Ain’t We Just Big Damn Heroes

Firefly

Take my love, take my land

Take me where I cannot stand

I don’t care, I’m still free

You can’t take the sky from me.

Take me out to the black

Tell ’em I ain’t comin’ back

Burn the land and boil the sea

You can’t take the sky from me.

This has become a pop culture hit, Fox cancelled the series after only one season.  But it gained a following and Joss Whedon fought to bring it back as a feature film.  Now, I did not watch it when it originally aired; I came to it one evening at a friend’s apartment in college and saw the second season.  At the end, I asked about another season and found out there was only the one, but I did track down the movie.  It’s a mixture of Western and science-fiction; Whedon explains that humans left Earth, found another galaxy and terra-formed the planets to support life and America and China, being the two big superpowers, melded to form one culture.  So yes, you have space ships and laser pistols, but you also have horses and regular pistols.

The show follows the tales of the crew of the Firefly-class ship named Serenity.  Captained by Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (played by Nathan Fillion, a self-proclaimed geek who later starred in ABC’s Castle drama [it’s excellent, check it out and he even brought back his Browncoat costume in a Halloween episode]), he brings aboard his former cohort Zoë (Gina Torres; she’s actually appeared in the Matrix movies and has gone on to the series Suits and other television series, including a few voice acting roles like in Star Wars: Rebels) to be his first mate.  Piloting the ship is Hoban “Wash” Washburne (the ever-hilarious Alan Tudyk from Knight’s Tale and recently voicing secondary characters in Rogue One and Moana), who has married Zoë.  Inara Serra (Morena Baccarin; she’s appeared in V on ABC and is in both Deadpool films) is a registered Companion on board who uses Serenity to provide services to far-off clients.  Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin, no, he’s not one of the big-name Baldwin brothers, but he did show up in two episodes of Castle and even an episode of JAG and NCIS) is their onboard mercenary, good with a pistol, not so good with manners.  Kaywinnit Lee “Kaylee” Frye (Jewel Staite,  a lot of guest appearances, even on Castle and part of Stargate: Atlantis) is the cheerful and brilliant mechanic who keeps the ship in the sky.  Shepherd Derrial Book (Ron Glass; he sadly passed away in 2016, he has a filmography back to the seventies) joins as a passenger and occasionally disagrees with Captain Reynolds in regards to religion.  And Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher; he’s voiced Nightwing/Dick Grayson in several recent shows and movies) and his younger sister, River (Summer Glau, well known for Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles  [which I don’t intend to watch], she made an appearance on Castle as well, Hawaii Five-0 and Big Band Theory, and she was even in an Hallmark Christmas movie, Help for the Holidays [it’s adorable]) round out the crew.

Now, apparently, the show was aired out of order due to Fox executive meddling, but the DVD released them in the correct order.  We start the show off with a two-part opener: Serenity.  There was a civil war in this galaxy [Whedon was influenced by Jeff Shaara’s Killer Angels novel, also the basis for the film Gettysburg], between the Alliance and the Independents, or Browncoats.  Mal and Zoe fought for the Independents and it came to a head at the Battle of Serenity Valley.  The Independents are desperate for air support, but it never comes.  Orders come in for them to lay down arms.  It killed Mal’s sense of faith and nearly killed his spirit.  But six years later, he’s doing odd jobs to keep flying and keep out of the Alliance’s way, so sticking to the Rim worlds.  We catch up to the crew pulling an illegal salvage job; and Wash plays with dinosaurs: “We shall call it, this land.”  “I think we should call it your gave!”  “Ah, curse your sudden, but inevitable betrayal!”  “Now die!”  But he gets it in gear to put out a distraction to save his cohorts.  They make their way to Persephone to finish the deal, the captain remarking “there is no power in the ‘verse to keep Kaylee from being cheerful” [and why my friends remark I am most like Kaylee].  They meet with local “businessman” (use that term loosely) Badger (played by Mark Sheppard, who has been in several geeky shows, including Supernatural as Crowley, Doctor Who as Canton Everett Delaware III [he plays a Brit in an American show and an American in a British show], as well as X-Files, Battlestar Galactica, NCIS, Star Trek: Voyager, Charmed and many others) to complete the deal, but he weasels himself out.  The goods they stole are marked and that makes it difficult to unload.  So, they’ll try Patience on another planet, and hope she doesn’t shoot the captain again.  But, they need legitimate business as well and take on passengers, including Sheppard Book, Dr. Tam, and Dobson.

Makes things a bit interesting for the crew and Mal informs Zoe “if anyone gets nosy, just shoot them…politely.”  Shooting happens, but only after Mal has figured out one of their passengers hailed the Alliance.  He thinks it is Simon, but it’s actually Dobson, who shoots Kaylee when she surprises him.  Simon won’t treat Kaylee unless the ship runs; he does not want the Alliance onboard either.  Mal helps Simon, then opens his special box in the hold and discovers a young woman curled up inside.  This is River, Simon’s younger sister that he broke out of an Alliance facility because they were hurting her for her intelligence.  Captain has to continue with the job and isn’t dumb enough to not realize that Patience will set up an ambush.  There’s a shoot out, but he gets his money.  That’s how things are supposed to work; “I do the job and then I get paid.”  He comes back to the ship to discover Dobson is free and threatening River. Mal shoots the federal agent and tosses him off his ship.  They also have to run from Reavers, dangerous people on the verge of being creatures that has the whole universe terrified.  Wash pulls a Crazy Ivan [remember that term from Hunt for Red October?], turning quickly and blowing the engines into their pursuers (Kaylee is fixed up enough to help out).  Mal offers Simon and his sister a place on his ship; they’ll be safer on the run and the ship could use a doctor.  And assures Simon he’s not the kind of man to kill another in his sleep.  If he aims to kill you, you’ll be awake and armed.  At the end of the day, Serenity is still flying.  It’s not much, but it’s enough.

After a little trouble at a small bar, Mal and the rest of the crew are on their way to a new job.  Inara holds Kaylee enthralled in her shuttle, brushing her hair and having some girl time, which Mal has to interrupt.  While it is manly and impulsive, Inara’s request is that the captain does not march into her quarters.  But he needs his mechanic, Mal requests, the engine room looks like terrifying  space monkeys have been at it.  Niska has a certain reputation [and seems to be the quintessential Russian-type villain] and wants the crew to pull a train heist.  Easy enough it sounds.  Until they discover there is a squadron of Alliance guards onboard.  Just makes it more fun, Mal quips to Zoe.  They complete their end of the job and unload the goods, only to discover once an investigation begins that it was medicine they stole, sorely needed in the backwoods town.  Inara uses her respectability to get Mal and Zoe out of custody, but Mal now needs to plan how to return the medicine.  Deep down, Malcolm Reynolds is a good and honorable man.  Slight problem; Niska’s men have shown up.  Jayne gets a lucky shot and Mal explains that they’ll return the money to Niska to square things away, but they won’t be delivering the stolen medicine.  The first henchman disagrees and gets thrown through the engine.  The second man hastily agrees and Mal and the crew get to be heroes for a second, giving the medicine to the sheriff under the cover of night.

Serenity comes upon a drifting ship in Bushwacked and receive more trouble than they intended.  It looks deserted, which is a bit odd in the middle of space.  Until they discover one man.  Mal has him locked in the infirmary, surmising that the ship had been hit by Reavers.  Then they run into an Alliance ship, hide Simon and River, and are detained and questioned (Wash’s interview is funny).  The survivor begins to attack the Alliance crew and Mal finally gets the Alliance officer to help, even saving his life.

Shindig is one of my favorite episodes.  Inara plans to meet with a regular client, Atherton Wing (played by Edward Atterton.  He was much nicer as King Arthur in Mists of Avalon and then plays Mordaunt in Charmed and has a possible connection to Arthur.  He also appeared in Man in the Iron Mask as a relative good guy).  Mal meets up with Badger, who has another job for him; the sleaseball figures that Mal can cozy up to a potential client at a local party.  It does give the captain a chance to apologize for accidentally insulting Kaylee earlier; she gets to wear the poufy dress she saw in a shop earlier and accompany him to the party.  They run into Inara and while Kaylee gets surrounded by men to talk engines, Captain “Tightpants” dances with Inara, then gets in an argument with Atherton.  Atherton challenges Malcolm to a duel, with swords.  The client is impressed by Malcolm, but the captain has to survive first.  Inara, as a trained Companion, has some knowledge with swords and helps her friend out, despite some disagreements.  Mal has the bad habit of calling Inara a whore to her face, but took exception to Atherton’s mere implication.  Well, Atherton was insulting Inara as a person, Mal explains.  Atherton appears to have the upper hand, but Mal comes back after breaking his sword to beat Atherton; and Inara providing a distraction by appearing to take Atherton’s offer to exclusivity.  Mal leaves Atherton breathing, which will bring the man shame.  “Mercy is the mark of a great man,” and he stabs his opponent.  “Guess I’m just a good man,” another stab.  “Well, I’m alright.”  Atherton tries to threaten Inara, but she points out guild law; Atherton is the one who will be blacklisted.

