly, it was Cassandra.  The Brotherhood promised her magic would cure her brain tumor.  Lamia gains the crown and calls Excalibur to her, though Flynn puts up a fight.  He’s stabbed with Excalibur, and even though he takes a healing tonic, it cannot cure wounds dealt by a magical weapon.  Flynn will die.

The adventure immediately picks up in Sword in the Stone.  Judson and Charlene work together to protect the Library, meaning they lock it into its own pocket dimension.  Flynn mourns the their loss and the loss of his home.  Eve and the three men are met by an elderly gentleman who agrees to help them and takes them to the Library’s Annex.  You can still access any of the books from the Library.  Its’ caretaker is Jenkins (the veteran John Larroquette, got an early start with Black Sheep Squadron, then broke out in Night Court amongst his long career), who is eager to send them on their way so he can return to his peace and research.  Jenkins encourages Eve to help Flynn; she gives him a pep talk so he will save the world one last time.

Meanwhile, Cassandra meets, Dulaque (Matt Frewer, who provided several animated voices to various series and appeared as Pestilence in Supernatural), the leader of the Serpent Brotherhood.  Excalibur is the key to unlocking the Stone, which will release magic.  And the stone is in London.  Through a secret entrance in Buckingham Palace, the royal family has been guarding it for years.  Cassandra helps the Brotherhood, until she discovers their true purpose and is then locked up for her troubles.  She does aid her new friends; Flynn understands why she chose to initially help the Brotherhood, to save herself.  Lamia places Excalibur back in the Stone, but distractions help Flynn gain the Crown and regain Excalibur.  The Brotherhood runs off, but Flynn is still dying and now so is Excalibur.  He offers the sword to heal Cassandra, it has that much magic left.  With Judson and Charlene gone, and Cal dying, it’s Flynn’s time.  Instead, Cassandra chooses to save Flynn.

Flynn feels it is safer for the three young adults to leave, but he vows to find the Library and bring it back.  Though he begins thinking; if he’s in charge now, he can change the rules.  There can be more than one Librarian.  And they can train the Librarian instead of throwing them into sink or swim situations.  He tells everyone to open their envelopes; there are new invitations inside.  Flynn will go off by himself, he’s used to it, but Eve will stay and protect the new Librarians, with Jenkins’ help.  He’s offering them a life a mystery and misery, of loneliness and adventure.  A chance to save the world, twice before Friday.  Flynn bids farewell to Eve who makes him promise not to die, and there is a parting kiss (squee!) [And I still totally want this job!]

The new crew continues their adventures in Horns of Dilemma, where they have to solve the labyrinth of the Minotaur and recover the twine.  (Familiar face is Tricia Helfer, who has been in several Hallmark Channel movies).  And yes, Santa Claus is real (and played by Bruce Campbell, who played Sam Axe in Burn Notice) in Santa’s Midnight Run.  The Serpent Brotherhood plans to kill Santa and the Librarians must stop them.  Eve ends up taking on the role of spreading goodwill back to the human race on Christmas Eve.  She was in fact named “Eve,” for being born on that night.

Ezekiel and Jenkins have to team up and entertain a conclave of magical beings in Apple of Discord while Stone, Cassandra, Eve, and even Flynn shows up to retrieve the dragon’s pearl.  Except hidden inside the pearl is the Apple of Discord, which brings out the worst in everyone.  And Dulaque wants the conclave to vote to disband the Library.  Of course, the heroes prevail and point out that the world needs the Library to protect it from harmful artifacts.  Eve permanently transfers to the Library and sends Flynn back out to do his thing (of course, with a parting kiss).  The Librarians’ next case is the Fables of Doom, where fairytales are coming to life in a small town.  Eve does ask Ezekiel to not antagonize local law enforcement, though he argues it is fun.  An old book, the Librus Fabula brings fairytales to life, but will re-write reality and sucks life from those trapped in its stories.  The local librarian is using it on a young girl and our heroes slowly turn into archetypes: Jacob is the Huntsman, Cassandra is Prince Charming, and Eve is the Princess (their clothing and hairstyles change throughout the episode).  Ezekiel is what he always is, the Lucky Thief and he helps the girl recover and rewrite the story so the good guys win.

They encounter magic occurring at a STEM fair in Rule of Three.  Someone has created an app that doubles as a focusing spell, so when the students all imagine beating the leader, bad luck will befall them three times over.  Cassandra gets to shine by combining science and magic.  And they encounter a new foe; Morgan le Fay (played by Alicia Witt, another actress who has appeared in Hallmark Channel movies, and even an episode of Supernatural [I think I may have figured out why so many Hallmark stars are in Supernatural; they both film in Canada]).  Jenkins is furious to encounter her (she calls him Galais) and warns Eve that there is a larger battle coming.  The Librarians save the day, but hints are dropped that something bigger is coming.

Heart of Darkness reminds me of a Supernatural episode.  There is a haunted house that traps people inside.  Eve keeps trying to protect Cassandra, but it is ultimately Cassandra who faces off against Katie.  The house is actually the House of Refuge, until a family of serial killers, the Bloody Benders, moved in [yep, really sounds like a Supernatural episode].  Jacob befriends the local archivist in City of Light.  It is ultimately a town designed by Tesla, but the citizens got trapped between worlds and the streetlights are the only thing tying them to this world.  They try to recreate Tesla’s plan to bring everyone back, but Cassandra works out that too much could go wrong and harm too many people.  Mabel sacrifices herself to shut it off.  Though there is a ray of hope at the end; Jenkins has Eve write down an appointment for future Librarians, so maybe there will be a way to bring them back.

The season ends with Loom of Fate.  It begins with Flynn meeting the team at an Egyptian tomb; he has an idea on how to bring the Library back.  The team helps out with the artifacts they have recovered throughout the year.  But just when Flynn is about to succeed, Dulaque enters and kills Lamia so he can view the Loom of Fate.  Eve and Flynn jump through and Dulaque cuts the Loom at the spot where Camelot fell.  Eve and Flynn then bounce through different timelines, where Flynn did not become the Librarian.  In each case, one of the junior Librarians took the job and they all lost Eve.  In one case, it’s Jacob Stone and Eve who pair up, instead Flynn.  In Cassandra’s case, she studied under Morgan and has a few more clues.  Camelot was the height of magic and power, but with the Loom cut, time is fraying and it will require all three Librarians to get Eve and Flynn back to the Annex and then to the River of Time.  Flynn reweaves the Loom with the labyrinth twine, while Jenkins faces off against a younger Dulaque…as in Lancelot du Lac (played by Jerry O’Connell, among his many television and movie roles, he does play Sheldon’s older brother in Big Bang Theory [Rebecca Romijn’s real-life husband].  Jenkins is actually Galahad [the son of Lancelot and Elaine of Corbenic] and argues against Lancelot wanting to return to Camelot; it wasn’t as great as Lancelot remembers and mortals have earned the right to rule themselves.  Jenkins bests Lancelot and Flynn reverts to his usual self.  They have to get Eve help; Lancelot stabbed her.  But first, Flynn has to finish bringing back the Library.  The Library holds the solution for curing Eve…the same potion Flynn took in Sword in the Stone will actually work on Eve’s wound, though it’s a close thing.  Flynn refused to let Eve die like she had in all other timelines; he does not believe in Fate.  But he’s glad to be home in his Library.  They send the three young Librarians off on their own adventures, and Eve will accompany Flynn on his adventures.

I adore the show even more than I love the movies.  With a television show, there is more time to develop characters and plot lines further.  And of course, I love the integration of Arthurian legend into the story.  Cassandra is a sweetheart, Jacob is the big brother, Ezekiel is the annoying little brother, and Eve just tries to keep them all together.

Up Next: Season Two

Be Safe. Don’t Get Killed. Save Your Receipts.

The Librarian

First, a trilogy of movies put out by TNT; then developed into a television series.  It stars Noah Wyle (he was on E.R. for many years [no intention of watching] and he briefly appeared in an episode of Lab Rats) as Flynn Carson. Jane Curtin is Charlene and Bob Newhart (he’s popped up in other television shows like Big Bang Theory, and I had no idea he was the voice of Bernard in Disney’s The Rescuers movies) is Judson.  There’s a familiar face, David Dayan Fisher (bad guy in NCIS and National Treasure) in the first film, Quest for the Spear; and Gabrielle Anwar (the Queen in The Three Musketeers with Chris O’Donnell, Princess Margaret [Henry VIII’s sister] in The Tudors, Fiona in Burn Notice, and Victoria Belfrey/Lady Tremaine in Once Upon a Time) joins the second film Return to Solomon’s Mines as Emily Davenport.  The third film, Curse of the Judas Chalice, brings in Stana Katic (briefly glimpsed at the end of Quantum of Solace, and opposite Nathan Fillion in Castle) as Simone Renoir.

Quest for the Spear introduces us to Flynn Carson, who holds 22 degrees and intends to be a lifelong student.  Until his professors agree to cut him off and force him out into the big, bad, real world to find a job.  An invitation arrives at his home (he doesn’t see it until a pile of books drops on his head), to interview for a prestigious position at the Metropolitan Public Library.  He’s not the only applicant, the line wraps down the staircase.  He faces Charlene, who wants to know “what makes you think you could be the Librarian?”  And she means more than knowing the Dewey Decimal system; what makes him different than every other librarian.  His observational skills rival Sherlock Holmes and he can tell when Charlene broke her nose, when she divorced, and how many kinds of cats she owns.  Then another voice calls out “what’s more important than knowledge?”  Flynn echoes his mother’s statement that the things that make life worth living are not thought (in his head), but felt (in his heart).  Flynn wins the position and will begin a wondrous new adventure, from which he will never be the same.  Judson appears and leads Flynn downstairs, through a secret door and security guards, opening to a grand hall filled with shelves and display cases.

Judson explains that magic exists, but it is dangerous and must be kept out of the wrong hands.  That is the Librarian’s job.  And he must keep it secret [so I object to his mother’s dismissal of his job as simply shelving books…I wanted to become a traditional librarian at one point.]  That evening, Judson is knocked out at the Library; Charlene and Flynn find him the next morning and discover that the Serpent Brotherhood has stolen a piece of the Spear of Destiny.  The Serpent Brotherhood opposes the Library and wants to use magical artifacts to rule the world.  And the Spear was used by Charlemagne and Napoleon; Hitler had one piece; so if the Serpent Brotherhood has it, they can certainly control the fate of the world.  Flynn, as Librarian, is the only one who can go after them (which Flynn points out is a little sad).

Clues to the other pieces are in a book, written in the Language of the Birds, the universal language all people spoke before the Tower of Babble.  Flynn has to decipher it on his flight to the Amazon.  He succeeds in 7 hours and 26 minutes.  And the beautiful woman he meets on the plane is Nicole Noone (so when Judson says to “trust no one”…that’s what he meant), whose job is to protect the Librarian.  Nicole is a bit dismissive of Flynn at first, bodily dragging him out of danger, since the Brotherhood is chasing them.  But Flynn proves his brilliance; he memorized the globe as a child.  They uncover the second piece of the Spear, but are met by the Brotherhood outside, including the previous Librarian whom Nicole saw die.  He desires power now and plans to wield the Spear.  But he can’t read the Language of the Birds, so Flynn argues Edward needs him.  Oh, and the final piece of the Spear is in Shangri-La.  Edward forces Flynn to grab the spearhead, then the monastery begins to collapse.  Nicole grabs the spearhead and escapes with Flynn (and the helicopter is “horrible, horrible, high velocity pie of death!” Flynn discovers while trying to fly it).  Nicole kisses Flynn in his room in Mongolia, but she is gone when he wakes up. He has a brief discussion with Judson and realizes that the Brotherhood has to fuse the Spear back together at the pyramid display with the golden capstone that Flynn was working on at the university in the beginning.  “Call the Marines, Judson.  I’m coming home.”  But, clothes first.

Edward does manage to fuse the Spear and tests it on his minion [that bad guy we see a lot].  Nicole and Judson take on the other mooks, though Flynn does get to punch his former professor in the nose.  Flynn goes after Edward and gets beaten up a bit.  But as Flynn pointed out to the students earlier, if one stone is out of line be even one inch, the whole pyramid collapses; and Edward has been hitting stones trying to get Flynn.  Edward is crushed by the capstone and the Spear floats to Flynn.

Back at the Library, Flynn is worthy enough to pull out Excalibur and there is a new portrait hanging, featuring Flynn with the Spear.  Three months later, Flynn’s mother is still trying to hook his son up, despite hearing Nicole on the phone earlier.  Nicole zooms in on a motorcycle and kisses Flynn hello, then briefly introduced to his mother.  But they have to go (time-traveling ninjas are on the loose).

The opening of Return to Solomon’s Mines is very similar to the opening of Last Crusade; it takes place in Utah and Flynn interrupts someone digging up something that doesn’t belong to them.  Back at the Library, he receives a package while Judson instructs him that he has a lot to learn and that to be a truly great Librarian, one must sacrifice what one wants for the greater good.  Flynn stops by his mother’s house for a surprise birthday party for him and briefly speaks to his father’s best friend, Jerry.  Flynn’s father passed away when the man was thirty-two, which is the age Flynn is now.  His mother has saved some of his old drawings from bedtime adventures his father told him.  She pulls out a [Masonic-looking] medallion, which his father used to joke was their family crest.  At Flynn’s apartment, he discovers that he was mailed an odd-looking scroll, then is knocked out.  Judson wakes him and realizes that the symbol Flynn saw on the scroll leads to Solomon’s Mines, holding great treasure.  It also holds the Key of Solomon which can summon the undead.  Judson sends Flynn to Morocco.

Flynn meets Emily at her Roman dig in Morocco; she’s searching for evidence of the Queen of Sheba’s (the wife of King Solomon) rule there.  They discover the secret tomb and are briefly attacked after finding the legend piece.  But their attacker recognizes the medallion Flynn wears; it symbolizes a society bound to protect Solomon’s Mines.  More bad guys come and they are sent to Kenya to find the second piece.  Emily insists on accompanying Flynn; if she can find more items like the legend piece, her own research will be funded for years.  Emily also has 25 degrees (to Flynn’s 22), so they spend a great deal of their journey arguing history and archeology.  Then they come across a man buried in the sand.  For freeing him, he will take them to Gedi.

Bad guys have followed them to Gedi, but luckily they run into Jerry boarding a train.  He treats them to dinner, then Flynn and Emily discover the key to the map is playing the legend pieces like an instrument; the map is music notes.  It comes to life and leads them to another mountain.  Judson pops into instruct Flynn to return home; but Flynn and Emily continue on.  Flynn’s father’s bedtime stories lead the way to the oldest tree in Africa, underneath which is a temple.  They find the treasure, but bad guys interrupt their exploration, led by Jerry.  Jerry wants the Key, which Flynn found, so he can re-write history.  Jerry blames Flynn’s father for stealing his mother’s heart; Jerry should have had the family; and he was responsible for the father’s death.

Jerry incants from the book, opening a portal and beginning to raise the dead.  Flynn goes after Jerry and threatens to destroy the book, but Jerry tempts him with the idea that Flynn can bring his father back.  Flynn takes over the chanting, but Emily manages to distract him.  Flynn throws the book into the lava and Jerry jumps in after it.  Emily, Flynn, and the man they saved all manage to escape the explosion and Flynn is left to return home alone.  Judson encourages Flynn that he did the right thing in destroying the Key of Solomon; only a great Librarian would have done so.