Now, the crew intended to mount a daring rescue, but Badger sits onboard to keep an eye on them.  There is a humorous interaction between the man and River, who copies his accent.  Then she sweeps by her brother, remarking “call me if anyone interesting shows up.”  That would have worked as a distraction, but they missed their opportunity.  Inara and Mal show up before the second plan can go into effect.  And the cargo that the client wishes to offload?  Cattle.

We get some flashbacks to the Tam siblings (young Simon is played by a young Zac Efron) when they were younger in Safe.  The crew is unloading the cattle, after the captain warns Simon to keep his sister under control.  Kaylee continues to be interested in Simon, who is a bit oblivious and demeaning.  River wanders off and finds a wedding dance.  She shows a bit of the girl that remains under the weird dreams and sayings.  Then Simon is kidnapped.  Unfortunately, things do not go smooth with the cattle transfer and Sheppard Book is shot in the ensuing confrontation.  Serenity has to leave the Tams behind in order to save Book.  They’re desperate enough to go to the Alliance for help, but it’s not until the officers see Book’s ID card that they agree to help, which is a bit suspicious.  Back on the planet, Simon and River are taken to a hill village where Simon is to be the local doctor.  River understands what Simon has given up to rescue her; a promising career, safety, wealth; all to save her.  Simon unfortunately remembers their father essentially disinheriting him for attempting to rescue River.  Their parents never suspected anything was wrong with the government school and their father was more concerned with their image, than helping either of his children.  He bailed Simon out of trouble once, he vowed not to help again.  Then a local woman declares River a witch for knowing what people were thinking.  The town gets riled up and prepares to burn River at the stake.  Simon climbs up with her, the ever-protecting big brother.  Serenity appears in the sky and Mal and Zoe walk into town in the nick of time.  What does that make them?  Big damn heroes.  River is their witch, so cut her down, he instructs the leader.  He insists that they are part of the crew; it doesn’t matter if he necessarily likes them.

Mal dresses up as a woman to complete their next job in Our Mrs. Reynolds, telling their opponent, “I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you.”  A celebration is thrown by the locals for their help and Jayne and Mal get pretty drunk.  So the next morning when Mal discovers a young woman onboard, he’s a bit confused as to how she got there.  And even more confused when she tells him they’re married.  Book looks up the customs, and yes, they are technically married.  He later warns Mal that if he takes advantage of Saffron, he will burn in the “special Hell, reserved for child molesters and those who talk at the theatre.”  Jayne even offers Mal his prized gun, Vera, in exchange for Saffron.  Mal firmly declines and shows himself to be a bit of a gentleman.  He is certain he will be a bad husband and will not take advantage of Saffron and even advises her to toughen up.  Turns out she didn’t need to toughen up; this was all a con to get the ship.  She attempts to seduce Wash, who is loyal to Zoe, so she has to knock him out after she’s knocked out Mal.  She gains control of the ship and steers it to salvagers before escaping.  She almost has Inara fooled, but the Companion recognizes the training and goes after Mal.  She passes out after kissing Mal’s lips.  Luckily, Jayne and Vera manage to shoot out the net intended to hold them and Mal eventually tracks Saffron down to knock her out.

Jaynestown turns out to be a place where the people worship Jayne as a Robin Hood-type hero.  He had pulled a job years back that resulted in him dumping the magistrate’s money into the town square.  The locals are poor and dirty and suppressed, but the actions they viewed as heroic gave them the courage to stand up for themselves.  Why, there’s even a ballad about “the hero of Canton/ the man they call Jayne!”  [Captain Stout will sing the ballad, complete with the hat, at faire for Tyme Travellers weekend.]  It does provide an excellent cover for the crew to steal what they need.  And meanwhile, onboard Serenity, Book and River differ over the Bible and then River hides from Book once she sees his hair unbound…it really is hilarious.  “Too much hair,” she moans to Zoe and almost doesn’t want to come out because “it’ll still be there, waiting.”  And the magistrate in question had hired Inara to make his son into a man.  Well, it worked.  He stood up to his father and made sure Serenity could escape.

Odd as it may sound, I like Out of Gas.  We get some back story on how the crew members ended up on Serenity.  Mal bought her, on purpose, though Zoe wonders.  Wash was brought on as a pilot and Zoe initially wonders at his mustache and they pinch Jayne from another gig, promising him better pay and his own rom.  Kaylee wasn’t the first mechanic brought aboard, but she fixed the other mechanic’s problem despite having sex with the guy.  But the main problem at present is an explosion in the engine.  Zoe knocks Kaylee out of the way, but she’s hurt.  And life support got knocked out.  Despite some disagreements, Mal gets Wash to send out a distress beacon, then orders the rest of the passengers to split into the two shuttles.  Mal will stay aboard incase their miracle comes.  Inara tries to convince Mal that this isn’t the ancient sea, the captain doesn’t have to go down with the ship.  And some stranger does come to the rescue, but they shoot Mal, obviously intending to take the ship as their own.  Mal won’t let that happen; he orders them off his ship, but leave the part they need.  He bleeds across the ship, putting the engine back to rights, then passing out right in front of the button Wash wired to bring the shuttles back.  He wakes up to discover his crew disobeyed his orders and returned for him; very lucky for him.  It’s just so sweet how they are all one big family.

Events almost come to a head on Ariel, a Central planet.  River is getting worse, but Simon doesn’t have all the tools he needs in order to treat her.  He comes to the crew with a job; sneak him and River into diagnostic room in the hospital.  In exchange, he’ll tell them what drugs to take that will bring the most on the black market.  And being a Central hospital, it will be re-stocked in a matter of hours, meaning no one should die from their theft.  Wash and Kaylee get an ambulance up and running; Jayne, Mal, and Zoe will be the crew.  They’ll take Simon and River in as corpses, then wake them up.  Jayne is in charge of the siblings while Mal and Zoe do the thieving.  Except, Jayne got stupid.  He alerted the feds and changed the plan.  They don’t show up for the pick-up.  Instead, Jayne gets taken with the siblings and River has to get them away before worse men come.  The “two by two, hands of blue,” men show up with blue gloves and sticks that resonate at a high frequency, causing blood to pour out of their victims.  Mal figures out what Jayne tried to pull and has a discussion with him through the back door as they’re lifting off.  Simon and River are part of Mal’s crew, so any betrayal against them is a betrayal against Mal.  Jayne is a bit repentant and Mal doesn’t end up killing him.  His final warning to Jayne is “if you want to stab me in the back, do it to my face.”

Niska returns in War Stories.  Wash is getting concerned that there is more to the relationship between his wife and the captain than simple Army buddies.  Wash and Zoe argue the fact while River and Kaylee chase each other like children in the cargo hold.  “Ah, the pitter patter of tiny feet in huge combat boots,” Mal remarks.  “Shut up!  One of you is gonna fall and die and I’m not cleanin’ it up!”  Wash claims that he can handle himself and decides to go on the drop with Mal instead of Zoe.  Well, things don’t go smooth again and their contacts are killed and Mal and Wash are captured.  Zoe, Jayne, and Book go to investigate when they’re late and Book proves he’s a strange Sheppard; he knows an awful lot about the Alliance and guns for a preacher.  Meanwhile, Wash discusses the issue of his wife with Mal; he figures they’ve never slept together which is causing sexual tension.  Mal points out one time that Zoe didn’t obey him; by marrying Wash.  All the while, Niska is electrocuting the pair.  Mal keeps Wash talking to keep him alert.  Zoe plans to offer Niska a deal, all the money the crew can put together in exchange for their captain and pilot.  Niska takes the money, but it’s only enough for one.  Zoe immediately chooses her husband.  Well, maybe more than one…Niska cuts off Mal’s ear.  One of the few times you hear Mal scream.  Wash insists they go back to rescue Mal.  Zoe agrees and the two arm themselves.  Jayne eventually agrees to come and even Book, Simon, and Kaylee gear up to save Mal.  Book will stick to shooting kneecaps, the Bible is fuzzy on that subject.