Flynn is at an auction in the beginning of Curse of the Judas Chalice on Library business, but also trying to keep his girlfriend happy.  He battles against another collector to retrieve the Philosopher’s Stone.  He wins, but his girlfriend leaves him.  He’s depressed once he returns to the Library and Judson’s comment that he’s a celibate monk does not help.  When Flynn looks around the Library he doesn’t see artifacts anymore, he sees the bits of his life he gave up to retrieve them, like his college reunion.  Charlene suggests that Flynn use a few vacation days, then stops by his apartment later (a little drunk) to drop off travel brochures.  Flynn dreams of New Orleans and decides to give it a try (a woman called to him in his dream).  He hears the same voice singing and meets Simone.

Meanwhile, a former KGB Russian, Kubichek meets up with a Romanian history professor.  The professor is teaching a lesson on Prince Vlad Dracul, known as the Impaler, but all his students want to know is whether the man was a vampire.  Kubichek is interested instead with the Judas Chalice.

The Russians end up chasing after Flynn in New Orleans and Simone helps him escape, such as hitting a high C in an echo chamber.  Simone takes Flynn out for a night on the town and he perks up a bit.  Judson appears to Flynn (again; he has a habit of doing that) and explains that Flynn needs to go after the Judas Chalice.  The Chalice has the power to resurrect vampires, because apparently, Judas was the first vampire, cursed to walk the Earth for all eternity after he was hung for his transgressions.  Oh, and Dracula’s tomb has been stolen.

The bad guys grab Flynn, explaining that they want to use the army of the undead to bring Russia back to its former glory [seems like lots of Russians want to do that in these types of movies].  Flynn happens to know the Romanian professor and they decipher the lens that was found.  Simone drops in to help rescue Flynn, except she’s shot.  Flynn drags her out and briefly mourns her…turns out she’s not dead.  She’s a vampire.  She was turned in Paris in 1603 where she had been an opera singer for the royal court.  Now, she’s trying to hunt down the vampire who turned her and kill him.  (She also hints that Judson is a lot older than he appears and there is a larger battle to be had with the Library, between good and evil).

Flynn and Simone find the Chalice aboard Lafitte’s shipwreck [no, not Lafayette that many now know from Hamilton.  Lafitte was French as well, but was a smuggler based out of New Orleans in the early nineteenth century.  He did aid America in the Battle of New Orleans.]  The Russians interrupt the couple and Simone seems to know the professor.  The Russians trap them, but Flynn rigs a cannon to blow open a way out.  Simone leaves him behind and Flynn fears she wants the Chalice for herself.  When they meet up at the plantation again, turns out, no, she recognized the professor as the vampire who turned her.  And who turns out to be Dracula.  And he has no intention of actually helping the Russians.  Sure, he’ll raise the undead, but so he can rule the world.  Flynn goes after Vlad and the Chalice.  Simone helps fight Vlad, who drops the Chalice.  Flynn stabs him with a stake from an aspen tree.  Simone then watches the sun rise with Flynn, one last time.  Her duty to protect the Chalice is done now; she’s gotten her vengeance.  But she encourages Flynn to live out his destiny as the Librarian.

Flynn returns to the Library in a better mood and ready to fight the larger battle that is coming.  As he and Judson walk away, it is revealed that the walkways of the Library create the Tree of Knowledge.

I love these movies.  I want the Librarian job.  Again, it makes learning fun.  History is not dry and dull [well yes, at times it is], but hunting for artifacts uses so many aspects of knowledge.  And I appreciate that the three different women who help out Flynn are all strong, independent women.  Yes, they have brief romances with the lead man, but they are also smart in their own right.  Nicole is the one to kick butt.  And they don’t look down on Flynn for being a bookworm.  Being a bookworm actually saves their butts occasionally.

Next Time: The adventure continues with the first season of The Librarians

Nazis Are Also After Historical Artifacts

Indiana Jones

The heart of modern action-adventure, true classics.  I’ll focus on Raiders of the Lost Ark and Last Crusade.  I have never watched Temple of Doom since my parents mainly recall creepy bits and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, while is has funny throwbacks, is just weird.  There is talk of a fifth Indiana Jones movie coming soon, but I will believe that when I see it.

Directed by Steven Spielberg and story by George Lucas [yep], these movies have a great cast.  Harrison Ford leads as Indiana Jones, John Rhys-Davies (Gimli in Lord of the Rings) is his friend Sallah along with Denholm Elliott as Marcus Brody.  Sean Connery joins Last Crusade as Indiana’s father, Henry.  Julian Glover (Grand Maester Pycelle in Game of Thrones, he made an appearance in Merlin, The Young Victoria, and Troy and was General Veers in Empire Strikes Back) is Walter Donovan.

Raiders opens with a trek through the jungle where Indy discovers a golden idol.  He uses a sandbag as a weight to fool the booby trap, but it still triggers and eventually sends a huge bolder rolling after him (a now iconic scene).  His treasure is taken by fellow archeologist, Belloq and Indy manages to escape to a waiting sea-plane and we first hear of his hatred of snakes [and briefly hear a few notes of the theme, superbly composed by John Williams]. Turns out our adventurer is a professor of archeology at a university.  Marcus Brody, from the nearby museum fetches Indy to meet with two gentlemen from Army Intelligence.  They ask Indy about his former mentor Ravenwood, whose name came up in a Nazi report about Tanus.  (Hitler was actually very interested in the occult).  Well, the Nazis are digging in Cairo to find the Ark of the Covenant.  Indy and Marcus have to explain to the Army what the Ark is and Marcus remarks that an army that marches with the Ark would be unstoppable, armed with the wrath of God.  Ravenwood studied the Ark and knew the whereabouts of the headpiece for the Staff of Ra, a way to find where the Ark is actually kept.  Indy takes the job to track down Ravenwood, starting with his daughter, Marion.  Indy’s in the quest for the historical and archeological significance; he doesn’t believe in magic.  Hence why he packs his whip and gun.

Marion owns a bar in Nepal and had a previous romantic relationship with Indy, that ended badly.  She’s relatively happy to see him, but still holds a grudge.  Her father is dead and she won’t tell Indy where the headpiece is, he has to come back tomorrow.  Well, the Nazis are on the trail and threaten Marion, even starting a fire in her bar.  Indy to the rescue, but he’s gained Marion as a partner.  A Nazi tries to grab the metal piece while it’s in the fire, burning his hand, but Marion is smart enough to use a cloth real quick.  The couple heads to Cairo and meet up with Sallah.

Things do not go fully according to plan in Cairo; a monkey spies on Indy and Marion, resulting in Marion getting taken and supposedly killed.  Indy shoots a fancy swordsman instead of crossing blades with him while he’s looking for Marion (another iconic scene now).  Sallah and Indy have the headpiece translated and with both sides, they have the actual height of the staff, meaning they have the actual location of the Ark.  Indy briefly runs into Marion, but he can’t free her, it would be too suspicious.  So Marion plans her own escape from Belloq (he’s almost the equal to Indiana, but more selfish).

Sallah and Indy in fact uncover the Ark, but it is taken from them by the Nazis; Belloq spotted them in the morning.  Marion is thrown in with Indy, along with a pit full of snakes.  Indy uses a statue to break down a wall so they can escape.  They come across a Nazi airfield and manage to create a huge fireball, after Indy’s taken a few punches.  They meet up with Sallah again, though Indy had to go after the truck the Nazis put the Ark in [here, the full theme kicks in].  Indy knocks out some of the bad guys, but also gets shot in the arm, then thrown through a windshield.  He’s almost run over by the truck, but instead goes underneath and climbs back up.  Bye-bye bad guy and Indy has control of the truck now, running Belloq and his Nazi companions off the road.  Locals help hide the truck and Sallah arranges a ship back to England to carry the Ark and Marion and Indiana.