Too bad Niska’s killed him; this is not the age for heroic men.  He brings Mal back so he can prolong the torture.  The three most experience enter the compound first.  But Book and Simon have to soon follow them.  Kaylee can’t; she’s scared.  But men come towards the ship.  River picks up the dropped gun, takes one look, then turns away and shoots each man once.  “No power in the ‘verse can stop me.”  Kaylee had used that line earlier, playing with River.  Mal goes after Niska in all the commotion, but his henchman takes over.  Niska escapes and Mal continues fighting, but he won’t say no to some help.  Simon borrows a tool from Inara’s female counselor client in order to re-attach Mal’s ear.

Saffron pops back up in Trash, portraying the wife of an old friend’s of Mal.  Mal is wise to her antics, but is still tempted by a high paying gig she has lined up.  They’ll sneak in and steal the first laser pistol from a wealthy officer who certainly deserves to have the piece taken.  Not everyone is keen on following “Yosaffbrig’s” plan, particularly Inara.  But the crew gets the drop on Saffron.  Inara was their back-up for when Saffron double-crossed them.  She locks Saffron in the garbage bin for the feds to pick up.  And River also knows what Jayne tried to do on Ariel, so when Simon has to patch up the mercenary, he promises that the man will always be safe from Simon; they’re on the same crew, so they gotta trust each other.  Oh, and Saffron made Mal take off his clothes before leaving him stranded, so he gets to walk back on his ship proudly butt-naked.

The Message reunites Mal and Zoe with an old friend from their squadron, Tracey.  Except Tracey is dead and shipped himself to Mal and Zoe.  And Kaylee’s not speaking to Simon because he managed to put his foot in his mouth…again.  But Tracey’s dead body brings a whole mess of trouble to Serenity’s crew.  They need to know how the boy died.  Except when Simon goes to do an autopsy, Tracey wakes up.  He managed to fall in with the wrong crowd and tried to make big bucks carrying organs.  Then he tried to double-cross those people, who are now after him.  He just wants to make it home now, but he doesn’t trust the rest of the crew.  Mal has a plan, but before he can enact it, Tracey gets trigger-happy and Zoe puts a bullet in Tracey.  He manages to take Kaylee hostage, who has gotten sweet on him, but Jayne (who has gained a ‘cunning’ knitted cap from his mother) shoots him in a standoff.  If the boy had waited a minute, Mal could have explained that Book realized the feds chasing them were far out of their jurisdiction, meaning this whole deal was off the records.  But they do right by Tracey and take him to his parents for burial.

“Wash, tell me I’m pretty.” “If I were unwed, I would take you in a manly fashion.” “‘Cause I’m pretty?” “‘Cause you’re pretty.”

Inara’s friend, Nandi is in trouble in Heart of Gold. [And the above is my favorite quote.]  The local leader, Rance Burgess (played by Fredric Lehne, the father-in-law in Greatest Showman, appeared in an episode of Castle as well, and big bad Azazel of the early seasons of Supernatural and many other guest appearances) is trying to claim an unborn child from one of Nandi’s girls…she does run a legitimate whorehouse.  But Rance is cruel and could make a real difference in the town, but decides he likes to retain all the power. Mal agrees to meet the man, with Inara deigning to be on his arm, once he washes it.  And he does not like what he sees; Rance is determined he is right and will use any justification.  So Mal’s first plan is for everyone to run.  But Nandi refuses.  So, they’ll board up and fight.  At this point, Zoe brings up to Wash that she wants a baby.  Wash argues that it is a dangerous world to bring a helpless child into, but Zoe is adamant.  That evening, the pregnant girl goes into labor and Nandi spends time with Mal.  She finally kisses him and takes him to bed.  Inara discovers it the next morning and is seemingly fine with it.  With no puritanical view on sex, she doesn’t mind when her friends engage in it.  But we see her crying later.  And Nandi realizes what we all have been seeing for a while; Mal and Inara have feelings for each other, only they don’t recognize it. There’s no time to make up to each other; Rance and his men attack.  Thanks to a traitor in the girls’ midst, Rance is able to get to the newborn baby.  Inara holds a knife to his throat so he’ll give up the child, but he pushes her away, then shoots Nandi.  Mal goes after Rance and punches him.  The pregnant girl comes out with the baby and briefly introduces the boy to his father, then shoots Rance.  The crew stays for the funeral and afterwards, Inara talks to Mal.  Mal feels like he failed Nandi, but Inara comforts him.  We think they will finally admit the truth, but instead, Inara announces she’s leaving.

Objects in Space rounds out the series.  River walks about the ship and can’t help but hear everyone’s thoughts and be a bit disturbed by them.  Then she thinks she’s found a stick, but it’s really a gun.  Everyone freaks out, but Mal gets the gun off her.  Kaylee finally admits what River did when they rescued Mal from Niska.  Mal has his own theory; River is a Reader, a psychic.  Everyone eventually goes to be a bit disgruntled.  Then bounty hunter Jubal Early sneaks aboard Serenity.  He knocks out Mal and locks the crews’ quarters.  But Kaylee is in the engine room.  She at least picks up a wrench for defense when she hears something, but he threatens to rape her if she makes a sound.  (Oh yeah, he’s a creep and everyone pretty much hates him for making Kaylee cry).  She has to tell him where Simon and River are.  Jubal finds Book first and knocks him out, then finds Simon (shirtless), but no River.  The creep tries to be philosophical and even mistakes Simon’s question on the Alliance for asking if Jubal is a lion.  Simon puts up a bit of a fight, but Jubal threatens Kaylee again and forces Simon to help him look for River.  He hits Inara when she tries to talk him out of his search.

Then we hear River over the speakers.  She has become Serenity, because no one else wanted her.  Jubal questions Simon, who quips “I can’t keep track of her when she not incorporeally possessing a ship…we had a complicated childhood.”  Meanwhile, River comforts Kaylee and tells her she needs to be brave; then hatches a plan with Mal.  River starts to get to Jubal, telling him he’s a liar and despite his supposed code, he likes causing people pain.  Jubal finally figures out River is on his ship.  But River agrees to go with Jubal, to save everyone else.  Well, Simon’s not going to let his sister walk into danger, and tackles Jubal.  He gets shot in the leg for his trouble, but still goes after the bounty hunter.  Kaylee has managed to secretly unlock the dorms and Mal sneaks out.  He’s waiting for Jubal when he leaves Serenity and punches him into space.  Mal catches River on her way back and comments on her brother messing up their plan.  It all ends happy with River and Kaylee hanging out.

The Big Damn Movie, Serenity gives a bit more of the back story of how everyone came to be in space, but it’s actually a memory’s of River.  Well, not really; someone is watching a playback of how Simon broke River out.  The Operative will be hunting them down and is not afraid to get messy, speaking of how some ancient cultures threw themselves on their swords when they failed.  Serenity is still flying, though they may have an interesting landing, as in “oh god, oh god, we’re all gonna die.”  Mal insists that he takes River on a robbery job; she may warn them of trouble.  Simon is not pleased, but Mal is captain.  River indeed senses trouble: Reavers.  Our favorite crew escapes, but we also see that Mal has become a bit harsher in the time between the series and the film.  Simon punches Mal for endangering his sister and declares they will be getting off at the next port.  Kaylee is unhappy they’re leaving, but Mal has business to attend to.  River wanders into the bar and a commercial on the television makes her attack everyone.  She pulls a gun on Mal just as he pulls his pistol.  A phrase from Simon knocks her out and it’s Mal who carries her back to the ship, to handcuff her.  Simon finally reveals that he was warned this may happen and was given the safe phrase.  But Mal suggests there is something going on, something to do with the Alliance.  River had murmured “Miranda” before she went wild.  (Unfortunately, the Operative has seen the same footage).