Marion tries to help Indy clean up and kisses the only spots that don’t hurt.  “It’s the years, not the mileage,” he quips.  Come morning, the Nazis are back on their trail and retrieve the Ark and Marion.  Indy manages to hide, then swim over to the sub.  In the hanger, he steals a uniform to follow the group to a Greek island, where Belloq plans a Jewish ceremony to unveil the Ark to ensure its true power.  Indy threatens to blow up the Ark, but Belloq calls him on it; Indiana could never destroy such a significant find.  And he can’t.  So he and Marion are tied up at the back of the ceremony and once a mist creeps out of the Ark, they close their eyes.  Spirits from the Ark take out all the Nazis and Belloq.  Marion and Indiana are unharmed and return to the United States with the Ark of the Covenant.  Instead of the museum getting the Ark as agreed, the government hides it away in a warehouse full of other crates.

Last Crusade actually begins with Indy’s childhood in 1912 Utah, as a Boy Scout.  (And as Boy Scouts are prone to do, they wander off when they’re specifically told not to.)  Indy and his friend come across a group uncovering the Cross of Coronado.  Indy can’t stand to see these men take it; it belongs in a museum.  So he swipes it, not minding the snakes about, and gallops off.  He’s pursued by the group and they make their way onto a traveling zoo train, dodging giraffes and rhinos.  Falling into a snake pit is where Indy gets his fear of them (understandable), and he gains his trademark whip and scar on his chin when he has to get past a lion.  The group hauls him out, but he still gets away, running home.  His father makes him stop and count to twenty in Greek; he’s busy with his own work.  Unfortunately, the sheriff takes the group’s side, since they were financed by a rich guy, so Indy loses the cross.  But the leader, wearing a leather jacket, tells Indy to buck up and gives him his fedora.

Time skip to our current Indiana, he’s on a boat during a storm, recovering the Cross of Coronado again, from the same guy.  “It belongs in a museum!”  “So do you!” the guy retorts.  Indy makes it off the boat before it collapses and explodes.  Marcus eagerly accepts the cross to put in their Spanish display.  We also get a good lesson on archeology, that Indiana doesn’t necessarily follow himself.  70% of all archeology is done in the library, reading and researching.  Archeology is the search for fact, not truth.  There are no maps to buried treasure and X never marks the spot.  When Indy returns to his office, it’s overrun, so he escapes out the window.  There, he’s picked up by some men and taken to a swanky house, where he meets Walter Donovan.  Donovan has been a generous benefactor of the museum and has a piece for Indy to look at.  A partial stone tablet that mentions the cup that holds the blood of Jesus Christ: the Holy Grail.  Grail lore is Indiana’s father’s area of expertise, aside from the medieval literature classes he teaches [I’d like to take a class on the subject, among others].  Donovan reveals that a project has been started to uncover the Grail, but their leader has vanished.  That leader is Indiana’s father, Henry Jones.

Indy heads to his father’s house along with Marcus and find it ransacked.  Indy recalls he got a package sent from Venice, where the next clue was possibly located.  It’s his father’s Grail dairy.  Marcus agrees to accompany Indy to Venice.  There, they meet Elsa Schneider.  Indy of course flirts with her, but they get to business in the library inside a converted church.  Henry’s last note was of Roman numerals; there’s a connection between the stained glass window and the pillars from the Holy Land.  The final Roman numeral, “X” for ten, is in the floor.  (Indy’s banging coincides with a librarian’s stamping for a funny scene).  Elsa and Indy venture below into the rat-filled catacombs.  A few men sneak up on Marcus and knock him out, then light the petroleum that is underground.  But Elsa and Indiana have found the second knight’s tomb and his shield is a copy of the tablet, though complete.  Indy finishes a rubbing, but the tomb is sacrificed to keep him and Elsa safe from the fire.

The same men pursue the couple once they’re above ground and Indy heads for the docks.  Elsa driving their boat between them, while crazy and dangerous and not what Indy shouted, does help deplete some of the men.  Indy grabs one of the men and threatens to chop him to bits with a propeller, but keeps him alive for information.  The man is part of a society guarding the Grail, the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword.  They know that Henry Jones is being held at a castle on the Austrian-German border.

The rubbing reveals Alexandreta as the starting point for a map Henry has in his diary, pieced together to the Canyon of the Crescent Moon, but no names.  Now they have the starting point.  Indiana sends Marcus ahead to meet Sallah.  Indy finds his and Elsa’s rooms ransacked; someone was looking for the diary.  The angry flirting continues between them.

Indy and Else pretend to be Scottish for a minute, switching hats and coats to gain entry to look at the tapestries.  The butler doesn’t believe them, but Indy knocks him out.  And discovers the castle holds Nazis as well.  He hates those guys (wonder why), but goes off to find his father.  He crashes through the window, then gets a vase to the head.  Henry and Indiana are happy to see each other for a few seconds, then back to work.  They’re interrupted by the Nazis and Henry is mad that Indiana brought the diary after he mailed it away from him.  Being called “junior” is a button for Indiana his father likes to push, so Indy takes care of matters like he usually does.  They’re almost out until Elsa is threatened.  Indy puts down the gun, but Henry was right; she’s with the Nazis and now they have the dairy.

But not the map.  The map is with Marcus.  And Donovan is with the Nazis as well.  Indy bluffs to the Nazis that Marcus is brilliant, knows the languages and customs wherever he is and will blend in.  Sadly, the man is a bit bumbling and got lost in his own museum once.  Marcus does indeed meet up with Sallah, but is shortly afterwards picked up by the Nazis.  The Jones men are tied up and will be disposed of.  They’re tied back to back and while alone, Indy has his father take out his lighter.  But Henry drops it, lighting the floor and then the room on fire.  “Dad!”  “What!”  “Dad!”  “What!”  “Dad!”  “What!”  “Head for the fireplace!”  (so amny iconic scenes: this is why they’re classics).  The fireplace is a secret passage and Indy manages to slip out of his ropes so they can escape.  And the escape is rather funny at times.  Indy is used to doing his own stunts, but now he has to pull his father along.  [Harrison had fun driving Sean around in the motorcycle].  His father should be pleased with Indiana jousting against the Nazis, but he disapproves of his son’s smile once the Nazis are dispatched.  Henry urges Indiana to head to Berlin to retrieve the diary; there’s more than a map.  There are clues to passing the three challenges, clues he wrote down so he wouldn’t have to remember.

There is a parade going on and Indy once again wears a German uniform to blend in.  He grabs the diary off of Elsa and she pleads that she disapproves of the Nazis burning books [I also strongly disapprove…ignorant fools].  They part, but Indy is caught in the crowd and brought before Hitler.  Luckily, Hitler thinks he just wants an autographs, so signs the diary.  Father and son board a Zeppelin, but they are pursued again.  Indy knocks the one man out of the window and passes it off to passengers as “no ticket.” He tries to have a conversation with his father and they hit on the point that Henry gave his son self-reliance, which Indy interpreted as being less important than men who lived and died centuries prior in another country.  He learned it so well they haven’t spoken in twenty years.  Well, Indiana left just when he was becoming interesting.  But right now, they need to focus on locating the Grail.

The Zeppelin turns around, prompting Indiana and Henry to make for the airplane attached.  They’re pursued and shot down, then one plane tries to follow them through a tunnel (does not end well for him) and Henry scares a flock of birds to take out the other plane.  The two men make it to meet up with Sallah and Marcus is being held by the Nazis.  The good guys find the bad guys and luckily a distraction comes from the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword.  Henry finds Marcus in the tank, then they’re both kept inside.  One Nazi wants to know why Henry came back for the diary, what does it tell him that it doesn’t tell them?  Well, goose-stepping morons should “try reading books instead of burning them.” (love that line)

My brother was in Petra once

Indy jumps onto the tank and tries to get Marcus and Henry out.  The men help a bit in their own way and Sallah gets Henry before he can be crushed by the tank’s tread.  Then the tank goes over a cliff, Indy with it.  Henry is remorseful, there was more he should have taught his son.  But Indiana is okay and even gets a hug from his father.  For a minute.  Then the quest is back on.  The Canyon of the Crescent Moon leads to a large temple [Petra in Jordan].  When Donovan’s mooks fail to make it past the booby traps, he threatens Indiana to get it.  And to do so, he shoots Henry.