Wash suggests they go to Mr. Universe (David Krumholtz, Bernard from the first two Santa Clause movies) for information.  The crew gets a little break, visiting Sheppard Book on Haven, then Mal has to go rescue Inara.  He knows he’s walking into a trap, but he does it anyway.  And the way he knows it’s a trap; he didn’t get into an argument with Inara.  Inara is pretty handy when Mal attempts to take on the Operative and her incense is actually an explosion, allowing her and Mal and escape.  Onboard Serenity, Jayne has let River out and she attacks him, then hits Simon.  But she has discovered that “Miranda” is a planet.  Unfortunately, Reaver territory lies between Haven and Miranda.  When they hit planetside again, the colony is in flames.  Mal gets one last conversation with Book before he dies.  All of their friends have been hit; the Operative admits he is a monster, but it’s not his place to question why the Alliance has sent him after River.  And now Mal’s mind is made up.  They’ll disguise his ship in order to sneak through Reaver territory. 

They make it through and discover the secret that River has been holding in her mind.  The Alliance had added an element to the air on Miranda to make it peaceful, to stamp out aggression.  A team investigated on why everyone had died.  Well, all aggression and fight was gone from them; they just laid down and died.  Barring one tenth of a percent of the population; it strengthened their aggression…turning them into Reavers.  Well, Mal and the crew need to get this information out; someone has to speak for these people.  Because one day, the powers that be will decide they can make people better.  “So no more runnin’; I aim to misbehave.”  They’ll go back to Mr. Universe.  Sadly, the Operative has beat them there and there is an Alliance blockade between Serenity and their goal.  Well, they’re ready for that and bring a whole Reaver contingent behind them.  So the Alliance has to fight them instead of our heroes.  Wash manages some fancy flying, “I’m a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar.”  And he lands, destroying bits of Serenity in the process.  Before we can cheer, he’s run through with a spear [Whedon is cruel!]. 

The rest of the crew will make their last stand to buy Mal time to get to the backup equipment.  Kaylee even picks up a gun because now she’s got something to live for; Simon regrets never being with her.  But Kaylee is injured, as is Zoe.  They retreat a bit and then Simon is shot.  River declares that he has always taken care of her, now it’s her turn.  She sprints into the other room, tosses his medical bag in, but the door closes before she can make it back through.  She’s now locked in a room full of Reavers.

The Operative has caught up to Mal and shot him, then tries to paralyze him so he can dispatch him with his sword.  But Mal had taken shrapnel there during the more and that nerve cluster was moved, so he disables the Operative instead and slides his sword down so he can’t move.  He inputs the message and sets it to broadcast.  Mal finds his crew and the doors finally open to reveal that River has dispatched all the Reavers.  The Alliance breaks in and asks for orders.  The Operative finally tells them to stand  down; “we’re finished.”  The Operative lets the crew go, after everyone pitches in to repair Serenity.  There is a memorial service for Mr. Universe, Book, and Wash.  Kaylee and Simon ever get their time together (with River watching).  The Operative cannot guarantee that the Alliance won’t eventually come after the crew; the regime may be weakened, but not gone, nor are they forgiving.  He will disappear.

Happy news, Inara decides she won’t leave.  Mal becomes the pilot and takes River as his copilot, nicknaming her “albatross.”  The first rule of flying?  Love.

I like Firefly; maybe not as much as some other series and movies, but it was fun to re-watch the series.  I adore the family dynamics; Mal is certainly the father of the group, keeping an eye on everyone, protecting them.  Zoe and Wash are adorable together; and Zoe is totally badass!  Kaylee is fun, as is River, when her mind is kind to her.  Summer Glau has a background as a ballerina, so she is naturally graceful, which is cool to watch in fight scenes and that’s how she’s able to do some interesting stunts.  And it’s heartwarming how much Simon cares about his sister.

Honestly, not as fond of the movie.  It’s filmed darker and doesn’t have the warmth visually in the shots that the series had.  It is a logical progression from the show, but totally wish Whedon hadn’t killed Wash!  I have heard there are comics that continue the story, but I have not read them. The encyclopedia is fairly interesting.  And I absolutely love the bloopers!  I will watch them over and over just for the laughs.  The sarcastic quips are another great element of the show.

Of course, I have discovered some fanfiction stories related to Firefly:

The first was actually a huge crossover with the anime Zoids (the only anime I ever watched, I think it was on Cartoon Network when I was in high school).  But totally check out Ancient Legacies by Dragon-Raptor.

And A.Windsor’s Pirate Children series can be a fun read (depends on the story, but warnings accompany the write-ups)

Up Next: We continue a little with the space theme and cover the new Star Trek movies.

“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

“What we make do/ with an ol’ bamboo/ makes everyone applaud”

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Actually based on a book by Ian Fleming.  Yes, that Ian Fleming, the one who wrote all the James Bond books that the movies are based on.  Roald Dahl, the famous children’s author, was the screenwriter.  Desmond Llewelyn, famous as Q in James Bond, appears as Coggins in the beginning.  Gert Fröbe, aka Goldfinger, is antagonist Baron Bomburst.  The film also stars Dick Van Dyke (Mary Poppins) as Caractacus Potts and Benny Hill appears as the Toymaker.  The Sherman Brothers also wrote the music for this film, though it is not a Disney film (though we all kind of assume it is since it shares many elements).  This was another of my brother’s and mine favorite movies as young children; our mother didn’t mind too much, aside from the repeated watches and the long run time.

The film actually begins in the dark, with just car engine sounds, then reveals Edwardian car races.  The main car wins several Grand Prix races in Europe between 1907 and 1908, until it crashes and burns in its last race after swerving to avoid a child.  Now it’s a wreck on a lot, though two children are happily playing in it.  The junkman wants to buy it as scrap and seems to dislike children.  But they race home to tell their father he can buy it, though they narrowly avoid being run over by a young woman.  Truly reprimands them for running in the road, and not being in school, so she takes Jeremy and Jemima home.  Their father is Caractacus Potts is an inventor and we first see him trying to propel into the air with rockets.  His experiment doesn’t go quite according to plan and while the children laugh at their father’s antics, because they’re children and don’t quite realize the danger, Truly throws water on him to put him out.  He’s annoyed and is not at all bothered by the fact that his children were not in school.  Truly tries to reason with him, and is marginally impressed by his other inventions housed in his windmill workshop.

Potts uses a series of machines to cook sausage and eggs for dinner, sweetly telling his children that they are his reason for being.  “Someone to care for/ to be there for/ I have You Two.”  They’re joined by Caractacus’s father, who tries to bring his son’s head out of the clouds; though he is known to go out to a small shed and say he is off to India, or Antarctica.  Caractacus decides to try to sell his whistle sweets (they make noise through the holes when you blow in them) to a local sweet factory, run by Lord Scrumptious.  He’s aided by Truly, Scrumptious’s daughter.  Caractacus calls in invention Toot Sweets, “the candy you whistle/ the whistle you eat” and soon the whole factory joins in dancing.  But all that whistling has brought several dogs into the sweet factory.

Jeremy and Jemima are selfless children and offer their father their “treasures” as me ol bamboomoney for his inventions rather than their beloved car.  Their father sings the lullaby Hushabye Mountain to them to encourage sweet dreams.  Then he decides to try one of his inventions at the evening’s fair.  The haircut machine unfortunately fails and Caractacus is chased through the fair.  He hides amongst a dancing troupe and has to join in on Me Ol’ Bamboo (this is such a fun song).  He does well and is surprised by the tips that are tossed into his hat.  He surprises his children the next morning by bringing home their car.  Then spends the next several days closed up in his workshop, fixing the car.  And when it finally comes out, it is a sight to behold.

The trio go on a picnic and pick Truly up on the way when they accidentally run her car off the road into a pond.  Caractacus offers to carry Truly in her pristine white dress out of the pond and she is even intrigued by the car.  And the unusual sound its engine makes: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  “Oh you/ pretty Chitty Bang Bang/ Chitty Chitty Bang Bang we love you…near, far/ in our motorcar/ oh what a happy time we spend.”  All four spend a happy day at the beach.  The children are extremely fond of Truly and she seems fond of them as well.  Jemima comments that Truly’s name fits her well, Truly Scrumptious, for she had to be called something lovely.  Jeremy and Jemima wish together that their father would marry Truly.