The first task is the Breath of God, only the penitent man will pass.  Penitent, meaning humble, meaning he will kneel before God.  Ducking allows Indy to avoid a set of blades.  The second task is the Word of God, following the footsteps of God will allow one to proceed.  The name of God: Jehovah.  Except, in Latin, Jehovah starts with an “I.”  Indy almost falls through the floor, but he’s lucky.  And the final task is the Path of God, a leap from the lion’s head will prove one’s worth.  It’s a wide chasm that no one can jump across, not even Indy.  It will take a leap of faith.  Actually, the bridge just blends in really well with the wall [remarkable effect].  Indy encounters the final knight, but their discussion is interrupted by Donovan and Elsa.  Elsa agrees to give Donovan the Grail.  She selects a golden and bejeweled cup, worthy of the “king of kings”.  But when Donovan drinks the water, he rapidly ages (rather creepy).  He chose unwisely, the knight states.  Indiana selects a wooden cup, like a carpenter would make.  He tests it, and chose wisely.  But the knight warns him that the Grail cannot pass the great seal.

The Grail heals Henry and causes the mooks to scatter.  But Elsa tries to take it with her, causing the temple to collapse.  She and the Grail drop and Indy grabs Elsa.  She tries to reach the Grail, but he can’t hold her.  She drops and is lost, then Indiana drops.  Henry grabs him and finally calls him Indiana instead of Junior when Indy tries to reach the Grail himself.  The good guys escape and Sallah asks why Henry keeps calling Indiana “Junior.”  Because his actual name is Henry Jones Junior.  They named the dog Indiana.  And the heroes gallop off into the sunset with the theme playing.

There are a few things I liked in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; Cate Blanchett, John Hurt, and Jim Broadbent were great additions to the cast.  They at least mentioned Marcus Brody and Henry Jones Senior.  And Indiana and Marion officially get back together, and Indiana discovers he has a son.  Oh, and we catch a glimpse of the Ark of the Covenant in a crate.

These movies are so full of adventure; don’t we all wish we could go on an adventure and find priceless treasures and be the hero?  Thwart the Nazis?  History comes alive…and occasionally tries to kill us, but we’re smart enough to get away.  Harrison plays the role with charm.  He’s not suave like James Bond, but we like a rough and tumble hero.  And hey, he still gets the girl.

We can see where many of the elements of the past movies get their influence.  And I have commented that I prefer this version of the Holy Grail legend; less controversial.  As least pays homage to the time period that the Grail legend surfaced?  (And who are we to argue with Sean Connery?)  Overall, just fun movies to watch. At the end of the day, the good guy wins, with a bit of brain and brawn. And John Williams’ score is brilliant as well…everyone knows the theme; a cheerful march to victory.

Up Next: Adventures with the Library, starting with The Librarian movies

Lots of Running Around Historical Sites

Da Vinci Code

A very popular and controversial book by Dan Brown.  The movie starred Tom Hanks as Professor Robert Langdon, a symbologist [fictional career] at Harvard.  Sir Ian McKellan (Gandalf and older Magneto, amongst other roles in his illustrious career) appears as Sir Leigh Teabing.  Alfred Molina (the bad guy in the live-action Sorcerer’s Apprentice, briefly appeared in Prince of Persia, he voiced bad guy Viggo Grimborne in the How To Train Your Dragon series Race to the Edge [love the show, we will definitely cover it down the road]; but he’s most notable as Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2…and may be reprising the role in the upcoming Tom Holland Spider-Man movie) pops in as a bishop.  And the talented Paul Bettany (Dr. Stephen Maturin in Master and Commander, Geoffrey Chauce in A Knight’s Tale, Jarvis/Vision in the MCU, Dryden Vos in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Lord Melbourne in The Young Victoria) is once again naked at some point as Silas.  The film is also directed by Ron Howard (who has directed Tom Hanks in these movies as well as Splash and Apollo 13).

Angels and Demons was the book’s prequel, but the film’s sequel since they didn’t know if Da Vinci Code would be successful [there are further books in the series, including The Lost Symbol (which I have read) and Inferno, which I just started reading [not nearly as engaging at the moment as Once Upon a Time or Librarians] and unaware they made into a film as well…I shall have to investigate].  Hanks returns as Langdon, joined by Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi, Lumiere in the live-action Beauty and the Beast [where McKellan was Cogsworth], as well as appearing in Miss Potter, Moulin Rouge, and Down with Love) as Camerlengo Patrick McKenna [he was Italian in the book; they changed him to Irish because McGregor is certainly not Italian].  Stellan Skarsgård (Bootstrap Bill Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean, Bill in Mamma Mia, Captain Tupolev in The Hunt for Red October, and he even appears in the MCU as Eric Selvig) is Commander Richter.  If the Inspector looks familiar, he was General Glozelle in Prince Caspian.  (And yes, Alfred Molina provides the opening voiceover).

Da Vinci Code opens with an old man’s death inside the Louvre, Silas searching for answers.  Robert Langdon is called in because of the strange markings…and the police believe him to be a suspect.  He’s helped out by Sophie, who turns out to be the curator’s granddaughter.  Langdon was supposed to meet with the curator, but the man never showed.  Invisible ink at the crime scene reads “O Draconian devil, O lame saint,” and the Fibonacci sequence out of order.  If you rearrange the letters, it spells out Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa.  There are painted the words “so dark the con of man,” leading to Madonna of the Rocks where a cross topped with the Fleur de Lis is found.  Langdon and Sophie follow the clues, after distracting the police.

Langdon goes on to tell Sophie about the Priory of Scion, that worked against the church because it guards the secret of God’s power on Earth.  Opposing the Priory is another secret society, Opus Dei (to which Silas belongs).  Langdon claims that the Templar Knights were the military arm of the Priory, and that the reason for the Crusades were to find an artifact.  They did, but then the church turned on them and killed them.  Langdon tells Sophie they are searching for the Holy Grail.  The key leads to a Swiss bank with a long term safety deposit box.  Inside the box is a wooden box topped with a rose, supposedly the symbol for the Holy Grail.  But the police are onto Sophie and Robert, though they escape thanks to the manager because of a “safe passage clause” that came with the deposit box.  Except he turns on them once they’re safe and tries to kill them.  Robert manages to knock him out and they drive to an old friend of his who is a Grail historian, Leigh Teabing.

Inside the rose box is a cryptex, designed by da Vinci.  A five letter word will open the cryptex, but if it is forced, the secret map inside will be destroyed.  Teabing lets Robert and Sophie in after they have answered three questions.  He then explains that the Holy Grail is not a cup, but instead is a woman.  The bloodline of Jesus Christ; he married Mary Magdalene, but that was not the image that the Church wanted of their Savior, so they hid the secret [I must admit, McKellan pulls off academic speech rather well].

Silas has been after this secret as well and has made his way to Teabing’s house and attacks.  Leigh and Sophie take him down after he knocks Robert out.  Leigh determines they need to head for England now.  They find a clue beneath the rose in the box; they must find a knight interred in London, overseen by a Pope.  They first head to Temple Church, but the knights are effigies, not tombs.  Silas pops back up and kidnaps Leigh.  Sophie and Robert make a run for it and Robert finally deduces that “A. Pope” means Alexander Pope, who oversaw Newton’s funeral (because Newton’s work on gravity angered the church, supposedly). 

We discover that Leigh has been playing both sides of the game.  He is the voice of the “Teacher” that has been instructing Opus Dei.  He sends cops to kill Silas, who accidentally shoots his bishop mentor while trying to escape.  The bishop was also the one who planted the idea with the French police that Langdon was responsible.  Leigh catches up to Sophie and Robert at Westminster Abbey, where they’re trying to figure out what orb is missing from Newton’s tomb.  That orb will be the five letter word they need to unlock the cryptex.  Leigh admits he will do anything to find the Grail.  When he threatens to shoot Sophie, Robert works out the clue.  He then throws the cryptex to Leigh, who crashes to the ground, breaking the cryptex.  The police arrive then and arrest Leigh.