Caractacus begins a story for his children about pirates, led by Baron Bomburst of Vulgaria, who has heard of the marvelous Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and wishes to have the car for himself.  And the story comes to life.  Chitty is in fact a magic car and air bags come out so Chitty can float away.  They stow as it drives back onto dry land, after avoiding the Baron’s ship.  The Baron sends spies ashore to capture the car, or Caractacus.  The family takes Truly back home and she sings on her estate how she has fallen in love with a Lovely Lonely Man.  (It’s a pretty song, but rather forgettable.  I just remember the swing at the end for some reason).  The spies do not do a good job of their mission, though they are rather funny.  They manage to capture Truly’s father instead of the family.  So the two spies pretend to be gentlemen to visit the Potts’ home and they come across the grandfather, thinking he’s the inventor.  They call in the Baron’s zeppelin and lift the small shed, with Grandpa Potts inside.  His family spot him and follow the zeppelin in Chitty.  Except they drive off a cliff, almost into the sea.

And…Intermission!  Of course, Chitty saves them, because Chitty is magic and can fly.  Grandpa Potts is now not in immediate danger and rather enjoys traveling in Posh style.  The zeppelin does lose altitude, which gets Grandpa Potts a bit wet until they toss out the two spies.  It’s a long flight to Vulgaria, but Chitty knows the way.  A castle greets the Potts family (Neuschwanstein).  The Baron in turn is mainly a large child; he rides a toy horse to his meetings.  He demands Potts makes a car float.  Potts senior despairs, but the other tinkers locked in the basement cheer him up with The Roses of Success, “up from the ashes/ grow the roses of success…from the ashes of disaster/ grow the roses of success.”

When Chitty lands, the villagers are not terribly helpful and they stare at the foreigners.  Truly realizes there are no other children about.  A horn sounds and the villagers scatter.  A toymaker begrudgingly takes the family inside and hides them. And explains there is a law in Vulgaria that children are not allowed; the baroness hates them.  A creepy man, called the Child Catcher comes through the square, claiming he can smell children.  The Potts and Truly disguise themselves as Jack-in-the-box in the toymaker’s basement.  But Chitty is captured.  The toymaker takes Caractacus to view the castle’s defenses.  Truly is left in charge of the children, but she goes out to get food and orders Jeremy and Jemima to stay put.  But the Child Catcher comes back, gaily bedecked and claiming he has lollipops and ice cream.  And well, children are easily attracted to lollipops and ice cream; except his wagon is a cage.  Some of the villagers try to warn the children, but he makes off back to the castle with them.  That evening, the toymaker shows Caractacus and Truly where the villagers hide their own children underneath the castle.  Caractacus tries to give the children hope by singing them Hushabye Mountain, though Truly has to finish.  Now, he has a plan.

The next day is the baron’s birthday.  He starts with a visit to his wife, whom he actually can’t stand.  The previous day, he had gleefully aimed a shotgun at her full skirt when Chitty launched her into the air, only slightly claiming it as an attempt to get her down.  He does hit the skirt and she falls into the lake, unharmed, to his disappointment.  Today, she’s in some odd lingerie and very long braided pigtails.  To a child, their funny nicknames of Cootchie Face are cute and the baron keeps trying to kill the baroness, though as a kid, didn’t fully realize that.  His later celebration is full of elderly purple-wearing court members miserably dancing.  The baroness orders the toymaker in with a surprise; two lifelike dolls.  (Actually, Caractacus and Truly in disguise).  Truly is a Doll on a Music Box, Caractacus is a clown doll.  He eventually joins in with the harmony of Truly Scrumptious.  They distract the baron and the children sneak in.  A few drop a hook from the ceiling and lift up the baron.  A net is dropped, trapping the court and the children get a bit of revenge, even trapping the Child Catcher in a net.  Caractacus, Truly and the toymaker search for Jeremy and Jemima and get them out.  The villagers also enter the castle to save their children.  Baron Bomburst and his baroness try to escape, but are caught in the cage by the children.  Grandpa Potts emerges from the cellars and Chitty drives itself in to rescue its family.  The whole family flies out and Vulgaria is now a free country.

The family is on the beach again and Jemima and Jeremy eagerly finish the story that their father and Truly get married.  Caractacus doesn’t say much, just drives Truly home.  Then tries to pass his children’s notion off as silly and puts his foot in his mouth.  They discover Lord Scrumptious at the Potts home, happily playing with Grandpa Potts, who was his batman most likely during the Zulu wars (a batman was a solider assigned to a commissioned officer as his personal servant).  Lord Scrumptious offers Caractacus a contract to produce his “Toot Sweets” for dogs.  It will make him rich.  Before he signs the paperwork, Caractacus races out to find Truly, running her off the road again.  It’s now no longer ridiculous for him to marry Truly and she readily agrees, so he kisses her.  Grandpa Potts refers to his son as an eccentric, and has no idea where he could have gotten it from (hmm…).  Caractacus and Truly fly off in Chitty, passing over the house where their family waves to them.

chitty

I adore the theme song for this movie.  The car is magical and I just smile at it.  I see a lot of my brother and I in the Potts children (though we diligently went to school), but playing together and making up stories together.  They are sweet children and though Caractacus may not be the best father, he is kind and loving and is even potentially willing to put his own dreams on hold to take care of them.  I think the part in Vulgaria is funny; still nostalgic.

And interesting note: Peter Jackson owns one of the Chitty cars.  He showed it off on the set of the Hobbit when they were filming Old Took’s birthday scenes.  The young children were not interested, but the adults clamored to see it.  I would be one of them!  It’s revealed during the behind the scenes appendices…I forget at the moment if it’s with the extended edition or the theatrical edition.

Next Time: The beloved Mary Poppins

One Part Brave, Three Parts Fool

Eragon

(Not to be confused with “Aragorn” from Lord of the Rings) Based on the first book of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle of which I have not actually read the final book. Flew through Eragon before it was even mentioned as a movie, and the second, Eldest. By the time the fourth, Inheritance came out, I wasn’t able to immediately get it and it had been so long. Now…I’ve forgotten most of the actual plot. I do remember being impressed by the world building; but after getting involved with other fantasy series and doing my own research and work; it borrows heavily from other classics. Which all writers do. Heck, most of my work currently resides as a sort of fanfiction until I develop where I actually want things to go.

The movie differs from the book at times, but is filled with familiar faces. Eragon is played by Ed Speleers, who has gone on to appear in Downton Abbey and Outlander. And he looks remarkably like Lucas Till (new MacGyver) at times. Brom is the ever-talented Jeremy Irons (voice of Scar, Henry IV in Hollow Crown, Aramis in Man in the Iron Mask, and we’ll see him in Kingdom of Heaven). Man in the Iron Mask alum John Malkovich (Athos in that film, he’s also Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach in Crossbones [I watched the first season or so once, another series that was a bit too violent for me]) is the evil king Galbatorix. Robert Carlyle (Rumple/Mr. Gold from Once Upon a Time, also in the Stargate TV series, and in the Bond film The World is Not Enough) plays the evil magician Durza. Other people that you may recognize: Dijmon Hounsou as one of the Varden, as well as Gary Lewis (he appeared a couple times in Merlin and Outlander), Steve Spiers (a bit part in Dead Man’s Chest and Phantom Menace, as well as Porthos in The Musketeer) lives in Eragon’s village, and Joss Stone (Anne of Cleaves from Tudors) is a soothsayer.

We are informed in the opening narration (done by Jeremy Irons) that this fantasy land was once ruled by dragon riders and enjoyed peace. Until one turned and took power for himself: Galbatorix. He has crushed all rebellion. Well, until a woman (elf? I think?) steals a stone, is chased, then magics the stone away. A young lad, Eragon discovers the stone and hides it away. Except it’s not a stone; it’s a dragon egg. When it hatches, he touches the baby dragon (which is rather adorable) and is burned. Others throughout the land sense this moment, including the elf (Arya), an old man (Brom) and the king.
Eragon has to bid farewell to his cousin/brother (I forget the precise backstory). Then his village is set upon by evil creatures (who look a lot like Orcs). He’s not home when they find his uncle; his dragon (who has miraculously grown in a matter of days) Saphira keeps him away for his protection. Like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars (which this film plot borrows elements), he returns home to find his uncle dead. Brom finds him instead (and like Obi-Wan, tells the lad that it is good he was not home, for he also would be dead) and carts him off. They must make it to the resistance, to the Varden, to be safe. Druza is still hunting Eragon.

eragon bromBrom is a wise mentor. He demonstrates that Eragon is not as skilled as he thinks he is and his sole purpose at the moment is ensuring that Eragon and Saphira make it to the Varden alive, in order for there to be any hope for the land. Eragon starts discovering his powers and also discovers that Brom was once a dragon rider. But his dragon was killed years ago. A rider can live past their dragon; but if the rider is killed, the dragon dies. So Eragon shouldn’t do stupid things. Well, he’s a teenage boy; he does stupid things.