But Robert had worked out the clue: apple.  The scroll inside points Sophie and him to ancient Roslyn, where the tomb of Mary Magdalene lies under starry sky.  Their next stop is Roslyn Chapel in Scotland (supposedly built by the Templars [it was built by the Sinclair family in the fifteenth century]).  The couple ventures into the basement where there are carvings of stars and they find a secret door down further.  But there is no sarcophagus. There is research, detailing the bloodline and Robert finally makes the connection; Sophie was not the curator’s actual granddaughter.  The curator was the Grand Master of the Priory of Scion and he took Sophie in when the rest of her family were killed.  He trained and guarded her; for she is the descendant of Mary Magdalene [yes, the Sinclairs are descendants of the Saint-Clairs of Normandy, France…which Saint-Clair is actually a place name, so not really “the oldest family in France”].

They meet more of the Priory, who will protect Sophie.  Robert advises that she could reveal her secret to the world, but would the living descendent of Jesus Christ destroy or renew faith?  Back in Paris, Robert mulls over the Rose Line, which is a trail that runs through Paris.  He follows it and finds one over the Louvre, where the bottom of the glass pyramid meets a mirrored sculpture.  We’re shown that deep below that lies the actual sarcophagus, beneath the starry sky of Paris.

Angels and Demons begins with a Pope’s death and the ceremonial events that follow.  At the same time, the collider in Cern creates anti-matter for the first time in a large enough quantity to be studied.  Then one of the canisters is stolen.  The Vatican Police visit Robert Langdon at Harvard, requesting his help because it appears that the Illuminati have resurfaced.  He wrote a book on the subject and his recent involvement with the church (meaning the Da Vinci Code) have recommended him to their service.  The Inspector is pleased for Langdon to help, but Commander Ritcher doesn’t trust him.  The four favored Cardinals have been kidnapped and are threatened to be executed once an hour, by the Illuminati.  The Illuminati are a secret society made up by scientists who were persecuted by the church for their radical thinking.

Robert teams up with Vittoria, the lead scientist on the antimatter that was stolen and is now shown to be beneath Vatican City somewhere, where thousands have gathered to find out who will be named the new Pope.  It’s now a race around Rome to discover where the Cardinals are hidden, which may lead to the secret Illuminati church.  First, Robert needs access to the Vatican archives in order to find the first clue, hidden in Galileo’s journals.  Robert is granted access by Patrick; he holds some authority now since he was the Pope’s chamberlain.  (It is an exciting dash around Rome, but hard to write out.)

Robert manages to rescue the last Cardinal; they are too late to save the others each time they get to the marker.  He begins to suspect Commander Ritcher and is almost proven correct when Ritcher is discovered threatening Patrick.  Patrick has the final brand on his chest from the Illuminati.  It is also discovered that the previous Pope was poisoned, but now they have an idea where the antimatter is located.  Patrick agrees to take a helicopter up and let it detonate in the air, rather than below ground.  It seems like Patrick is the hero.

Until Robert has a hunch.  He finds security footage showing Ritcher confronting Patrick.  It was Patrick who arranged for the antimatter to be stolen because he feels that the church is going soft by embracing science.  If he resurrected the Illuminati, it would unite Christianity and bring faith back to the forefront.  Robert and Vittoria go to the head Cardinals and show them the footage.  Instead of them electing Patrick, he is to be arrested, though he burns himself alive before he can be handcuffed.  Instead, the Cardinals elect the final preferred Cardinal, who takes the name Luke, signaling that the world needs faith and science.  In thanks to Robert, he allows Robert to access the archives in order to finish his book, on the condition that in his will, the works are gifted back to the Vatican.

I first read Da Vinci Code for a project in high school; I recall the teacher not wholly agreeing with my assessment on the book, though we did go as a class to see the film when it released.  My friend, who was strongly religious, whispered disagreement with the film during the show.  It has also been proven after the release of his books, that statements Dan Brown makes as “fact” are inaccurate.

My take?  These are exciting and interesting books, a good page-turner.  The movies are also fantastic action-adventure films, but yes, a bit controversial.  I made the remark to a teacher once that I prefer the “Indiana Jones version of the Holy Grail.”  And really, da Vinci and Arthurian legends have little in common; they’re from different cultures, one born in Italy, the other with a strong basis in Britain with influences from France…yeah, you can thank the French for the love triangle.  But because a lot of history is unknown since records are hard to find for some things,  conspiracies are born to explain what we don’t know.  I do recommend both the books and movies as a good time, just don’t take them at face value.

Up Next: The best action-adventure movies, Indiana Jones

Gotta Do Crazy Things to Protect American History

National Treasure

I love these movies for the history.  They also feature an all-star cast.  Nicholas Cage leads as Benjamin Franklin Gates, Diane Kruger (you may recognize her as Helen from Troy) is Abigail Chase.  Jon Voight is Ben’s father, Patrick Gates.  The ever diabolical Sean Bean (GoldenEye, Patriot Games, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones) is Ian Howe.  Christopher Plummer (we sadly lost him recently, but he will forever be Captain Von Trapp) is the grandfather, John Adams Gates.  And if some of the FBI guys look familiar: Sandusky is Harvey Keitel (Sister Act, the bad guy) and Agent Johnson is Mark Pellegrino (Lucifer in Supernatural).  And that is David Dayan Fisher (Trent Kort, not a very good guy in NCIS, and he’ll appear briefly as another baddie in The Librarian: Quest for the Spear) as Shaw. 

Helen Mirren joins the party for Book of Secrets, as does Ed Harris (funny note; he played Beethoven in Copying Beethoven along with Diane Kruger) as Mitch Wilkinson.  Agent Spellman is played by Alicia Coppola (who has been in several television series, including JAG, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Castle, and MacGyver).  Yes, that is Bruce Greenwood (Admiral Pike in the newer Star Trek movies) as the President, and William Brent (or Billy Unger, he was my favorite character, Chase in Lab Rats) as the young Charles Gates.

Grandfather John Adams Gates tells young Benjamin Franklin Gates about their family history; in 1832, the last signer of the Declaration of Independence was dying.  He had his driver, Thomas Gates, take him to the White House to see President Andrew Jackson, so he could pass along important information.  But the President was out.  So he whispered it to young Thomas instead.  There is a treasure beyond all imagination, collected over the centuries, hidden in America.  The Knights Templar discovered it in vaults beneath Solomon’s Temple and smuggled it out.  They eventually became the Freemasons and members included prominent Founding Fathers, such as Paul Revere, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin.  The old man’s dying words to Thomas were “the secret lies with Charlotte.”  Sadly, he had no clue what that meant, but the Gates men pass it down through the years.  Patrick interrupts story time, but John “knights” Ben before he leaves.

Fast forward to a more present day expedition in the Arctic Circle.  Ben’s theory is proven correct, Charlotte refers to a ship.  Ian is his investor and accompanies him below deck once they uncover the ship.  The skeletal captain is guarding one barrel in particular; Ben digs out a package, revealing a carved pipe.  Ben rubs blood over the carvings and rolls the pipe, revealing the next clue.  He works out the phrasing and figures out that there is an invisible map on the back of the Declaration of Independence.  Ian speaks up that he has a grey past and he can arrange to steal the Declaration.  Ben opposes the idea, so Ian has Shaw threaten to shoot him.  Well, Ben lights a flare in a room full of gunpowder, then dives for cover with Riley.  (Great guys, you just destroyed a historical artifact.) 

Now, Ben and Riley have to stop Ian.  They try to leave a tip with the FBI, but they’re dismissed.  Ben figures they need someone passionate about historical documents, so he heads to the National Archives and meets Abigail Chase [fun fact, she is part German like her character].  They bond briefly over her collection of Washington campaign buttons, but she still does not believe “Mr. Brown” (the name Gates has poor standing in the academic community).  Ben is then inspired by a line from the Declaration that means if one has the ability, they have the responsibility to take action against something wrong.  So, the only way they can protect the Declaration from Ian is to steal it.  Riley takes Ben to the Library of Congress to prove that Ben cannot, but Ben knows of a way they can.  If they use the upcoming Archives Gala as a distraction, raise the heat sensors in the casing so the document is in the preservation room, it will be far easier to sneak the document out.

Riley sets up his equipment, Ben sends Abigail the remaining campaign button she requires (dipped in a solution that will dye keys).  Ben sneaks into the event as maintenance, but switches to a tux so he can give a glass of champagne to Abigail, so he can retrieve her fingerprint.  Meanwhile, Ian and his crew use explosives and such to sneak into the lower levels.  So far, Ben’s plan is working, until he runs into Ian.  Ian starts shooting.  Ben takes a slight detour through the gift shop where there are reproductions of the Declaration for sale.  Ian’s entrance is discovered and security is alerted.  Abigail begins to suspect “Mr. Brown” and follows him outside.  Ben tries to get away, but now has to chase after Ian, who has grabbed Abigail.

Ian ends up with the reproduction, but Ben had to use a credit card to pay for it, so he can’t return to his house.  He heads for his father’s, letting Abigail know he is actually Gates, not Brown.  And the FBI start investigating, Sandusky as lead.  They had received a tip about the Declaration being stolen, but it wasn’t deemed credible, so no file was open.  Patrick Gates is not thrilled with Ben showing up at his house and still does not believe in the treasure.  He thinks it was a myth to distract the British.  But Ben carries on and Abigail helps him rub lemon juice onto the back of the Declaration.  Ink is revealed.  There are sets of numbers, creating a cipher.  Ben asks his dad for the Silence Dogood letters; written by Benjamin Franklin at fifteen under a pseudonym.  They used to have the letters, hidden in a desk, but Patrick has now donated them to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.  Ian has also figured this out.

While Ben and Abigail change out of their party clothes, Riley hires a boy on a field trip to retrieve the letters from the cipher. Ian eventually notices the boy, but doesn’t catch Riley.  The clue leads to the Liberty Bell and its original housing, at Independence Hall.  They need to be standing at the right spot at the right time to find the next clue.  (I love seeing the singing room…it reminds me of 1776 [because no doubt they filmed there])  Ben retrieves a pair of spectacles, invented by Franklin.  “Heere at the Wall” with a Celtic cross is revealed.  And they catch sight of Ian’s goons.  They split up and split their pieces up; Ben has the glasses, Riley and Abigail have the document.  A chase begins in Philadelphia and Abigail almost gets hit by a truck, and loses the document to Ian.

The FBI intercepts Ben at his car, though Riley and Abigail get away.  Abigail has an idea to get Ben out of custody, though it means working with Ian.  Ben is to meet Shaw at the U.S.S. Intrepid in New York, then jumps over the side so he can meet with Ian at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street, at Trinity Church.  The glasses have different colored lenses that can be combined to read different parts of the map. 

Now, they venture into the crypts beneath the church, joined by Patrick, who was captured by Ian’s men.  There is an ancient shaft they discover, leading lower.  But the years have rotted the structure and it falls apart on them.  Shaw plunges to his death and Ben and Abigail almost join him.  Ben had to drop Abigail so he could save the Declaration, but there was a landing below her; and she would have done the same thing.  Riley would have dropped both crazy people.  Ian insists they continue.  They find another chamber, but it is small and empty.  Patrick makes up a clue regarding the lanterns and sends Ian and his goon to the Old North Church in Boston.  That was just to buy him and his son time.  Ben finds another door to another chamber, but it is still empty.  Ben despairs.  He really thought he was going to find it.  Patrick points out that Ben has followed all the clues; they’ve led this far, they’ve worked, which means the treasure was real.  Ben ponders that there has to be another way out, in case of cave in.  The pipe comes in handy again and turns another door leading to a larger chamber.  A torch lights a line of oil revealing the treasure [the music almost sounds like Pirates of the Caribbean for a moment, considering Brukheimer was producer on both].  There are scrolls from the Library at Alexandria (drool), Roman and Egyptian artifacts.  And oh look, stairs!  (Riley cries).

Back topside, they call the FBI and Ben hands the Declaration over to Sandusky.  It is not a bargaining chip.  He would really like to not go to prison; maybe Sandusky will take a bribe.  How ’bout ten billion dollars?  Sandusky points out Masonic teaching states that it should not all go to one man; he is sympathetic to Ben.  Ben agrees, it should be split between various museums; it belongs to the people and the world should see it.  Credit goes to the Gates family, along with Abigail Chase and Riley Poole.  And if you really want to arrest someone, he knows someone who is breaking into Old North Church.  [So Sean Bean doesn’t die in this movie, but he does go to prison].

Riley spends his minuscule percentage on a Ferarri, while Ben buys a historical house; and starts a relationship with Abigail.

Book of Secrets starts on April 14th, 1865 in Washington D.C., five days after the end of the Civil War [which puts this prologue close to the prologue of Sahara].  Thomas Gates is hired to decode a message, at the same time that John Wilkes Booth shoots President Lincoln.  Thomas hears the commotion and realizes who has asked him to find the lost city of gold.  He attempts to burn the page, but is shot for his trouble.  His son, Charles is watching, but spared.  Thomas is able to pass the phrase “the debt that all men pay” to his son.  Another time jump to Ben giving a lecture on this event.  A man in the audience comes forward with the missing page from the Booth diary, and claiming that Thomas Gates was a co-conspirator in the assassination since his name was listed in the diary.  Ben is now determined to clear his ancestor’s good name. 

Except, he and Abigail are split at the moment so he tries to sneak in to gain access to the page.  She allows him to run scans on the page (they negotiate furniture) and they discover residual ink from the opposing page.  The FBI agents are thrilled that Gates is in hot water, but Sandusky points out that they need to know why Wilkinson has come forward with the page now.

The residual ink shows some of Thomas’s work and Patrick recalls “the debt that all men pay,” that was passed down from his grandfather Charles.  This breaks the cipher to Laboule Lady; referring to the man who created the Statue of Liberty.  There is a smaller version in Paris that he referred to as his lady.  Riley uses a drone to capture an inscription on the flame and Ben charms French security to translate the message.  This leads them to the Resolute desks and Ben heads to Buckingham Palace.

Wilkinson attacked Patrick at night so he could clone his phone so he can keep abreast of the search.  Abigail has also shown up at Buckingham Palace and will unknowingly put a wrench into Ben’s plan, so he stages an argument with her so they are escorted to lockup.  This leads them to a service elevator so they can see the desk in the queen’s apartments [the desks are not actually identical and the queen does not actually use the Resolute desk, but it’s cool for the movie].  The desks are actually puzzles and are hiding a carved plank.  Ben gets the plank out of the palace, but they’re pursued by Wilkinson.  Ben tosses the plank after he gets a picture of it.

Now, they need it deciphered.  And his mother happens to be an expert on that language, though estranged from his father.  She teaches at the University of Maryland.  She is pleased to see Ben and Abigail, but snips at Patrick.  They think one of the symbols means Cibola, the City of Gold.  A more accurate translation is simply the Center of the World, or Sacred Temple.  And they’re missing half of the plank anyways.  Which means, Ben has to break into the Oval Office to look at that Resolute desk.  Abigail’s new boyfriend is their ticket in and she stages a kissing session with him so Ben can find the plank.  Except it’s not there, just a stamp.

Riley knows what that stamp means; he wrote a book on it (which doesn’t sell well and his friends haven’t read it yet).  It’s the President’s secret book; written by Presidents, for Presidents only and filled with every conspiracy America has.  Sandusky can tell Ben, outside of the FBI office, that the book does in fact exist, but only the sitting President knows where it is.  And, you guessed it, Ben has to talk to the President.  But away from everyone.  So he manages to get the President’s birthday party moved to Mount Vernon where Ben know there are secret passages.  One of these days, he’ll wear his tux to a party he is actually invited to.  But he does get the President interested in his map written by George Washington.  The door shuts on the passage, sealing the President away from Secret Service.  Ben will show him the way out regardless, but does ask about the book.  Once they’re outside, the President gives Ben the clues he needs to find the book, but he has to hurry, Ben is now the target of a federal manhunt for kidnapping the President.  Oh, and if he has a moment, check out something on page forty-seven.