He gets a vision of Arya in danger (courtesy of Durza) and decides to rescue her. Walking straight into a trap. Good thing a mysterious young man shows up and is on his side (he reminds me of Will Scarlett in Prince of Thieves). Brom is also killed, protecting Eragon. The new trio manages to make it to the Varden with Arya (who has also been poisoned by Durza). Then they start preparing for battle. Because yeah, personalized armor appears overnight. Durza is on his way with an army (which reminds me of Saruman at the Orthnac in Two Towers).

The duel between Eragon and Saphira and Durza and his dark magic shadow monster is rather good. Eragon defeats Durza, but we wonder for a minute if the good guys will actually survive. They do, yay. Except now Galbatorix is pissed; and has a dragon of his own.

I liked the film when it first came out, since it had dragons! And sword fights! And magic! The effects are rather well done. Elements of the book have sunk in to influence my own fantasy series; like magic has consequences and there is a language. But those are common to other fantasy series. Now…it’s like a knock-off of Lord of the Rings. After watching it this time round, I had to put on scenes from How to Train Your Dragon to see better dragons. The performances by the veteran actors are well done. Druza is reminiscent of Rumple in retrospect. Jeremy Irons is his usual badass self; John Malkovich plays a villain well. The film overall just seems like it’s trying too hard. And hmm, in retrospect, Arya is a bit of a peculiar choice in name. Nothing like the Arya in Game of Thrones. This one, we are told is badass. Arya Stark is no doubt a badass. And any sort of romance between this Arya and Eragon is stupid. They barely know each other! Rescuing someone or thinking they are pretty does not make a solid foundation.

As I commented above, the film plot (since I do not remember the variations of the book plot) has strong similarities to Star Wars, which follows the hero’s journey laid out by Joseph Campbell and explained in The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  It examines the common elements that make up popular hero stories, that date back to mythology.  Star Wars follows it, Harry Potter follows it.  I have an article sitting on my computer comparing it to How to Train Your Dragon, waiting for me to find somewhere to publish it.  And it’s fine for a story to follow that path; my objection is that this story follows it a little too closely.

In the first leg, the hero is called to another world and initially resists the call (here, to dragons and being a dragon rider), then meets a mentor (Brom).  There is a road of trials (get more into in the books), involvement of a woman (Arya), atonement with the father (not per say in this case, but delved into in the books in an interesting way from what I recall), and finally the return and mastering two worlds; which would occur in the sequel books.  There’s supernatural help and a magical flight – Saphira.  It just seems like the movie is going down a checklist of “must haves in a fantasy story.”  Dragons, magic, crazy old guy, and they don’t try to mask it.

Let me know your thoughts.  If you have any opinion on Campbell’s Hero Journey.

Next Time: We jump into historically-set movies, starting with Troy

The Heart of a Star

Stardust

Based on the novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman, an author well known for Urban Fantasy stories. I’ve heard of him, considering my preference for fantasy stories, but I have not read him. Though I did enjoy this movie. It’s also an example of “hey it’s that guy!” with an all-star cast. The film opens with narration by Ian McKellen. Ben Barnes (titular Prince Caspian) is the young Dunstan Thorn. His older counterpart is played by Nathaniel Parker (uh yeah, that’s Agravaine from Merlin, and he apparently briefly appeared as the remembered father to Prince Caspian in Voyage of the Dawn Treader. So old Dunstan plays father to the young Dunstan). Henry Cavill (the newest Superman, Charles Brandon from Tudors, and Melot from Tristan and Isolde) is almost unrecognizable as Humphrey (it’s the colored wig). The great Peter O’Toole has a few scenes as the king. He has seven sons. Primus is played by Jason Flemyng (who is surprisingly Azazel in X-Men First Class and Vadim in the Musketeers). Also from Musketeers is Rupert Everett (he was decrepit Feron) as Secundus. The featured brother is Septimus, played by Mark Strong (definitely should be familiar to my followers; he’s a bad guy in Tristan and Isolde, the bad guy in Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr., and the bad guy in Robin Hood with Russell Crowe; he’s not terribly nice in this film either). Michelle Pfeiffer is Lamia the witch, Claire Danes stars as Yvaine, Ricky Gervais makes an appearance, as does Mark Williams (Mr. Weasley). Robert De Niro pops in as Captain Shakespeare.

The story explores the notion that there is a secret, magical realm that exists alongside England, called Stormhold, that is only separated by a wall. Dunstan Thorn is the first to cross over and finds a bustling market going on. He meets a beautiful young woman, the captive of a witch. He would free her, but only the witch’s death will bring that about. Instead, the woman pulls Dunstan into her wagon. Dunstan returns to England, but nine months later, a baby is left for him, Tristan. Eighteen years later, Tristan hopes to win the heart of a stuck-up snob, Victoria. Of course, to him, she’s the most beautiful and most lovely lady. He doesn’t really stand a chance against a traditional gentleman like Humphrey. Dunstan counsels his son that it is a good omen that he does not fit in with everyone else. Tristan tries again to woo Victoria, planning a romantic dinner under the stars.

Meanwhile, in Stormhold, the king dies. Their tradition is that the younger sons all kill each other off, so the only one left standing becomes king. At this point, there are four left. To decide the succession, whichever son can restore the ruby to the king’s pendant will get the throne. There is mention of a single sister; but she cannot inherit. One brother is pushed off the balcony. Another is poisoned before the quest begins, leaving now Septimus and Primus to compete. Incidentally, the ruby that fled the pendant hits a star, causing it to fall to Earth. Victoria and Tristan see the star, and Tristan vows to bring it to her to prove his feelings. So Tristan ventures past the wall. Well, it takes two tries. The old guard beats him off the first time and Tristan comes to find that his father had ventured past the wall. His mother had left a Babylon candle (terribly useful for travel) with him as a baby.

There is another group that hunts the star; three elderly witches. If they consume her heart, they retain their youth and life. (They’re a bit creepy, keeping animals around to sacrifice. I avert my gaze during those scenes). Tristan finds the crater of the fallen star and comes to realize that the young injured woman is the star. She’s kept the necklace that hit her and Tristan intends to march her back to Victoria. Yvaine, the star, is not as keen on the idea, particularly since Tristan had landed on her. But he starts back. He does have to leave her for a bit to get supplies. A unicorn comes along and helps the fallen star, but unfortunately leads her to an inn created by the witch to trap the star. Tristan ends up at the inn eventually with Primus. The witch is about to kill Yvaine when they knock. When Primus becomes too nosey, the witch kills him and advances on Tristan and Yvaine. There’s a bit of a mix up in their escape and they end up in the clouds during a storm.

tristan-and-Yvaine-stardust

They’re rescued by Captain Shakespeare and his band of pirates. Shakespeare loudly interrogates the pair and seems to throw Tristan overboard. It was all an act for his crew; Shakespeare is actually a kind man, but has to keep a fearsome reputation to stay in command. He grew up on tales of England, like Tristan grew up on tales of the realm on the other side of the wall. Shakespeare passes Tristan off as his nephew and teaches him to properly sword fight. Over the course of the week they are traveling together, Yvaine falls in love with Tristan. And Tristan realizes that Victoria is not the woman for him. Shakespeare sends the couple on their way.

The morning of Victoria’s birthday, Tristan leaves Yvaine so he can take a piece of hair to fulfill his oath and deal with Victoria quietly. Sadly, the message is garbled when it reaches Yvaine and she believes he left her for Victoria. Tristan gets a chance to intimidate Humphrey and tell the spoiled pair they’re perfect for each other. Then realizes that Yvaine is in danger if she crosses the wall. He rushes back. But Yvaine is already making her way to him. The woman from the beginning of the film (who slept with Dunstan and thus Tristan’s mother) rushes to help Yvaine, realizing she’s a star. The witch meets up with them, killing the woman’s captor, an opposing witch. She takes the two young ladies with her to her castle, where she plans to sacrifice the star with her sisters.