Ben meets Riley and Abigail at the Library of Congress and they head for the special collections.  The call number is the combination to reveal the book.  He gets a picture of what he needs, sending Riley and Abigail ahead when the FBI shows up.  There’s a brief car chase where Ben has to get into Abigail’s car.  But they have what they need. 

Wilkinson has been following Ben’s progress and goes to his mother first to threaten her; she cannot reveal the true translation to Ben, only to Wilkinson, who has further information.  She drops a hint to Patrick and Ben meets up with them at Mount Rushmore.  Wilkinson wants credit for finding the treasure and Ben hints that Wilkinson may also need the money.  Rocks in the lake behind the mountain lead to an underground temple.  They all get trapped and must find their way through.  Lots of traps lay in wait, like balancing on a board on top a pillar. They do find the golden temple, after water drains away.  Sadly, the water begins to rush back in and they’re almost trapped again.  Ben is willing to sacrifice himself to save his parents, Riley, and Abigail, but Wilkinson ends up drowning instead.  His final request is that credit goes to his family.

Ben meets with the President, who clears him of charges. Ben instructs that credit is to be shared with Wilkinson.  And there is another sequel hook that hasn’t come to fruition, when the President asks Ben about page forty-seven.  The film ends happily, Riley meets a girl, Abigail and Ben get back together, and even his parents may be on better terms now.

I do wonder how there is a connection between “pre-Columbian” culture and the Sioux of North Dakota; there is a lot of land between something that is reminiscent of Aztec or Inca and the Black Hills, and a lot of different people in between.

The action and adventure portions keep the suspense going; though I do wonder how these cultures created the booby traps.  Sure, they make sense trying to find the treasure, but how did they work creating them and how did they decide on those clues and such?  Probably a result of watching so many of these kind of movies.  Still like them; just have to suspend disbelief for a little bit.  And of course, the history!  If  these movies get more people interested in history, great!

Riley is comedic relief, though a bit whiny in the second film.  I think Nicholas Cage was a good leading man; he delivered a believable performance.  And I like Abigail; she’s intelligent, but not afraid to handle things on her own if need be.  And I really wished they had made the third movie, because I still wonder, what was the President looking for on page forty-seven?

Up Next: More history conspiracies with Da Vinci Code and Angles and Demons

They Did a Panama

Sahara

Based on a Clive Cussler novel [I have not read this particular volume, but I have read his first in the Dirk Pitt series, The Mediterranean Caper; it was quite good, I’d readily read more…and we have a whole collection in the house].  It’s an action-adventure film that I categorize as a cross between Indiana Jones and James Bond.  Familiar faces abound; Matthew McConaughey stars as Dirk Pitt.  William H. Macy (a pilot in Air Force One) is Admiral Sandecker, Penélope Cruz is Eva Rojas, Steve Zahn is Al Giordino, and Lambert Wilson (he’s appeared in The Matrix franchise, and was Charles, the King of France in The Hollow Crown’s Henry V) is Yves Massarde.

The backstory of the movie is the last ironclad ship of the Civil War, the Texas runs the Union blockade, carrying gold coins from the Confederacy.  Fast forward a bit and we’re introduced to NUMA through newspaper clips, photos, and memorabilia.  Our main character, who hasn’t actually appeared on screen yet, was part of the Navy SEALS, then became a salvager through NUMA.  And another plot point is introduced, W.H.O. doctors are in Nigeria, tracking a disease that is spreading out of Mali.  Eva really wants to find the source of the disease, but is blocked by red tape.  She is attacked while tracking down a patient and rescued by a diver in the water; Dirk.  She wakes up aboard a ship and is briefly introduced to Al Giordino, Admiral Sandecker, and Rudi before Dirk makes another appearance, bringing up salvage from the ocean.  NUMA is presenting the sarcophagus at the museum that evening, which means Eva can pitch her plea to businessman Yves Massarde.  She gets her trip to Mali.

What we then find out is that Yves is actually in partnership with the local dictator who is making it dangerous to travel to Mali.  Dirk is also pursuing a lead on the Texas; he has a theory and a few supporting documents that the ironclad ship got caught up in a major storm and ended up in the Niger river.  He just has to find concrete evidence.  So he wheedles the use of Sandecker’s boat and agrees to take Eva up river.  They part, though agree to hook up again in Monte Ray.  Dirk finds evidence of the storm.  Eva and her partner are attacked again, though Eva hides in the well she is gathering evidence from.  Her partner is killed and by untying the rope and hiding her glow stick, she is not discovered. 

Dirk, Al, and Rudi run into local trouble on the water; bad guys are searching for the doctors.  They evade the bad guys, with Sandecker on the phone, asking about his boat.  Well, they “pull a Panama” [one of my favorite parts of the whole film] and the boat gets blown up.  Al and Dirk will go after Eva, Rudi is to report to Sandecker.  They’ve got some red algae that needs tested.  Al and Dirk make it in time to help rescue Eva, though she does quite fine climbing out of the well and shooting a bad guy.  They’re waylaid from getting out of the country by the local rebel group.  Eva finally figures out that the “plague” is a toxin.  Something is poisoning the water system, but far apart from each other.

Al finds the puzzle piece playing with the kids; when he has to retrieve a ball, there is a drawing of Dirk’s ironclad ship.  Years ago, what was desert was water, letting the ship ride upriver.  Then it dries out, burying the ship.  Which is how the toxin is spreading, through the underground river.  They find the Texas, they find the river, and they’ll find the source of the toxin.

Meanwhile, Sandecker is trying to wrangle up help to get “his boys” out of Mali, including going to an old CIA contact.  And Rudi runs his chemistry, discovering the toxin as well.  Which, if it hits the ocean, the whole world is in trouble.  But the U.S. Embassy guy doesn’t do anything, so it’s up to NUMA.

Al, Dirk, and Eva discover Yves solar power plant.  It has the side effect of storing some toxic barrels underground, which leaches into the water supply.  Yves finds them meddling and takes Eva hostage and dumps Dirk and Al in the desert.  The two buddies rescue themselves and fix up an airplane wreck into a ride (to the awesome tune of Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf.  Sweet Home Alabama played earlier).  Dirk calls Sandecker and works out a plan.  He and Al head back to the power plant to rescue Eva, but she has told Yves what his plant is causing.  So he decides to cut his losses.  (Here comes the Bond element) he’ll plant a bomb to blow up the plant, while he gets away in his helicopter.  Al goes after the bomb, Dirk goes after Eva.  He faces off with a bad guy on the top of the solar tower, and Eva jumps out of the helicopter.  Plant does not explode, but Yves still high-tails it out of there.

Now our heroes have to deal with the local warlord, Kazeem.  They hide in the ruins they find and discover the Texas while blowing up a sand dune.  They could hide out in the tough old ship, except Kazeem has armor-piercing bullets.  So they shoot an old cannon ball at him, blowing up his helicopter.  The rebels swoop in to intimidate the rest of Kazeem’s army.  Oh, and the Texas is full of Confederacy gold.  Which Sandecker reports to the Embassy guy, there is no gold belonging to the United States aboard the ship.  But he will consider to work for the U.S. government on a project-by-project basis in exchange for a new boat.  And of course, Dirk gets the girl.  And the fancy car.

To me, Sahara is a fun action movie that shows that history can be very interesting at times.  Who would have thought that a Confederate iron clad ship could end up in Africa?  History always ties to the present and there are several novel series out there that hit on that.  And it is really cool that an old cannon can blow up a helicopter! And kind of want to know what actually happened in Panama, and why did it involve blowing up a boat?

Up Next: More history in National Treasure