Septimus in on their trail as well (the brothers, who are all ghosts and follow about since they cannot pass on yet, had noticed that Yvaine was wearing the pendant and Septimus plans to use that to his advantage). He and Tristan pair up outside the castle. Septimus attempts to fight off the witches, but is ultimately killed, though he did take out one of the three witches. He is magically drowned, only to be brought back to fight Tristan. Tristan takes out the other witch, leaving only the main witch. She seemingly lets Tristan and Yvaine goes, but tries to bring the castle down on them. Yvaine uses her shine to take out the witch in the end. When he picks up Yvaine’s pendant, the stone becomes a ruby again. The woman, who is actually Una, the king’s long lost daughter, informs him that he is the last male heir of the king of Stormhold. Tristan is crowned, Yvaine is his queen. It seems that Una and Dunstan may get to be together. Overall, a happy ending.

captain shakespeare

Again, I find this to be just a fun movie to watch. It has nice fantasy elements. I like when Shakespeare trains Tristan. There is a hilarious scene to the tune of Can Can between Shakespeare and Septimus; my favorite scene of the film. The fight between the pirates and the guards is excellently timed to the music. And the crew always knew that their captain was a little…different (he has a closet full of costumes, including dresses). There’s times it gets dark; the brothers murdering each other; the witches. But it ends with a tidy happy ending. At least the young couple had a week to get to know each other. Since they were around each other constantly for a week, it did give them significant time (unlike Tristan’s parents: like, a minute? Really?).

Up Next: Eragon

Inconceivable!

Princess Bride

Based on the book, which I believe I actually read before I saw the movie; a friend lent it to me in high school to demonstrate how to write dueling scenes. Since I had already fallen in love with Lord of the Rings by that point, I just take it as a fun medieval/fantasy story. I have friends who dearly love the movie. Billy Crystal appears in the film as Miracle Max. Fred Savage, older brother to Ben Savage (Boy Meets World) is the grandson. Andre the Giant plays the giant Fezzik. Robin Wright who played Buttercup, kicks butt in the 2017 film Wonder Woman as General Antiope. This is probably Cary Elwes’s most famous role as Westley, though he’s gone on to play Lord Arthur Holmwood in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (I’ve seen parts of it), starred as Robin Hood in Men in Tights, played against type as the villainous Edgar in Ella Enchanted and I guess is now part of Stranger Things (no, I am not going to watch the show; I’ve fallen into too many fandoms as it is).

This is a case of a story within a story; the premise is that a grandfather reads this story to his grandson when his grandson is sick. The tale opens with a beautiful young girl named Buttercup, who torments the farm boy Westley, ordering him about. He always responds with “as you wish.” One day, Buttercup comes to realize that he is secretly telling her he loves her. She then realizes that she loves him; they are true loves. (Fans picked up on this notion in Once Upon a Time, when Hook tells Emma “as you wish,” when she orders him to wait after they share a searing kiss.) Westley leaves to seek his fortune so he could marry Buttercup, but word comes that his ship was attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who never leaves survivors. Five years pass and Buttercup is now raised to a princess and engaged to marry Prince Humperdinck. But she does not truly love the prince. She is abducted during one of her daily rides the day of her engagement announcement by Vizzini, Inigo, and Fezzik. They have orders to kill her and blame it on a neighboring kingdom, thereby starting a war.

First, they set sail. Inigo notes that they are being followed. “Inconceivable!” Vizzini declares (Inigo later points out: “I do not think it means what you think it means.”) Buttercup attempts to escape by jumping overboard, but the water is filled with shrieking eels. They next come to the Cliffs of Insanity; only Fezzik is strong enough to climb, they should lose their tail. Nope, a man in black makes his way up the cliffs as well. Vizzini cuts the rope, but still he persists. Inigo is left behind to deal with him. It is a rather fantastic duel; both are gentlemen about it, Inigo even helping his opponent finish the climb and giving him a chance to catch his breath. (Behind the scenes notes state that the actors performed the duel themselves, tutored by legendary sword masters). We learn that Inigo is hunting for a six-fingered man who killed his father. The man in black wins after a dizzying circle of his sword, knocks Inigio out and continues. He faces Fezzik next and manages to choke him asleep, after being rammed into a rock a few times. battle of witsFinally, the man faces Vizzini in a battle of wits. He pours iocaine powder into a goblet and Vizzini is to guess which one. Vizzini is a smug man, believing he is smarter than any famous philosopher. Then he relies on a simple trick to switch goblets, thinking he’s won. The man in black was more cunning; he put powder into both goblets, but he’s spent the past several years building up an immunity to it. He then pulls the princess along, even though Humperdinck is tracking them.

Buttercup admits to her new captor that she does not love the prince; her first love was killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts, whom the man admits he is. Then admits he remembered the lad, but calls Buttercup out for being unfaithful, moving on to Humperdinck. “I died that day!” she declares. Humperdink is close; she pushes the man in black down a hill, telling him “you can die for all I care.” “As you wish,” the man stutters down the hill. She realizes it is her beloved Westley and follows him down the hill. Westley’s mask is now off, revealing it is the same man. They take refuge in the Fire Swamp to evade Humperdink, facing bursts of fire, lightning quick sand, and R.O.U.S (Rodents of Unusual Size, which are creepy and remind me in hindsight of creatures from Merlin). Westley is injured in a fight against a rodent. When they emerge from the Fire Swamp, Humperdinck is waiting for them. Westley is all ready to return to the swamp to protect Buttercup. But she sacrifices her happiness so Westley won’t be killed. Humperdinck promises his fiancée that he will not harm Westley and will return him to his ship. He takes his bride-to-be back and rides off. Westley makes eye contact with Count Rugen; they both know the prince is lying. Interestingly enough, the Count has six fingers on one hand.

Rugen takes control of Westley and plans to torture him on his machine, which sucks the life out of people. Buttercup in the meantime has decided she cannot marry the prince; she loves Westley and will be reunited with him. Humperdinck then promises that he will send word to recall Westley, but if that does not come to fruition, Buttercup will still marry him. In truth, he was the one who had hired the trio to abduct and kill Buttercup; now he plans to murder her on their wedding night; still planning to blame another kingdom and start a war.

Fezzik is reunited with Inigo before the wedding and they decide the break the man in black out, discovering that he is the princess’s true love. Except Buttercup has figured out that Humperdinck never followed through with his promises. She believes that Westley will still come for her and calls Humperdinck a coward. Humperdinck is enraged and cranks Rugen’s machine up to fifty, killing Westley. Everyone can hear his scream. Fezzik and Ingio recover Westley and buy a miracle; they need his brains to sneak into the castle so Inigo can have his revenge. It works only because Westley is “mostly” dead, compared to completely dead. Miracle Max creates the pill to get back at Humperdinck for firing him.

Our heroes storm the castle with some illusions, breaking up Buttercup and Humperdinck’s wedding (the priest has a hilarious manner of speaking), though Humperdinck gets the priest to declare them “man and wife.” Rugen faces off against Inigo, who simply advances on the man despite his wounds declaring “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father. Prepare to die.” Buttercup, despaired that she is married drop your swordto Humperdinck and Westley is dead, per Humperdinck’s word, decides she will kill herself before Humperdinck reaches their marriage bed. But Westley is waiting for her. He is still not back to full strength but gives the prince an epic speech; they will fight to the pain and Westley will leave his ears so the prince can hear every word against him and his promised hideousness. He stands and orders the prince “Drop your sword.” Humperdinck complies and Buttercup ties him up. Inigo finds them and Fezzik is waiting with horses. Westley and Buttercup share the most epic kiss that has ever been recorded.

The boy decides that he doesn’t mind the kissing and maybe his grandfather will read him the story again tomorrow.

There are times this movie reminds me of Mel Gibson’s work, or a bit of a spoof on traditional fantasy movies. Maybe it’s the inclusion of typically comedic actors. Vizzini is a laugh, there’s a little bit between Miracle Max and his wife whom he calls a witch. Maybe it’s the fact that it simply includes a lot of typical fantasy elements, presented straight forward, without trying to add anything. Buttercup is admittedly not a simple damsel in distress. She does try to help Westley fight off the giant rat, after standing there most of the time. They speak of true love often and I can see it once Westley and Buttercup are separated, but not so much while they’re growing up. Westley is an excellent, dashing hero. The costumes are over all fine; but those huge crowns are ridiculous. There is admittedly some epic dialogue. At the end of the evening, a fun movie to put on, not something that needs to be processed deeply.

I’d love to hear from anyone who truly loves this movie as to their reasons, since I didn’t really connect with it.  Maybe I found it too late to completely fall in love?

Next Time: Stardust

It’s Called a Lance

A Knight’s Tale

A 2001 film set in medieval Europe featuring jousting…and rock music. It’s a fun movie that’s good to throw on when bored with TV. It stars Heath Ledger (later to reinvent the role of Joker in Dark Knight; he also features in Brokeback Mountain, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Patriot [haven’t seen those], Brothers Grimm [saw it once, don’t remember liking it], and Ned Kelly [eh, all star cast, the plot confused me] as peasant squire William Thatcher. This is the first role I saw Rufus Sewell in, playing the antagonist Count Adhemar (he’s an antagonist in Legend of Zorro, good guy Marke in Tristan and Isolde, decent guy in Amazing Grace, bit of a jerk in The Holiday, and lately was Lord Melbourne in the show Victoria). Paul Bettany (voice of Jarvis in the first Marvel movies, then became Vision in Age of Ultron. He was Lord Melbourne in the movie Young Victoria, bit ironic. Also featured in as the albino in The Da Vinci Code, and surgeon Dr. Stephen Maturin, best friend of Russell Crowe’s Captain Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander: Far Side of the World) is Geoffrey Chaucer, yes, that writer. Alan Tudyk (now known for his voice acting abilities in Frozen and Star Wars, but would later play pilot Wash in Firefly) is fellow peasant Wat alongside Roland, played by Mark Addy (Robert Baratheon in Game of Thrones and Friar Tuck in Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood). And if Sir Ector in the flashback looks familiar, he’s played by Nick Brimble, who was Little John in Prince of Thieves.

The film opens with the death of Sir Ector, master of Wat, Roland, and William. He’s due to joust again in a few minutes, or else they forfeit and the young lads haven’t eaten in three days. William gets the idea to wear Ector’s armor and finish the match, with Queen’s We Will Rock You occurring in the stands. Then, when he wins, this could be their chance to change their stars. He takes the name Sir Ulrich von Lichenstein from Gelderland (and apparently, a real knight and real place; though not as used in the movie). They come across as naked Chaucer trudging the road. Being peasants, no, they have not read any of his works (takes place before The Canterbury Tales), but they do have use of a writer to forge papers of nobility. He also becomes Sir Ulrich’s herald, to announce him at tournaments.

William discovers a beautiful woman, Lady Jocelyn and decides to woo her. He’s…somewhat successful. He starts following her, on horseback, into a church. And doesn’t even get her name. Count Adhemar also discovers Jocelyn and helpfully explains the rules of jousting for the audience while Taking Care of Business plays in the background. William faces Sir Thomas Coleville (another historical character, but not from this time) and mercifully draws on the last pass so they both retain honor.

Will continues to compete and pines after Jocelyn. She sends him a token to wear at the next tourney. William faces Adhemar, who proves why he has never been unhorsed. They break lances on each other on their first pass. The second pass, Will scores and avoids Adhemar’s lance. But on the third pass, Adhemar knocks William’s helm off, causing a flashback to when Will was a child and seeing knights with his father. Adhemar returns Jocleyn’s favor to her and tells “Ulrich” “see me when you’re worthy.” William loses the jousting portion, but wins the sword. He now had enough to pay Kate the blacksmith, who fixed his armor. She wants to join his crew and even offers to make new armor for him. He dismisses her first, until he finds out he needs to attend the ball in order to see Jocelyn. Chaucer, does not do the best job of teaching Will to dance, so Roland makes Will politely ask Kate (since he’s going through the trouble of making a new tunic for his friend). Chaucer and Wat are not boon companions, but they’re funny. And we’re treated to Golden Years, and modern dancing. Knight’s Tale does not try to be wholly accurate (most certainly in their female costumes. Which is disappointing, because some of the gowns from that period can be gorgeous).
knights tale armor

Some of the heralds’ introductions are hilarious; Adhemar’s messes up at one point and declares his master “a shining example of chivalry and champagne” and “defender of his enormous manhood.” Chaucer certainly has a way with words and whips the crowds into a frenzy for Sir Ulrich. When Adhemar is about to face Coleville, he withdraws when he finds out that the other knight is actually Prince Edward in disguise. Chaucer in turns reports this to William, but he still jousts. The royal endangers himself and has obviously disguised himself so he can truly compete. Coleville appreciates the gesture. William wins the tournament, but his victory his hollow since he did not defeat Adhemar.

William goes on to win the next slew of tournaments, aided by Prince Edward sending Adhemar back to the front and the Battle of Poitiers. In the meantime, Will has Chaucer help him write a rather romantic letter to Jocelyn, aided by all his friends. The couple meets for the Paris tournament and William unfortunately cannot produce poetry on demand. Jocelyn insists that if “Ulrich” truly loves her, he will lose the tournament, rather than win it in her name. She’s got a point. But, Will has to take a pounding first (this is also after his friends have made a substantial bet with a group of Frenchmen). Still loves her. Mercifully, she sends word that he is to win the tournament, which he does. Chaucer sees Jocelyn enter William’s tent after the tournament and remarks “as Guinevere comes to Lancelot. Bed him well, m’lady. Bed him well.” (By this age, I knew what he meant). She discovers what exactly Will went through to prove his love, and has noted that his friends slip call him “William” instead of “Ulrich.” His name matters not, only that she can call him hers, and the good that comes with the bad will be of her doing as well.

William and his friends return to England, bring about another flashback of when they left. They enter London for the World Championships to The Boys Are Back in Town (and now I cannot hear that song and not think of that scene). Adhemar will compete; Prince Edward has recalled him for his company’s behavior in France. Will takes the opportunity to visit Cheapside, where he grew up and finds his father still alive, though blind. Unfortunately, Adhemar manages to spy on him and uses the information to prove the lie William has been leading. The next day, Jocelyn and Chaucer bring word that guards will arrest Will if he competes. His friends all urge him to run. He refuses. He is a knight. (Only those of noble birth can become knights; but Will points out in the beginning that many became noble by taking the title at the point of a sword).

Adhemar visits Will in jail, declaring “you have been weighed; you have been measured; and you have been found wanting.” Will is put in the stocks the next day; his friends stand alongside him. The crowd easily turns on their champion; earlier chanting his name, now throwing food. Prince Edward emerges from the crowd and declares that his own research has proven that William is descended from an ancient royal line; and as prince, his word is above contestation. He frees Will and knights him. William will face Adhemar.

Knowing he stands a chance of losing, Adhemar cheats and tips his lance. On the first pass, he embeds it in William’s shoulder. On the second pass, William drops his lance. Adhemar murmurs to his opponent, “in what world can you ever have beaten me? Such a place does not exist.” William can’t breathe and has his friends remove his armor. Neither can he hold a lance, they must strap it to his arm. To buy time, Chaucer has missed his introduction. “Here he is! One of your own! Born a stone’s throw from this very stadium and here before you now. The son, of John Thatcher…Sir William Thatcher!” Will’s father is in the stands; he heard that. He sits near Prince Edward. Revitalized, William unseats Adhemar. We pause, as the group tells Adhemar “you have been weighed; you have been measured; and you absolutely have been found wanting. Welcome to the new world.” The crowd goes nuts as the action picks back up. Edward kisses his wife. Jocelyn races down to see William, who dismounts and removes his gloves and such so they can share an epic kiss. The film closes as Chaucer decides he needs to write this tale down and we go to black on Shook Me All Night Long.

As I stated, it’s a fun movie. I like the music they feature for the most part. I understand some of the costuming choices; I believe one feature states that they were going for a rock ‘n’ roll look with the knights, since they held that sort of status in medieval times; a more modern fit pant, lots of leather. It’s the women’s costumes that drive me nuts. The exotic hair styles that you know could not have been done at that time. Sheer fabric on display, an Audrey Hepburn hat. Now, after being blown away by other films, the romance falls a bit flat. Will sees that Jocelyn is pretty and that’s why he loves her. Not because he sees her do anything particularly good or special. Jocelyn likes Will because he’s not like other nobles who have courted her.

Up Next: Princess Bride